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VICE’s Fall From Counterculture Hipster Rag To Neoliberal Government Mouthpiece

MintPress News

September 16, 2016

By

 


MINNEAPOLIS — Disney, Fox News, Bill Maher and former U.S. government officials — seems like a pretty random list, right? Well, they have one surprising thing in common:

VICE.

No, I’m not talking about porn, gambling or drugs.

I’m talking about the multimedia empire that’s leading the mainstream media machine in producing “edgy” reporting behind a hipster, cooler than thou facade.

As a brand, VICE is built around an anti-establishment vibe that’s always feeling the pulse of the fringe. So how did VICE go from producing a niche magazine in Canada focused on street style and sex, to being a bona fide multimedia empire that includes a popular website, growing digital footprint, and partnerships with major corporations?

The shift happened gradually. There was $200 million from Disney and another $70 million from 21st Century Fox that made Rupert Murdoch a major owner. One talk show sponsored by Bank of America, and another hosted by career Islamophobe Bill Maher. World-famous puppet master George Soros, who funds coups in favor of NATO, got his own segment. Throughout all of this, VICE Media expanded by quietly embracing the very corporate and government entities that hold the least credibility with its own, young audience.

While positioning itself as a ballsy, no-holds-barred alternative to the mainstream media, it’s actually become the mainstream media. VICE Media hasn’t just sold itself out to the neocon agenda, it’s also normalized that agenda among its audience through its growing digital platform.

Sure, sure, VICE still bucks the government line on issues like marijuana legalization and does stories on what people wear to get laid.

But on matters of foreign policy, VICE’s tone tends to align with Washington’s maneuverings, including the re-emergence of Cold War narratives pushing “Russia-phobia” and justifying NATO’s aggressive posturing toward Russia in Ukraine and Syria.

And, as Robbie Martin notes in Part III of his documentary series “A Very Heavy Agenda,” “VICE achieved what Fox News’ terrorism fear-mongering could never achieve: fear of Islamic terrorism among young American liberals” to justify more so-called “humanitarian” bombs.

As a news outlet, VICE has become a tool of soft propaganda. Its reporters frequently cite outlets like Voice of America and Voice of Asia, broadcasters which fall under the umbrella of the U.S. state-sponsored Broadcasting Board of Governors that pushes U.S. interests abroad.

VICE, it turns out, is an ideal vehicle for delivering Cold War, interventionist messages to a generation that knows better than to trust the mainstream media or the government. The problem is, that generation doesn’t seem to realize that VICE is the mainstream media and it’s pushing government narratives.

Robbie Martin is here to explain how VICE towing the line of the establishment and how it managed to sell mainstream narratives to its anti-mainstream audience, and why it’s so dangerous.

Watch the full episode of Behind The Headline: Tracking VICE’s Hipster Propaganda; The Death of the Anti-War Left:

 

[Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups. In 2009, Muhawesh also became the first American woman to wear the hijab to anchor/report the news in American media. Muhawesh is also a wife and mother of a rascal four year old boy, juggling her duties as a CEO and motherly tasks successfully as supermom. Follow Mnar on Twitter at @mnarmuh]

 

Stranger Than Fiction: How to Keep an Antiwar Movement Down

by Emma Quangel

May 9, 2016

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Imagine, if you will, the year 2016. It is a year of war. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Turkey – just a handful in a long list – are under attack. Covert operations angling at “regime change” take place in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The African continent is engulfed in conflict, the threat of “regime change” knocking against even South Africa’s door. The BRICs are threatened, destabilizing. Thousands drown every year in the Mediterranean while millions more flood Europe, desperate for refuge from the violence and poverty that plagues their homelands. The right is on the rise across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. The global economy is sagging under the weight of its own contradictions.

The United States government, that acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people. 3.2 per cent of its citizens are under correctional control. The descendants of those once kidnapped and enslaved are particularly tormented – one in three black males in the USA will spend some time in prison. 12,000 children in Flint, Michigan are poisoned by lead in the water. 60,000 people in New York City are homeless. Nearly 1,000 people were killed by the police in the United States last year. Thousands more are tortured – even boiled alive – in US prisons. In the state of Louisiana, black men in chains pick cotton for slave wages while overseers toting shotguns monitor them from horseback. The electoral system is rigged, disenfranchises millions, and offers the same solution, year after year: submit or be crushed.

Imagine, if you will, the year 2016 without a revolutionary movement against such conditions.

