The Alt-Indie Media and the Cognitive Dissidents of Covid
Praise by Faint Damnation
‘Where there is danger, deliverance lies also.’ — Friedrich Hölderlin, German poet
Preamble: In opening my Substack ‘shop’, I thought the best way to set out the stall was to address issues of integrity, credibility, professionalism, and risk aversion in the media. Perhaps something of a ‘meta’ topic (i.e. media folks talking about other media folks) to get the ball rolling, not that there’s anything wrong with that. —
I’m not though going to be “talking about” the mainstream (establishment or corporate) media here. We’ve all had plenty to say about this craven, venal crowd on these and other points of contention. I’m referring here to the alternative-independent media (AIM); what we might call the ‘shadow media’.
The recent article by NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller calling various players in that space to task opened up a timely portal for your humble in which to enter the fray. The temptation to throw my ‘two bob’s worth’ in on same was difficult to resist; I’ve been keeping the powder dry for too long. No doubt I’ll piss a few folks off in the process, but it’s a price I’m prepped to pay. In order to keep people on their toes, sometimes it be necessary to step on a few! And I’ve no illusions that some will probably say, “WT🤬 is Greg Maybury, and why should I give a toss about what he has to say on anything?” Fair enough perhaps!
Be that as it may, what we’re dealing with now is far bigger than any/all of us and our precious egos or our oracular pretensions to a higher, purer truth. For richer or poorer, here’s the skinny! True confessions of an AIM activist, analyst, rehabbed (mainly) historian, writer, truth pilgrim, new ‘refusenik’, keyboard warrior, cognitive (mostly; on a good day) dissident…whatever. ‘Release the Kraken’, as they say!
— Are We all “Boring and Irrelevant” Now?
The late Gore Vidal—once America’s enduring political voyeur-in-residence and pricker of public egos—bequeathed us this sardonic gem for posterity, ‘[M]ost establishment journalists tend to be like their writing, and so, duly warned by the tinkle of so many leper-bells, one avoids their company…’ Perhaps Vidal’s ‘nod’ to the court scribes of the Brahmin castes and their courtiers might also apply to a few of those ‘cognitive dissidents’ who’ve marked out their turf in and around the alternative-independent media (AIM) sphere.
Mark Crispin Miller’s [MCM] recent broadside (see link herein) against a number of reputable forums, voices, and various high-flyers that populate the AIM domain and the broader dissident commentariat was surprising to say the least. The surprise for this scribe though had less to do with what he said and about whom he said it, than for the fact he chose to air such views so unambiguously and so publicly. In this endeavour MCM didn’t spare the horses. The broad tenets of his views were explored in greater depth soon after in a wide-ranging interview in which he participated with the ever redoubtable Whitney Webb (of Unlimited Hangout). There can be little doubt the esteemed Forbidden Bookshelf editor and myself are simpatico on many matters. This is a point to which we shall return.
To be sure MCM’s ‘diatribe’ against the AIM ‘tribe’ gave me pause to reflect on my own experiences as a news consumer, news aggregator, researcher, reviewer, and frequent “champion” of others’ work; and same as a writer, blogger, and analyst myself. If you like, someone who’s principal objective is to bear honest, ‘no fear, no favour’ witness to the times. And to generally make a nuisance of myself in the service of a higher, purer truth and a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. All of which is to say, the good Prof ‘inspired’ me to finally get a few things off my chest, though no-one should seek to ‘blame’ him for what follows. I take full responsibility for every word!
By his own admission, MCM—a man of no mean repute himself—used to “champion ardently” many of these AIM ‘darlings’. As did I. After noting [that it] “pains me to say it”, he proceeded to lay out his stall: the principal issue with the marques and/or specific personalities singled out by Miller (in the domain that is notionally “leftist”, ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’, ‘leftish’ etc.), was the reluctance or refusal of some of our more righteous leftists, progressives, and otherwise respected dissidents to challenge any/all aspects of the official Covid narrative.
For his part, MCM calls this much touted crisis “a global war against humanity…”; I’d agree, going as far as calling it the most insidious, reprehensible scam-plot-psyop ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public by our economic, political, legal, scientific, institutional, academic, bureaucratic, and corporate elites. And that my comrades I realise is a very big call!
We might say these folks in the AIM—all presumably self-respecting truth pilgrims with ‘street-cred’ to spare—are deemed by MCM as ‘guilty’ as it were of praise by faint damnation! To wit: If you’re not challenging the Covid narrative, you must be supporting it, even if only doing so tacitly, in which case your integrity and credibility is up for grabs. And certainly ignoring it altogether is not an option.
Not only is Miller unimpressed that these names have effectively declared Covid a ‘no-fly-zone’; but
one gets the impression he’s harboured these misgivings about the AIM before the arrival of the Covid ‘caravan’; and
he’s less than enamoured of the dictates of the prevailing media discourse so proscribed by the fatuous, ‘passed its UBD’ left v right dialectic.
Although not intimately familiar with all those name-checked by MCM and/or as up to date with their more recent work, along with others not mentioned I’ve had as hinted my own reservations about a few of them for some time. And like MCM it would seem, not all of them are connected with how they’ve responded to the pandemic du jour.
