By Guy Crittenden
Five years ago I left a full-time job editing two environmental business magazines, in order to pursue other interests. I'd returned home just after New Year's Eve 2013-14 from a life-changing trip to Peru where I'd trekked the Amazon rainforest and drank the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca with mestizo curanderos. With my paradigm shifted, I devoted considerable time when I returned home researching geopolitical issues. I thought I'd focus on other things but the universe apparently wanted me to read and watch hundreds of articles, documentaries and books about how our world functions.
What started as casual reading and documentary viewing turned into an increasingly structured program of study. Interestingly, at that very time the political process itself took an interesting turn — and one that exposed the dark underbelly of the system like never before. Wikileaks revealed how Hillary Clinton and her team had rigged the Democratic Primary ahead of the 2016 presidential election, cheating what may have been Bernie Sanders' presidential bid, and giving us President Donald Trump, who was supposed to be an easy-to-beat straw man candidate (in something called the Pied Piper strategy). Clinton's comeuppance came when she lost the election to the political novice and reality show host; rather than admit her own failings as a candidate, Clinton then promoted a conspiracy theory made up the night of her loss by political aides Robby Mook and John Podesta, alleging Russian interference had swayed things in favour of Trump. More than two years later, the so-called Russiagate theory has been discredited, but it was successful in giving intelligence agencies an excuse to renew the Cold War with Russia (and China). And Julian Assange languishes in a British prison, with mainstream media smearing him as an apparatchik of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During this time, and the transition from the Obama to the Trump presidencies, no less than seven regional conflicts have continued around the globe in which the United States is bombing, droning or otherwise attacking various societies. I've tracked media coverage of these conflicts and found it not only lacking in substance, but complicit in supporting imperial narratives and propaganda in order to manufacture support for war. Simply put, the media got a lot more awful over this period of time. One indicator is the difference between how it's covered the dirty wars on Libya and Syria, compared to the slightly more critical coverage that at least occasionally surfaced during the dubious Iraq invasions. The same media and liberals that protested the WMD claims that led to the Iraq war consumed government propaganda uncritically related to the Libya and Syrian wars, despite both of them being questionable examples of war based on hegemony, theft of natural resources, and deception. Most concerning was observing human rights groups and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch marching in lockstep with imperial narratives when called upon to do so. (Amnesty International, for instance, supported highly questionable claims about a photo cache associated with a person code-named Caesar that were smuggled out of Syria, and may not represent the industrial-scale torture program inside Assad's prisons, as alleged.)
While legacy brand outlets like the New York Times do an excellent job much of the time, the grey old lady can be counted on to bang the drums for war when called upon to do so. The same is true for the Washington Post — owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, the richest man in history. Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are all thoroughly corrupted organizations that promote war, receive a lot of ad revenue from companies associated with the military-industrial complex and Big Pharma, and whose interview guests (including retired generals) are often undisclosed paid shills for these companies. The liberal outlets are among the worst: it was ironic to see Fox's Tucker Carlson offer more honest reporting about the Middle East in 2018 than his liberal peers on the other networks, with Rachel Maddow spinning Russiagate narrative to wild and paranoid proportions every evening on MSNBC. Most shocking has been the infiltration of presumably progressive programs like Democracy Now! where were see Amy Goodman interviewing representatives from the White Helmets as though it's a serious rescue operation and not the PR front for al-Nusra Front established by a former British special forces officer.
Reliable media list
With all that in mind, I offer readers this selection of journalists I consider reliable, so you can begin gathering honest information in order to create a more accurate picture of what's happening in our world. Just as a doctor first needs to correctly diagnose a disease in order to successfully treat it, you and I — citizen journalists and independent researchers that we are — need to discover the truth about what's going on before we can think through and implement corrective actions, be they issue environmental degradation and ecosystems collapse, perpetual war, militarization of our police forces, corporate money corrupting our political systems, and so on. My own research suggests that a core problem (perhaps "the" core problem) is monopoly capitalism — an economic system has the tragedy of the commons and state violence practically baked in. Forty years of neoconservative and neoliberal policies have inflicted the worst qualities of this system on the public. We need to understand what's not working (for all but the one per cent) and change things.
Many of the writers and sources I highlight below have understood, and write about, the variety of ways in which this system is failing us. Their writings comprise a New Left that reprises in certain ways the Left of 1930s Europe and its leading intellectuals and artists like George Orwell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir etc. They're calling for an end to 19th-century-style empire, the pattern of false-flag attacks used to legitimate regime change wars that are always against "a brutal dictator whose murdering his own people" who happen suspiciously to always be a socialist, usually of a secular country that would be a natural ally against terrorism (if that was really the goal).
This list of examples and links is not meant (at all) to be complete, but more of a sample highlighting some of the best authentic independent voices out there. This is an information kit for hacking your own mind, to free yourself from The Construct (that unholy network of deep state and media actors that herds our ideas inside a tight pen). Read or follow any of these journalists for even just a few weeks and you'll see how irredeemably bad most media is, and how much we're lied to, including by state networks like the BBC, CBC, ABC, PBS and so on. One person's work will reference others and soon you'll have your own larger list of reliable media sources.
