CNN: “We’ll Milk Climate Change… Fear Sells.”
Zero Hedge reports that a technical director at CNN revealed to an undercover journalist for Project Veritas that the country’s major cable news channel deliberately worked to get Trump out.
“If it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out… I came to CNN because I wanted to be part of that,” added the director, Charlie Chester.
But the bit that interests us is the end of the article:
Chester went on to say that COVID-19 media coverage should be coming to an end in the near future. He added that CNN is already preparing its shift in coverage to push and promote climate change fear.
“I think there’s a COVID fatigue. So, like whenever a new story comes up, they’re [CNN’s] going to latch onto it. They’ve already announced in our office that once the public is — will be open to it — we’re going to start focusing mainly on climate,” Chester said.
Chester: “It’s going to be our [CNN’s] focus. Like our focus was to get Trump out of office, right? Without saying it, that’s what it was, right? So, our next thing is going to be climate change awareness.”
Veritas Journalist: “What does that look like?”
Chester: “I don’t know. I’m not sure. I have a feeling that it’s going to be like, constantly showing videos of decline in ice, and weather warming up, and like the effects it’s having on the economy–”
Veritas Journalist: “Who decides that?”
Chester: “Head of the network.”
Veritas Journalist: “Who is that? Is that [Jeff] Zucker?”
Chester: “Zucker, yeah. I imagine that he’s got his council and they’ve all like, discussed, like where they think–”
Veritas Journalist: “So, that’s like the next–”
Chester: “Pandemic-like story that we’ll beat to death, but that one’s got longevity. You know what I mean? Like there’s a definitive ending to the pandemic. It’ll taper off to a point that it’s not a problem anymore. Climate change can take years, so they’ll [CNN will] probably be able to milk that quite a bit.”
Veritas Journalist: “So, climate change overload.”
Chester: “Be prepared, it’s coming. Climate change is going to be the next COVID thing for CNN.”
Veritas Journalist: “You think it’s going to be just like — a lot of like, fear for the climate?”
Chester: “Yeah. Fear sells.”
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Perhaps as near as 15 years ago, this would be appalling to learn. Much less than that, it’s obvious from output that conversations of broadly this nature must have occurred within various media offices. Albeit in slow-motion, before covid, climate-change already was covid.
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Absolutely. I was never under the illusion that the liberal media (CNN, the New York Times, Guardian etc.) were a repository of pure truth, but I knew that if you hunted around in these sources you could generally find out what was really going on. This rule of thumb seemed to me to be failing in the case of climate change about 2007, and I started informing myself and commenting at the Graun to help correct whet seemed to be a weak point in their generally fair coverage of world affairs.
Ideology and bias exist everywhere, but only in the case of climate change had it infected the entire media landscape, suppressing all rational discussion. Then came Brexit and Trump, and the madness was everywhere. Following Russiagate, the Skripals, Hunter Biden etc., the liberal media stopped even pretending to tell the truth.
Covid so far has been an exceptional case, because, unlike the examples mentioned above, the mass of the population is concerned and paying attention, making it more difficult to promote total nonsense. But how to explain the insanity of the actions of our leaders, the latest example being Johnson’s claim that it’s lockdowns, not vaccinations, wot wunnit?
My conspiracy theory is that the Covid crisis is being used 1) to test how far they can go in suppressing our freedom, in preparation for some greater emergency, like war or economic collapse, and 2) to provoke the dissenters into revealing themselves, in order to make censorship and suppression easier when it’s needed. Once you’ve started an experiment like that, it’s easy to see that you wouldn’t want to wind it down before you had to.
