"...what defines a smear often lies in the motivation behind, and scale of, the response. Expert smear artists take a sprinkle of truth...and pervert it into a weapon of mass destruction to advance a larger goal, often political or financial...its purpose is rooted in annihilation. It uses propaganda tools to amplify a misdeed out of proportion. It aims to obliterate any obstacle blocking a particular agenda. It gets personal. It goes for the jugular.""The Smear" by Sharyl Attkisson
The following is a news analysis.
Watching the Smear campaign organized by political and industry interests against perhaps the world's most-listened-to podcaster, Joe Rogan, is a bit like watching reruns, if you're been paying attention.
I wrote about the Smear playbook in one of my New York Times bestsellers by the same name: "The Smear."
In that book, I describe how the most effective Smears rely on a grain of truth. And I examined how the left-wing Soros-funded propaganda group Media Matters successfully took down radio personality Don Imus, and pushed conservative personality Glenn Beck off of Fox News TV using the same basic formula.
These personalities, like Joe Rogan, were not really targeted for the supposed deed they committed or slur they uttered.
That's the cover.
They were targeted because their information and views were deemed harmful to the interests that fund Media Matters and other front groups. They were targeted because they had large followings that showed ordinary that they are not really "fringe" or alone in their thoughts and views; thoughts and views that must be suppressed if the special interests are able to successfully control the public narrative.
Here are brief excepts from "The Smear," addressing the destruction of Imus.
And, another excerpt:
Powerful interests have been increasingly threatened by Rogan giving voice to scientists and viewpoints that the interests have worked hard to controversialize and suppress.
So, as part of the routine playbook, they assigned workers to go through every word ever uttered by Rogan to stir up a controversy, and turn it into a news story by relying on a conflicted news media for assistance. In this way, we in the news-- either wittingly or unwittingly-- become little more than tools of the propagandists.
Make no mistake: Rogan is a target not for the words he said, often so long ago that were publicly heard and available for years, but for other reasons. The propagandists are simply using them now as an excuse to try to remove Rogan from the public landscape.
For more on these tactics and how the Smear is deployed every day in ways you may not realize, you can read my book for free at many libraries, or for discounted prices at many booksellers.
Do your own research. Make up your own mind. Think for yourself.
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James Haberkorn says
I think the reason there have been no comments (so far) about this fine article is that most people will read it and simply say, "Amen," and think, 'What more can one say?' The battle lines in society have now become clearly drawn. The middle ground has slipped away beneath all of our feet. The institutions and news channels we have grown up respecting have morphed into something we don't even recognize. The virtues we have always known were right and true, even if we didn't always live up to them ourselves, have been turned on their heads. Honesty, solid research, fairness, common sense, and common decency are no longer prerequisites to being an influential voice in society. Up is down and down is up. I'm quitting Twitter today. Facebook will be next.
Terry Rossio says
But what's strange with journalism today are the journalists.
I used to think all of this organized agenda pushing and media control was a myth. Because, I reasoned, you couldn't get ten thousand journalists (radio, television, magazine, newspaper, internet) to go along with it. You couldn't get three journalists to agree what to order on their pizza, let alone get ten thousand of them to lockstep the approved messages.
Journalists, I reasoned, started out just like you or I, young and idealistic, maybe even wanting to be Woodward and Bernstein. If anything, they would be well-read and youthfully cynical and resistant to authority. NO WAY could you suddenly transform an entire profession into willing, turning cogs of corporate messaging. It defied belief.
Well, guess what.
In all of journalism, I'd say Sharyl Attkisson is the only journalist that I know worthy of the name. A true journalist uses common sense, demonstrates a lack of bias, and is committed to correlating their reports to match reality. But it turns out, these days, that's asking for a lot.
It remains a mystery -- how is it possible for anyone, rich or not, for any organization, powerful or not, to bamboozle or bully the individuals of an entire profession? Journalists are not dumb, the majority must know they have abdicated all the ideals of their profession, as they look straight into the cameras and read their reports.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, as it happens, on a daily basis.
turn off the tv. if need be, control your own information (the news) through the internet, which hosts many gifted journalists and reporters. established institutions have been thoroughly compromised, its middle- and higher management taken over by appointees from the three-letter agencies. the corruption runs deep.
George GEORGE HARTOFILLIS says
Well done Sharyl. I read your book 'The Smear' this summer in Oz while lying on a beach, over a week. Very important reading for people trying to understand the shenanigans behind the scenes. I'm sure Rogan has become another victim of this Archvillain 'Brock' you mention, who worked to promote the Clinton &Co agenda in America. The same people promoting vaccines for Big Pharma. What a sorry state of affairs. Stay safe and keep your head below the turret. Things are heating up in all this lunacy, especially in New York (CFR Central Command) were they injecting poor infants with this poison toxic. True insanity. Keep up the Good Fight. Love your work.