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The Black Panther Party was possibly the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century because it existed in concert with, and gave guidance to, a broad-based antiwar movement. While the labor struggles of the working class at the turn of the century were integral in improving the lives of millions of Americans and providing a platform for revolutionary socialism, it wasn’t until the radical labor movement started to speak out against the First World War that they were persecuted in full by the government, lynched, deported and imprisoned. Likewise, the Black Panthers were most heavily targeted when they developed a line that connected the suffering of the American people to the suffering inflicted on others by the United States abroad. In both instances, the culprit was imperialism, capitalism made flesh in the form of guns and planes that could stamp out challenges to its hegemony.

That the Black Panther Party even existed should one of the greatest points of pride among radicals in the United States. Indeed, Black Panthers are still on the run from the FBI or languishing in prisons, sometimes for decades under solitary confinement. They were able to serve the people while educating them about the world we lived in. To the Black Panthers, to anyone who would call themselves a dialectical materialist, the idea that the United States Government is an institution that can be reformed is simply absurd. The United States Government, to Marxists, does not exist as a faulty waiter failing to bring free health care and universal housing with the check, but rather, to mediate class conflict in favor of the bourgeoisie – not just in the United States, but worldwide. The Black Panthers saw this, and declared themselves in solidarity with the victims of imperialism. They toured the world, meeting with revolutionaries from North Korea to Vietnam. And this, along with organizing among poor black communities in the United States, is what brought down the wrath of the state on their heads.

It is possible to say that a revolutionary movement in the United States can only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism. I would further venture to say that there can be no praxis without the two elements being present concurrently, and that no honest effort at building a revolutionary movement in the US can be made without recognizing that there must be an antiwar movement to join, and that this antiwar movement must be anti-imperialist.

After all, the wars of today differ greatly from the wars of the early 20th century, the wars that threw Emma Goldman and Big Bill Haywood in jail. We no longer have the draft – the popular rage over Vietnam saw an end to that – and the US spends more time launching air strikes from unmanned drones than digging trenches or preparing for bayonet combat. Likewise, imperialism doesn’t always take place at the end of a gun. The IMF and World Bank, created at the end of World War II, helped to exert influence over economies and governments where a heavier, more direct hand was once required. The creation of NATO and the Cold War made imperialism seem a war of ideologies, rather than the ham-fisted grab at resources that it was. Now, it seems that while American bombs and bullets murder so many worldwide, we are encouraged to side with imperialism as socialists. We are expected to take on the reasoning of George W. Bush and Samantha Power so long as it is dressed up and marketed in a way that pleases us, even if we consider ourselves “Left” leaning politically. Like soda and smartphones, we are exhorted to find identity in our positions, to represent ourselves by our consumer choices.

An alarming trend is on the rise in the United States and in the English-speaking world more generally: the ubiquitous Op-Ed. What was once relegated to just one page of the newspaper (the term Op-Ed meaning something that ran on the page opposite to Editorial) now makes up large sections of online news media. I imagine it is cheaper to pay a freelancer $250 (optimistic!) for their opinion than finance a foreign bureau. Whole TV networks run on an audio-visual version of the Op-Ed. It is a form of news that directly tells its reader how to think about the current events. Many gain their information on a topic simply from reading Op-eds. Today’s columnist and pundit is a TV show, someone that we can tune into on a regular basis for entertainment and flattery. If one show is boring, if you don’t like what they’re saying – simply switch the channel. It doesn’t matter, as all are trying to sell you a ruling class agenda. And, above all else, in our 24 hour news cycle, we are never allowed to present news in a boring way. The VICE lifestyle brand turned global news channel, with its correspondents pulled from content marketing’s central casting, is a prime example of the desire to “sex-up” news by letting opinions lead coverage. It is a way to engage the youth, as it boasts openly, to not only consume brands, but also official narratives, with enthusiasm.

A narrative example from the Op-ed world of news could be as follows: In Syria, democratic protesters are fighting against a brutal regime that slaughters them with impunity. These democratic protesters, now called rebels, are always at risk of being annihilated by state violence and torture because the Western Left has “failed” them.We must all support these rebels and pressure our government to do the right thing,whatever that might be.

Some articles might be run in conjunction, many that might contradict this narrative. We might learn from respected journalists with years of experience and lauded professional histories that things aren’t so simple. We might learn from State Department press transcripts that these brave rebels take quite a lot of money from the US Government. But it doesn’t matter if half of the paper contradicts the other half. When we are told how to read the news, through the eyes of these pundits, we are happily oblivious of whatever facts might contradict our chosen authority. After all, Thomas Friedman is far more influential and famous than some no-name stringer for The Times. Anyone who might disagree with the official narrative, even if they are respected journalists, scholars or activists, are now called conspiracy theorists, “hacks” or worse.

