THIS is the first of a series of three edited extracts from James Delingpole’s recent podcast interview with Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Studies at New York University, that you can listen to here.
It’s a comprehensive and compelling analysis of why and how our supposedly free society has descended into such unthinking conformity and compliance.
Miller starts by laying bare the culpability of the mainstream media and ends on the ‘pre-programming’ role of the masking mandates for the collective imperative to vaccinate.
JD: Mark, you’ve been saying some pretty heroic things about the nonsense that’s been going on. In fact, I’m amazed you’ve still got a job.
MM: Well, I have tenure, you know, so it would be hard to get rid of me. They are trying and I can talk about that today if you like?
MM: But I just … it’s very kind of you to say that I’m heroic. It chills my heart in a way to think that making the sort of rational observations I make is somehow exceptional, you know, but this has been quoted to death, this line of Orwell’s, it is apposite, you know: ‘At a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’
And that is true. The last year and a half – and I know you’ll feel me when I say this – but the last year and a half have staggered me, taken my breath away.
I never thought I would see anything like this. I never thought I would see so much of the world’s media consistently and shamelessly lying in a way that is genuinely comparable to the press in the Third Reich.
You know, it’s a comparison I used to consider tasteless and hyperbolic, but I don’t now. And there are other unfortunate echoes of that moment, and there are more than echoes, but, you know, we can get into that. But anyway, a very long-winded way of saying thank you. And I wish you didn’t have to thank me.
JD: In a way, you’ve answered the first question I was going to ask you, which is that you’ve been on to the failure of the media for a long time. That’s your speciality.
You analyse the gulf between reality and the propaganda that tends to get served up to us by the media. And I was curious because I’m a recent visitor to the rabbit hole.
I’ve only just started delving in the last 18 months, prompted by the extraordinary nature of the events. I think I started going down with the blatantly-stolen Trump presidential election and the way that the media gaslit us into imagining that no skulduggery had taken place.
I mean, I’ve been a journalist for 30 years and I was gobsmacked by this. I thought, ‘Hang on a second, I’d always imagined that journalists were seekers after truth. You can giggle at my naivety, but that’s what I thought.
I’ve been a journalist all that time. I never suspected that my entire trade would sell out the truth in that way. But you’ve been watching this decline – or maybe it wasn’t a decline, maybe it’s always been that way? Tell me about this.
MM: That’s a terrific question. The moment when you, you know, fell off your ass on the way to Damascus, was, you know, this last election.
I had a very similar experience when I was paying close attention to the elections of 2000 and especially 2004. I have been a long-time activist for election integrity, living as I do in a country with the worst voting system in the developed world.
And I should think that the fact that so many people in this country have awakened to the theft of an election, right, and are outraged over it, I personally, as a member of the election integrity movement, find that an exhilarating opportunity, OK?
Because back when I was more actively engaged in this movement and wrote a book about the theft of the 2004 election, those of us who were trying desperately to call the attention of the people, which meant all the attention of the media, to all the evidence we had, that Bush/Cheney were not re-elected any more than they had been elected, because the 2000 election was stolen mainly through the intervention of the Supreme Court, you know, which stopped the vote count in South Miami, right?
JD: That was the dimpled chads.
MM: Yeah, that whole operation. You know, Florida was the swing state. Ohio was the swing state four years later. But, you know, I was not a Democrat. I hadn’t voted Democratic in a presidential race since 1992, when I voted for Clinton.
And that was the last time I ever voted for a Democrat. You know, I spit on that party and I spit on the Republican Party. But I happen to believe, you know, naively, as you naively believe in the mission of journalism to educate the people.
And I share that belief. I also naively believe in electoral democracy. And I have no use for Trump, but I believe he won overwhelmingly last year and I believe it was stolen. And I regard the evidence as more than compelling, right?
Well, that was my view, particularly of the 2004 election. And my allies in that movement certainly agreed. And we were all banging our heads against the wall. The media was rolling its institutional eyes at us, smirking, snickering. ‘There’s nothing there.’ Right?
If you watched all the newscasts on election night 2004 – and this has happened in subsequent elections – you have that … one had that kind of disorienting experience, because we had been covering as closely as we could all day, the many, many signs of theft going on in the long, long lines outside polling booths – you know, particularly in Democratic precincts, because back then it was Republicans who were stealing the election – and funny numbers coming up and votes being switched by machines and all these really … red flags, right?
And then you turn on the TV and these calm, confident voices saying, you know, ‘The election went off without a hitch today.’
