If Iraq was main stream media’s failure, is Iran social network media’s failure? [UPDATED]

This blog entry made it onto Huffington Post. You can go comment here.

On May 26, 2004, a year after the invasion of Iraq, the New York Times issued an extraordinary apology for their failure in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, The Times and Iraq

. . . we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged or failed to emerge.

Flash forward to June 12, 2009. Thousands of tweets claim the Iranian elections are rigged. Mousavi supporters fill the streets of Tehran. Within 48 hours, hundreds of thousands of retweets echo and amplify the chants and the cries of mostly anonymous twitterers reporting Iranian state violence. The tweets are homepage news on Huffington Post and Drudge Report. All the diaries of leading blogs are further amplifying the information disseminated by the tweets and retweets.

The Twitter Revolution and the Green Revolution were on! The MSM had failed!

But then. Someone from the Main Stream Media actually investigated on the ground in Tehran – Robert Fisk for the UK newspaper, The Independent

At around 4.35 last Monday morning, my Beirut mobile phone rang in my Tehran hotel room. “Mr Fisk, I am a computer science student in Lebanon. I have just heard that students are being massacred in their dorms at Tehran University. Do you know about this?” The Fisk notebook is lifted wearily from the bedside table. “And can you tell me why,” he continued, “the BBC and other media are not reporting that the Iranian authorities have closed down SMS calls and local mobile phones and have shut down the internet in Tehran? I am learning what is happening only from Twitters and Facebook.”

You will recall that the SNM was, of course, buzzing with declarations that the main stream media was failing to report the “truth” as evidenced in the almost entirely unsourceable, unchallengeable tweets. One of the top trending hashtags at Twitter was #cnnfail.

Fisk, however, did what good journalists do, he put on his shoes and went out to investigate. Most of these ‘truths’ circling the socially networked universe, he quickly found were simply untrue.

Now for the very latest on the fantasy circuit. The cruel “Iranian” cops aren’t Iranian at all. They are members of Lebanon’s Hizbollah militia. I’ve had this one from two reporters, three phone callers (one from Lebanon) and a British politician. I’ve tried to talk to the cops. They cannot understand Arabic. They don’t even look like Arabs, let alone Lebanese. The reality is that many of these street thugs have been brought in from Baluch areas and Zobal province, close to the Afghan border. Even more are Iranian Azeris. Their accents sound as strange to Tehranis as would a Belfast accent to a Cornishman hearing it for the first time.

Fantasy and reality make uneasy bedfellows, but once they are combined and spread with high-speed inaccuracy around the world, they are also lethal. Sham elections, the takeover of party offices, a massacre on a university campus, an imminent coup d’etat, the possible overthrow of the whole 30-year old Islamic Republic, the isolation of an entire country as its communications are systematically shut down.

I am reminded of Eisenhower’s comment to Foster Dulles when he sent him to London to close down Anthony Eden’s crazed war in Suez. The secretary of state’s job, Eisenhower instructed Dulles, was to say “Whoah, boy!” Good advice for those who believe in the Twitterers.

While most of the Fisk dispatches from Iran were picked up in the US blogosphere, this one was not. As happened with the NYTimes, certain information would be “allowed to stand unchallenged.” Many would argue, however, so some of the facts tweeted are incorrect. It’s the fog of war, right? An election was obviously stolen. And clearly there are demonstrations and people protesting. Right?

But where were the protests in the poor area of Southern Tehran asked a former CIA officer, Robert Baer, who was stationed in the Middle East for over 20 years. (The George Clooney vehicle, Syriana, was based on Baer’s novel). Here reporting for Time, Baer writes, Don’t Assume Ahmadinejad Really Lost

There is no denying that the news clips from Tehran are dramatic, unprecedented in violence and size since the mullahs came to power in 1979. They’re possibly even augurs of real change. But can we trust them? Most of the demonstrations and rioting I’ve seen in the news are taking place in north Tehran, around Tehran University and in public places like Azadi Square. These are, for the most part, areas where the educated and well-off live — Iran’s liberal middle class. These are also the same neighborhoods that little doubt voted for Mir-Hossein Mousavi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rival, who now claims that the election was stolen. But I have yet to see any pictures from south Tehran, where the poor live. Or from other Iranian slums.

