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Conspiracy-obsessed journalists

 
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marc



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Voodoo Hicks, Armaggedonites and Hollywood Hysterics
The Paranoid School of Political Journalism?

David Aaronovitch and Jonathan Kay, like most other mainstream journalists, clearly regard official narrative questioners as a minority group of deluded fools. But they have gone one step further and actually written books on the subject.

First we had British journalist David Aaronivitch's book Voodoo Histories: The Role of Conspiracy Theories in Shaping Modern Histories which conflated research into official narrative with moon hoaxes, marilyn monroe stories, holocaust denial and the like. Recently Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay - a Visiting Fellow at the neo-conservative Foundation for the Defence of Democracies - has tramped a similar path and also come up with a book that sweeps any number of issues into one bin labelled 'conspiracy theory'.. Kay has written: "Among the Truthers: A Journey into the Growing Conspiracist Underground of 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings and Internet Addicts."

Corporate media has done a very good job of blanking alternative argument out of mainstream discourse. Journalists are reluctant to look at possible malfeasance in this instance, but they could at least pay attention to signs of cover-up evident in official reports (NIST and Kean Report). Given a curtain has been effectively drawn on the issue, why do these journalists feel the need to devote further time and resources to a side-lined subject?

What the books have in common is that they conflate issues and smear researchers, with no supporting evidence for their facile conclusion that any number of people are 'delusional'. Both authors make use of this tactic: "grouping in a bewildering array of unrelated subjects, theories, issues, researchers, pseudoresearchers etc., as the stuff of a generic thing labelled as "conspiracy theories,"- notes Dr Anthony Hall, Lethbridge University.


Best Review of Aaronovitch's book:

Marilyn Monroe and the Iraq war - Solomon Hughes
http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/2079/1/

"Fringe conspiracy theories are often irritating or plain daft, but when peddled by governments and media they can lead to the slaughter of thousands ... The biggest, most successful and dangerous conspiracy theory of modern times does not come from the fringe [but from govt, via mainstream media]."


Last edited by marc on Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:07 am; edited 18 times in total
Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:54 am
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marc



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Now we have another journalist Jonathan Kay's book, "Among the Truthers: A Journey into the Growing Conspiracist Underground of 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings and Internet Addicts.""

Kay showed his form while reporting on the G20 protests, according to Frank Moher, who's put together an excellent review of Kay's book.

Excerpt: "All the tropes evidenced in [Kay's] G20 coverage are present here, too: perception peddled as reality, ad hominens, and a firm conviction that anyone who sees things differently than he does must be a nut. Kay, Managing Editor of Comment at the Post, bills himself on his twitter feed as an “Engineer-turned-lawyer-turned-journalist-turned-book-writing-guy.” But while he is indubitably a journalist and a book-writing-guy, he is not a reporter; he is an editorialist, and remains so here."

"Among the Truthers " reviewed at Back of the Bookshelf, Canada.
http://911blogger.com/news/2011-05-14/among-truthers-reviewed-backofthebookca
Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:57 am
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marc



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Another review of Kay's book this time by Donald Benham who teaches politics and the mass media at the University of Winnipeg.

Conspiracy hunt doesn't always uncover the truth
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/conspiracy-hunt-doesnt-always-uncover-the-truth-122765389.html

Review published in the Winnipeg Free Press, a large Canadian newspaper:

Among the Truthers: A Journey into the Growing Conspiracist Underground of 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings and Internet Addicts

IF, while reading the title above, you started hearing the dubious voice of a carnival barker, you already get the idea.

Jonathan Kay, managing editor of the National Post, has walked among the people who think differently from him and found they amuse him.

In his first book, Kay mercilessly mocks people who have given up their jobs and lives to pursue what they believe to be the truth.

Kay was inspired to find out more about 9/11 Truthers after receiving a large volume of email responses to a blog he had written about Winnipegger Lesley Hughes.

The former CBC Radio host was dropped as a federal Liberal candidate in the 2008 election for having written a controversial column in 2002 that questioned Canada's reasons for going to war in Afghanistan.

Kay trots out his sources as cartoon cut-outs, whom he freely diagnoses as "megalomaniacal paranoiacs," "damaged survivors" or other psychiatric labels without, as far as he tells us, any qualifications to do so.

