Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Worst 2024 Election Interference Won't Come From Russia Or China

By Caitlin Johnstone - July 13, 2023 at 08:51AM


The New York Times has been churning out an amazing number of hit pieces on Robert F Kennedy Jr lately. 

On Tuesday the Times published an audio essay titled “Why I Regret Debating Robert F. Kennedy Jr.” by opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo. Manjoo debated Kennedy in 2006 about the legitimacy of George W Bush’s 2004 win against John Kerry, believing that Kennedy’s skepticism of the election results was dangerous.

“Disputing elections is just not good for democracy,” Manjoo says, joining the rest of the American liberal political/media class in rewriting history to pretend they didn’t just spend the entire Trump administration doing exactly that.

Manjoo cites his experience debating Kennedy (whom he repeatedly refers to as a “conspiracy theorist”) to argue that nobody should debate the presidential candidate on the topic of Covid vaccines, adding yet another entry to the countless articles and news segments which were published in the mass media last month saying that vaccine scientist Peter Hotez should reject Joe Rogan’s offer of $100,000 to a charity of his choice if he’d debate Kennedy on the subject.

Last week The New York Times published an article titled “5 Noteworthy Falsehoods Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Has Promoted,” along with a Paul Krugman article which opens with the line “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a crank” and an opinion piece titled “Pro-Vaccine Views Are Winning. Don’t Fear the Skeptics.” which opens with a stab at Kennedy. The week before that there was a standard hit piece by Gail Collins. The week before that there was another piece by Farhad Manjoo about how nobody should debate Kennedy about vaccines.

Sometimes they’re presented as opinion pieces, sometimes they’re presented as hard news stories despite brazenly biased language and overt editorializing, and all are slanted against Kennedy in some way. The New York Times plainly dislikes RFK Jr, and makes no secret of working to make sure its audience dislikes him too.

And this is pretty much what we can expect from American mass media until Kennedy has either lost his presidential race or had his reputation so thoroughly destroyed among the electorate that he can be safely ignored. The message will be hammered and hammered and hammered home until the illusory truth effect causes readers to mistake rote repetition for truth, and Kennedy’s campaign will fizzle.

And Silicon Valley is playing, too. Last month YouTube took down multiple videos featuring two different interviews with Kennedy on the grounds that they violated the platform’s policies against “vaccine misinformation”. Youtube is owned by Google, which has had ties to the CIA and NSA since its inception and is now a full-fledged Pentagon contractor.

Kennedy tweeted some interesting comments about YouTube’s removal of his interviews.

“People made a big deal about Russia supposedly manipulating internet information to influence a Presidential election. Shouldn’t we be worried when giant tech corporations do the same?” asked Kennedy, adding, “When industry and government are so closely linked, there is little difference between ‘private’ and ‘government’ censorship. Suppression of free speech is not suddenly OK when it is contracted out to the private corporations that control the public square.”

This is a point I’ve been emphasizing for years: in a corporatist system of government, where there’s no real separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship.

And it really is interesting how almost everyone seems to be pretty much okay with corporations in the media and Silicon Valley interfering in a US election like this. Everyone shrieked their lungs out about the (now wholly discredited) narrative that Russian bots had influenced the US election with tweets and Facebook memes, but immensely wealthy corporations with universes more influence manipulating the way people think and vote is perfectly fine?

That does seem to be the way of it, though. This past April the Obama administration’s acting CIA director Mike Morell admitted to using his intelligence connections to circulate a false story in the press during the 2020 presidential race that the Hunter Biden laptop leak was a Russian disinfo op, because he wanted to ensure that Joe Biden would win the election. And absolutely nothing happened to him; Morell just went on with his day.

It’s just taken as a given that it’s fine for US oligarchs and empire managers to interfere in an election with brazen psyops and mass media propaganda, even as more and more internet censorship gets put in place on the grounds of protecting election security. If an ordinary American circulated disinformation to manipulate the election, imperial spinmeisters would cite that as evidence that online communication needs to be more aggressively controlled. But when Obama’s acting CIA director does it, it’s cool. Election interference for me but not for thee.

This is where the most election interference will come from in this presidential race: not from Russia, not from China, but from the rich and powerful drivers of the US-centralized empire. The operation of a globe-spanning power structure is simply too important to be left in the hands of the electorate.

I don’t have any strong opinions about RFK Jr and won’t be supporting any presidential candidate in America’s pretend election. But these presidential races do often provide opportunities to highlight the ways our rulers have got everything locked down.

Reprinted with permission from Caitlin's Newsletter.

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