How Propagandists Co-Opted Fact-Checkers’ and the Press to Control the Information Landscape, part two

Here is part two of three of an interview of Sharyl Attkisson conducted by Mr. Jan Jekeliek of Epoch Times TV. We posted part one yesterday.

QUOTE: Mr. Jekielek: One of these scientists mentioned that it’s a huge problem when the people that are giving the grants are the same people that are setting the policy. Really, could that even be possible? And sure enough, that is the case or has been the case. That’s incredible.

Ms. Attkisson: I don’t know if this is what you meant, but for the people that gave grants—and this isn’t even a matter of debate despite what you may have heard in the news—public tax money was used to fund gain-of-function research.

Maybe there are some details that are sort of in dispute or a little bit murky, but it’s well documented that our taxpayer payer money was used over a period of years to fund controversial research involving the Communist Chinese, for some reason.

Every scientist I spoke to behind the scenes thought that this partnership with the Communist Chinese was one of the most ridiculous and ill-advised things they could ever think of.

Yet they didn’t want to say that publicly. But this is something that Dr. Fauci’s institute, the National Institutes of Health had approved and funded along with the USAID (U. S. Agency for International Development.)

Our Defense Department is part of all of this too. This stuff seemed so ill-advised and is so well documented, and yet people are unwilling to talk about it. Then the narrative is being managed another way.

I remember after reviewing the grants to my satisfaction, because I didn’t know it was true till I found the documentation, and then still hearing, not just public health figures, but reporters claim that none of this had happened.

(Sharyl Attkisson . Non-clickable screen shot)

I can hardly blame the politicians and public health figures, because they have their own idea of what their job is. But we in the media are supposed to at least do an independent job and do our own research and not just take at face value everything one side says. Yet I’m seeing all of this information reported that I know is false.

Early on when reporters were saying that the idea that the virus could have come from a lab in China, it was widely being said that it had been debunked, when as little as I knew, I knew it hadn’t even been investigated yet. I knew the Chinese hadn’t let us in the lab, and I knew that we had very little information. How could reporters be saying, unattributed, that this whole thing has been debunked?

So these are the kinds of things that, early on, are a red flag to me saying somebody is trying to shape the information, and they’re using reporters to do it. Public health figures are involved in some instances. And that makes me want to know what’s really behind it.

Mr. Jekielek: It took the better part of a year to kind of get to the place where you could talk about the virus origins as being something that could have come from a lab, and not as something that was a conspiracy theory. I hate that term actually. The more I think about it, it seems like this pejorative term is designed to be dismissive.

Ms. Attkisson: Very smart, because I discussed that in my second book. That was a phrase and the use that you’re discussing was devised by the CIA as a response to the theories about JFK, conspiracy theories about his assassination. It was shown in documents that there was a suggestion that agents go out and speak to reporters and talk about these things as conspiracy theories.

Again, common sense should tell you, as it does me—I’m married to a former law enforcement official who has said to me many times, the conspiracy theory phrase and its use doesn’t make sense.” Nearly everything is a conspiracy.

As it is used in law enforcement, it simply means two or more people getting together with an idea, usually for something nefarious. So virtually any robbery that involves more than one person is a conspiracy, Bonnie and Clyde is a conspiracy, The Mob is a conspiracy. The official charges are conspiracy to commit X.”

And yet, when you hear people say conspiracy theory, that’s designed to affect this little part of your brain that says, Well, that thing’s not true.” It’s a very well studied phrase that works well on people who don’t think it out.

To me, it’s often a cue that tells me that the thing may well be true. I’m not saying it is because it’s called a conspiracy theory, but because someone’s trying to debunk it, and that usually means a powerful interest is behind it.

And it makes me want to go search for more information on that thing. I always keep an open mind and say that crazy thing that they say is a conspiracy theory may well have some truth in it.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s the thing. There’re so many that have turned out to be true in the last few years. It has almost lost meaning, actually. Hasn’t it?

Ms. Attkisson: Yes. That’s probably the good side of it. They’ve almost overplayed their hand, those trying to shape the information by being so transparent with certain key phrases, which I’ve used in my book and outlined.