One person of note Miller saw fit to take to task was my own compatriot Caitlin Johnstone. Not unlike a few others, Ms Johnstone’s appearance on the AIM scene appeared to materialise out of nowhere; this for some in and of itself raised a few eyebrows from the off. Placing that concern to one side, this is not the first time her bona fides have been called into question, as I’d personally noted some comments by folks on social media that did same. At all events, in all matters Covid, CJ laid out her own stall last year, effectively declaring it all a non-story, a personal ‘no-fly-zone’ if you like. Like many I suspect, this was a real WTF Mo to be sure! Insofar as we know, nothing has changed since.
In effect proclaiming that Covid wasn’t worthy of her complete ’n undivided as it were (it was “boring and irrelevant” she reportedly opined), one hoped a trip to ‘Damascus’ in between the numerous lock-downs in her home state in Victoria (see below*) would’ve provided her a reality check of what the agenda is all about here. One, the optics of which if she were to have a good ‘gander’ at, should be in her wheelhouse; indeed it might relieve some of her ‘boredom’ into the bargain.
(*Author Note: This Australian state ‘enjoys’ the dubious distinction of being the most locked down jurisdiction on the planet. In addition it employs some of the most draconian, relentless policing and enforcement measures witnessed worldwide, all under the dictates of one of the most traitorous, authoritarian crypto-‘Trots’—the cretinous as he’s malignant Daniel Andrews—to rear his ugly head anywhere throughout this bespoke crisis.
Overall it’s difficult to view Ms Johnstone’s position as anything other than a slap in the face of those who’ve dared to stand against the tide of the official Covid narrative, or even simply question it in any way. One wonders how many of her loyal followers are feeling now, particularly those who’ve hitherto relied upon her to tell it like it is and who themselves have now considerable misgivings about all things Covid and the overarching agenda of the ‘Great Preset’ gaggle. Perhaps Ms Johnstone, the self-styled “rogue journalist cum prepper”, is now only ‘prepped’ to go selectively ‘rogue-ish’.
Then there are those folks both inside and outside the broader media landscape, with special mention being made of those who’ve put their careers, livelihoods and the well-being of themselves and their families on the line by opposing any/all aspects of the Covid narrative. As someone who in a previous life placed my own career, financial security, and livelihood at risk by standing up for what I felt was right—and having later paid a very big price for that stance—I’m ‘mos’ def down’ with these folks in ways I suspect few of my AIM confreres, detractors or otherwise, are.
(Details of this experience—one which I’ve held off for some time in expounding on—will likely be explored in future articles as the occasion demands it.)
As for placing one’s career on the line by ‘standing up to be counted’, Miller himself ran afoul of the ‘internal affairs’ nabobs at New York University (NYU) last year, a furore which as of this writing is still a ‘work in progress’. In doing so he has placed his own tenure at risk, and is still fighting a legal battle to keep his job. On its face this ‘to-do’ was ignited by comments the sometimes controversial (read: he speaks his mind sans fear or favour) academic was reported to have made to his students.
Basically, the case boils down to all that First Amendment stuff that’s become so, well, “boring and irrelevant” of late, yet which the Founding Fathers of the Republic deemed important enough to place at the top of their Constitutional wish-list; by most accounts they did so to guarantee the freedom, liberty, and democratic rights of the future descendants of its own citizens. (We might surmise from this that Americans appear far more sanguine about forgoing their right to freedom of expression than they are about relinquishing their right to be ‘packin’ heat’, (i.e., bearing arms). Which suggests that Stateside at least, the quill may not be mightier than the sword after all. But I digress.)
For those of us casting a more nuanced eye to the essential “optics” however, the Miller/NYU brouhaha appeared to be little less than an unedifying spectacle of woke-inspired umbrage, indignation, self-righteousness, and border-hopping lunacy—all sound and fury signifying SFA—conjured up by a politically opportunistic, torch-bearing, pitch-fork wielding hooligan horde of not-so-well meaning types screaming “burn the witch”. Few of whom one suspects have experienced a moment of inner reflection or nuanced contemplation in their lives.
Most will readily ID the demographic to which I refer: those delicate flowers who haven’t yet quite figured out if they ‘dress to the left’ or ‘dress to the right’, whether that actually matters, or if in fact there may actually be bigger fish to fry in the grand scheme of the Great Global Gulag Gambit, outside of the conventions of the generally accepted (i.e. politically woke) paradigms. Who knows, they may have even been fully-funded agents provocateurs sans no fixed political abode simply looking to offset the high costs of their tuition and perhaps earn some extra beer money so they can still party down on occasion in their spare time! ‘Weekend warriors’ perhaps? WTF knows?
And if that’s not enough, beyond MCM’s experience, those looking for further insights into the quandary other professional people are forced to face in the present milieu, are invited to watch this short video. After that, watch this video! Some readers will doubtless have their own examples.
— Our Epidemic of Angst, Animus, and Anomie
Truth be told, if CJ and others ‘dragging the chain’ actually come out on the side of the Covid commissars, the vaccination evangelicals and their cadre, I might’ve been at one point prepared to ignore it and move on, and from there hope she’d muster up enough of whatever it takes to rethink her position at a later point. But as of this writing, it seems she is still playing it safe! Not what one might expect of an honest, fearless, self-styled “rogue” truth broker! Y’know, a real-deal, die-hard, renegade, ‘whaddya rebelling against?…whaddya got?’, no-holds-barred, cognitive dissident.