To challenge such assumptions or ask such questions in the Social Network Media at the moment, however, is tantamount to career suicide, which in the SNM means to be unfollowed and blocked. These questions, therefore, don’t get asked – just as they weren’t asked by MSM journalists in the lead up to Iraq. Today asking inconvenient questions is supporting the ayatollahs, just as asking questions in the lead up to Iraq was supporting Saddam Hussein. And just as the New York Times had their man, Ahmed Chalabi, we have our man, Mir-Hossein Mousavi:

Back to the New York Times apology:

Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.

Now let’s imagine how this paragraph could be applied to the Social Network Media:

Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual tweeters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Bloggers at several levels who should have been challenging twitterers and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops onto the homepage. Accounts of Iranian protesters were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ousted. Tweets based on dire claims about Iran tended to get prominent homepage display, while follow-up tweets (and on the ground articles) that called the original tweets into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.

Yes, there is clearly a massive part of society in Iran who want change, one much bigger than the ‘change’ Americans chose a few months ago. But I imagine the United States, in fact, looked very similar to the outside world in the 1960′s and early 70s, a time of violent street protests and demonstrations, student riots, black marches, Stonewall, Kent State, assassinations and more. History, however, has proven that those in the streets in 1960′s America were on the right side. Their fight was just and it finally prevailed through internal debate, conflict and resolution.

But, imagine, if you will, had France or the UK or any other outside forces, intervened to ‘help’ through either destabilization efforts or with military strikes.

Imagine had change been thrust upon the very sizeable portion of the US population that did not wish to extend freedom to blacks, gays, women or war resisters. Would we today have freely voted in our first black President so soon after Martin Luther King Jr’s march?

The New York Times apologized for being a mouthpiece for the Bush Administration. For failing to question the motives of their sources or to investigate claims that would contradict what the American people seemed to want, for, afterall, the Fox News audience ruled the day. Try telling their audience that Saddam Hussein, while a madman, was actually defenseless and not intent on harming us. This was a truth perhaps Americans did not want to hear at the time but the truth nevertheless and that is what journalism is supposed to seek.

If social networking media is our the future of our journalism, then how do we judge truth in 140 characters?

Social networking sites and blogs are naturally emotional and subjective, but a healthy democracy needs also to have a dispassionate journalism that is able to question the motives of sources. Which, importantly, means being able to confirm the real existence and legitimacy of a source. A media that asks “qui bono?” Journalists that investigate and exhaust every avenue of the entire story. And, yes, that means even when that alley leads to discovery of information that is terribly inconvenient to our own assumptions or to the geo-politcal outcomes we as individuals may desire.

So, finally, if the NYTimes became a mouthpiece for powerful Washington insiders, then we need to ask have we become the mouthpiece for thousands of anonymous twitterers?

67 comments on “If Iraq was main stream media’s failure, is Iran social network media’s failure? [UPDATED]
  1. stacyherbert says:

    @Tofu Charlie – Max as neanderthal??

  2. Tofu Charlie says:

    haha.. everyone complains I do unflattering portraits…

  3. Mike2liverpool says:

    Well he got the call on the UK £ WRONG didn’t he!
    Morning Stacy
    Mike

  4. Tofu Charlie says:

    It fits in nicely with the theme of de-evolution… is Max a big Devo fan?

  5. stacyherbert says:

    @Tofu – yes, i get it, good one

  6. Patrick says:

    A good and fair post, so it’ll be either ignored or you’ll be pilloried for it ;-)

    Check out this link for an Indian ex-ambassador’s take on the politicking involved, which is only beginning to get (small) mention in the MSM now:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF16Ak05.html

  7. Tofu Charlie says:

    @Stacy — ?? I’m not trying to make a joke, a visual pun, or whatever. It’s a sincere (and I think quite accurate) artistic rendering of Mr Keiser.

  8. stacyherbert says:

    @Patrick – I’m fairly certain ‘pilloried’ is the correct answer.

  9. rb says:

    @If Iraq was main stream media’s failure, is Iran social network media’s failure?

    Are the two not intertwined?

    Media of the main stream is the stream in which all the twitter birds drink and bathe. And im not hating on twitter, any popular social networking device is used by the same populous.

