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“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
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“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
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“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader

A Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy”

Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating”

By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

In his recent essay “Toxic to Democracy,” Political Research Associates (PRA) Senior Analyst Chip Berlet uses the very same methods of demonization by association that he so strongly opposes. Berlet convolutes historical context, ideological differences, and progressives vis-à-vis extreme conservative/neo-con/libertarians in a diatribe of meaninglessness.

Berlet lumps valid academic research on State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs) in with anti-Semitic jingoism and far right wing extremism.  He suggests that any research that even implies some sort of conspiracy is dangerous and suspect, seemingly forgetting a long list of proven US and other government conspiracies (SCADs) including: Operation Mockingbird, COINTELPRO, Gulf of Tonkin “Incident,” October Surprise, CIA-Contra Dark Alliance, Iran-Contra, WMDs and Iraq Invasion, and the overthrow of governments in Iran, Guatemala, Haiti, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Panama, and many others.

Outrageously, Berlet categorizes progressive intellectuals such as Peter Dale Scott, Michael Parenti, David Ray Griffin, Michel Chossudovsky, and by innuendo the two of us, as dangerous conspiracists. He uses a straw person technique by positing former LaRouche analyst Webster Tarpley, and the Church of God Evangelistic Association founder David J. Smith in the same category as the progressive intellectuals listed above.

At the end of his essay, Berlet attempts to distinguish between people who do power structure research such as G. William Domhoff—who served on Peter Phillips’ dissertation committee regarding the Bohemian Grove in 1994— along with Holly Sklar, former PRA associate and author of a study on the Trilateral Commission compared to those who see elite networks as potential places of planning for self serving advantages. Of course, elites conspire to maximize their power and profits whenever possible.  Corporate boardrooms are rife with such activity and the resulting actions/PR manipulations—as recently evidenced by British Petroleum.  That does not mean one should simply dismiss researching the lies and manipulations of the powerful because it might imply a conspiracy, especially when the lies fail to explain how a 47-story steel frame building (WTC Building 7) collapsed in its own footprint at freefall speed on September 11, 2001, or how a scientific, peer-reviewed, academic journal discovered unreacted nano-thermite in the dust from the World Trade Centers (The Open Chemical Physics Journal).

While we have solid respect for the long tradition of research into extreme right wing and racist organizations for which PRA is well known, we are most dismayed by Chip Berlet’s reactionary dismissal of academic research into conspiracies/State Crimes Against Democracy by long time progressive intellectuals.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

Mickey Huff is an Associate Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and Director of Project Censored/Media Freedom Foundation

See Berlet’s essay “Toxic to Democracy” at http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/toxic2democracy/

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