Of course there is still the possibility of an epiphany occurring. As it is with anyone, including those mentioned by MCM. The road to Damascus can be very long and arduous. This, along with numerous other players in the AIM space not so name-checked, a few of whom we’ll attend to directly. Either way, some of these folks appear to be free-floating around in a parallel universe of their own imagining, one unseen and certainly unimagined by the rest of us—perhaps astral travelling in an alternate reality—one with the good fortune of being completely Covid-free. That’s in fact what many of us fighting the good fight are hopeful for: that we might bring a few more people into the tent, regardless of where they might otherwise position themselves on the political spectrum. Apart from anything else, time is not on our side. We could use all the help we can get. And I mean like yesterday! Time perhaps even to ‘sup with the devil’, so to speak, if that’s what it takes.
Covid though is far too big an issue and time too short for Ms Johnstone’s ill-judged remarks to go unchallenged, and for someone like her and the rest of those name-checked (and those not) to be let off the hook so lightly. Her blithe dismissal of the Covid Thing left little room for any of us in this neck of the woods to allow for that.
The most obvious comment to be made here is that few if any of those aforesaid “commissars” and “evangelicals”, or even those amongst us who’ve bought into their bogus narrative without due diligence, would think of, much less dismiss, the matter as “boring and irrelevant”! Certainly not after eighteen months of unfettered insanity, hypocrisy, mendacity, and absurdity, with clearly more of it to come. To say little of the Nuremberg Code-defying criminality afoot! These lunatics haven’t simply engineered a coup from inside the loony-bin as it were; they’re branching out into big-box franchises in a suburb near you. The implications of all this are disturbing to say the least; one does not need to look too hard to find some very unsettling aspects of the "settled" science of the Pharmafia-Medical Papacy as represented by the Covid phenomenon!
Hyperbole you say? Not at all; certainly no more than that perpetrated upon us all about the severity of the “crisis” and the dire implications if we fail to subscribe to what the fear fabricants are shilling us. We only need take one aspect of the widely reported (yet not fully appreciated) impact the shocking mismanagement of this pseudo-crisis has had on people, with Australia being a prime exemplar.
Let’s try and imagine for example how the parents and families of all those young kids in CJ’s home state of Victoria alone experiencing severe mental health problems are feeling about all things Covid. (See above; from the West Australian newspaper, 08/09/21). Then there is the increasing incidences of the voodoo vax actually killing people. There are many adjectives that spring to mind, but we’re unlikely to see “boring and irrelevant” appear on the Top Ten list in a straw poll of such folks so affected. Not in my ‘hood anyway!
This banal repudiation of the significance of what is after all an existential crisis for humanity, almost made me gag. C’mon CJ, spare us please luvvie! “Boring and irrelevant”! Surely you could’ve done better than that? Seriously, what were you thinking? Describing it in such an off-hand manner is little short of insulting to those people who have, for good reason, genuine, grave concerns about all things Covid. The agenda that is, not the virus itself! Same again for those who’ve put themselves out there on the line in fighting this utter madness in whatever way they’ve been able to do so.
What brought the matter into sharper focus for me was to be sure MCM’s broadside on the stand various players in the AIM have taken re: the pandemic! Only for most it ain’t a “stand” at all. It’s more of a seat: in this case a comfy new armchair, one of the reclining kind. Meaning, they are sitting this one out, hoping perhaps that like the bubblegum placed on the bedpost overnight, it will soon lose its flavour, and something more to their taste will come to dominate the 24/7 news cycle where they’ll be able to—once more unto the breach—show off their battle chops in the service of rescuing that elusive higher truth from captivity and let it roam as free as a bird.
This though is nothing short of blind hubris. Studied ignorance. Wishful thinking. In this war, there’s no room for conscientious objectors, each-way punters, or seat-warmers. Having harboured misgivings about the bona fides of some of our AIM brethren for some time, there’s little doubt a few enjoy the ‘high’ of their own supply a tad too much. Perhaps some even embracing—dare one say it?—an inflated sense of their own worth and their contribution to the greater good! Their reputations not so much preceding them as postdating them? The type who don’t feel any compelling need to spray the Glen-20 after the long visit to the bathroom. You get the general drift.
Clearly it pained MCM to declare his frustration in such a manner. As with your ‘humble’, I suspect he is in the main loathe to publicly air critical feedback about/to those folks who we more or less view as ‘kindreds’, whose work we've admired, who we believe have displayed integrity and the courage of their convictions in the past! And with whom we share amongst other things an abhorrence of injustice, arrogance, hypocrisy, and political, corporate, and institutional mendacity, corruption and malfeasance. All of which (and plenty more) are on display for all but the most deaf, dumb, blind n’ indifferent to see.
As noted, MCM didn’t limit his broadside to Ms Johnstone, and seemed perfectly willing to ‘spread the love’. The latter is only one of (too) many in the AIM space who’ve been either hedging their bets on all things Covid, or in some cases have refused to take up the challenge we are being presented by the Great Presetters. I can think of a few more he didn’t call out who’ve been MIA from the frontlines of this war. Two that come to mind are Dandelion Salad and The Greanville Post, forums to which I’ve contributed in the past and for whom I’ve no small measure of respect. (Or maybe that’s now past tense.)