But everybody whose eyes are open and who’s kept his or her head on a daily basis has this experience of a kind of radical discrepancy between reality and what’s coming at us from CNN and the New York Times.
And, of course, one has had that sense of discrepancy throughout the Covid crisis.
From the beginning, we in New York, like everybody else, we’re told the hospitals are overrun, they’ve had to pull refrigerator trucks up to hospitals to collect the bodies, right?
Now, if you if you watched that, right, if that was what you watched, you had those blinkers on and you weren’t looking laterally at reality, you naturally believed that. And it would be one of the first things you’d notice in a propaganda course, which I taught and intend to teach again, which NYU has, you know, stepped in and forbidden.
But this is elementary, that if you know nothing but what you’re absorbing from the media and you don’t have the time or the inclination to dig for the truth or to look beyond that spectacle, to see what other sources are saying, to see what people on the ground are saying – see what average working people in your own neighbourhood are saying, you know, if you don’t find some means of checking the reality that you’re being fed by the media, you’re going to believe what you see. You are. It’s just human nature.
Average people, which I don’t necessarily mean people of modest means, but most people have a job, those who have jobs, have that job to do and they have families and daily responsibilities … ought not to be expected, they shouldn’t have to, go digging around to figure out what’s going on.
We do now. We now have to do that. People have to watch your interviews, for example. People have to watch the very outlets that are now being slandered, demonised as vectors of misinformation that are putting lives at risk, you know?
This was a turning point for me. And it also elaborates on my answer to your question about my attention to the media.
Well, I was originally an English major, and then I got a Ph.D. in English in the 70s. And my field was the Renaissance. It was Shakespeare. And, you know, it wasn’t political. It was purely aesthetic.
And I believed in close reading, you know, I very much enjoyed learning how to read texts closely. You know, Shakespeare’s plays or Paradise Lost or a poem by Keats, you know.
On my own, I started to watch movies that way. I loved movies all my life. And I discovered that if you watched a great movie really carefully – not just listen to the dialogue, but to look at the images – you could find, you know, wonderful new depths to the story.
And, you know, the narrative is a lot more complex than one would think, just kind of watching and assuming it’s some sort of conventional melodrama, right? That was very exciting.
I taught film courses on my own as a grad student. I ran the film series on campus, which was Johns Hopkins, so I developed a kind of expertise in film and when I got my first job in an English department, I was teaching both film and literature.
At that time, I also started noticing that one could subject moments of TV to that kind of analysis: TV commercials, for example. Not to say they were great works of art, they’re not, but they are extremely expert works of propaganda, which work not just explicitly, but also subliminally.
And I don’t mean by flashing cues that you can’t see with the naked eye. I mean the visual composition, the cutting, everything about it is propagandistic, right? It means something.
So I started writing little essays on moments of TV. My first book, Boxed In: the Culture of TV, you know, is a collection of my writings. By the late 80s, I was increasingly struck by and concerned about the increasing conglomeration of the media, that it was becoming more and more concentrated in ever-fewer corporate hands.
And I decided that it’s all very well for me to keep on doing these exquisite little readings, which I enjoyed writing and people really liked them, but I was maybe missing the forest for the trees. And that democracy could not possibly survive with the media system as monolithic as the one that I saw forming back then.
Now, from there, I moved on to notice that the voting system in this country is a disgrace. And that there appeared no longer to be any real reason to believe that the outcome of any election in this country necessarily reflects people’s choice and that we desperately needed, as we still need, election reform.
And it could be done quickly and easily, you know. It could be done by making everyone automatically … have everyone be registered to vote automatically on their 18th birthday, you know, making Election Day a federal holiday.
I don’t believe in early voting. I certainly don’t believe in voting from home. And above all, getting rid of computerised vote-counting right? And banning the participation of private companies in the election process, OK?
Now, the point here is that our elections have been stolen for a long time. And I started to study that problem, and until then, James, I was a sort of tolerable figure. You know, I was a public intellectual who was regarded as out there, but acceptable.
Then I wrote Fooled Again, scrupulously evidenced, you know, a lot of notes and so on.
It was my hope and the publisher’s hope that this book would jump-start a crucial national debate on the need to reform the voting system.
And the book was completely blacklisted. It was blacked out, to the publisher’s amazement. This is Basic Books, a very big house. No reviews in any major papers, NPR would now not touch me with a ten-foot pole, you know, unless they used it to push me out the window.
But the oddest thing about this moment and what really woke me up was the fact that I now was called, by the Left press, a conspiracy theorist. Suddenly I was a conspiracy theorist.