Timothy Leary used to say, "Find the others." These are not all of the "others" but it's a start.
From a macro-perspective, these three documentary series or books are very useful in deconstructing the oppressive dimension of the socio-political structure:
THE POWER PRINCIPLE: This link takes you to the first of four parts of a documentary about international affairs and corruption that’s so threatening to the status quo that it’s routinely deleted from YouTube and other platforms. This will give you the widest possible perspective about the 20th century and global capitalism.
A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: This links to the Wikipedia description of Howard Zinn's landmark book, which you can read or listen to in audio book format.
THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: This 10-part documentary series narrated by Oliver Stone fully exposes the real history of the US since World War Two that we’d never learn via mainstream media or even many academic institutions. This is a kind of US version of what The Power Principle exposes more internationally. This is truly eye-popping material. You can find freee episodes on YouTube but they’re often taken down, I chose to purcahse the inexpensive streaming version. It’s available in book and audio format also, but the visual components of the film version are really worth experiencing. This is the link to the first episode on Youtube:
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HITMAN: John Perkins reveals the inner workings from his time working for the CIA etc overthrowing governments in Latin America and committing various acts of political and economic sabotage. I listened to this book in audio format. This is a key book to understanding what the United States is currently up to in its attempt to destabilize and instigate coup d’etat in places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and so on. The same playbook is in evidence in the destruction or attempts to destroy Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc and the installation of vassal states such as the explicitly Neo-Nazi government of Ukraine:
THE DIRTY WAR ON SYRIA: If you research and understand the attempt to destroy the secular civil society of Syria, you’ll understand almost the whole game that’s afoot. Leading lights in exposing the truth about Syria include: Canada’s Eva Bartlett, the UK’s Vanessa Beeley, America’s Janice Kortcamp, Australia’s Professor Tim Anderson and Scotland’s Tim Hayward. Search on their names and key words like “Syria” or “Gaza” and you’ll find your way to rich veins of material that are completely excluded and deplatformed in mainstream media and even most so-called “alternative” media.
JIM CORBETT (The Corbett Report). This program offers excellent ongoing media construction and the occasional in-depth documentary like the ones below:
The assassination of Martin Luther King, solved:
A mind-blowing film about 9/11 offering a very fresh angle:
A two-part documentary on Rockefeller and Standard Oil, and how big oil took over the energy industry and then corrupted medicine, shifting it away from homeopathy and other modalities to today’s pill and injection culture:
MINT PRESS NEWS (An excellent site, linking here to a story exposing the US deep state manipulation of the Hong Kong protests. This is a classic CIA/NSA/Pentagon tactic — take a legitimate protest and then fund extreme groups to warp it into a pro-imperial narrative. They did it with Syria too.)
THE GRAYZONE PROJECT & MODERATE REBELS (Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, etc.)
Sample: Nicaragua story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_-7cE5A78E&t=24s
Sample: Program about Max Blumenthal’s new book The Management of Savagery. (This is one of the best videos I’ve come across recently.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ActAKgwVMU
PUSHBACK (with Aaron Mate´ — a show spawned by The Grayzone Project)
Sample: Interview with Ben Norton about US support of terrorists in Syria. https://youtu.be/zs7RiJL_Zmo
THE JIMMY DORE SHOW (I never miss an episode. This is the best source of info on US politics.)
Sample: Interview with Lee Camp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNhHCsr3NiY&t=456s
THE EMPIRE FILES (with Abby Martin)
Sample: US hidden empire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df4R-xdKvpM&t=10s
ON CONTACT (with Chris Hedges, who also writes at Truthdig)
Sample: (Not from his show, but an important talk about his book America: The Farewell Tour): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeE5WnTUsF8&t=3510s
DEMOCRACY AT WORK (with Neo-Marxist professor of economics Richard Wolf)
Sample: (Skip forward to the second half interview with Chris Hedges):
If you're not watching the Jimmy Dore show on a regular basis, there's a good chance your perspective on US politics is very distorted.
CAITLIN JOHNSTONE (This Australian blogger is one of the purest voices writing today. She nails it every time.)
Sample: This is a typical article of hers:
JOHN PILGER (I consider Pilger the world’s greatest journalist.)
Sample: This links to the film page of his website. Via the Home page you can navigate also to his excellent writings. I recommend starting with his film Utopia about the mistreatment by Australia of its aboriginal population in the Northern Territories, and then his film about global predatory capital The New Rulers of the World: http://johnpilger.com/video
CORY MORNINGSTAR: This Canadian activist and journalist has done some excellent recent work exposing the role of organizations in what she calls the Non Profit Industrial Complex in manufacturing consent for dubious solutions to environmental problems that benefit corporate oligarchies and not the public.
Environment and business journalist and award-winning book author (The Year of Drinking Magic: Twelve Ceremonies with the Vine of Souls, Apocryphile Press) based in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada and Principal of Crittenden Communication. Contact Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org