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The Big Answer


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The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote

a book by Sharyl Attkisson

(our site's book review)

From News to Fake News to Bloodsport

Sharyl Attkisson is the talented author of Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, a brave and revealing look into Obama's corruption.

Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.

Sharyl Attkisson pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions
Sharyl Attkisson pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions

Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers, spin doctors, and outside interests to destroy an idea or a person. The tactic they use is the Smear. Every day, Americans are influenced by the Smear without knowing it. Paid forces cleverly shape virtually every image you cross. Maybe you read that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist, or saw someone on the news mocking the Bernie Sanders campaign. The trick of the Smear is that it is often based on some shred of truth, but these media-driven "hit pieces" are designed to obscure the truth. Success hinges on the Smear artist’s ability to remain invisible; to make it seem as if their work is neither calculated nor scripted. It must appear to be precisely what it is not.


Sharyl Attkisson Exposes the Diabolical Tactics of Smear Artists

Veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson has witnessed this practice firsthand. After years of being pitched hit jobs and puff pieces, she’s an expert at detecting Smear campaigns. Now, the hard-hitting investigative reporter shares her inside knowledge, revealing how the Smear takes shape and who its perpetrators are—including Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal and, most influential of all, "right-wing assassin turned left-wing assassin" (National Review) political operative David Brock and his Media Matters for America empire.

Attkisson exposes the diabolical tactics of Smear artists, and their outrageous access to the biggest names in political media—operatives who are corrupting the political process, and discouraging widespread citizen involvement in our pseudo-democracy. See Democracy—an American Delusion.

Most investigative reporters run the other way when they're waved off of Beltway Bubble stories of corruption; Sharyl runs TOWARD the stories
Most investigative reporters run the other way when they're waved off of Beltway Bubble stories of corruption; Sharyl runs TOWARD the stories

Sharyl Attkisson has been a working journalist for more than thirty years and is host of Sinclair's Sunday morning TV program "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." She has covered controversies under the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, emerging with a reputation, as the Washington Post recently put it, as a “persistent voice of news-media skepticism about the government’s story.” She is the recipient of five Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting. She has worked at CBS News, PBS, and CNN and is a fourth degree blackbelt in TaeKwonDo.

Sharyl Attkisson has worked at CBS News, PBS, and CNN and is a fourth degree blackbelt in TaeKwonDo
Sharyl Attkisson has worked at CBS News, PBS, and CNN and is a fourth degree blackbelt in TaeKwonDo

Attkisson has helped expose the deep astroturf network of political and special interests that influence and control politics, government, the media, social media and much of what people ready every day on the Internet. (See Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market for an in-depth look at these networks of political and special interests.)

It feels bad to have your computer watching you—ask Sharyl
It feels bad to have your computer watching you—ask Sharyl

Sharyl Attkisson Is Currently Suing the U.S. Government for Illegal Spying and Harrassment

She is currently suing the U.S. government after three independent forensics exams provided evidence that her work and home computers were monitored by unauthorized intruders using software proprietary to a U.S. government agency, as she reported her Emmy award winning stories on alleged government wrongdoing. See Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden.

Sharyl's work and home computers were monitored by unauthorized intruders using software proprietary to a U.S. government agency—she's getting back at them by suing them
Sharyl's work and home computers were monitored by unauthorized intruders using software proprietary to a U.S. government agency—she's getting back at them by suing them

In 2013, Attkisson received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on "The Business of Congress," which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She received two other Emmy nominations in 2013 for "Benghazi: Dying for Security" and "Green Energy Going Red." Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team's entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report:"Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors." In September 2012, Attkisson received the Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism and the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the "Gunwalker: Fast and Furious" story.

Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into the Bush TARP bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about Red Cross mismanagement. She has received numerous Gerald Loeb Finalist awards, including in 2016, and Emmy nominations for reporting on Follow the Money, Congressional oversight, aid to Haiti, Firestone tires, and dangers of prescription drugs and vaccines (including links to autism).

Attkisson is one of the few journalists to have flown in a B-52 on a combat mission and in an F-15 fighter jet Combat Air Patrol flight.

F-15 fighter jet
F-15 fighter jet

Sharyl Attkisson Spotted the Fake News Trend Long Ago

"Sharyl Attkisson spotted the fake news trend long before it became a recent catchphrase. And she doesn’t portray it, as do many in the mainstream media, as some right-wing conspiracy. In fact, Attkisson told WND she often sees the mainstream media as prime culprits when they push suspect stories. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers, and Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News.

Sharyl doesn't see all the fake news as some right-wing conspiracy—the leftist mainstream media are in on it too
Sharyl doesn't see all the fake news as some right-wing conspiracy—the leftist mainstream media are in on it too

There’s an Agenda to Censor the News as Opposed to Actually Trying to Eliminate Fake News

So, what is really behind the mainstream media’s war on fake news?