Kay's fundamental premise is that all 9/11 Truthers must be wrong, because it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would ever be involved in anything illegal -- a position he maintains despite being forced to concede "a grain of truth" in many examples that demonstrate his premise is flawed.

As to the detailed discussion of charges and counter-charges about 9/11, Kay early on refers readers to other sources that he says do a better job than he could.

This conveniently allows him to quote 9/11 Truthers at length without ever dealing with the substance of what his sources are saying.

There is an extremely ugly side to Kay's bandying about labels and motives. Every few pages he lumps everyone who disagrees with him into a grab-bag of characteristics that he claims are shared with proven anti-Semites.

In fact, the characteristics -- such as people doing their research carefully and large groups breaking into smaller groups -- are shared among many individuals and groups. Kay's cheap trick is the worst form of guilt by association.

Canadians who want a journalistic approach to the 9/11 Truth movement should ignore Kay's book and turn to the relevant episode of the CBC's current affairs program Fifth Estate, which presents a balanced view of the key issues in the debate.

Kay will be measured and found wanting by many readers on the way he deals with the two most important conspiracies of recent U.S. history: Watergate and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Watergate is not even mentioned.

Strange that Kay recounts conspiracy theories from ancient to modern times, without ever reminding the reader of the real-life conspiracy that began as a widely-discounted theory but was then documented in U.S. Senate hearing rooms and the courts.

Watergate only came to light because two dogged journalists refused to believe the official version and dug deeper. That's what journalists do.

How would history have changed if the Washington Post had assigned Jonathan Kay instead of Carl Bernstein to the bail hearing for the Watergate burglars?

Would he have filed a story about the "routine burglary" -- as every other reporter did -- because he simply couldn't conceive that officials, including the U.S. President, had broken the law?

His treatment of JFK is even stranger -- "schizoid" to use the word he so casually applies to others.

On several pages, Kay acknowledges that the official Warren commission version of a "magic bullet" does not stand up to analysis and that a later report -- endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives -- used new evidence to determine there had been a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.

But before and after those pages, Kay dismisses many of the 9/11 Truthers because they also believe in the JFK conspiracy, without acknowledging that he has been forced to agree there was one.

Nor does the fact that a "conspiracist" was right about one conspiracy earn him the right to respectful treatment by Kay when discussing other allegations of conspiracy.

Twenty years from now, there may be some compelling new evidence that proves Kay right on 9/11; or he may be proven a fool, a tool or a dupe.

All this book proves is that he is better at dismissing his sources by calling them names than he is in probing their statements for truth.

Comment by Silver7 - May 31, 2011 at 12:21 AM
The sole purpose of a book like this is not to inform, but to provide talking points that sound reasonable enough to the uninformed to make sure they stay that way. Sadly, its an all too familiar form of so called "Investigative Journalism" that's meant not to be read and understood, but to be known about and assumed to be correct because it comes from an "Authoritative source". Thankfully, there is a growing number of people who are seeing this nonsense for what it really is, including the reviewer for this article!


Last edited by marc on Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:56 am; edited 2 times in total
Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:58 am
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marc



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Book reviewed at Slate. "You're All Nuts"
http://www.slate.com/id/2292081/

Jonathan Kay's "Among the Truthers" reviewed in New York Times Book Review
The Paranoid Style, by Jacob Heilbrunn. NYT.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/books/review/book-review-among-the-truthers-by-jonathan-kay.html?ref=review

Letters to the Editor of the New York Times
Including one from Dr Paul Zarembka, professor of economics
at the State University of New York
.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/books/review/among-the-truthers.html?_r=1


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Jonathan Kay Attacks Academic Freedom

http://www.thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=699


In 1998 Conrad Black - who was convicted in 2008 in the US for defrauding shareholders - handpicked a few extreme right wing writers to help him launch his Canadian newspaper the National Post. One of them - just out of university - was Jonathan Kay. Canadians rejected the paper and the National Post lost millions and still does. But Mr. Kay was promoted. Most of Mr. Kay's writings since 9/11 have been to defend the US official conspiracy theory regarding 9/11 and fiercely attack every academic who raises questions about its validity.

