We can choose to accept one news source as our arbiter of truth and let it distinguish the true news from the false for us. Or we can choose to read broadly and trust our own intelligence to determine the reliability of each news source and the veracity of each news report. — Excerpt from Red White & BlindThe signs are everywhere that we live in a society seemingly incapable of civil dialogue. The culture and information wars playing out in the media have generated ferocious argument, yet very little clarity about how we can engage with each other across the vast differences in the news we consume. Real corruptions and cover-ups remain hidden from public awareness, largely due to the special interests driving our corporate media systems telling us what to believe and not to believe.
Yet what if we can have a nuanced, nonpartisan conversation about the very controversial issues shaping our lives?
Meet Tony Brasunas, a committed independent media activist who has researched and wrote extensively about censorship, propaganda, free speech, and media literacy in America for a number of years.
I recently hosted an interview with Brasunas for WantToKnow.info, where he shares about his recent book, Red White & Blind: The Truth about Disinformation and the Path to Media Consciousness.
You can find the link to the interview below.
Utilizing a storytelling approach in his book, Brasunas takes people on a journey to explore the relationship between the media and core issues of our times. COVID, Jeffrey Epstein, and the events that transpired on January 6 are few of the many examples he uses to explore how the media covertly shapes public opinion, largely by inciting social division. He also explores issues once discredited as “conspiracy theories,” yet have now turned out to be valid or worthy of consideration.
He calls for the cultivation of media consciousness, a state of awareness that supports people in navigating the manipulative noise of the media landscape. In the interview, he discusses his experiences being censored as a journalist, as well as the corruption he encountered at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. We also explore the history and origins of media manipulation, the different forms of media biases, and media literacy skills that anyone can adopt to build what he calls a “balanced media diet.”
As a young blogger for The San Francisco Chronicle during the buildup to the Iraq war, Brasunas covered an appearance by senator Joe Biden at a downtown hotel. Brasunas wrote that Biden was advocating for an invasion, yet didn’t mention the grave impacts this will have on Iraqi people and the environment. When his piece was published, he was disturbed that his critique on Biden’s call for war was omitted. Who had chosen to censor that section from his article?
I published an online political magazine of my own in San Francisco … focusing primarily on issues that didn't get into the big papers, such as ownership of media, election fraud, and the underlying stories about the Iraq War, third parties, 9/11, and domestic surveillance. I noticed censorship and propaganda distorting virtually every major story in the corporate media, and it inspired me to look more deeply. I learned to distinguish everyday editorial decision-making—which is not censorship—from imperiously silencing viewpoints or entire stories on account of systemic or nefarious bias, which is indeed censorship. — Excerpt from Red White & Blind
In 2016, Brasunas was also censored by Huffington Post for writing about the manipulation of media coverage for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. This led him down a meaningful path to making sense of the vast corruption and media manipulation on both sides of the political aisle.
The media began counting superdelegates in October as if they’d already voted even though today they still haven’t; the DNC performed something shockingly similar to money laundering for the Clinton campaign to circumvent donation maximums and funnel millions to her campaign; the debates were reduced, canceled, or scheduled at times few people would watch, which prevented Bernie Sanders from becoming better known earlier in the primary; and the primary rules as a whole were written and rewritten by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who happens to be a longtime Clinton friend and ally. — Excerpt from Brasunas' censored article for Huffington Post
Despite the challenging problems we face in our media systems, Brasunas carries a positive vision for our collective future. He emphasizes that for the first time in human history, we can interact and share our experiences with each other directly and quickly through the digital world.
A media awakening is unfolding all over the country. Media censorship and propaganda are increasing but so is awareness of this distortion. This isn't the first book on this, and it won't be the last. It has become cliché lately to say a battle is being fought for the minds of Americans, but that's because it's true. This battle is part of a larger war going on all across the world in this era of accelerating technology, globalization, and wealth inequality.
This war is between, on the one hand, reactionaries who seek greater centralization of power into the hands of national and global governing bodies, something that the internet and globalization enable. Opposing them are those whom I call progressives who seek decentralization of power and a return of sovereignty to smaller communities and individuals, things that the internet also enables in a way never before possible. Will the internet enable a small new set of rulers to centralize global power and run the world, or will its extraordinary ability to distribute information and knowledge fuel an enlightenment? The former could happen using modern surveillance, facial recognition, monitored biometrics, controlled social media, and manufactured media narratives. The latter, however, could establish a new decentralized world of smaller, freer, more autonomous communities and nations. The presence or absence of Free Speech and a Free Press will in part determine the outcome of this great power struggle. — Excerpt from Red White & Blind