Because Americans live, increasingly, in echo chambers where our own views are endlessly confirmed– and there is no overestimating the power of the confirmation bias– the same term can quickly become a weapon for each side. During the recent presidential election much was made of “Fake News”. Both sides used calculated untruth and incendiary stories composed largely of bullshit to stir their troops, though the right seemed to use it more, and to more galvanizing effect.
I saw a stat right after the 2016 election, fake news skewed something like 2:1 right, but that’s still a lot of outright bullshit from the left side. I couldn’t find the original cite for the statistic, but here’s the Grey Skank and Steve Bannon/Robert Mercer’s own Breitbart on the well-known phenomenon. I must say, both accounts read well and appear to be, without more research that most news consumers don’t have time to do, plausible. Let us assume for our purposes today, and to avoid the typical distracting argument, that the left and right were equally guilty of lying during one of the ugliest campaigns in our history.
My point is that Mr. Trump and his people, who set new standards for untruth during the campaign and since (hah, so much for my fairness caveat directly above) , introducing us to “alternative facts” and so forth, quickly co-opted the term “fake news” to increase skepticism toward the corporate mass media. One should be very skeptical of corporate media driven entirely by advertising dollars and the bottom line of shareholder profits and enormous compensation packages for its executives. But look how quickly the term “fake news” was pointed back at the exposers of right wing ‘fake news’ and neutralized. Who owns fake news now, bitches? Two wrongs do make a right, yo.
Now the same has happened to the term “The Deep State”. This description of the powerful forces that profit mightily from our globalized “Free Market” and the endless wars we are now embarked on, has been captured by the right. To the right the Deep State is the liberal-biased intelligence community, fanatically determined to bring the new president down. Trump’s people now openly deplore the “Deep State” and everyone is right to deplore it.
A former long-time Republican government budget analyst, Mike Lofgren, spoke to Bill Moyers a few years back about the Deep State. The permanent shadow government is not a new thing, the interests it represents go back to our original one percent, the Founding Fathers, but it’s entrenched and protected in ways we couldn’t have imagined generations ago. Lofgren described The Deep State as ‘a hybrid association of key elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States with only limited reference to the consent of the governed as normally expressed through elections.’
Lofgren set out the workings of our current deep state*, now organized largely around, and justified by, the so-called War on Terror, that bold war against fear itself. It operates by deregulation, privatization, deindustrialization, financialization of the economy, Wall Street as the only casino in town, widening wealth disparity, permanent war, surveillance state, etc. It all takes on the air of the inevitable, a massive conspiracy, but its only deliberate design is to maximize profits for our wealthiest citizens.
Like the deal-makers in the administration we have now. Exxon-Mobil was the first company to research the effects of carbon on our planet’s climate. They made alarming discoveries, decades ago, about what became known as Global Warming and later was re-branded as the less alarming Climate Change. Exxon scientists learned that carbon emissions, like the ones from burning millions of barrels of fossil fuel, were indeed making the world a less habitable place for human and other life.
Then Exxon spent decades funding Climate Change Skepticism. To their credit, and against a mountain of evidence from most reputable climate scientists, they created a sizable block of Climate Change Skeptics including, apparently, our current president.
Exxon knew the lucrative product they were selling was choking the earth to death, but they were making too much money to stop. You know the old dilemma. It’s easy to be critical, but don’t forget, Exxon is about the most profitable corporation in the history of the world. Now their CEO is our nation’s Secretary of State. How’s that for transparency in government? You’ve got to love these guys we’ve got now. They will not let the Deep State get any deeper, despite all the fake news to the contrary.
* Lofgren describes the Deep State as “the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism and the militarization of foreign policy, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure that has given us the most unequal society in almost a century, and the political dysfunction that has paralyzed day-to-day governance.”