    The iran situation was never an ‘elephant in the room’ of popular conversation until the western media ‘discovered’ the room, and put an elephant inside of it.

  10. stacyherbert says:

    @rb – good way to put it; I have been recording an experiment for the past oh 72 hours, since Michael Jackson died . . . I realized that this whole #iranelection thing would get knocked off the Trending Topics and thus the MSM; to my surprise #iranelection was not only never kicked off the list, but that Michael Jackson only briefly ever topped #iranelection maybe three or four times in the past few days; as the 196 twitterers I follow had only once or twice tweeted about #iranelection since Michael Jackson’s death and his death was the overwhelmingly present topic of all the tweets in the real people I follow, I thought weird, something is up . . . so I began running simultaneously live searches in Twitscoop to see what the live stats were on these two searches (plus “Iran”, “MJ’s” and #michaeljackson) . . . I allowed these to run for 72 hours and Michael Jackson is still out performing by a factor of 2.5 to 3 to one . . . but he his name has been off the Trending Topics list for most of the past 24 hours . . . was up there for half an hour this morning

    As the main stream media echoes what is at the top of this list I am interested in gathering this data, so if anyone else wants to do the same to verify my results and perhaps even use other live trending sites other than twitscoop too

  11. Daniel S says:

    Nice post. The anonymous twitters reminded me of the controlled demo footage being shown as “collapse” again and again. I didn’t fall into that trap either, but I understand the desire to influence those who do. People should wonder how so many Iranians got to twittering onto their news screens and yet neither sweatshop labour nor somali pirates have managed to.

    There is a racist/ethnocentric element to this as well. People have the perception that Iranians are naive and child-like. This association with child-like qualities increases the believability of the messages. “There are two types of people who always tell the truth. Drunks and children.”

    People don’t want the truth. They want comfort they can call truth. Denialist coworkers of a friend of mine explain the thermite particles found in WTC dust as residue from demolitions that “happen all the time in New York City”. Comfort.

  12. Youri Carma says:

    Obama preparing for Iran attack?

    “The budcher of Beirut” Mousavi annonced is absurd claimed “huge victory” several hours before the release of the vote talley. How could he even have known he had won at that time?

    This is a classical CIA OP featured to bring out the idea early that if they would loose the elections it would be because of a fix. This is totally ridiculous!

    One must know that the Mullahs choose who’s on the balad sheet before hand, meaning that if the Mullahs thought somebody would be a threat to them, election wise, they wouldn’t even put him on the list in the first place!

    So, if they wanted Mousavi out they simply would have kicked him of the balad! They knew before hand that Mousavi had now change of winning so was no threat to them at all. But what are they trying to achieve by this?

    The Mullahs thought to gain more international esteem with this elections but instead there esteem has been lowered by the cover op actions of the CIA who used their inside connections in Iran to destabilize.

    By making Mousavi an hero in the west the cunningly brought the Iranien gov. in a very difficult position. If they call out for the murder of Mousavi Obama can say, “look how crooked they are!”

    That’s why Obama, and this was allready far back planned during or even before Obama even got into the 2008 elections, said he’s gonna try to have some sweet talk with the Iraniens in early 2009 while they planned exactly the opposite namely to evoke a war or severe crises whit Iran. This time with Iran cause there will be more chaos to follow from these mad dog evil war doer seekers.

    Bottemline: This is a completely Staged Classical Style CIA Black ops don’t let them fool you!

    Source: Interview with Dr. Paul Graig Roberts in the Alex Jones Show, 28 June 2009

  13. harry_w says:

    Stacy,
    Good piece. It’s a very necessary critique of social network media, developing some of the points I heard you make in recent podcasts.

    But to take the story back to it’s roots: The US-UK, launched an information war against their own domestic populations prior to the invasion of Iraq.

    The disinformation concocted with the help of NATO allies (Yellow Cake from Italy, Swerveball from Germany). It was ‘stove-piped’ into the US-UK intelligence system and from there into newspapers and television news channels via ‘leaks’ (planted stories) and dodgy dossiers.

    The mealy-mouthed apology of the NYT failed to grasp the fact that the so-called ‘paper of record’ had stove-piped disinformation to their readers – just like The Washington Times, The [London] Times, The Telegraph, the BBC, CNN, Fox, most talk radio etc.

