At this point, references to George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece “1984” are cliché.
The prevalence of authoritarian government control over what we see and hear is so unanimous that the analogy is hardly insightful.
But still—what else better encapsulates the perfect inversion of truth as our regime’s standard operating procedure?
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., founder and chairman of the nonprofit Children’s Health Defense, has filed a lawsuit against the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), an information curation project that presents itself as an organizational “partnership” fighting for global citizen access to reliable news.
In perfect Orwellian fashion, TNI happens to be anything but trustworthy.
The group is led by the United Kingdom’s government-owned broadcasting corporation, the BBC, and includes member organizations such as Meta, Google/YouTube, The Washington Post, and Twitter. Its website states that TNI intends to improve “how news organisations can rebuild trust and tackle the next disinformation challenges.”
Kennedy’s lawsuit (pdf) makes antitrust and constitutional claims against the TNI outlets for working together to collectively censor online news about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election. It aims at the rampant corruption of legacy media and its collusion with Big Tech to maintain an iron grip on the information narrative.
I will not pretend to be a constitutional lawyer who can minutely analyze the particulars of the lawsuit or weigh in on the legal strength of the case.
Rather, my intention here is to cast some light on the social phenomenon of propaganda forums, of which TNI is an excellent example—though hardly the only one.
Founded in 2020, TNI hosts a virtual conference that seeks to educate and inform leaders in the “news” industry on identifying, combating, and (although it is unlikely to admit it) censoring information that it deems dangerous or threatening.
What qualifies in the latter category? You guessed it: anything that doesn’t perfectly align with the interpretation of events that emanates from the newsrooms of legacy media outlets or official government press releases. Those who challenge the status quo are subsequently targeted for public relations annihilation. The primary focus of TNI is then, of course, on silencing dissenting voices around issues such as vaccines and COVID policy. Questions around the legitimacy of elections or voter fraud are obviously a no-go as well.
But this isn’t news to you (no pun intended), as you are reading The Epoch Times, one of the few sources of information that is actually concerned with digging for the truth, no matter how uncomfortable the revelations that endeavor may unearth. This, of course, means that it is the exact type of outlet that is in the crosshairs of those institutions and organizations whose very existence is predicated on maintaining information hegemony.
In the introduction to TNI’s 2022 conference, BBC Director Tim Davie decries the “assault on truth” in recent years. According to Davie, this has culminated in a full-on “information war” in Ukraine in which—you probably guessed it again—Russia is the ultimate villain.
Russia has “criminalized independent journalism,” says Davie, and blocked “independent news sources” including “our own BBC platforms.”
Now, at this point, you should probably be laughing at loud—I know that I was. One of the highest-ranking individuals at the BBC, one of the world’s foremost state-run propaganda outlets, is telling us that there is misinformation about the war in Ukraine and that independent journalism is under attack?
The sheer gall of those who have fashioned themselves as our information overlords is enough to make you believe that the whole thing is a parody.
Independent journalism surely is under attack. Perhaps in Russia, but certainly right here at home. The RFK Jr. lawsuit is based on the fact that there is a ruthless assault on anyone who deviates from the accepted script. As much as organizations like TNI may want to brush aside the Twitter Files, its revelations are impossible to discount if you actually care about “independent journalism,” or—for that matter—the truth.
Figures like those at the BBC, of course, don’t care about actual honest reporting. They care about their position. The incestuous relationship between government and media works to direct the public hive mind toward the former’s desired ends—of which maintaining their comfortable spot sitting upon the backs of a quiescent populace is central.
Does the BBC not know that it is being fed obviously biased information from Western intelligence? Of course it does. And its own reporting on events subsequently justifies the policy positions to the citizenry.
Politicians subsequently get to appear as though they are acting in accordance with the public will. Meanwhile, military and intelligence involvement subsequently expand according to those entities’ analysis of information fed to the legacy-media mouthpieces. Add in the potential for lucrative private sector deals, and the actual criteria for “trustworthy news” begins to take shape.
Media leaders, politicians, military and defense officials—on and on we go in a neverending cycle of self-aggrandizement and personal enrichment.
Everyone wins out. Except for the people.
This isn’t a new concept, though. We’ve seen this from the beginning with the “fact-checking” phenomenon, which is essentially idea laundering between legacy media and social media (with plenty of government pressure) to maintain the former’s relevance. Big Tech makes it so that the only information that qualifies as reliable happens to be coming from the legacy outlets, reporting the regime-approved narrative. If actual independent journalism was allowed to flourish unencumbered, the mainstream would not only lose its position atop the information hierarchy—it would also go bankrupt.
It isn’t just money, though. Getting to decide who is a “Trusted News” source and who is dangerous disinformation is just as much (if not more) about status. The likes of those at legacy-media outlets, the fact-checkers, the censors, the specialists in “fake news,” and the college professors combatting media disinformation—all of them—have divined themselves as our new priestly class.
They decide what can be spoken, and what is verboten. What is sacrosanct, and what is heresy. In their self-declared position as our moral and intellectual superiors, they get to exert real power over our lives—what we say, what we write, and even (as is their hope) what we think.
This isn’t inconsequential. The American Founders believed freedom of expression to be the most fundamental factor of our humanity. No man or woman has the right to unduly inhibit your God-given ability to believe, speak, and live your life by what you understand to be the truth (so long as it is not infringing on the rights of others). Without the protection of that right, there is no America.
In Orwell’s “1984,” Big Brother maintained total control over the dissemination of information in a manner that manipulated the public consciousness to serve the ends of the regime at any given time. As the political expediencies of the moment changed, so too did the narrative. The intention, however, was not to merely keep the people subservient to Big Brother. Rather, they had to be in awestruck veneration of him.
That’s what most people miss about the book. Control over individual thought wasn’t a means to the end of physical control; the control of thought was the end in and of itself. Likewise, our own information curators want to quash dissidence not because it competes with their narrative. They want to quash dissidence because control over what we believe is what their very position is predicated upon. In an otherwise unfulfilled life, it is their means to that most profoundly human need for honor, respect, and adoration.
After the main character was physically beaten down and entirely demoralized by his authoritarian government, the final lines of “1984” read as follows:
“Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his [Winston, the book’s protagonist] nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
I say never give up that struggle. Mutilating your soul in prostration to the regime is no victory. Never love Big Brother.
Love the Truth.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.