When you hear debunked, it was never something people used to go around saying, Hello, I debunked something today.” This is a phrase that was invented and used specifically for this purpose like conspiracy theory, quackery, and anti-vaccine.

Anti-vaccine was a phrase that was unheard of when I started covering vaccine safety issues for CBS many years ago. Then it suddenly emerged on the landscape. Anybody who asked a logical, rational question about the safety of a medicine for an individual was suddenly portrayed as anti-vaccine.

That’s been a very effective propaganda tool that has marginalized people who certainly aren’t anti-vaccine, and kept them from wanting to even ask or dig into questions that people were starting to ask in the early 2000’s.

So there’s a whole list of propaganda phrases that I’ve outlined that I think are cues. When you hear them, they should make you think, I need to find out more about it.”

Mr. Jekielek: I have to mention this because I was stunned to discover that the term anti-vaxxer in the Webster dictionary was modified at some point. This was before vaccine mandates were being imposed by federal government. It was changed from someone who is against vaccines to someone who is against vaccines or vaccine mandates.

Ms. Attkisson: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: Right?

Ms. Attkisson: And who decided that’s what it means?

Mr. Jekielek: This is a fascinating little research project for someone to do, because apparently this was before the big push. The conspiracy theory would be that it was changed to facilitate the vaccine mandate uptake.

Ms. Attkisson: That’s true, because remember I said that virtually every form of information and sourcing that can be co-opted has been. That includes the dictionary definitions. That includes everything, because these are important ways to influence thought. Language is very powerful. People don’t want to be affiliated with certain names and labels.

It reminds me of 1984, the George Orwell story about the futuristic society where history was being rewritten in real time to jive with the version that the government wanted.

Definitions now are being rewritten and changed in real time to fit with the vision of whatever the establishment wants people to think. We’ve seen examples outside of coronavirus, but also related to coronavirus where websites are changed and definitions are altered a little bit to fit the facts.

I remember hearing media say—when it turned out the vaccines didn’t prevent spread, and they didn’t prevent an infection, they weren’t 100 per cent effective, they didn’t prevent hospitalization, necessarily, and they didn’t prevent death—the media were trying to say, Well, they never said that.” And I had to go back and research, because it’s hard to cull through on the internet and do a search that finds all of this.

But with a date search I was able to go back and find that, yes, it was said in the beginning. It was claimed that the vaccines were nearly 100 per cent effective at preventing infection.

Today I’m hearing people say, No, no one ever said the vaccines would prevent infection.” So this definition of what made these vaccines effective was modified over time, because actually they turned to be wholly ineffective in a traditional sense at preventing infections.

So they redefined it to say, Well, they prevent the spread.” And then, when they didn’t prevent spread, they redefined it. Again, it makes me think about definitions being rewritten in real time to fit with what they want you to think. A thing that I love that people at home maybe have never heard of is the Wayback Machine. Do you know about the Wayback Machine?

Mr. Jekielek: Of course. Of course.

Ms. Attkisson: This has been a really invaluable tool for reporting. If you want to see how a website has changed and prove to yourself that, Gosh, that didn’t say that yesterday, this public health website or this definition.” You can go to archive.org, and you can paste in that website.

Many times, I would say three out of five times, an old version has been captured. You can prove to yourself that you are right, that this website used to say something different or a definition has been slightly changed, because the old site is captured.

It has been a fascinating way to prove this attempt to change our perception of how things are, our reality, and what we thought we remembered from the other day, because all we really have now is the electronic record by and large.

And if that can be manipulated, there could be a time when, if they get rid of the Wayback Machine, for example, we can’t ever prove that anything was any different.

Mr. Jekielek: There is another site, archive.is. I use both, because sometimes this one is archived and Wayback Machine is not. The other one is archive.is. I use these all the time.

Ms. Attkisson: Good to know. I didn’t know there was an alternative.

Mr. Jekielek: Especially when I see something that I think is going to get changed. I immediately go and archive it. Now the thing is, when will these systems be co-opted, or will they be co-opted?

Ms. Attkisson: Me too. I’m surprised they’re still here, because it’s been a very valuable tool to fight propaganda and narratives. I did a story on the Wayback Machine people, but one has to suspect there are a lot of people that don’t like them.

