By Joan Janzen
A young girl wanted to make a cake, but when she realized there weren’t any cake mixes in the pantry, her mom pointed to a cookbook and suggested she think outside the box.
Journalist Sheryl Attkisson said, “I’m constantly telling people to live outside the box.” Attkisson is the host of a non-partisan program called “Full Measure”. Prior to hosting the show she worked at CNN, PBS and CBS News and was the recipient of five Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting. She resigned from CBS after 21 years, primarily because the executive producers shut down any stories that made the government or corporations look bad.
As she covered pharmaceutical industry stories, efforts by large global PR firms hired by the pharmaceutical industry kept the stories from being reported. At that time she noted a “declining appetite for original investigative reporting”.
According to Attkisson, “This all created the information landscape we have today where journalists become writers who amplify whatever establishment scientists or politicians want them to say, and oftentimes at the expense of accuracy.”
Attkisson wrote a book entitled ‘Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism’. “One has to understand, that nearly every mode of information has been co-opted by some group,” she explains. The definition of co-opt is to adopt an idea for one’s own use. She also explains that language is a powerful tool, and even dictionary definitions change throughout the years. “This is all part of a very well-funded, well-organized landscape that dictates and slants the information they want us to have.”
She recalls esteemed scientists with differing opinions who weren’t allowed to voice their views or were afraid to speak out for fear of losing grants. “People don’t understand how the scientific world is so driven by the money they can get for research, and virtually all of that comes through the government.”
She said fact checks on social media are created for the purpose of distributing narratives. “Your common sense is accurate when it tells you how they decided to word something so they could say this thing is not true. At its heart the fact is really true, but the message they’re trying to send is that you shouldn’t believe it.”
Dr. Suneel Dhand referred to an article on the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) website entitled: “Facebook versus the BMJ: when fact checking goes wrong”. Dr. Dhand said, “To be taking articles from the biggest and oldest medical journals in the world and censoring and removing them, deserves an explanation. Facebook is trying to control how people think under the guise of fact checking.”
In her book “The Smear”, Attkisson said, “The goal of people who operate in the industry is to make you think you’re an ‘outlier’, to make you afraid to to talk about your viewpoint, because you may actually be the majority opinion. They want to control that and make you feel like you’re the one that’s crazy, you’re the only one that thinks that way and you shouldn’t voice that opinion. You can be made to believe that if you live in the box, so I’m constantly telling people – live outside the box.”
I choose to live outside the box; how about you?
By Joan Janzen