    Much of this was supplemented by web-based sources – and sourcery ;O) Nonsense from sites like Debka or World Net Daily, could enter the ‘blogosphere’ on sites like ‘Little Green Footballs’ where a willing audience could be properly indoctrinated, regimented and directed to take action like bombarding dissident reporters and news sources with complaints.

    The use of ‘social network media’ is simply a logical progression of that school of information warfare, which combines with political warfare when ‘flash mobs’ can be directed to take action.

    I’ve recently wondered why ‘twitter’, a private commercial venture, has been so widely promoted and pushed by mass media channels. The BBC seemed to insist on almost all programming be accompanied by pointless ‘twittering’. Now the protests over the Iranian election seems to have been taken as proving the power of twitter. However, that power really seems to be in shaping the perceptions formed via ‘new media’ and an western audience increasingly depended on those sources. They’re ideologically disposed to new technology — ‘technovelty’ ;o) — and personally disposed to conform within their trusted and valued ‘social network’.

    It’s interesting that you point out the powerful incentive to conform within ‘social network media’: “To challenge such assumptions or ask such questions in the Social Network Media at the moment, however, is tantamount to career suicide, which in the SNM means to be unfollowed and blocked.” That’s playing on Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’, to belong to a social group. A higher need is to boost self-esteem through a sense of achievement, and to receive appreciation for it.

    I must admit I am surprised that mass media networks are stove-piping unsourced, unverified twitter straight into their news programming, but I suppose it does help promote these ‘social network media’ as a source of information which the audience can actually participate in and shape to suit themselves.

    I do have a lot of sympathy for those who grew up in relatively liberal democracies, and were never really equipped to realise their ‘free’ press and mass media had turned to conduct information warfare against them on behalf of the state.

    As long as there’s some mealy-mouthed apology like that from the NYT, or judicial inquiries like those in the UK, the domestic audience can even feel that the problems have been dealt with and individuals have been punished — even it’s only a few lowly scapegoats. But in order to get that small satisfaction, one has to buy into the new story that it was a bunch of misunderstandings, just mistakes made in honest endeavour.

  14. Mother Earth says:

    @Stacey So, are the borders of Iran closed? Why not go there to take a look ? You can be in and out in a day..

  15. harry_w says:

    Mother Earth,

    If you’re happy to pay the air-fare, you might get a deal.

    Otherwise, it seems rather passive aggressive to direct someone where to go.

  16. Mother Earth says:

    @harry_w Why passive agressive? I just wonder why one would not. Clearly Max & Stacey are ‘pro’ Ahmadinejad, if not intentional, than at least in effect. That makes Iran a safe place for them. They have relations at press TV and they have the interest and the money. It would be a great scoop and fun as well. I’d go.

  17. Youri Carma says:

    Swine Flu Multiple-Shot Vaccine May Overwhelm States http://tinyurl.com/l2n35w

    Commodity Rally May End as Supply Rises, Speculators Sell Bets http://tinyurl.com/lz6na8

  18. gb says:

    “History, however, has proven that those in the streets in 1960’s America were on the right side. Their fight was just and it finally prevailed through internal debate, conflict and resolution.”

    yeah, ok, we got some crumbs, but the establishment won. otherwise, for ex., how could they have the power to gut the economy?

  19. Youri Carma says:

    Obama preparing for Iran attack? Update 1 http://tinyurl.com/lmhj7x

  20. Max Power says:

    The Internet, at least in Europe is healthy:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/06/jackson_did_the_internet_buckl.html

    So how big a web event was the death of Michael Jackson – and how did the internet cope with the strain?

    There’s a lot of hype around – and precious little hard information – but it’s a fair bet that the global nature of his fame, and the sudden nature of his untimely death will have produced huge traffic around the world wide web to certain sites.

    As Maggie Shiels reported earlier, the traffic was on such a scale that even Google News struggled to cope, and a number of sites – notably, TMZ which broke the story – were unavailable at times.

    There are some statistics around – Hitwise tells me that Twitter had its biggest day ever yesterday, and it’s virtually certain that the record will be broken again today. Websites like this one are seeing traffic far above normal levels, and our article on Michael Jackson’s death could well end up as the most-read story in the history of the BBC News website by the end of the day.