The Righteous Right Reverend himself Chris Hedges—a man whose bully-pulpit peregrinations I’ve admired from time to time—seems also to be hedging his bets (sorry) and reserving all his ‘fire and brimstone best’ for just about anything but the specific Covid agenda. Again, one which like CJ, should be right up his ‘church aisle’! Moreover, one of my sources informs me that people such as Aaron Mate and his father Gabor (both a surprise for me as I’ve admired their work from time to time also) have gone MIA on Covid, or never reported for duty from the get go. Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are another two high flyers who come to mind. There are presumably more, and readers will doubtless be able to drop a few additional names of their own in to the hat.
(👉 Whilst we’re on it, readers should feel free to add their own to the list in the comments section below. I will try and add more later as time and the ‘order of battle’ permits.)
SIDEBAR: And how could we possibly leave out mention of the almighty brouhaha that erupted over Glenn Greenwald’s resignation from The Intercept, the alt-indie media forum which he himself co-founded with great fanfare back in 2014. This much touted antidote (vaccine?) to the fake-news virus that had always infected the establishment media and news landscape, but especially so since 9/11, became perhaps one of the most egregious examples of controlled opposition, if not purveyors of its own unique brand of fake news. Which is to say, far from being the ‘burial ground’ for media bullshit as it were—a place where “fake news” comes to die—it morphed into an entirely different beast.
Perhaps this was the intention from the off of its principal funder “PayPal Pierre” (the eBay founder and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar). The irony—none of it lost on the intrepid, righteous Greenwald or any of the rest of us rabid media mongrels—came so thick and layered you’d have required a McCulloch chainsaw the length of one and a half baseball bats to cut through it all.
At the same time, there has been some dedicated, exemplary reportage from sites and forums as diverse as The Corbett Report, 21Wire, Global Research, the UNZ Review, OffGuardian, Unlimited Hangout, MintPress News, and many others. Here in Australia we have the good folk at Gumshoe News (based in CJ’s own ‘hood as it turns out) also fronting their own righteous campaign against the ‘Covidiocracy’. This is a short list.
Individuals as diverse as Robert Kennedy Jr., Denis Rancourt, Catherine Austin Fitts, Neil Clark, Dr Kevin Corbett, Eva Karene Bartlett, Whitney Webb, Cory Morningstar, Piers Robinson, Michael Swifte, Vernon Coleman, Mike Yeardon, Dr Colin Alexander, Judy Mikovits, Miri Ann Finch, Monica Swit, Maria Zee, and others too numerous to individually name check are fighting the good fight, and doing so with courage, tenacity, and often at considerable personal cost.
As MCM noted—and which a few of the responses to his piece underscored—some hitherto righteous, generally respected truth warriors have wandered completely off the reservation over it, their journalistic instincts apparently untroubled by the dangers and risks ahead for us all, or the holes in the official narrative. Although I’ve not done a full ‘stocktake’ myself, it’s pretty clear that Covid is sorting out some folks in the AIM space as to which side of history they’re on; those who’re serious players n’ stayers when it comes to standing tall in the saddle and being counted where it matters.
Perhaps then we might be grateful to the “Covid commissars” for providing us all this opportunity to get a better handle on who’s the real deal and who isn’t. Who we can rely on, and who we can’t.
Uncle Joe’s Crypto Counter-pravdans (No Small Cults Following)
A premium marque that stands out herein—not in a good way mind you—is the much-revered Counterpunch. This again was one of the AIM brand-names singled out by MCM, and not just because of the paucity of its Covid coverage. That is, he went the full Monty and (re)branded the intrepid ‘Punchers as “crypto-Stalinists”, which by some people’s measure could be seen as a glowing compliment. But to others, these criticisms were hardly good optics!
There’s no small element of irony here in that a few years ago Caitlin Johnstone herself, hitherto a contributor to this perenially proletarian marque, come to grief with the commissars there. Indeed this was the context in which Miller made reference to CP in his piece. I recall myself at the time going in to bat for CJ, though avoiding as I try to do with these things the partisan animus that turned the ‘stoush’ into an infantile, undignified, ‘he said/she said’ brouhaha. More sound and fury! My dog had little interest in becoming entangled in that fight, little less than a left v right bitch-slap fest!
Much the same as ‘he’ (ie. my dog) didn’t with the TYT-Aaron Mate-Jimmy Dore triangular Mexican stand-off earlier this year, another unseemly pissing contest in the AIM. I suspect the hacks, flacks n’ lackeys in Big Media—i.e. the MSM, the ones we all love to ‘hate’ on—would’ve dined out on this contretemps big-time knowing that while we’re ripping into each other we’re not taking stock of what they’re up to. The latter is something I felt was our basic raison d’être: i.e. applying the blowtorch to the belly of the glorified stenographers and perception managers populating the newsbunkers and editorial ‘dunny-lanes’ within and across the NYT/WaPo/CNN/MSNBC et. al. matrix.