Mr. Jekielek: There’s a couple of things I want to talk about. One is to look at some of these things that the mainstream corporate media, and the narrative got wrong, unrepentantly. I don’t think it’s a problem to be wrong as long as you say, Oh my goodness, I was wrong. Here’s the truth.” So, that’s one thing.

The other thing that strikes me, I keep thinking about everything I’ve learned about woke ideology. There’s multiple names for it, and how it works and how it’s socially constructed.

It believes that basically the narrative is the truth. But first, let’s talk about these incredible lists that you created during the Trump presidency. I remember following that list quite a bit, things that were just grossly wrong and that never got corrected.

Ms. Attkisson: I’m compiling a list now, of course, being a list maker. I can just start with the thing we got wrong. So early, many people claimed the lab theory about the release of coronavirus had been debunked, when it absolutely had not been debunked.

We can go to public health officials at first saying masks don’t work. Then they said masks do work, but we didn’t want to tell you because we didn’t want you all making a run on masks. They did not understand that undermines the confidence in everything said from that point on, and admits they have misled the public.

Dr. Fauci, very early on, testified to Congress. Again, this is before I really knew a lot about what was going on, but I was trying to get educated. He claimed in his congressional testimony that the death rate for coronavirus was 10 times worse than the flu, which sounded pretty serious.

Yet I came across an article that was published in a scientific magazine about the same time, authored by Dr. Fauci that said the opposite. It said it was about like a bad flu season. I’m comparing, Why would he be testifying publicly to Congress that it was 10 times worse, but writing in a scientific journal that it was about the same?” It didn’t make any sense to me.

One or the other was wrong, and it turns out that 10 times worse than flu was wrong, in terms of the death rate. We were wrong to send infected people from hospitals to nursing homes, of course. It’s becoming widely accepted that we were wrong.

I was told on the front end by many scientists that it was wrong to isolate at home. We had early data from New York City that showed the vast majority of the people hospitalized with coronavirus had been isolating at home, and that people outside were not getting sick.

Yet here we were telling people to go at home and isolate. We were wrong to close down the parks and beaches, when we should have been telling people to go to the parks and beaches. That’s so clear now.

We were wrong to tell people to wash their groceries off. We were wrong to tell people that there was a certain period of time if they breathed on somebody, they would or wouldn’t get coronavirus.

At some point, they were saying you had to stand and talk to somebody for 15 minutes. There were a lot of comments made about that. We were wrong to say the vaccines prevented infection.

Then we were wrong to say it prevented spread. Then we were wrong to say that it prevented hospitalization and death. It may in some cases, but it certainly didn’t do what it was designed and advertised to do.

Mr. Jekielek: To be fair, the data that I’ve seen is most robust in showing that it does prevent hospitalization and death to some degree.

Ms. Attkisson: So, let me make a caveat.

Mr. Jekielek: Yes.

Ms. Attkisson: Public health officials at one time said it was 100 per cent effective at preventing hospitalization. There is record of people saying nobody in the hospital has been vaccinated.

That’s false. I don’t have issue with somebody saying there may be an improvement, statistically, we see that this happens. But that’s not what we are being told. And again, that undermines confidence, because people see real life examples of something that contradicts what someone has stated as a fact.

Even today, I don’t doubt that the vaccines may have an impact and may help people’s health outcome. I don’t have any information to say one way or the other. I don’t doubt that that’s true, but it’s false to say you know it’s true in an individual instance.

If somebody doesn’t get very sick who’s vaccinated, they say that’s because of the vaccine, ignoring the notion that the CDC says that most people won’t get very sick, whether vaccinated or not.

So how can you attribute that mild illness in a very specific case, although statistically, you may know or believe it helps. You can’t say in that case that is what happened. And many times they say that. And then many times they also say opposite, if someone who’s unvaccinated gets very sick, it’s because they’re unvaccinated.

But if someone vaccinated gets sick, it’s because they would’ve been even worse if they hadn’t been vaccinated. So there’s just all these contradictions. That’s a mistake to not give the nuance and say what we really know and what we think verses proclaiming things are true.

