The Propaganda Multiplier: the Hive Mind in the Western Media
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
In May of 2021, the western media released a 'huge' story about a Chinese rocket hurtling from space with the ability to hit anyone's home. Although the actual rocket ended up crashing into the Indian ocean and becoming little more than debris, the fearmongering spread like wildfire. Calls to stop this 'dangerous Chinese rocket' came from across the virtue signaling internet, from basement-dwelling trump-supporting incels to the declining cable tv networks desperately trying to stay relevant
Nevermind, that Space X also had a rocket that was hurtling towards earth during the same week or the fact that the rocket debris would've most likely burned up somewhere in the ocean. The more interesting story was one wrapped inside the headline. Almost immediately Chinese forums began to notice how 'samey' these articles had become with almost an a word to word copy from one publication to the next.
Newsources on opposite sides of the political spectrum from Fox News to CNN reported almost indistinguishable headlines, while small obscure new sites flooded the internet with identical copies of the story thus manipulating the algorithm to put it at the top of the search results.
This is a list of articles that copied almost word for word, the new york times article on the Chinese rocket story. Notice the similar wording of the first three articles.
This story is just one example of many instances where English news outlets from across the so-called political 'divide' were homogenous in their coverage of a particular topic. The most infamous example of recent memory is when the western media overwhelmingly supported an invasion of Iraq thus manufacturing the public's consent for the war on terror. The tendency for western news outlets to bandwagon an article is a suspiciously pervasive practice in the industry. While the word 'hivemind' conjures images of alien lifeforms and fictional species with mind control, the term is extremely accurate when describing the western media.
While the word 'hivemind' conjures images of alien lifeforms and fictional species with mind control, the term is extremely accurate when describing the western media.
Part of the problem is structural. For example, the three largest news organizations in the western world employing the largest number of foreign correspondents are AP (associated press), AFP (a quasi governmental french agency) and Reuters (a British agency owned by a Canadian billionaire). While some local news agencies will contract reporters in foreign countries, the practice of many national agencies in the west is to simply copy and translate the reports from the big three.
Below are egregious examples of the big three news headlines being almost word for word translated by 'unaffiliated' local new organizations:
Copying 'the big three' (AP, AFP and Reuters), is highly cost effective for traditional news outlets with declining revenue streams. It allows for the publication to fill it's docket with stories while reducing the number of journalists needed to fill it's bottom line. The problem with relying upon so few international news agencies is that the dissemination of propaganda and misinformation can spread like wildfire.
This leads to a phenomenon known as the "citation string" where one article will cite another as a source, which in turn will cite the big three. Even supposedly 'independent' and partisan news outlets can fall victim to this practice as the original source of information can be many times removed from a news article.
[The] original source of information can be many times removed from a news article.
While the citation string may be the result of basic economics, journalism in the west is extremely tilted towards narratives set by Washington. One only needs to look at the vast amount of capital flowing into journalism from the U.S. government to understand it's prevalence. In 2009, the head of AP, Tom Curly, leaked that the Pentagon employs more than 27,000 PR specialists on a 5 billion a year budget and has expressely targeted AP for being too critical of the US military.
For comparison, the annual revenue of U.S. Journalism is about 24 billion in 2017 and the budget for national defense (including the disinformation department at the Pentagon) has continually increased since then. It only takes a simple math calculation for one to realize that the budget for the U.S. government's P.R. department is over 20% of all the media's revenue (and this is before the enormous budget increase passed by Congress in 2021).
Private sector journalism simply cannot compete on a budget level with the taxpayer money especially as traditional journalism goes into a fiscal death spiral. There's a good chance that at least 5th of the articles from so-called "independent" media news outlets are literal government propaganda and the practice of copy-paste just spreads this belief even further. Oftentimes, newsources will cite "military circles", "anonymous government officials", and "intelligence officials" in an apparent 'leak' of information. Of course, these shadowy sources are impossible to independently verify, which allows for easy manipulation.
The mechanism behind the public-private propaganda machine is shown below:
Even the most rebellious and independently funded journalism outlets can fall prey to the propaganda news cycles because of the cost-savings. Simply put, the copy paste method saves time, money and of course prevents the country of interest from in-advertently getting targeted by American intelligence operatives.
Getting targeted by American Intelligence Agencies has proven to be a legitimate concern as company's as ubiqitous as Visa (mastercard), Google and Yahoo have found themselves in the iron-sights of the Anglosphere. Indeed, the mysterious five eyes (an intelligence sharing agreement of English speaking countries) have historically targeted anyone who didn't toe the American line such as John Lennon, Angela Merkel and Nelson Mandela.
Intimidation, threats and spying are a routine function of American intelligence operatives who have infamously targeted foreign media groups like Al Jazeera in order to control the flow of information. It wasn't until Edward Snowden's infamous leak of the National Security Agency, that the world realized the five eyes use programs like PRISM to exploit loopholes in international law and spy on American citizens.
Anyone who has ever had an online presence on the American social media giants probably has an extensive psychological profile. Industries have used this information to create targeted ads such as when Big Pharma found sick users on Facebook. All of this private information is of course sold on Wall street to the highest bidder in a multibillion dollar industry and is regularly accessed by rogue executive agencies, namely, the CIA.
Below is an outline of the PRISM data collection system that was legalized under the Patriot Act. It allows the U.S. government to collect private information from the American social media giants.
All this secrecy is not to mention the actual public-private partnership in the military-entertainment complex where the department of defense has cowritten and sponsored at least 410 movies since 2016. As a matter of fact, in order to use and/or showcase military equipment, the department of defense has the right to edit scripts to show the military in a positive light.
The idea that mainstream media outlets are propaganda tools for the elites in government is an old one as the very first newspaper in world history was a state-sponsored and censored. There are plenty of legitimate governments around the world that have strict regulation of the newscycle, including China which has 95.5% approval rating in their general public according to an independent study by Harvard's Ash Institute (in other words, as legitimate as it gets).
The key difference is that while China publicly names it's state-run media outlets including the People's Daily and the very obviously government centered China Public Security Daily, the U.S. media tries to hide its government sponsorship under a veil of diversity.
...the U.S. media tries to hide its government sponsorship under a veil of diversity.
While the Wall Street Journal is supposedly right and the New York Times is purportedly left, they are both either directly or de-facto U.S. government mouthpieces. And while supposedly independent media exists, local news will never have the funding to support international correspondents and will thus just copy from the big three: AP, Reuters and AFP.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world that it didn't exist. And in the case of the U.S. it's convincing the world that it's media is truly independent because of its 'diversity' when in reality 6 corporations control 90 percent of U.S. news.
No wonder trust in the media is at a historic all time low.