But while journalists are still nominally held to professional standards, the pundit owes no such thing to her audience. After all, this is just her opinion, and she is not expected to have thoroughly researched differing narratives – nor is she obligated to present opposing views, or to present anything evenly – when publishing her Op-ed. This is not unexpected, nor is it dishonest to the job description of a “pundit”. It’s up to the publication to decide how much of its material is news, and how much of it is entertainment packaged as Op-eds.

Yet, there is danger when a pundit or entertainer decides to call herself a journalist without having been subjected to the same standards we would expect from the NYT stringer. Facts are not checked and sources are not vetted. So-called journalists, such as Michael Weiss or Molly Crabapple, rely heavily on anonymous sources who slip them scintillating information or photographs. And yet, I am unsure who these sources are, who has vetted them, and how they did so. Indeed, as this new generation straddles the line between journalist and pundit, the means by which they communicate are themselves in question. My own WhatsApp number is from Iraq, though I have not lived there since October 2015. So, I think it’s natural to ask how these sources are processed, especially if the Op-ed writers posing as journalists are writing whole books based on their testimony, appearing on talk shows as experts, and building careers off promoting wars. While the content may be biased and one-sided, laden with marketing copy and convenient omissions, we should be incredibly wary on how we define, protect, but also how we verify the “source”. Indeed, I wouldask how these pundits find, vet and receive information, but as many already tried to have me fired from my last job for asking such questions, it’s pointless to attempt from my position – though I welcome corrections and inputs from editorial.

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As it stands, The Guardian admitted last week that it had been fed stories on Syria by the UK Home Office operating from behind a PR firm that was operating a Syrian advocacy campaign. Breakthrough Media joins its American agency Purpose (via The Syria Campaign) in pushing advocacy for pro-intervention narratives on the Syria conflict. What is left out of the discussion of whether or not public funds are being used to propagandize war to the tax-paying public is the disclosure of who the freelance “journalists” are that are being paid or otherwise lobbied to write on Syria. We would expect that journalists taking money or in kind contributions from campaign staff disclose such information when writing on the election – why not the same expectation from those who write on foreign policy matters? Perhaps it is because, in the long run, such issues are far weightier than whatever new jab a candidate throws on social media or a cable news talk show. One of the more chilling revelations from The Guardian, one seemingly lifted straight from my book, is that some of the journalists reported they were unaware that they were being utilized in this way.

If we knew that Fred Hampton or Emma Goldman were taking money from public relations firms (who may or may not have been receiving marching orders from governments) when speaking or writing on the wars they opposed, wouldn’t that change the way we see their positions? And certainly, if we were to discover that some of our favorite, cherished personalities who regularly tell us how to read the news were taking money from PR firms, to confuse, mislead, attack or threaten activists who might otherwise try and build a case against the US government’s wars abroad and at home, wouldn’t that be a scandal?

There may be no antiwar movement today because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence. Andrew Bacevich, in his recent instructive essay for Harper’s called “American Imperium”, makes the case that:

The trivializing din of what passes for news drowns out the antiwar critique. One consequence of remaining perpetually at war is that the political landscape in America does not include a peace party.

Indeed, before there can be a peace party, there must be an antiwar critique. And the “trivializing din” that Bacevich speaks of is not simply drowning out antiwar critique, it is merciless in seeking to destroy and discredit ideas such as the fact that the United States enjoys unprecedented military, economic, ideological and strategic domination over the entire world. Such ideas, when voiced publicly, are met with derision and laughter. As if, with dozens of bases and tens of thousands of soldiers surrounding Russia, one could seriously argue that Russia is imperialist, or an equal threat to world peace as the US. There are no Russian bases and no Russian soldiers garrisoned on our borders. We cannot even know, as the numbers are not publicly available, how many US soldiers and bases are currently in the Middle East – indeed, how many are currently in Iraq and Syria, where much conflict is currently taking place. Whereas before, reliable journalists and their supportive editors might have been successful in discovering such figures, they are now too focused on revenue and survival. This opens wide the door for propagandists who wish to deride and discredit any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US. Until this is resolved, building an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle, even among smaller groups, as subjectivity and sophistry continues to be taught and promoted over objectivity, materialism, serious study and clear thinking.

