A trend has emerged at entrenched media publications that’s cause for alarm. I’m referring to stories with headlines that begin with “No,” and then seemingly debunk “conspiracy theories” circulating on the internet and social media or published in “conservative” and “right wing” publications. These stories are typically written by “fact checkers” and “misinformation” reporters and quote people from organizations with impressive sounding names like the “Global Center for Unvarnished Truth and Absolute Accuracy,” a “think tank” I dream of founding to buttress my bona fides.
Invariably, the individuals quoted by the truth arbiters are from outfits that promote the entrenched media’s most cherished ideals. Sometimes the supposed experts graduated from the same Ivy League schools as the reporters. It’s a mutually beneficial eco system whereby reporters quote organizations they support, and these organizations cite their media quotes as examples of their credible expertise.
I’ve previously written about a New York Times’ “No” headlined story written by the publication’s “fact checker” Linda Qui, who declared that diversity, equity, and inclusion had absolutely, positively, nothing to do with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, despite the failed institution’s singular focus on DEI and a disregard for risk management so egregious it didn’t have a chief risk officer for most of 2022. Qui’s “analysis” is an example of what I’ve dubbed Winston journalism, a reference to Orwell’s 1984 character whose job at Oceania’s Ministry of Truth was to turn truth into lies and lies into truth.
Winston journalism is pervasive at entrenched media publications, but especially so at The Washington Post. Glenn Kessler, who dishes out “Pinocchios” as the publication’s anointed “fact checker,” is an example of a Winston journalist extraordinaire.
Kessler recently published a column dismissing claims that financier George Soros “funded” Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA pursuing Donald Trump on controversial criminal charges. The denial is extraordinary given Kessler’s own reporting.
Kessler’s column notes that Bragg was endorsed on May 8, 2021 by the political arm of Color of Change, a criminal justice group, which publicly stated that it planned to spend “over one million dollars” supporting Bragg’s campaign. Six days later, Soros sent Color of Change $1 million.
Color of Change and Soros’ spokesperson insisted there was no co-ordination. Maybe so, but there didn’t have to be. When Soros sent Color of Change $1 million, he knew what it would be used for. Moreover, Soros admitted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he supports soft on crime prosecutors like Bragg.
It’s indisputable that George Soros’ money funded Bragg’s election, but Kessler argues that because Soros didn’t give the money directly, it’s “insidious” to suggest he backed Bragg. I’m not alone in my disbelief about Kessler’s column.
Then there’s the Post’s infamous Taylor Lorenz, who I’ve profiled multiple times (see here and here). Lorenz’s dishonesty is readily apparent in this article about independent journalist Matt Taibbi leaving Twitter for a social media rival.
“(Taibbi’s departure) is an ironic development given Taibbi’s role in the ‘Twitter Files,’ Musk’s attempt to expose alleged collusion between previous Twitter management and the federal government to censor conservatives,” opined Lorenz.
Saying Musk made an “attempt” to expose collusion implied it wasn’t successful. In fact, the ‘Twitter Files’ revealed some alarming disclosures, including that the Biden Administration and other government officials were instrumental in getting Twitter’s censors to suppress damning New York Post articles about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, weeks before the 2020 election.
As well, government officials were instrumental suppressing academics from leading universities who were critical of the Biden Administration’s pandemic policies. Former Twitter executives have since admitted some of their initial decisions were wrong, underscoring the deceit of Lorenz’s “attempt” dismissal.
The Post’s pompous Phil Bump, who I’ve also previously profiled and cited other journalists critical of his deceptive and erroneous reporting, is another master Winston journalist. But the grande dame of the Post’s Winston journalism is Catherine Chelsea Rampell, a political and economics commentator with “a special emphasis on data-driven journalism.” Rampell’s attempted hatchet job on Florida governor Ron DeSantis took Winston journalism to a new low, or high, depending on your point of view.
Rampell’s column is chock full of snide and reflects a decided arrogance, which makes it more alarming because its rife with misinformation.
Here’s a sampling:
In a speech this past weekend in Pennsylvania, DeSantis suggested that the real reason to fear the Fed is that central bankers are “colluding” with other (unnamed, presumably evil) communist-style elites to block your ability to buy gasoline and guns.
“They want the Fed to control a digital dollar,” he said. “Guess what’ll happen? They’re going to try to impose an ESG agenda through that. You go and use too much gas, they’re going to stop it. They’re not going to honor the transaction because you’ve already bought more than what they think. You wanna go buy a rifle, they’re going to say no, you have too many, too many of those, you can’t do it. So it’s ceding the power of our financial freedom to a central bank which does not have our interest at heart.”