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Geoff, down to your last paragraph, I agree. But regarding your 1) and 2), when explaining mass social effects I believe mass group motivations should always be the first port of call, and conscious nefarious plans the last, behind other candidates like sheer incompetence. Cultural effects can explain most of your list (not the Skripals), and herd panic for irrationality re covid. It’s always worth remembering in the latter case that it isn’t just Johnson and co often acting bizarrely, but essentially all leaderships from every system type and stripe, who all have very different political motivations. I suspect embedded fear is prompting Johnson / Sage and co to make extremely bad judgements, for instance trying to manipulate publics with cod psychology. This is playing with fire, at the least; even if short-term it has the desired effect (unlikely), longer term it’s pretty much bound to burn you. In emphasizing the role of lockdowns, Johnson probably hopes to keep all tools available for an unseeable future and slow down the rush to exit the current one. If fear of covid, which is easily still the majority public concern according to polls, is one’s only focus, so fear of variants fear of crowds fear of Europe’s 3rd wave fear of unknown unknowns, etc. then such fears can certainly still prompt irrationality as has been the case for a year and more (which also feeds back into the above list, for instance simple fear of the vaccine not working longer term). In practice, undermining the narrative of vaccine success is probably the worst thing one could do. The governments are only a reflection of the fears of their publics, and the latter won’t subside until they feel that the St George of science has finally slain the dragon of covid.
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Interesting article on the effectiveness of full lockdowns, or lack thereof, in the Spectator today:
‘So the most reasonable interpretation of the publicly available data seems to be that R was less than 1, and infections in decline, before each of the three full [UK] lockdowns to date. Measures short of full lockdown, and perhaps people’s own behavioural response to rising deaths, appear more likely to have been responsible for turning the tide of infection.’
Per above, it seems that too much faith in models and particular orthodoxies (such as how useful a tool is lockdown) are a feature of herd panic as well as culturally induced fears.
One doesn’t preclude the other. If “all leaderships from every system type and stripe” are all doing the same thing, it could be that they all have the same motivation, and above all the new tools to do it with. Mass electronic surveillance and massive data collection have only been possible for the last couple of decades.
The government pays out millions to social scientists to find out how to nudge or cajole us into obedience. For decades research proceeded one focus group at a time, and now suddenly millions find themselves enrolled in the biggest social behaviour research programme of all time. You don’t have to imagine a secret cabal organising it. A process like that organises itself around the inertia of dozens of specialist groups of experts suddenly aware of their importance, and with the ear of the powers that be. It’s still nefarious though, and at least semi-conscious.
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“…it could be that they all have the same motivation…”
That would certainly be a world first. And given the breadth of ruling system types and stripes within those, there is certainly no common motivation on anything else that has ever been demonstrated. Plus especially unlikely too considering that world governments have generally a pretty poor record of that which they do consciously attempt to co-operate upon, even when given decades not months. Not to mention that many doing the same things now are hostile to each other, and some actively at war. And too there is to date no hard evidence of a conscious / nefarious co-operation, yet reams for covid related event synchronization, which prompts common fears.
“It’s still nefarious though, and at least semi-conscious.”
Yes there’s lots of bunkum from lots of focus groups, at all times. It doesn’t usually get used in any systemic way unless / until a mass motivation removes the normal checks and balances, hence what passes for common sense in public authorities (and indeed publics). Those mass motivations include culture (climate-change) and herd panic (covid). The problem with the question of how conscious or unconscious this is for such phenomena, is that consciousness itself is in service to emotive convictions anyhow. Hence everything can be fully conscious in the sense of actively planning / pursuing illogical courses, and yet still motivated by very firm beliefs it’s the right thing. This doesn’t preclude a stack of opportunism from individuals and orgs, some of which is likewise motivated by some kind of group-think, and some of which will go right to the other end of the motivational scale, e.g. outright thievery. So indeed some deliberately nefarious activity. Yet the north pole of motivation if you will, is not deliberate and nefarious; it is group behaviour operating much deeper in us than consciousness (a legacy of our evolutionary path). Nor can opportunism at scale strike until a mass phenomenon provides the scale.
Whether it’s nefarious to have bunkum from focus groups in the first place, is a different matter. Humanity seems always to have featured a massive range of thought from genius to suicidal and everything in-between; I don’t know whether attempting to stop the latter would stop the former too. And who would judge, and who would judge the judges? The filtering systems probably work well enough when not massively warped or swept away by group phenomena. I figure it’s the latter we have to worry about constraining, not the ideas themselves, bonkers or not.