I, too, read The Smear when it first came out. In fact, it was my introduction to SA. And when I read that book, I was appalled by some of the machinations of people like David Brock. But I was just as appalled by a self-described “nonpartisan” journalist writing such a biased book. Case in point: on the chapter covering smearing in the media there are pages and pages of misdeeds by the MSM, but there is not one example of smearing by anyone on Fox News or the “master of smears” Rush Limbaugh (Limbaugh was still doing his show when the book was published). You literally couldn’t listen to Limbaugh’s show for more than ten minutes without hearing him accuse “the Left” or those accused of supporting “the Left” of some (evidence-free) perfidy like wanting to destroy Western civilization. Or that Democrats “always cheat in elections”. Or that climate change was a hoax pushed by “the Left” so they could control all of our lives. And, of course, we all know that Al Gore only talks about climate change so he can make money. How do we know that – because Limbaugh and Hannity told us (or maybe it was Glenn Beck). In listening to Limbaugh and Hannity, I have heard dozens of conspiracy theories (which are really just smears because they cast aspersions on someone’s character and those accused have no good way to fight back). Yet somehow none of that made it into SA’s book.
The Smear is a good book and worthwhile reading. As long as you go in knowing that you aren’t going to get the whole story.
Astute observation. This has been going on for thousands of years in many different ways. With the internet and broadcast journalism it is far reaching and connects the mob with digital torches and pitchforks so to speak, almost with an instantaneous chorus of “crucify him”. It will continue unabated until enough is enough and they that love truth and freedom are compelled to join journalists , or anyone promoting the light in dark places are silent no more.
You have hit the nail right on the head!
Stephen Triesch says
"In that book, I describe how the most effective Smears rely on a grain of truth."
We see it over and over. It is SOP on the left. When the Republicans recently censured Cheney and Kinzinger and criticized the January 6th Committee for trying to criminalize "political discourse," the New York Times accused them of saying that the rioting of January 6th was legitimate political discourse. That claim was picked up by newspapers nationwide and was repeated over and over on national television.
Of course, it was a DELIBERATE misconstruction of what the Republicans had actually said. No Republican congressman has ever condoned that violence, and their criticism was directed at the January 6th Committee's ongoing subpoenas of people who had no role in the violence whatsoever but had either engaged in organizing the rally, had peacefully attended the rally, or had expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the election. The Committee is trying to claim that anyone who questioned the integrity of the election, or had any role whatsoever in the rally, was complicit in a vast plot of "insurrection" against the government. The reality is that of the 200,000 people at the rally, probably fewer than 40 damaged any property and fewer than 100 fought with police. The vast majority of the people who later entered the Capitol were ordinary, peaceful protesters who were waved in by Capitol police.
As usual, the left accuses the right of what they themselves were doing. For four years after the 2016 election, they claimed Trump was an "illegitimate" president who had been "installed" by Vladimir Putin, and that Trump was a "Russian asset" under the direct control of Putin. To this day, anyone who disagrees with any of Biden's policies is said to be spewing "Russian disinformation."
As for supporting rioters, throughout the dozens and dozens of BLM riots in the summer of 2020, the Democrats (and the MSM) expressed almost unqualified support, minimizing - and even defending - the ongoing violence and looting. Kamala Harris helped raise bail money for the rioters. Blue-city DAs dropped charges against hundreds of them, and few ever went to trial. Corporate money flowed into BLM's coffers. CNN's Chris Cuomo famously said, "Where is it written that protesters need to be peaceful?" (Actually, Chris, it IS written in the laws of every city that assault, attacking police, arson, property damage, and looting are crimes, no matter what the excuse.) A few months later, incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed the view that BLM - despite its Marxist ideology, it's explicit intent to overthrow all existing authority, and its history of violence - is basically a mainstream civil rights organization.
I have never seen such constant gaslighting as I have in recent years. When Marxism seeps into the souls of people, all "truth" become political, and no lie is too outrageous if it serves the cause. January 6th was worse than 9/11 and Pearl Harbor? Only psychopaths speak that way.
This is a well-written post, but one that paints a distorted picture by its selective use of facts.
First of all, how do we know that the representation of the censure resolution was a “DELIBERATE misconstruction of what the Republicans had actually said”? More to the point, how do we know that the “Committee is trying to claim that anyone who questioned the integrity of the election, or had any role whatsoever in the rally, was complicit in a vast plot of "insurrection" against the government”? What evidence is there so support this claim? While it is true that the Committee has subpoenaed people who were not even at the rally and, therefore, couldn’t have been directly involved in the insurrection (no quotes needed here), the Committee is tasked with understanding what happened – who was involved in the planning of the rally and who might be able to shed some light on the subsequent events. By Mr. Triesch’s reasoning, no criminal not actually at the scene of the crime could ever be interviewed, let alone charged, by the authorities. The Committee is merely gathering what evidence they can by asking people involved in the rally what they know. No one that I have heard is claiming that everyone involved in the rally is guilty of insurrection against the government (only a very few have been charged with seditious conspiracy so far). And no one that I’m aware of has accused anyone simply questioning the election results of being involved in an insurrection. That’s hyperbole.