You almost need an Alex Jones-style decoder ring to understand what DeSantis is talking about here. Let me attempt to translate.
Here’s Rampell’s interpretation of DeSantis’s comments:
DeSantis is referring to ongoing Fed discussions about whether to create a central bank digital currency, which would be an alternative means for conducting financial transactions that might complement cash and other forms of payment (so that those without bank accounts could still buy things online, for example). It’s a complicated and thorny set of issues, and ultimately the Fed hasn’t decided whether to issue a digital dollar, or what its parameters would even look like.
This does not matter to DeSantis, who appears to be invoking conspiracy theories that the left wants to eliminate physical cash, and possibly the entire commercial banking system, so the Fed can surveil every transaction. The Fed would then use that surveillance to control everyone’s lives, specifically to undermine the Second Amendment and otherwise stamp out liberty as we know it.
Let’s correct a few errors. As reported by Computerworld, President Biden a year ago issued an executive order calling for more research on developing a national digital currency through the Federal Reserve Bank. It’s a given that the Fed must launch a digital currency because more than 100 other nations, including China, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, India, South Korea and Russia already have pilots or will begin test programs this year. By 2030, the Bank of England and UK Treasury are planning to launch a digital pound.
The Fed has already developed a wholesale central bank digital currency (CDBC) prototype, code named Project Cedar, but the U.S. is a laggard in the space, which is cause for great alarm.
“Whomever sets up large international payment systems first will have a de-facto standard, one which latecomers will have to adopt,” Lou Steinberg, former Ameritrade CTO and managing partner at cybersecurity research firm CTM Insights, told Computerworld. “The US continues to study a digital dollar while others are making progress. We need to prioritize a system for international payments and settlement based on a digital dollar.”
Rampell can speak with great authority on DeSantis’ references to elites, as her bio says she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an unspecified degree from Princeton, where her parents reportedly also attended. But she is either woefully ignorant about digital central bank currencies, unashamedly dishonest, or possibly both, in trying to cast DeSantis as some “looney tunes” nut job spreading unfounded worries about the U.S. government using digital currencies to control behavior.
There’s no debate that digital currencies could be an effective tool for exercising government control, which is why China is at the forefront of developing a digital currency that has already been used in more than 360 million transactions totaling more than 100 billion yuan, or $13.9 billion.
“China wants digital cash because it’s another tool to monitor citizen behavior — how much do you spend at the liquor store, do you go to the movies, and which ones?” Steinberg told Computerworld’s Lucas Mearian, who has written extensively about digital currencies.
Avivah Litan, a vice president and distinguished analyst at research firm Gartner, told Mearian that while there are effective ways to protect privacy for digital cash transactions, such as zero-knowledge proof technology (ZKP), they still rely on the central bank’s good faith.
“In the end, you still have to trust your government to respect your privacy,” Litan said. “That’s a tall order.”
The Biden Administration has shown a willingness to pull all the levers at its disposal to achieve its goals and objectives. As an example, the Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly preparing to announce significant limits on tailpipe emissions, requiring 67% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2032 be all-electric vehicles. The edict hasn’t been subject to Congressional review or oversight, but the entrenched media is just fine with that because they support the policy.
As for respecting Americans’ privacy, an IRS agent showed up unannounced at the home of Matt Taibbi on the day he testified before a government subcommittee investigating the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Many viewed that as a subtle form of intimidation, particularly as the IRS previously was forced to apologize for its mistreatment of conservative groups under the Obama Administration.
Rampell’s aim was to make DeSantis look like a conspiracy mongering fool, despite his impressive background, which includes a law degree from Yale University and serving as an advisor to a Navy SEAL commander while stationed in Iraq. If Rampell wanted to write fairly and objectively about a Fed-backed digital currency, she would have noted the U.S. is dangerously far behind and DeSantis is apparently opposed to catching up.
Experts agree that if China establishes digital currency supremacy, it ultimately would result in the dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. According to Fisher Investments, economic dominos would fall quickly: the dollar’s value would sink, interest rates would rise, and market mayhem would ensue. It’s disheartening that DeSantis hasn’t advocated a position on digital currencies and neither has Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whtimer, both of whom the entrenched media cite as viable presidential candidates.
America needs a strong and nonpartisan media more than ever. China has possibly forever bested America on EV manufacturing, it’s making great strides with its digital currency, and the country is striking trade deals that aren’t dollar denominated. The Post has reportedly lost 500,000 readers since Biden became president, but I imagine Xi Jinping, China’s leader, loves the publication as it diverts attention from what he’s up to and his publicly stated goal to dominate the world.