 

[“Emma Quangel is the woman who bravely contributed to the outing of Nazi murderer/”Last Rhodesian” Dylann Storm Roof’s blog, which probably spoiled Roof’s chances at the inexorably successful—for white supremacists—insanity defense.  After Quangel, an insanity verdict for Roof would be an insanity verdict for the U.S. white supremacist system: which is to say, in lieu of Aristotelian-bourgeois justice, Artaudian ritual magic, a self-reparative exorcism.”]

MADAYA: TIMES OF LONDON LIGHTS MATCH TO PROPAGANDA FIRE?

The Wall Will Fall

January 12, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

man humans are a piece of cake

 

It seems we are seeing the reappearance of the kitten campaigns in Madaya over the last 10 days.

When is a terrorist not a terrorist ~ The Kitten Campaign.

The heart wringing laments describing feline throat cutting and accompanying photos  have been circulating in both main stream media and social media with comparable intensity.

People have responded, quite naturally, with horror but lets examine the possible origin of this concept and why it might just be another in the long line of publicity ploys used to maintain public support for an illegal proxy military intervention in Syria.

The creator of #Madaya_is_starving, one of the first and most potent of the twitter hashtags to flood twitter feeds was none other than Raed Bourhan, who describes himself as a fixer & “researcher” for the London Times, allegedly based in Zabadani.

On the 5th January he offered his services to journalists wanting to cover the Madaya story.

Raed Bourhan help tweet

He later disseminated the now iconic image of the cat with a knife being held to its throat about to be sacrificed to feed the starving of Madaya.  This, despite the universally accepted reports of UN deliveries of food in October 2015  that should have sufficed for a minimum of two months & the entry of the UN on the 28th of December to evacuate 126 injured “moderate rebel militants”.

Raed Bourhan Times tweet

 

The London Times appeared to be sufficiently persuaded of Raed Bourhan’s credibility to produce the following headline:

Snowbound and starving Syrians forced to eat cats ~ Times Article

The question that not one main stream media journalist has asked, is why the UN would have left starving children behind on December 28th or not made more of a fuss when confronted with starvation and mass kitten culling. 

In fact, at least one main stream media outlet showed its nervousness over yet another suspect image relating to Madaya after a collective, valiant effort by genuine analysts, researchers and independent journalists successfully exposed the majority as fake, within hours of the propaganda storm breaking.

The Daily Mail accompanied the photo with:

“This picture posted by an activist on Twitter purportedly shows a cat about to be slaughtered for food by a starving Syrian in Madaya. However, MailOnline has not yet been able to verify the image which may simply have been used for illustration purposes”

What also became clear, relatively quickly, was the actual dearth of Western journalists on the ground in Madaya.  This was highlighted by Murad Gazdiev, RT reporter on the ground in Madaya.

“About two dozen journalists here. Can’t see any Western press. Strange, given how worried they were about ” ~ Link to tweet here. 

One cannot help but ask, how on earth the media managed to produce quite so much information about the situation in Madaya without having anyone on the ground in the area and seemingly without being able to verify their extraordinary claims that logic alone should have rendered spurious.

One of the VICE editors, when questioned on why they had run with fake photos, explained:

“Yes, sorry about that but residents in Madaya had sent the photos saying they had seen them on Al Jazeera and had assumed them to be of Madaya”

 

Madaya Vice screenshot

Am I the only one to find it a little peculiar that Madaya residents were recycling photos that they had seen on Al Jazeera and could not verify if they were of Madaya or not..or would it not have been simpler to have taken actual photos of the starving people in Madaya? This has puzzled me immensely.  Perhaps I am being a little too logical?

Or perhaps this entire situation has been nothing more than a clumsy attempt to destabilise the area and give Ahrar al Sham and associates time to further attack Israel’s arch enemy in Syria, the Hezbollah brigades situated in the mountains around Zabadani?

Should VICE have published photos from an unverified source?

Madaya is raising many questions that have been raised since the inception of the illegal war on Syria but still remain unanswered. Many excellent articles [I will include them at the end of this short piece]  have been written highlighting aspects of the propaganda fog, smoke and mirrors and astounding outright lies that have driven this narrative at warp speed into the annals of Western deception tactics used to justify illegal and destructive direct or proxy intervention onto Sovereign nation soil.

Should we be surprised, for instance, that an “activist” researching for The London Times was one of the first to create the hash tag #Madaya_is_starving  and to run with the extreme images and information?

Throwback to the Marie Colvin affair 2012, which I will be writing more about shortly in an article highlighting the Avaaz role in creating an agitprop shop of “citizen journalists” in 2011, funded by public donation totalling over $ 1 million to provide mobile phones, cameras and networking equipment to ensure a flow of propaganda that would sweep the world into yet another “regime change” operation, this time in Syria.