The common motivation I mentioned is that of controlling their populations – surely not a first? And, as I said, the new tools are the main consideration. Just as no-one would have had the idea of controlling the average global temperature to within a tenth of a degree before data processing gave them the illusion that they could measure such things, so no-one would have thought of banning people from pubs based on their medical history before the invention of the portable telephone and those square bar code things.
I never said that focus groups were nefarious or bunkum, (I think they’re potentially useful and value-neutral, or would be if used to discover things, rather than to reinforce an ideology) and I don’t really understand your second paragraph.
I’m fairly relaxed about any conclusions that the powers-that-be might draw from the extent to which the public have been scared by Covid into meekly complying with what the Government tells them to do. People have been incredibly tolerant regarding the removal of their freedoms, but I think this latest UK lockdown has been the last time the public will accept these restrictions on their freedoms, especially in view of the success of the vaccination programme and the rapid fall in infections/hospitalisations/deaths.
Watching people’s behaviour since Monday’s lockdown easing has been like watching a cork shoot out of a shaken-up fizzy pop bottle. The pressure to get back to normal is immense. People have put up with it, but only for a relatively limited period, for something that really scared them (the possibility of dying an unpleasant and premature death from Covid). I very much doubt that they’ll put up with it for something that doesn’t scare them – like climate change.
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“The common motivation I mentioned is that of controlling their populations – surely not a first?”
Absolutely a first. A massive first. That all these nations, including democracies (of which many different political stripes happening to be in power), pseudo democracies, military juntas, communists, right-wing regimes, theocracies and goodness knows what else, all choosing at the same time in the same way to deliberately and consciously act bigly against the interests of their respective populations for the sake of ‘control’, so *not* instead because of a mass group phenomenon such as culture or herd panic. All of which nations have previously acted whether for good or bad or some of both in manners consistent with their local mix of ethnicities, cultures, politics, economic systems and development status etc. and some nations of which would not cooperate with particular others if they were the last nation on Earth.
Common technology doesn’t make for common motives: all technology has been used for good governance, freedoms, liberation from burdens and the lifting of billions out of poverty as it has also been used for excess or even extreme control, war and genocide or just the greed / whims of ruling regimes, all in accordance with the list of characteristics per nation above. Mobile phones are no different. Nor is the technology common anyhow across those nations that have implemented lockdowns (most) or strict lockdowns (many) or have enacted puzzling or even bizarre rules associated with covid (probably all) at some point in time. This covers nations at very many stages of economic / social and infra-structure development. Plus mobile phones and the internet have been around for many years, per above used for both for good and bad; I think Blair was first pushing for digital IDs last century. Yet worldwide, nations apparently all decided right now to deliberately suppress their populations with them, because every government of every type figured either by coincidental independent assessment or massive-scale nefarious co-operation, that we’d passed some magic threshold of feasibility; what threshold? You don’t anyhow need mobile phones or any other advanced technology to implement lockdowns, its been done many times in history. Neither do you need any such to implement the banning of people not having the right status / papers from anywhere or everywhere; sadly that too has been done throughout history. If the motivation is common across nations, there has to be a dominant linking factor. Or, it’s a billions to one coincidence that so many and so wildly different nations all across the globe acted in the same manner and yet consciously and nefariously and *independently*. Assuming the former case, there would have to be a world-wide major conspiracy, which somehow holds even while nations fight like cats in a bag even over vaccines let alone continue all the old disputes. OR, it’s the same kind of thing that has happened throughout history, a common group-psychological phenomenon.
“I never said that focus groups were nefarious or bunkum…”
Cool. I wasn’t sure; I supplied that just in case.
“I don’t really understand your second paragraph…”
Try two issue 1:
The focus groups are largely harmless unless a mass group phenomenon (culture or herd panic) warps or blows away the normal societal checks and balances on the use of their output.