    But did the internet actually buckle? Well, there was some strain – but it seems to have come through well.

    In the United States, a company called Keynote, which monitors internet performance, says popular news sites showed marked slowdowns for three hours from about 2230 BST: “The average speed for downloading news items doubled from less than four seconds to almost nine seconds,” said Shawn White from Keynote. “During the same period, the average availability of sites dropped from almost 100% to 86%.”

    But guess what: in Europe overnight, there was no spike in internet traffic. Interoute, which operates Europe’s largest fibre optic voice and data network, sent me graphs (see below) showing traffic through the three key internet exchanges in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London. At all three exchanges, traffic was either around the same as normal overnight, or, in London’s case, actually a little lower.

    [...]

    Jonathan Brown of Interoute told me: “The 140 characters in a Twitter message doesn’t really take up a lot of internet traffic. When you have something like Barack Obama’s inauguration – a continuous streaming video coming from one destination which everyone is going to – then you really see a big spike in traffic.”

    So individual sites may have struggled for a while to cope with a big surge in traffic. But an internet which is gradually adapting to handle vast amounts of video did not come close to buckling.

  21. Nic Abbott says:

    Very good article Stacy, tweets are hardly anything but bias opinion, ’tis true. Interesting stuff.

    I still think you and Max have a very difficult line to tread; you’re keeping “on the edge” and not falling into the twin abysses of either following the mass hysteria, or following the minority hysteria. By challenging everything you make a good point; staying on the edge must be about balance. LOL.

    The truth may well be out there, but that doesn’t mean it has to be aliens or “thermite particles found in WTC dust” either.

    Your tweet stats might have been influenced for profiteering.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8116869.stm

    … although I won’t be surprised to discovered Micheal Jackson death is being treated mostly as a commercial opportunity, and the hashtags there will be upped by the marketeers too I bet. My newspaper headline prediction – The Never Never Land Ranch to be restored and operated as a major new theme park. Funny how the gutter press as stopped reffering to him as Wacko Jacko. Not.

  22. Veritas says:

    A man has been arrested for tweating about a bank on Twitter.

    See here:
    http://www.komonews.com/news/tech/49349717.html

  23. frances snoot says:

    From the Fisk article:
    Fantasy and reality make uneasy bedfellows,

    Yes, but just try separating the two!

  24. frances snoot says:

    This could tie into Phil’s link to the Brezinski talk to the British elite. Brezinski said it was easier now to kill a million people than to control them. In times past Brezinski indicated it was easier to control a million people than to kill them.

    If the elite cannot control the masses through the media, will the elite go with plan B?

    Seems to me that the Iran media fiasco is proof that the elite have lost control of the media influence over people.

    EXCELLENT post, Stacy!

  25. frances snoot says:

    http://www.nytimes-se.com/2009/07/04/we-apologize/

    Here’s a link for an editorial which really shows the Times groveling. I don’t think the Time has learned a bit from the Iraq war propoganda: if anything, the Times seems worse now than ever! I am printing the apologies; in future they may ‘go missing’.

  26. gonzomarx says:

    good article stacy.
    Twiiter is useful for at the moment reporting but without context it isn’t reporting in the round, just like reading a news wire or watching a breaking news story on TV. you know something has happened and that’s about it.
    Fact and context can come though twiiter but mostly by linking to other sites.

    the details of the MSN biases how they set the limits of discussion (their obsession with Left vs Right) are explored fully in the “Manufacturing Consent” and fits with Stacy’s analysis.
    a taster can be found here http://tinyurl.com/lbf2bq

    be interesting to study SNM and see how and if it fits.

    the Guardian is a hive of stories today.

    The Queen is Skint: http://tinyurl.com/ld2oec

    Lets see if this makes the US MSN: Iraqis to mark US street exit with holiday and festivals http://tinyurl.com/mjg6wn

    A State makes it harder for its self to wire tap it’s citizens shock!! http://tinyurl.com/n65erb

    Another bankster who couldn’t look himself in the mirror any more body is found http://tinyurl.com/mkxjn2

  27. frances snoot says:

    “Beginning today, you will see a giant overhaul of our paper, from the front page to this page, as, belatedly shouldering our responsibilities as the newspaper of record, we make a practice of hiring writers who get it right.”