Kay graduated from McGill University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in Metallurgical Engineering, and with a Master's Degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1994. He then studied at Yale Law School, where he received his law degree in 1997. Before joining the National Post, Kay worked as a lawyer with the New York City office of Goodman Phillips Vineberg. During this time, his practice area consisted primarily of U.S. tax analysis of international corporate transactions. Kay became a member of the New York bar in 1998.

Now, after receiving a $7,714 scholarship to investigate 9/11, University of Lethbridge graduate student Joshua Blakeney has found himself in Kay's crosshairs.

On his website, Blakeney states the objective of his research in no uncertain terms:

“My objective is to evaluate the content, value and veracity of the body of literature that both supports and criticizes the government version of history used to justify the invasions and domestic transformations that make up the GWOT (Global War on Terror).”

In setting out to evaluate this above-mentioned body of literature, Blakeney will be examining evidence related to 9/11 – something Kay carefully avoids doing, for reasons known only to him and his benefactors. Instead of examining the evidence, or lack thereof, surrounding 9/11, Kay is writing a book entitled Among the Truthers: 9/11 conspiracy theorists, Birthers, Armageddonites, vaccine hysterics, Hollywood know-nothings, Internet addicts, and the battle over reality.

In his National Post blog, Kay goes from disparaging those professors who've written reports doubting the official version of 9/11 to attacking academic freedom itself.

Kay said Professor Anthony Hall, founding coordinator of the Globalization Studies program at the University of Lethbridge, is free to believe in any conspiracy theories he likes, “as long as he keeps it out of the classroom.”

It seems that Kay believes his versions of controversial issues such as 9/11, vaccines and fluoride in drinking water should not be contradicted in classroom teachings, in particular, regardless of where the truth lies on any of these issues. There is only one correct version of these issues, according to Mr Kay, and that's his version – which also happens to be the version of corporations with a vested interest in all of these issues.

In a previous Canadian Charger article, we pointed out that in researching his forthcoming book, Kay avoids evidence related to 9/11 and solely focuses on attacking the mental soundness of those academics and professors who've written papers disputing the official version of 9/11, even going so far as to call them delusional, although Kay has no psychiatric credentials whatsoever to be making such claims about anyone, let alone respected university professors.

We also wondered – in that article – why a major newspaper such as the National Post would print such drivel.

In an email, Dr. Hall offers an explanation as to why the National Post and other right wing media outlets have no problem avoiding the facts as they condemn the messengers of information that threatens the neoconservative agenda worldwide.

“Jonathan's book is being published by a subsidiary of News Corporation, the company that created Fox News. That should explain a lot right there,” Professor Hall said.

“I think Jonathan was in a conflict of interest when he made a national story of Joshua Blakeney's receiving a scholarship for his academic excellence without revealing that he is doing 9/11 researcher himself, receiving outside funds for his agenda of research and publication. In Maclean's on campus I have asked the editors of the perpetually-bankrupt National Post to come clean on the financial arrangements behind Mr. Kay's work on 9/11 Studies. Who is paying him, how much and for what?

It seems to me that The National Post and Maclean’s are essentially trying to put a fatwa on higher level university studies on 9/11. Such a fatwa would clear aside empirically-based research so Jonathan can engage in his own spinning of public mythology posing as the psychoanthropologist who has penetrated the deepest cultural mores of the... ta daaaa... the conspiracy theorists. How pathetic!”

... Referring to an array of seemingly unrelated subjects in the title of Kay's book, Dr. Hall said it looks as though Mr. Kay is using discredited tactics: “grouping in a bewildering array of unrelated subjects, theories, issues, researchers, pseudoresearchers etc., as the stuff of a generic thing labelled as "conspiracy theories."...


Jonathan Kay is Visiting Fellow at Foundation for Defence of Democracies
http://www.defenddemocracy.org/index.php?option=com_fddbios&Itemid=326


Last edited by marc on Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:58 am; edited 7 times in total
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'Jonathan Kay’s Paranoid Style of Political Journalism'
Pathologising dissent as 'disease'

A Review of Jonathan Kay's book by Dr Anthony Hall (author of Earth into Property).