That aside, being pretty sure that Miller did not intend his “crypto-Stalinist” remark to be high praise, and admitting that I can’t say for certain the duumvirate of Messrs St Clair and Frank and the rest of the CP nomenklatura are all card-carrying members of Uncle Joe’s apparently still not-so-small cult following, my own dealings with the ‘Punchers (such as they were) left a lot to be desired. From the time (2014) I began to publish my own work, I presented for about three years numerous pieces to them. They didn’t publish a thing, and I stopped submitting content after that. As you do.
Now with this I had no intrinsic issue per se. Yet not once did either of the CP editors (the earlier alluded to Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair) ever acknowledge receipt of my submissions much less provide any feedback. At this point I’ll leave others to make their own deep n’ meaningful interpretations of this puzzling lack of communication. However, the all important, yet oft neglected ‘optics’ become clearer when the following (See next sidebar) is taken into account; it revealed much about the CP brand. And more broadly, much about a certain political mindset of which CP is generally seen to be representative of in the minds of most of us political junkies.
SIDEBAR: In 2017 I submitted a two part essay (see here and here) on the deliberate attack on the USS Liberty by Israel on the 50th anniversary of this event; this occurred during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and Egypt. Space herein precludes a full ‘blow x blow’, suffice to say a couple of things. In collaboration with three of the survivors of the attack, in early June that year respected author Phil Nelson published his Remember the Liberty!: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas. Myself (and many others) considered this effort to be the most complete, up-to-date, indeed still definitive account of this heinous, criminal act. In my view it still is!
My own two-part treatment was inspired by Phil’s work; indeed I worked very closely with the author in the lead up to its publication with a view to getting my own article published around the time of the book’s pub date, on as many forums as possible. This was an important story in anyone’s lingo, with the anniversary providing a significant opportunity to bring it to a whole new audience! The fact that Phil and I were collaborating directly with three Liberty veterans on the project should have lent it even more gravitas.
Moreover, after the person who’d committed to writing the foreword for Phil’s book was unable to do so, I personally approached Ray McGovern—someone who’d already written much on the Liberty incident—and asked if he would be prepared to write it, which he was pleased to do. This of course lent the project even more weight.
The bottom line: For reasons best known to himself, Mr St. Clair ignored my several submissions and entreaties to consider the article, and in doing so overlooked the publication of Phil’s groundbreaking new book. Presumably to commemorate the 50th anniversary himself, Mr St Clair then chose in lieu to republish (rehash is a verb that comes to mind as more accurate) an article he co-wrote on the event with Alexander Cockburn back in 2003. Insofar as Phil and I could gather—and not insignificantly, his Liberty veteran co-authors—Mr St Clair added little or nothing new to the Liberty narrative, still one of the most important in the annals of ‘unresolved’ mysteries and/or criminal conspiracies in US history.
And just in case some folks might be pondering the import and value of Mr Nelson’s sterling effort in reviving this story and/or the merits of my own recollections of the event inspired by his work, I received the following from one of the USS Liberty survivors and a co-author of the book. After that readers can decide for themselves the merits or otherwise of either or both.
Greg, I can’t tell you when I have read a better article about our great ship Liberty and her crew [and] can’t thank you enough for this excellent [essay]….[All] Americans should read this, read Phil’s book, and [then] demand justice once and for all…’ — Phillip Tourney, USS Liberty Survivor. (Via email, June, 2017)
Other than to say it was one of the most gratifying responses I’ve ever received for my work from anyone (and with a project on which I felt enormously privileged to have been so closely involved), I believe it speaks volumes about CP’s cliquey editorial predisposition, to say little for their lack of professional courtesy. That it might say something about journalistic arrogance and an inflated ‘hipper/holier-than-thou’ self-regard is for others to decide. 😉END SIDEBAR
— Standing Tall in the Saddle (Fair Dinkum or Controlled Opposition?)
As the previous sidebar anecdote illustrates, one of my key criticisms has to do with a decided lack of professional courtesy and deference upon the part of certain forums. As with MCM, this came to the fore more recently with the Covid Thing. Case in point: I submitted an in-depth article addressing the broad psychological (especially the propaganda and censorship related) dimensions of Covid, an important angle one might readily suggest.
Yet several sites which had hitherto published my work did not even respond to the submission much less publish. Follow-up queries for feedback were quite simply ignored. Again, the optics insofar as basic professional courtesy is concerned in the AIM space become very clear, though again, such ‘clarity’ hardly reveals a ‘good look’. That there was an element of ‘risk-aversion’ at play appeared obvious.
Another criticism has to do with rigid polemical thinking, i.e. an unwillingness to look beyond the hard and fast left v right binary; this ‘tunnel vision’ appeared to be MCM’s major gripe to be sure. Along with being risk-averse on some issues, some seem only to operate within certain ‘safe’ parameters. In others, there appeared to be a lack of consistency or coherence in the editorial philosophy. Unless one takes a clear right or left stance either way—which is not my schtick and will never be as long as I can avoid it—one does not get a look in.
Still, other marques were insular, seemingly unwilling to experiment with or accept new and different styles and approaches to op-ed narrative and political analysis. All of which is to say, Ms Johnstone is not by a long shot from the grassy knoll on her ‘Pat Malone’ in being open to criticism here. And to be fair, she at least attempted to justify her position on the Covid Thing, if done somewhat disingenuously and clumsily.