    Right according to whom? See the date on the editorial: it is July 4th, 2009. How can that be right? ” By NYTimes Editorial
    Published: July 4th, 2009″ http://www.nytimes-se.com/2009/07/04/we-apologize/

    classic…how can the date be wrong in the link as well…will the editorial staff apologize about that too? (The comments are dated 2008)

  28. King Baeksu says:

    Frances, if you’re going to punk people, it’s better to be more subtle.

  29. frances snoot says:

    @King:
    This is weird. I get the article from Google, but the editorial seems like a hoax?

    Unless the Times is going to do the dirty deeds on July 4th this year.

    As far a subtle, I prefer to slap people in the face with wet fish. It wakes them up, and they take notice. I live in a world of sleepers…

  30. serky says:

    The term MSM not only shares the same number of characters as the drug LSD but also has a lot of the same effects. Altering users perception of reality which ultimately leads to some bad decisions being made that results in death.
    The journalist like the dealer operates outside the law, in that when they sell some bad sh*t there is little users can do, on hearing they have a new batch users just come back for more.
    I believe its the very failure of any critical sourcing on behalf of MSM which is the ultimate reason why the SNM has been targeted and used the way it has. It also gives somebody other than itself to blame for doing a bad job of what ultimately is their job.

  31. King Baeksu says:

    Frances, you’re welcome to slap me with a wet fish anytime.

  32. Digital Dosser says:

    frances snoot: Just a hunch, I think they mean 4th July (Julian – June 21, day of the sunworshippers), not 4th July (Gregorian), and there might be the clue to the intended audience for the message. Its a Solitaire call to sleeper cells.

    Yanks ted to start sobbing at the thought of July 4th, a good calendar date for disaster capitalism.

  33. juergenwahl says:

    1) “We will feed you all the trivia we can get away with!”

    Since the mainstream media have been coopted to become mere shills for the ruling elite, their “reporting” fails to meet the informational needs of thinking adults. When one is un-or-under-employed, one’s assets are crumbling away, and his or her own welfare is in serious doubt, the tragic passing of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, and Billy Mays seems to be a remote irrelevancy, widely disconnected from the harsh, personalised, reality of being actually encountered in one’s own, increasingly dubious sanctuary.

    The media are still promoting an atmosphere of bread and circus long after the last Elephant turd has been swept from view. By continually appealling to the lowest common denominator, they have driven true seekers of news to alternate sources of information. They are left with Joe Six-packers who don’t care for news at all, but only care to be entertained with mindless, inane drivel. Joe and Jane Six-packers don’t buy newspapers or magazines. That is why many compromised, once-venerable institutions, such as the New York Times, are in such dire financial straits. They are no longer supplying effective demand.

    While the elites prefer a dumbed-down populace so that they may be easier controlled, there is a truly, inconvenient truth that will eventually thwart their nefarious plans. This truth is that intelligence is distributed randomly over a bell-shaped curve. Potential dynasties sooner or later founder upon the dispassionate rocks of genetics. How many famous scientists today are named Einstein or Tesla? How many talented writers are bear the name of Shakespeare or Schiller? What Beethoeven or Mozart has just composed a great musical piece? Greatness appears once, or a few times in a particular family, and then quickly regresses to the mean. In business, it used to be accurately said, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” The only factor sustaining the elites and their descendants in a socially favourable position is the persistence of privilege resting upon the continuity of wealth.

    Exchange of information by the Internet is a real challenge to the elites, because they are not able to provide a consistent, repetitive flow of their dogma to the intended recipients. One may counter the mis-or-dis/information found on blogs and Tweets by means of confirmation from other sources or just by plain application of common sense. Establishment of totalitarian control will not be facilitated by a largely unregulated Internet. Attempts to do so, however gradual, should be viciously resisted, if our few remaining freedoms are to be safeguarded.

    2) Iran and sat.

    Iran is a strange country. Although they have popular elections, all candidates for office must be approved by the ruling council of Mullahs. Elections and their results are hardly free. The underlying problem is that a relatively small group of religious zealots have taken over by force, a largely secular populace. The ruling Mullahs have grown extermely rich and corrupt. If the populace were armed, there would be an immediate, violent overthrow of these Islam-o-shysters. Unfortunately, armed populace = personal freedom. The natural desire of the governed is for freedom, the world over. The natural desire for rulers is for obedience and control. Thus, rises perpetual, geopolitical tension.