"By drawing on the language of eugenics and so-called “mental hygiene,” Kay depicts those that do not accept every detail of the officially-sanctioned myth of 9/11 as sources and carriers of an intellectual infection so menacing that society must be inoculated against this alleged heresy... The extremism displayed .... makes "Among The Truthers" a very significant work, one that will be remembered much like Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist tirades are remembered today as telling snapshots illustrating a particularly extreme instance of America’s need to affirm its superiority through the demonization of others... The well-known propensity to define US identity through acts of physical and rhetorical combat with real, imagined or manufactured enemies is epitomized by Kay’s attempt to cast himself as a modern-day whistle blower calling attention to what he deems to be an upsurge in un-American and anti-Israeli activity."

http://salem-news.com/articles/may292011/911-truth-al.php

A long essay by Dr Anthony Hall. Some short excerpts:

"Enter Jonathan Kay. In his effort to prop up the increasingly discredited narrative of what happened on 9/11, namely that nineteen Saudi jihadists caught the entire military and intelligence apparatus of the United States completely by surprise, Kay resorts to many of the old tactics of media manipulation developed during the Cold War. He employs the whole arsenal of McCarthyesque clichés, where the so-called Truthers are made to stand in for stereotypical communist infiltrators seeking to subvert society from within.

"By drawing on the language of eugenics and so-called “mental hygiene,” Kay depicts those that do not accept every detail of the officially-sanctioned myth of 9/11 as sources and carriers of an intellectual infection so menacing that society must be inoculated against this alleged heresy.

"Kay proposes as the key to his scheme of mental inoculation the introduction in the classroom of education designed to teach students to recognize and avoid the mental disease of “conspiracism.” In pushing this line, Kay goes much farther than even some of the more aggressive propagandists of Cold War anti-communism. By engaging in such rhetorical excesses to smear his opponents, Jonathan Kay raises the ante in what he refers to in an earlier draft of his lavishly-funded research project as “the battle for reality.”

"Kay presents himself as a friend and proponent of the Enlightenment’s heritage of rationalism. But the author then proceeds to trash this vital legacy. By his own admission, Kay violates the rules of scholarly proof and proper citation. He fails to deal in a rigorous way with the existing evidence pertaining to what did or did not happen on 9/11 as well as what did or not happen to make this event the pretext for aggressive wars, illegal occupations, and a many-faceted assault on civil liberties.


"Without even a gloss of credentials in the field, Kay appoints himself as a practitioner his own school of social psychiatry. From this platform of quackery Kay diagnoses all those who do not share his worldview as victims of “collectively experienced mental illness.”


"In Kay’s virulent verbiage he throws around generalizing terms like “Truther,” “Trutherdom” and “conspiracist” in much the same way that bigots of another area could safely deploy terms like nigger, wap, pinko, kike, papist or homo to stigmatize and dehumanize whole groups deemed unfit for full integration into polite society.

"Kay’s resort to the toxic terminology emerging from racist taxonomy shows up in his identification of “the different breeds of conspiracy theorist.” [xx] In this fashion the good, bad or indifferent intellectual work of particular activists is not dealt with on its own merits or demerits. Instead, the power of stereotypes is invoked so that masses of individuals can be set up for indiscriminate smear and ridicule.

[..]

"Kay’s book is one part of a series of initiatives aimed during the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 at pointing audiences away from the reality that many conscientious professionals have already demonstrated at risk to themselves and their careers that the evidence does not support the sacred myth of 9/11.

"The extremism displayed in Kay’s defense of the superstitions attending the officially-sanctioned conspiracy theory makes Among The Truthers a very significant work, one that will be remembered much like Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist tirades are remembered today as telling snapshots illustrating a particularly extreme instance of America’s need to affirm its superiority through the demonization of others.

.......

"Kay’s preoccupation with defending the actions of the Israeli government is mirrored by the politics of the agency that funded his 9/11 Studies, namely the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The declared mission of this organization is to “fight terrorism” through public education. The directors and advisers of the Foundation include Senator Joseph Lieberman, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer and Jean Kirkpatrick.