Yet such was the import of CJ’s Swiss-like declaration of neutrality on the ‘plandemic’, one of my other private sources on all things Covid—someone not given to embracing “conspiracy theories”, and who’s undertaken an impressive amount of diligent research on the developments which have led us to this point and what Covid’s hidden ‘agenda-benders’ are really up to—suggested she might be “controlled opposition”. An “asset” perhaps? All very loaded terminology to be sure in this ‘neck’ of the media woods.
Now I’m not buying such propositions yet; but the very suggestion unsettled me more than just a tad. It brought to the fore old questions: about whom can we really say, “Who’s ‘fair dinkum’ and who isn’t?” “Who’s truly telling it like it is without fear or favour and who are closet shills?” “Who isn’t bought off and paid for?” That is to say, much the same might be asked of others nominally of a similar ilk to CJ, again whether mentioned or not.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen or heard of certain AIM high-flyers so accused (or suspected) of playing a shell-game inside a hall of mirrors as it were. By way of example, one such person mentioned in MCM’s piece and in the interview is the doyen of cognitive dissidents himself, Noam Chomsky. For many the crown has slipped on the once revered ‘king’, who appears to have overstayed his welcome as it were, whilst still dining out on former glories! Perhaps for some Chomsky in his dotage has himself become “boring and irrelevant”?
And speaking to the broader matter I believe MCM was seeking to underscore, from my own perspective, it is our OCD-like fixation with left v right that is one of the biggest problems here. Indeed it was this obsession if I recollect correctly, at the very heart of the CP/CJ contretemps mentioned in the sidebar above. In CJ’s defence, and for what it’s worth, I’m with her on this point. Whether this has to do with Covid or any other matter (the Israel-Palestine Thing is one that comes to mind), this tiresome obsession takes us on the road to nowhere, certainly not to ‘Damascus’, and mos’ def’ not to the higher moral ground. As one thoughtful commenter put it recently: ‘We have to stop thinking about right and left...They are…meaningless terms.’
As a writer, I’ve never felt constrained by the ‘rules’ of ‘acceptable’ debate and analysis and the inevitable labels that come with the turf. This applies particularly to that framed by intellectually primitive polemics, and the ‘confuse, divide n’ conquer’ tribalist terminology that defines the conservative versus liberal argy-bargy. That I do find “boring and irrelevant”. It is moreover, counterproductive. And divisive, at a time when we truly need not simply to be singing from the same hymnbook, but ‘on the same page’ and ‘in tune with each other’. At least as best we can manage by finding first, then focusing on, common ground.
Like few other pressing matters I can think of with which we’re confronted, Covid has muddied big-time the waters flowing under this fraudulent construct. Perhaps we should again be grateful to the Resetters for this. But by continuing to frame our analysis and our discourse in sync with the left-right binary, we’re playing into the hands of the over-privileged, megalomaniacal power castes that are running the shit-show. Illustrating that that hoary old analogue about rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic still has considerable puff left in it. Only this time, were arguing the toss over why there weren’t more lifeboats or which of our fave tunes we’d like the ship’s orchestra to play next when we’ve only got time for one more!…precisely the game they want us playing.
As I’ve noted once before when I felt compelled to question her bona fides on a particular issue, (a position which incidentally didn’t endear me to one or two card carrying members of her not-so-small cult following): Although it is in my view more than a tad formulaic, I’ve occasionally admired Ms Johnson’s ‘big-stick’, ‘bully-pulpit’ fulminations on many a big issue. She presents as a righteous Truth Pilgrim to be sure; by her own admission this is how she makes her crust. A professional, independent cognitive dissident then? Well, yes, maybe.
Perhaps therein lies part of the problem though, yet again not one where CJ might have cornered the market. To be sure some folks have carved out for themselves a ‘nice little earner’ by standing tall in the “bully pulpit” fighting on the side of ‘truth, justice, and the American way’. From this we might surmise more than a few are unwilling to risk sullying their brand image and rep—and theretofore risking their revenue streams and livelihoods—by straying too far from said pulpit. After all, one can get carried away with this ‘speaking truth to power’ thing! No one wants the collection plate coming back to the rectory with bupkis! Even high priests, soap-boxers, proselytes and card carrying crypto-Stalinists have to chow down once in a while.
— All Conspiracy, No Theory (Apostles and Apostates)
It’s notable that even the estimable Robert Parry, the late founder and chief editor of Consortium News seemed acutely aware of all this, Consortium being another of the iconic AIM ‘marques’ MCM saw fit to take to task. Yet it still holds the distinction of being one of the first cabs off the rank in pioneering fearless, independent on-line political punditry of the type we take for granted today.
That said, for all his deserved street-cred, Parry eschewed any consistent, substantive critical reportage of the US-Israel relationship; I’m talking here in particular, the larger Zionist agenda, and anything especially to do with questioning 9/11. And most tellingly, like so many, he eschewed any investigation of the connection between the two, when there was/is ample evidence for such.
Now I know this to be fact because I have an email communication from him where he categorically refused to entertain any questioning of the official 9/11 narrative. I had earlier mentioned to Parry a presentation I’d watched given by prominent 9/11 Truther David Ray Griffin wherein the latter was taking several AIM nabobs—including Parry—to task for ‘failing’ to adopt a more proactive “truther” position. This of course pre-echoed MCM’s more recent criticism as discussed over all things Covid, the one prompting this diatribe.