I don’t know the exact figures for who did what during the insurrection, but clearly it was a small minority of those that attended the rally. But I don’t get the point. So far 769 people have been charged and 202 have pled guilty. Most of them didn’t do anything violent (so I assume their sentences reflected or will reflect that). But ALL of them were someplace they shouldn’t have been. They went into the Capitol to stop the proper functioning of our government. Full stop. They could have stayed outside and protested all they wanted to. But that’s not what they did.
But the same could be said of the riots in the summer of 2020. Most people didn’t commit acts of violence. But I do agree that too many in the MSM (and some Democrats) tried to downplay and justify the violence that occurred then. Some of their attempts were almost comical. But claiming that “Kamala Harris helped raise bail money for the rioters” gives a distorted picture. She did tweet support for the Minnesota Freedom Fund which was founded in 2016 to help raise cash bail for those charged who can’t afford it (a whole issue unto itself). But the implication that Harris was somehow on the side of those arrested for committing crimes during the riots (I can think of no other reason for bringing it up) isn’t supported by her wanting to see low-income defendants have access to bail.
And Biden condemned the violence. What has Trump said about those who desecrated the Capitol except that there was “a lot of love” between them and the police?
And I would hardly describe the police as “ushering in” the insurrectionists. That’s not what I saw.
While it is true that many Dems accused Trump of being a Russian puppet, it wasn’t a completely unfounded claim given his previous business ties to Russia. And no one that I remember claimed that Trump was “illegitimate” (nor did they claim that Trump didn’t win the election). But the talk of legitimacy hardly started in 2016. The whole “birther” conspiracy that Trump promoted was based on the idea that Obama wasn’t legally allowed to be President. Can’t get much more illegitimate than that. And, of course, Trump has said many times that Biden wasn’t elected legitimately. So the idea that Dems are worse on this score than Reps is not supported by the evidence. Actually, it’s pretty ludicrous.
I agree that when “truth” becomes political “no lie is too outrageous if it serves the cause”. So we have Trump claiming election fraud and QAnon and the various vaccine conspiracy theories. They are all pretty outrageous and have had no evidence produced to support them; yet are believed by many Reps (and, to be fair, a few Dems, believe the vaccine theories). So who are the Marxists?
Clearly 9/11 and Pearl Harbor were worse than January 6 because of the great loss of life and what they portended for the future of this country. But January 6 was worse in one way. It was the first time in my lifetime that any group forcibly tried to stop the peaceful transition of Presidential power. That’s an insurrection no matter how unsuccessfully executed.
Jack Shore says
As each day passes, it has become more and more clear that the Fourth Estate in the US has self-immolated as a foundational institution in a modern functioning democracy. It has become a tool and co-conspirator with the Democrat party to destroy free speech in America and essentially turn the country into an autocratic one-party state. There are of course, still good, honest journalists around, such as Sharyl, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, but they are few and far between. The only hope left for America is for these voices, aligned with freedom-loving podcasters and youtubers to continue speaking with one voice on this issue and to supplant the legacy media, which is a dying corpse, until such time as politicians who believe in these basic principles of free speech are back in control of the instruments of government. Good people of all political stripes from classic liberals to moderate conservatives will support this movement and save the American republic from disaster....hopefully!
I don’t understand the use of the term “smear” in this context. From what I can discern, SA’s defintion of “smear” is the ploy to silence someone for “political or financial reasons” by “blowing out of proportion” something that that person said. But Rogan got into hot water because of his continued screeds against the COVID vaccine and past use of racially charged language (for which he has apologized). It’s hard to see that reaction to his vaccine stance is blowing anything "out of proportion”. His most recent issue with Spotify was caused by several musicians pulling their music from Spotify in protest of sharing the platform with Rogan. And their decision was based on his vaccine stance. And his vaccine stance was accurately portrayed. There was no need to resort to innuendo or hyperbole.
You can certainly argue that Rogan is the victim of cancel culture for his views. And you can certainly argue that Spotify should let him air his views. But that isn’t being smeared. Here’s an example of a smear: Trump’s rantings about the election officials in several states accusing them of covering up the fraud in the election. There’s no way for these election officials to defend themselves because Trump and his supporters simply refuse to believe that the election wasn’t stolen So many of these officials have had their good names smeared and are now (or soon will be) out of a job. And, by the way, get death threats. Now that’s a smear! I wonder why we don’t read about that in this newsletter?
Christopher Haid says
For those who have read your books; what’s going on with Rogan is a blinding flash of the obvious. I don’t follow Rogan, but the smear pattern is unmistakable. It’s possible that triumphing over the smear will only make Rogan more beloved by his listeners.
PDL should either stop consuming the drugs he is on, or stop watching the pseudo-news stations he is watching. Some people simply cannot be dissuaded from their built-in defenses from their shut minds,