Try two issue 2:
Attempting to pin something down to conscious or subconscious motivation (perhaps with an aim of assigning culpability) is extremely hard to do when something like culture or herd panic is in play. Certainly in the former case, consciousness is in service to cultural motives. So we can’t in that sense say its subconscious (active planning occurs, say) even though the whole mechanism of consciousness has been hi-jacked. Probably so for the latter case too. We don’t need to make such determinations, so maybe it’s really the wrong question. In war-crimes trials and cult memberships and many other cases, culpability is still assigned without any determination about how the brain works in such circumstances and what was or wasn’t conscious. Allowances are typically made, but only go so far.
We’re at cross purposes again. I’m not suggesting that governments are conspiring over reactions to Covid, merely making the uncontroversial point that governments exist to control people (it’s practically a definition of their purpose) and new technologies provide new methods of control that they can hardly fail to want to try out. When someone in power says: “Maybe we can let up now,” someone else is almost bound to say: “Don’t stop yet. This is interesting.” The process is the same in China and England, whatever the differences in the régimes. And, as Mark Hodgson wisely points out, at some point the reaction of the public takes over and becomes irresistible – again, with the same effect in England as in China, however great the differences in the details.
This is all off-topic as far as the CNN leak is concerned. What I found interesting is the fact that they seem to be motivated, not by missionary zeal, as is certainly the case with the Guardian’s ex-editor Alan Rusbridger, but by the deluded belief that it will increase their audience. In this they are victims of the propaganda campaign they are part of.
Geoff: not completely at cross purposes, I think. Governments exist to serve the people, many of their constitutions (their definitions of existence) say so; control is a by-product that is intermittently kept in check by mechanisms such as democracy, for those nations lucky enough to have some. Of course for some regimes, the definition is merely a mask. However, my point is that whatever is happening wrt methods of control during the covid period, is primarily a set of (mass fear prompted) reactions to covid, and not an independent motivation for control in its own right. Albeit some of the reactions are illogical (typical for a mass fear prompt), and all sorts of opportunism will jump on the bandwagon (so inclusive of some desiring more control).
I agree with Mark re the public, and indeed it was the public fear (albeit amplified by media etc) that has been the driver all along. However, regarding his last line the situation with climate-change, while having parallels, is different. The driver of action is likewise a mass phenomena, but it is cultural and not herd panic. Hence, although there is a certain kind of fear associated with it, this fear is of the same nature as religious fears, and it does not in any way have to be reality-based to gain serious adherence. In fact, as studies show, where it veers towards ‘too real’, e.g. imagery of major weather disasters with CC blamed, this prompts net negative reaction from audiences in terms of policy support. But cultures are polarizing, and within that net negative are still ardent recruits. Nor like the herd panic case, do cultures need majority support to dominate societies. They work like a kind of onion layered device; only a very small number of ardent adherents at the centre, and a large number of people at the outside layers who are relatively compliant because they don’t know any better and they don’t want stigmatisation. Especially when elites are largely captured, maybe less than 10% genuine / ardent believers is enough to support the culture dominating society with its agenda.
Clearly the CNN researchers haven’t read the above-mentioned studies (which are from orthodox sources and not skeptical sources), otherwise they’d realise this will be a net turn-off and so (probably slowly) denude audiences. The problem however, is that per above if they keep it going for a couple of years, the effort will nevertheless within the net negative still create a raft of new ardency in the public, especially within the young public. Which will strengthen the core of the onion despite at the same time creating a net skeptical response across the whole audience. What the eventual effect of that will be, is hard to predict. Will the greater sketpticism eventually produce a revolt against the culture? Or will beefing up the ardent at the same time help the culture achieve the (minority) critical mass it needs?
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CNN is scrambling to find something to replace Trump.
If as the Guardian claimed this week, newsrooms around the world are partnering in an effort to treat climate-change ‘like the emergency it is’, and indeed Sky already has a daily climate show now, we’ll presumably see a lot more milking going on as covid fades ):