The Consortium main-man though was having none of it, “it” being Griffin’s criticism. Or as it seemed clear, the 9/11 Truth movement in general. To my mind, then as now, this latter stand was a curious position to say the least, especially given Parry’s pivotal role in exposing two of the most brazen, outrageous, and consequential scandals cum conspiracies in modern US history: namely the dirty business that was the Iran-Contra-CIA-Israel related ‘guns for drugs’ deal of the Reagan era; and the infamous 1980 October Surprise (not to be confused with the equally infamous—and similarly purposeful—1968 one of the same name).
The 1980 “Surprise” for those unfamiliar with it was the clandestine—and utterly treasonous—Iran hostage delayed release gambit that enabled the Gipper (Ronald Reagan) to defeat incumbent POTUS Jimmy Carter and to stake his claim as the Oval One for the next 8 years! Needless to say, both were dismissed as “outlandish” conspiracy theories; only much later were they revealed to be all too true, i.e. real-deal, ‘ridgy-didge’, bona fide conspiracies. (Deja vu again, anyone?) And Parry played a pivotal role in exposing the truth of both these decidedly dodgy, history altering gambits.
SIDEBAR: For the record I should add that for 4 years I contributed regularly to Consortium News, as noted a marque singled out by MCM for dereliction of duty throughout the Covid crisis. Some background is necessary here. Up until his sudden passing in early 2018, I enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Parry, and held the man in extremely high regard. I still do.
In fact, saddened like many as I was by his sudden passing, I wrote and published a personal tribute to him shortly thereafter. Yet whilst I respected Parry’s stand on 9/11 at the time, it always both puzzled and unsettled me why a veteran gumshoe journo with a track record like his was so risk averse in querying the official spiel of what was still then the biggest (untold) story of all.
It’s also notable that in the wake of Parry’s death, I parted ways with the masthead upon the appointment of the new editor, a Mr Joseph Lauria. Now I was brought up with the ‘old school’ notion that if you can’t find anything nice to say about someone, try to keep your counsel. With Mr Lauria, herein I make an exception, as it serves the purpose of the exercise here in spades.
And though the actual wording of what is to follow may come as a surprise to the man, the sentiments won’t; the Parry family—owners of Consortium—were all made aware of my views about the thoroughly unprofessional conduct and behaviour of their new editor, views which I presume were passed on to him. So no ‘tales out of school’ then. (As it turned out, my views were ignored. Again, WTF is Greg Maybury?)
Let’s cut to the chase: If as Voltaire once opined, 'Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well', then Mr Lauria clearly didn’t get the memo. I doubt the man has ever passed a hallway mirror without pausing to admire the view.
More specifically, and to my mind, troubling—especially as someone helming a once great AIM masthead—Mr Lauria is the sort of individual who’ll impugn then unsparingly disparage another’s character, integrity, credibility, good faith etc., then spitefully belittle then defame them and their work. Perhaps because he did not see they applied to him, in one fell swoop Mr Lauria broke three of the cardinal rules of responsible and ethical journalism, to wit [he]:
gratuitously and libellously accused someone of doing something they weren’t guilty of;
refused to provide any evidence or justification whatsoever for his allegations and claims, [he had none]; and
then declined, when presented an opportunity, to retract the accusations or tender an unreserved apology for making them in the first instance.
The bottom line here is this. The man clearly has an imperious, inflated sense of his own self worth; a refugee from the corporate media himself, sadly Mr Lauria schlepped with him most of the baggage we associate with the more arrogant types we see there. You know, the ones with the ‘tinkling leper bells’ Vidal referred to above.
In sum: Everything Robert Parry was, Mr Lauria wasn’t! Sometimes you strike folks in life who aren’t especially attractive, well-mannered people. Going by my (thankfully) brief experience with the man, he was one of them. And the fact that Consortium has not attempted to address the Covid matter makes their sins of omission and commission all the more glaring. END SIDEBAR
All up then, given the increasingly censorial, vindictive, craven character of the corporate (legacy) media and its partners-in-crime in Big Tech, the predatory, punitive powers that rule us (and them) have a hundred and one ways to shut us down, out, up, then off. A goodly proportion of these are in force as we speak, with more being ramped up every other day.
This reality was indelibly underscored by MCM in his article and his Whitney Webb interview. Ms Johnstone of all people would know this: along with others, she’s making her crust railing about these same folks and the manner in which they abuse their power along with their presumed prerogatives and privilege, to impoverish us and impinge on all things we hold dear.
You know again what I’m talking about here readers: old school stuff like democracy, justice, human rights, freedom, the rule of law, [the] pursuit of happiness, preserving our independence of spirit and action and our privacy and personal dignity, attaining a reasonable level of prosperity and equality of opportunity for oneself and one’s family, amongst other things I thought we were all standing tall in the saddle for.