"I think the anti-fake news movement itself is a campaign for a narrative-driven propaganda campaign that started about September," reflected Attkisson.

And what’s the purpose of the anti-fake news movement?

"I think there’s an agenda to censor the news as opposed to actually trying to eliminate fake news," she said.

Attkisson thinks there’s an agenda to censor the news as opposed to actually trying to eliminate fake news—which is merely the cover story
Attkisson thinks there’s an agenda to censor the news as opposed to actually trying to eliminate fake news—which is merely the cover story

Years ago, Attkisson noticed the emergence of what is now called fake news, only she called such stories by their traditional name: a smear. The reporter began researching the topic in earnest, and the result is this book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.

She explained, "I’ve just been intrigued in the last few years about the manipulation I see going on, on the news and online, including social media, whether it’s fake Twitter accounts, fake Facebook accounts, propaganda efforts that are started this way and then picked up by what you might consider secondary news outlets, and then are picked up by the mainstream news."

She sees fake Twitter accounts, fake Facebook accounts, propaganda efforts that are started this way and then picked up by secondary news outlets, and then are picked up by the mainstream news
She sees fake Twitter accounts, fake Facebook accounts, propaganda efforts that are started this way and then picked up by secondary news outlets, and then are picked up by the mainstream news

The ace reporter said it’s "fascinating to watch that process formalize and to dig into its origins," especially because, "I was subject to some of that when I was at CBS News, the efforts to try to stop certain stories I was reporting that were controversial, because they want to make the subject matter go away."

"I discovered there was a lot of funding and organization behind some of these efforts. In digging into it, I thought other people would find it fascinating, too. I think people have a sense they are being manipulated in what they see and read many times, but they don’t exactly know the extent to which it is happening. That’s what the book will talk about." (Source: Superstar reporter warns "fake news" panic is censorship trap, Garth Kant, WND)


She Says "The Mainstream Media Is Totally Fake News"

Their fake news is aggravated by the fact that our news gets filtered by the CIA so that the exploits of the shadow government-controlled military are never reported unless the CIA approves, and the mainstream media never reports unapproved news reports having to do with military or political areas. The exception here is that they exert little or no control over alternative news sources, so consult these media sources if you get fed up with fake news from the mainstream media. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and List of alternative media (U.S. political left).

Our government censors or covers up anything they don't want the public getting wise to, like their unreported imperialism—the U.S. press has a truth filter
Our government censors or covers up anything they don't want the public getting wise to, like their unreported imperialism—the U.S. press has a truth filter

In their landmark book, Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky explained the "propaganda model" that controls the public message by "filtering" disturbing truths, "leaving behind only the cleansed residue fit to print" or air. They say truth is the first casualty of war, and the U.S. empire builders are always at war so . . . do the math.

Truth—rest in peace
Truth—rest in peace

The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote: "The smear: it’s the concerted effort of those working in opposition to individuals or ideas to bring them down with ugly depiction—hit stories—based on half-truths. Here, Attkisson, author of the best-selling Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington and according to the Washington Post a 'persistent voice of news-media skepticism about the government’s story,' discusses how a smear works and who the main smearers are. Obviously relevant after this election year; with a 50,000-copy first printing."—Library Journal

"[The public are] '. . . convinced that the truth is being hidden from them on a massive scale. That someone is manipulating what they see on the news and online. Conspiring to hide select facts and advance particular narratives. Colluding on plots to smear certain people,' Ms Attkisson writes.

'Their suspicions are correct, even if their notion of truth is often confused. In fact, the confusion is often by grand design,' she says, noting that while the 'smear business' has been building for two decades, it’s now reached some kind of hair-raising zenith." (Source: New book: Sharyl Attkisson reveals the ghastly world of political smears, fake news, Jennifer Harper, Washington Times)

"'For now, one thing you can count on is that most every image that crosses your path has been put there for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn’t so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why?' The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote provides more than enough evidence to prove that the mainstream media is totally 'fake news.' . . . In the The Smear, the entire news industry has been co-opted by the Democratic Party or big business interests. Nothing that you read is truly factual—it is processed information expertly disseminated by smear artists. The only figure that has successfully put a wrench into this conspiracy is Donald Trump, whom Attkisson calls a 'wild card.'" (Source: The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote , Benjamin Welton, New York Journal of Books)

The only figure that has successfully put a wrench into this mainstream media fake news conspiracy is Donald Trump, who calls it like he sees it and cares not who likes him doing that
The only figure that has successfully put a wrench into this mainstream media fake news conspiracy is Donald Trump, who calls it like he sees it and cares not who likes him doing that

"In my thirty-five years as a journalist," says Attkisson, "I’ve encountered countless operatives who are pros at peddling smears. They don’t say that’s who they are or what they do. They pose as advocates, watchdogs, tipsters, and public relations agents. They work at global law firms, PR companies, crisis management groups, nonprofits, think tanks, blogs, and strategic communications firms. They send me research, ask to have coffee, press a business card into my palm, whisper into my ear, invite me into their fold, and point me to 'sources.' They use tried-and-true propaganda techniques to attempt to persuade reporters like me to further their narratives. In fact, if they’re really good, they convince us it’s all our idea: we’re expert journalists whose connections and skills have gotten us an exclusive story!"