"As the politics of Kay’s funders and advisors attest, the objectives of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies overlap with those of the Project for the New American Century. Kay contrasts his own general support for PNAC’s agenda of increased military spending with the peace movement’s view of PNAC as a telling expression of “an imperialist faux-democracy ruled by deep-state oil barons, weapons dealers, intelligence officers, and Pentagon war mongers.” (118-120)

"In proposing to invade Iraq during the presidency of Bill Clinton, PNAC famously predicted that public opinion would not line up behind this initiative without the intervention of some catalyzing event comparable to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"The subtitle of Kay’s paranoid text says more about the author’s own self-consuming fetishes than any actual congregation of “9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings and Internet Addicts.” By connecting the so-called Truthers to a list of real or invented groups so easy to bash, Kay recycles the well-known technique inherited from the Cold War of doing propaganda through guilt-by-association.

"Interestingly, Kay deems it unfair when detractors apply to him the same tactics of guilt-by-association that he deploys in Among the Truthers. Kay writes, “angry activists would lecture me about what other journalists had written about their profession, as if I bore some fraternal responsibility for the crimes of my mainstream media colleagues.” (238)

"Rather than deal with the evidence marshaled by those who have questioned the most unsupported and unsupportable aspects of the sacred myth of 9/11, Kay replicates Shermer’s approach by invoking a blanket fatwah on all aspects of 9/11 Studies that do not conform with the defense of the status quo. In the process Kay builds up the straw man of “conspiracism” in order to tear down this entity, not through the application of rationalism but rather through a barrage of ad hominem attacks."

......

De-Torquing Media Spin

"I challenge readers next time they hear the terms conspiracism, conspiracist or conspiracy theories being pompously thrown around as if they really mean something to explore the possible prejudices, blind spots, and barbs of malevolence often lurking behind these turns of phrase." ....
...

"The alternative to our reckoning with the hard truths of 9/11 is endless war and our uncritical submission to a degrading and false picture of reality based not on proven fact but on lies and superstitions convenient to power. "


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"This Government has made me a victim of Conspiracy Theories, because they haven’t answered fully, or allowed anyone to ask the true questions of September 11th, and that’s what I’m asking from you today. For exposure. We are not crazy. We have questions. We demand answers. [...] We’re asking for a new investigation into the events of September 11th, and this time, a truly bipartisan, global, with families invested from the beginning, middle, and throughout the end." - 9/11 Family Member Donna Marsh O'Connor

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Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:27 pm
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And a politician with 'conspiracies' on his mind... Iraq War Inquiry: Blair attacks conspiracies
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1249450/Iraq-War-Inquiry-Tony-Blair-attacks-conspiracy-theories.html
Tony Blair, 6 February 2003: "Let me just deal with the oil thing because... the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it. "...
.... Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as "highly inaccurate". BP denied that it had any "strategic interest" in Iraq, while Tony Blair described "the oil conspiracy theory" as "the most absurd". But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture. Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change....

source: independent.co.uk
Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:55 pm
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Conspiracy Theory, by Paul Craig Roberts
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Conspiracy-Theory-by-paul-craig-roberts-110620-169.html

After a Decade: Have We learned Anything? - Paul Craig Roberts

http://911blogger.com/news/2011-08-24/911-after-decade-have-we-learned-anything-paul-craig-roberts-august-24-2011-information-clearing-house

"The US government’s account of 9/11 is the foundation of the open-ended wars that are exhausting America’s resources and destroying its reputation, and it is the foundation of the domestic police state that ultimately will shut down all opposition to the wars. Americans are bound to the story of the 9/11 Muslim terrorist attack, because it is what justifies the slaughter of civilian populations in several Muslim countries, and it justifies a domestic police state as the only means of securing safety from terrorists, who already have morphed into “domestic extremists” such as environmentalists, animal rights groups, and antiwar activists.

"Today Americans are unsafe, not because of terrorists and domestic extremists, but because they have lost their civil liberties and have no protection from unaccountable government power. One would think that how this came about would be worthy of public debate and congressional hearings."


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Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:17 pm
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Looking forward to Obama advisor (and Samantha Power's spouse) Cass Sunstein's new book.

As ever, he's obsessed with conspiracies. It's entitled:

"Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas"

and will be released in March.

It promises to expose "why perfectly rational people sometimes believe crazy conspiracy theories."
Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:51 pm
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