It’s accepted by many, although it’s not necessarily a consensus yet, that it was wrong to keep kids home in terms of health outcomes overall, mental health outcomes overall, and even just in terms of safety when it comes to coronavirus. That was a very controversial decision.

So there are a lot of things that we could say that might have been corrected sooner. We were wrong to not focus more on therapeutics prior to vaccines and even post-vaccine. Many scientists will tell you that.

Mr. Jekielek: And just not report on it.

Ms. Attkisson: Right. And to make sure that if some reporting occurred, it was made controversial. I will tell you that I talked to many scientists. I will tell you about one who was investigating some therapeutics that were made controversial. He had no vested interest in it, he works at an independent institution.

He was investigating several competing therapies and didn’t care which one was right or wrong. But his institution was part of these studies and he was never able to complete them because they were made so controversial that he was told by the head of institution that their study had to stop.

Which was fine, he said, because they couldn’t get any more recruits for the study because the therapy had been so misrepresented in the press, nobody wanted to be in the study.

He said, The sad thing is now we’ll never have the answer to whether this therapy works, because we couldn’t even complete the study that would’ve answered the question, because the narrative was so powerful.” These are scientists that really have no interest one way or the other.

They certainly have no financial interest. They didn’t care how it came out one way or the other, but they couldn’t even complete their study. That’s an environment that when you can’t get basic scientific information, however it comes out. That’s pretty upsetting.

Pretty early on in January 2021, Congressman Thomas Massie recorded the CDC saying, and top officials and scientists saying something that was patently false that they admitted was wrong, and then nonetheless caught them a couple of days later distributing the false information about coronavirus on a webinar with medical professionals. That should scare everybody to death. To this day nobody been held publicly accountable.

The misinformation was about CDC claiming the original Pfizer and Moderna studies showed that even if you’ve had coronavirus, you get a benefit from getting vaccinated.

The studies showed the opposite—that there was no benefit. In fact, the studies weren’t designed to answer this question, but as a secondary question, and it looked even worse in some instances for people who’ve been vaccinated after having coronavirus.

The point being the studies did not show that. For CDC scientists, their top advisory committee all signed off on this false information. Who knows who fabricated it in the first place.

When Congressman Massie drew that to their attention, he’s an MIT guy who knows a lot about what he is talking about when it comes to science, they patronized him and said, Look at you, you found this when all of our scientists missed this information, we’re so proud of you.”

And then they didn’t change it, the same scientists he had recorded on audio—I did a story on this admitting that the information was wrong—went ahead and presented the misinformation again a couple of days later to medical professionals. Why? Why not hold them accountable and why let them get away with that? That’s pretty frightening.

Mr. Jekielek: Absolutely. The narrative that I’ve found most problematic of all of these is this idea that—and there’s no data to support this that I’m aware of, and I’ve looked, because I found this so disturbing—somehow unvaccinated people are responsible for perpetuating the pandemic. We’ve heard rhetoric like this before, and it’s never ended well. That was my thinking.

Ms. Attkisson: Just the whole idea this was perpetrated at a very specific point in time, again, reeks to me of a propaganda campaign or an operation that somebody decided to launch.

All of a sudden you heard these political figures all using the phrase, and public health officials. I agree. I can’t say I’ve done a comprehensive search of every piece of data, but I certainly haven’t seen or talked to independent scientists who think this is the case.

In fact, as we know, Omicron, the variant of Omicron spreads very well among the fully vaccinated. Maybe it doesn’t make them sicker, but it seems to be a very efficient spreader among the vaccinated.

There’s a lot of questions still to be answered. But certainly the notion that this was a pandemic of the unvaccinated is not supported by the scientists I talked to who’ve had a very good track record when you look back now over a year and a half of their projections and predictions versus some of the others. END QUOTE

We intend to post part three, the last portion of this interview with Ms. Atkisson, on next Monday.


Up next How Propagandists Co-Opted ‘Fact-Checkers’ and the Press to Control the Information Landscape, part one. How Propagandists Co-Opted ‘Fact-Checkers’ and the Press to Control the Information Landscape, part three Here is the third and final portion of an interview of Ms. Sharyl Attkisson conducted by Mr. Jan Jekeliek of Epoch Times TV. We posted part two last
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