Attkisson has met countless operatives who are pros at peddling smears. They don’t say that’s who they are or what they do. They pose as sheep, but turn out to be wolves
Attkisson has met countless operatives who are pros at peddling smears. They don’t say that’s who they are or what they do. They pose as sheep, but turn out to be wolves

Fake News Reporters Smeared Candidate Trump Mercilessly

Attkisson explained how anti-Trump propaganda went from him being a clown to him being dangerous. She described, how the whole anti-Trump propaganda smear was "a prototypical case of how a left-wing advocacy group could turn its agenda and narrative into 'facts' in the mainstream news.

“The white nationalist stuff came up through a pro-Hillary Clinton group run by David Brock (founder of the liberal group Media Matters) called Blue Nation Review. And they wrote six articles in five days that were all about alt-right, white nationalists, racists, stuff like that.

"Following the interview, Attkisson sent WND the titles of those Blue Nation Review pieces.

“I think they show they were pushing out a specific narrative. Prior to this time, there was very little if it. They were on different themes.

"She described how, on Aug. 15, the 'collective David Brock propaganda groups begin a theme of Trump and his supporters as white nationalists.'

“And Brock’s Blue Nation Review pummeled Trump in six days with smear articles titled:

“And suddenly, that became a running narrative because someone made it so, not because anything particular happened. It was more that someone decided that would be the agenda."

Thats not news. It's propaganda, lies, fake news, and smearing and it's good that the Macedonian kids came out with PizzaGate stories to balance the whole anti-Trump propaganda smear. And then Hillary committed political suicide with the whole email server debacle, clinching Trump's victory. (Source: Superstar reporter warns ‘fake news’ panic is censorship trap, Natural News Editors, Twisted News)

Liberals and blacks really shot themselves in the foot with the Black Lives Matter slogan—it backfired
Liberals and blacks really shot themselves in the foot with the Black Lives Matter slogan—it backfired


The Black Lives Matter slogan blew up in their faces (hello, President Trump)
The Black Lives Matter slogan blew up in their faces (hello, President Trump)

One of the reasons Trump won is that the Black Lives Matter slogan backfired. It assumed its message was support for black integrity and justice, but many saw the logical message in its subtext: white lives either don't matter or they matter less. See 'Don't Make the Black Kids Angry': The hoax of black victimization and those who enable it. Liberals and blacks really shot themselves in the foot on this one.

White working-class people “feel the government has let them down, and they are hearing ‘Black Lives Matter,'” Cohen points out. [Richard Cohen is the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.] “For [BLM supporters] there is justice in that call, but for so many people, that is saying their lives don’t [matter].” (Source: Inside the extremist movements seeking to capitalize on his victory)

"Mainstream media have overplayed their hand with their unceasing and venomous attacks on Donald Trump. He, of course, has fueled the flames with his petulant taunts, but at the end of the day, it is the media that have squandered their credibility. (But Trump didn't just take it. He called the media liars on their lies.)

Their obsession with possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, even in the absence of hard evidence, has not only blocked Trump’s agenda, but has kept Democrats and other opponents from offering anything like a constructive alternative.

This led inevitably to the debacle at CNN, which had to retract a story that linked one-time Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund. The cable news channel forced three prominent journalists—including Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Lichtblau, who had just joined CNN from the New York Times—to resign. See Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties.

New York Post’s Michael Goodwin wrote: "Standards have been tossed overboard in a frenzy to bring down the president. What started as bias against him has become a cancer that is consuming the best and brightest."

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, whose new book is called The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote, says this overreach is costing media its credibility. "We want to critically and carefully cover our institutions and powerful politicians, absolutely," Attkisson said on Fox News. "But when you do it in such a way that the public no longer believes what they’re getting is the whole truth or sometimes the truth at all, you’ve undercut yourself because we’ll get into an area where people hardly believe anything they hear at first blush." (Source: Opinion: Media courts backlash with constant assault on Trump, Darrell Delamaide, MarketWatch)

The only question that remains is whether any of the mainstream media will cease all the fake news orgies before the public gets fed up and tunes out, preferring reality shows and cop dramas. One would think the media's integrity would kick in soon and they will voluntarily cease their feeding frenzy, or people will head to Alternet.org. One can hope . . .