This is the Left press that I had written for. In fact I edited a number of special issues of The Nation magazine on the problem of media concentration.
I mean, they were great issues because each one had had a foldout glossy chart of ownership. The first one showed what owns the TV news. So you can see, you can look up at the top and see what else they own. That magazine attacked me now as a conspiracy theorist. My book was conspiracy theory.
To say that I was startled is an understatement. I couldn’t believe it, but I decided to look into how that phrase had come into circulation.
Now everybody says, and I know it’s the same in Britain, everybody many, many people say, ‘Well, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but …’ right? And then they’ll say something perfectly rational that anyone who puts two and two together would say.
But people feel they have to apologise for their suspicions of elite intentions. OK? That’s a momentous change, really. And I wanted to know how it had come to be, when did it become a thing? And it was easy to find out.
I went to the New York Times archives and the Washington Post and Time magazines online, just took about 20 minutes. And I did a search on those phrases, ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’, and discovered that before 1967, the former was rarely used and used in various ways, and I never could come across the use of ‘conspiracy theorist’ right?
It was like a new pejorative epithet. And then it was fairly easy to find that 1967 was the year that the CIA sent out this memo to all its station chiefs worldwide, it’s 1035-960, it’s online.
And basically it instructs the station chiefs of the CIA, wherever each one is, to use his media assets, his friends in the media and politicians to discredit the work of a number of writers who were questioning the Warren Report (into the assassination of President Kennedy).
The one I think they were aiming most squarely at was Mark Lane, whose book Rush to Judgement was one of the first to question it in a systematic way.
The Warren Report is a joke, right? And here we are over a half-century later and it is still taboo to talk about this … that was the purpose of the memo, to launch a kind of a smear campaign against people who were questioning the official narrative of the Warren Report.
So this was the beginning of a smear campaign and it naturally grew and the use of those phrases increased and they have increased exponentially over the decades as more and more official narratives have been trotted out with more and more catastrophic consequences, you know, pushing more and more people to do the rational thing and ask themselves, ‘What is going on, what’s happening here?’
I mean, we could sit here for two hours simply listing the questions raised by the Daily News on the subject of Covid and the subject of the vaccines, right? And on many other subjects.
It took me a while to get over this attack, but not that long. And ever since I have devoted myself to precisely what you said, which is the discrepancy between the media spectacle and reality. Now that gap is growing to a really frightening extent, but also in a way, it’s exhilarating to see a process approach its climax.
Let me make one point about what’s going on right this minute – and it’s the most important thing we could possibly discuss. I have to make an effort to maintain my composure when I talk about it, but it’s the vaccination programme, right? Which was anticipated by the mask furore, you know, the masking mandates.
‘That was actually a preparation for this moment because that, too, was very, very divisive. It set maskers off against anti-maskers. It cast the anti-maskers as putting lives at risk.
And it also created this profoundly illogical and ferocious imperative, a collectivist imperative, which is: I have my mask on, why aren’t you wearing yours? In other words, it’s not enough to wear a mask – you know, they don’t work anyway, we can get into all that – it’s not enough for you to have a mask on, your mask somehow doesn’t work if I don’t have mine on. Right?
It doesn’t make any sense. But you can’t make that point with somebody screaming from six feet away that you have to put a mask on or you’re going to kill everybody around you.
Well, that has, that insanity has broadened into the far more threatening imperative. I mean formally, in normal times in the years BC right – that’s Before Covid – if you were vaccinated you weren’t susceptible to certain diseases.
That’s not the case any more. Now the unvaccinated are being cast as really despicable, loathsome vectors of infectious disease, which is exactly the way the Jews were depicted by the Nazis. Exactly.
The Nazis, the Nazi propaganda, cast the Jews as vectors of tuberculosis. They cast them as vectors of syphilis. I think this is even in Mein Kampf, you know, so they were disease-bearing entities that had to be wiped out, had to be exterminated.
And even though, you know, Germany was actually the best-educated and most enlightened nation in Europe prior to World War One, the expert use of propaganda and the complete elimination of any alternative voice, made the people extremely vulnerable to a kind of hypnosis. And the same thing has happened throughout the West. It certainly has happened in Australia, New Zealand as well.
Thank God we have the Internet, because it does allow us to make an attempt to spread the word despite the thunder of official propaganda.
Tomorrow Delingpole and Miller delve further into the question of how most people today uncritically accept that Donald Trump legitimately lost the US election and that mass Covid vaccination is fine.