This is taken from an article by Tony Cartalucci written shortly after the death of Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times, in Homs February 2012.

“Reading any report out of the corporate-media, we find Syria’s campaign against admittedly armed rebels paradoxically referred to as a “massacre,” and an almost palpable fervor to justify circumventing the latest UNSC resolution veto. As news comes out of the death of two foreign journalists in Homs, Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin who sneaked into Syria and were operating there illegally to begin with, Western leaders are unanimously calling this the “breaking point.” France’s Nicolas Sarkozy even stated, “that’s enough now, this regime must go and there is no reason that Syrians don’t have the right to live their lives and choose their destiny freely.”

Or another example of the Sunday Times [London Times] duplicity can be found here:

The US Is Openly Sending Heavy Weapons From Libya To Syrian Rebels

“The Lies of London’s  Sunday Times regarding Obama’s counter-terrorism campaign against the ISIS is refuted by an earlier Sunday Times report. The Sunday Times report quoted below confirms that Obama has been arming the terrorists for the last three years, since 2012.”

When we look back at the propaganda casualties during its war on Syria, we see a graveyard littered with the corpses of BBC, Al Jazeera, Telegraph, Times, CNN fake narratives [among many others]. The death of Marie Colvin was another such casus belli, thwarted once more by Syria’s steadfast and dignified public reaction, the nobility of the Syrian Arab Army on the battlefield and the concerted efforts of anti NeoColonialist researchers and analysts.

It is exhausting for us, on the sidelines of the war on Syria to contend with the relentless stream of hostile journalism but we cannot even begin to imagine the toll it is taking on the Syrian people battling it on the ground while also grappling with the terror hordes introduced into their homeland by our “change” hungry governments. Change at any cost, no matter the bloodshed, the rape, the massacres, the imprisonment, the true starvation, the daily horror that Syrian people must live through.

Siege: any prolonged or persistent effort to overcome resistance

The ignominy of our Governments role in this siege of Syria and their guilt of multiple crimes against Humanity & against the Syrian people must be mercilessly exposed & the monster unmasked.  The lies and hypocrisy that are its oxygen must be snuffed out.

We owe, at least that, to the beleaguered people of Syria.

Malcolm X

END

 

Thanks to Cory Morningstar for your research.

The Wrong Kind of Green

 

[Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

 

LINKS TO MADAYA ARTICLES 

http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/01/12/avaaz-the-wests-online-pro-war-propaganda-and-color-revolution-ngo/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/hayesbrown/a-twitter-account-that-denies-people-are-starving-in-syria-i#.otKk0BE3N

Propaganda alert: Madaya media fabrications; recycled photos

https://www.rt.com/news/328503-syria-madaya-fake-photos/

http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/01/12/avaaz-the-wests-online-pro-war-propaganda-and-color-revolution-ngo/

Madaya: My interview with UK Column

 

A+E Close to Buying 10% of Vice Media for $250 Million

Bloomberg

August 30, 2014

By Lucas Shaw and Christopher Palmeri

 

vice

Started as a counterculture magazine, Vice Media Inc.’s primary business today is video. It operates a lineup of online channels that include news, sports, technology, music and food. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A+E Networks is close to buying a 10 percent stake in Vice Media Inc., a deal that would value the company at about $2.5 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The purchase by A+E, the TV programmer owned by Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Hearst Corp., may be announced as soon as next week, said the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Disney and Hearst each own 50 percent of A+E, which operates its namesake cable channel, along with Lifetime and History Channel.

Related: Time Warner Ends Talks to Acquire Vice Media Stake

Started as a counterculture magazine, Vice Media’s primary business today is video. It operates a lineup of online channels that include news, sports, technology, music and food. It also has a show on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO. 21st Century Fox Inc. owns a 5 percent stake, acquired last year for $70 million.

Vice Media will explore opportunities to provide programming for A+E networks, according to the people, potentially gaining a new outlet for its work. The deal also gives Vice Media money to invest, including funds for news-gathering in far-flung areas.

Media critics have praised the company for a recent series on the Islamic State, the armed militant organization that has seized parts of Iraq and Syria.

Vice Media, which draws viewers to its own sites and on YouTube, appeals to a young demographic that cable networks want to reach. Popular A+E shows, including the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” and “Ice Road Truckers,” attract an older male audience.

The Financial Times reported on the deal yesterday. Time Warner was also in talks to buy a stake in Vice Media. Those talks have ended, a person with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

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