As much I’d imagine as we’re fighting against draconian censorship, oppressive propaganda and the calculated distortion of truth, the denial of justice, the coercion of consent (or any reasonable facsimile thereof) for their increasingly unrestrained criminal behaviour, actions, and acquiescence to their Stasi-state edicts—the preceding all being amongst the many offensive (in every sense) weapons of choice at the disposal of those seeking tyrannical dominion over every aspect of our lives. All justified under the rubric of ‘it’s for our own good!’ Folks who imbibe this ‘bellyfeel’ bullshit really do need a check-up from the neck-up! And those in the AIM who aren’t taking it all far more seriously and speaking out stridently will themselves quickly become “boring and irrelevant”.
— The Dogs may Bark (But the Caravan Rolls On)
It is therefore difficult all said and done to escape the conclusion that CJ—and again those of a similar bent—are only prepared to go so far in that noble pursuit of truth that seeks to hold those in power accountable for their conduct and behaviour. By declining to take an active interest in, and eschewing discussion of, the most pressing issue of our time (and doing so in such an offhand, imperious manner), if nothing else she and her ilk are leaving themselves wide open to doubt as to whether they are—as we like to say here Down Under—“fair dinkum”! Or if her “pulpit” has simply been a meal-ticket all along, or at least since become one? Whichever way we view it, the ‘optics’ don’t look flash!
The Big question for all is this: Are you a true apostle for the truth? Or are you an apostate? There’s no in-between anymore.
I once recall Ms Johnstone waxed thoughtfully about the inability of people to apologise whenever the occasion demands it. Saying you’re “sorry” is a bit old school in this (ahem) ‘post-modern’ era. Least that seemed to be the key point she was making. An important corollary to this is ‘fessing up when one makes an error of judgment. Something else we might say is not especially au courant in our ‘post-truth’, ‘post-civil’ new age of retarded enlightenment!
Now I’m not suggesting she should “apologise” for taking such a stand and diminishing a matter which is a life and death one for so many. Ultimately she has to make this call. But I am suggesting she is making a gross error of judgment vis a vis Covid. If she wishes to preserve her presumably hard won ‘street-cred’, then she mos def should consider a reboot in her thinking on this matter! Again, the same can and should be said of all those others who are ‘dragging the chain’.
Before one can apologise or simply acknowledge making an “error of judgment” though for anything we say or do, a prerequisite is some self-reflection upon that which one might perceive the need to apologise, rectify, or atone for. Whether this “self-reflection” is induced by us later questioning—without prompting—our actions, decisions, and utterances, or whether it is engendered by others prevailing upon us to do so, is neither here nor there. How it comes about is of less importance than it simply coming about.
But for now CJ you’ve lost me. Completely. You’ve had plenty of time to get your head around this. You’ve lived in one of the worst Covid affected patches of real estate on the planet. You’ve presumably seen and experienced enough up close and personal, perhaps more so than any other issue you’ve tackled. And getting your head around the agenda is not rocket science. (Try this link here for starters. Follow the money. And ask yourself one simple question. Qui bono?)
To reiterate: I won’t suggest you need to apologise: that’s up to you. But I do suggest you need to wake up and smell the floral arrangements. Give serious pause re your position. You know, take that long-delayed trip to Damascus, then get with the program. Trust me: You do not need the test results back from the lab to know there are rats in this bowl of gravy!
And I stress: the very same goes for the rest of those folks out there who pride yourselves on applying without fear or favour the blowtorch to the belly of the beast! You all know who you are! Whilst you’re fiddling about, Rome’s burning! Whilst you’re twiddling your thumbs, that beast is getting bigger and more aggro by the day. Fight or flight? What’s it to be Truth Pilgrims? Time to choose: getting your priorities—or your affairs—in order!?
Above all, might I recommend you deep-six your antiquated notions of left v right? Try and view the political spectrum as circular, not linear, and you might make some progress. It’s about what is right (not “left”) and what is wrong (not “right”) with the world and how it is being shaped and moulded and finessed to suit a tiny group of rapacious, misanthropic lunatics and their useful idiots, some of whom we can presume will make great organ donors for the former once their UBD has expired. Or at best, they’ll make great pets, already well house-trained.
The reality is that the real powers that be in this much mis-ruled world do not—repeat do not—give a ‘rat’s’ about your/our inordinately precious political values and/or where you/we sit on the political spectrum. Just as long as you’re/we’re occupying one side or the other whilst screaming “blue murder” and going for the jugulars of those on the ostensible opposite side of the great faux divide looking to tear each other’s throats out!
As for Covid, we—those of us who see this for what it really represents—don’t wanna have to be the ones who say “we told you so” later. We’re telling you now! There may not be much of a “later”. It might be apt to round things out here by paraphrasing the old Arab proverb: ‘The dogs may bark, but the caravan rolls on’. The Covid “caravan” has been rolling along swimmingly for a while now, and sure, there have been plenty of dogs barking!
Perhaps it’s time though for the dogs to begin biting. Like pit-bulls! With rabies!
Greg Maybury #NewNormal #Together — 8th-11 September, 2021
Greg Maybury is a freelance writer based in Australia. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, financial, national security, military, and geopolitical affairs. For 8 years he has regularly contributed to a diverse range of alternative, independent media (AIM), news and opinion sites, including OpEd News, The Greanville Post, Consortium News, Information Clearing House (ICH), Dandelion Salad, Global Research, Dissident Voice, OffGuardian, Contra Corner, International Policy Digest, Principia Scientific, The Hampton Institute, and others.
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