    3) Brinson theory reallocation time?

    The stock market is at a critical juncture. Should prices experience an upside breakout from here, we will likely proceed from a bear market rally to a burgeoning, baby bull. And we will best be served by adjusting our portfolio allocations from neutral to something like 60% stocks, 25% bonds, 10% commodities, and 5% cash. Should the rally fizzle, look out below!

    Presently, more volume is flowing into advancing issues than declining ones. Should this condition persist, and the ADX “green line” rise above the red, a break-out will likely be valid.

    Please see:

    http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=$SPX&p=D&b=5&g=0&id=p74805753342

  34. klaos says:

    look at the NYT headlines! lol.

    http://www.nytimes-se.com/

  35. frances snoot says:

    THANKS Klaos! Let me add this to my list: think before you trust Google, never trust Twitter, never trust men…

  36. frances snoot says:

    Klaos!!! I love it! The Patriot Act was REPEALED! Oh, PLEASE, let it be…let it be…whisper words of wisdom…

  37. frances snoot says:

    @juergenwahl:
    Here’s a song to forget our sorrows:

    There’s a shanty in the town
    On a little plot of ground
    Where the green grass grows all around all around
    Roots so torn
    So badly worn
    That is tumbles to the ground.

    Just a tumble-down shack
    Built right back bout
    Twenty-five feet from the railroad track
    Roots so torn
    So badly worn
    Keep calling me back to my little ole shack

    Be just as sassy as Highly Solasi
    If I were a Queen
    Wouldn’t mean a thing

    PUT my boots on tall
    Read the writing on the wall
    And it wouldn’t mean a thing
    Not a g-damned thing

    There’s a queen sitten there
    In her rocking chair!
    Blowing her top on Gator’s Beer
    Sitting on down, settling down
    Cause I gotta get back to my Shantytown!

  38. frances snoot says:

    Sorry to monopolize the comments but TRY THE SEARCH ENGINE AT THE SPOOF TIMES SITE THAT KLAOS CITED!! I’m wiping my eyes, and I wasn’t crying!

  39. Palantíri says:

    The social network media is just a tool for people to communicate with others, the failure comes within the mainstream media that use these social networks as a source of information and past on into the news picture unchallenged and unchecked. Journalists just reports what’s been told to them, you don’t see much investigation anymore and that is probably why newspapers today is looking more and more like an gossip-paper. But none the less we all fall for it, it is hard to be skeptical and it takes time to learn to be skeptical. A lesson we have to discover by our self since nobody talks about it and nobody teaches you it – though it seems from time to time not many have made that discovery… So it is no wonder why the media gets off that easy when they don’t deliver a properly done story. copy/paste is the greatest working tool for a journalist today…?

  40. harry_w says:

    @ Mother Earth,
    Having now expressed an opinion on Iran, aren’t you now obliged to travel to Iran so you can back up that opinion (in the same way you suggested Stacy should)?

    Your first response, “So, are the borders of Iran closed? Why not go there to take a look ? You can be in and out in a day..”, is passive-aggressive in terms of obstructing debate. Based on your own question about the state of Iran’s borders (not even mentioned by Stacy), you imply that she ought to go there to answer you question for you.

    Stacy’s piece is actually about how information and sources are treated in the west, in mainstream media disinformation about Iraq and WMD, and now ‘new social networks’ propagating unsourced and unverifiable information in the wake of the Iranian election.

    Your response to me pointing that out you is more of the same, again insisting it’s up to those you’ve entered into dicussion with are obliged to go to Iran to answer your questions (which could be easily answered by you if you want to pick up the phone to Iran and any of its neighbours).

    The tell-tell signs of passive aggressions are embedded, your ‘why don’t you…?’ form of argumentation, placing the onus on others to defend themselves against assertions you can’t be bothered to back up with any sources of your own:

    “I just wonder why one would not. Clearly Max & Stacey are ‘pro’ Ahmadinejad, if not intentional, than at least in effect. That makes Iran a safe place for them. They have relations at press TV and they have the interest and the money. It would be a great scoop and fun as well. I’d go.”

    By the end of it, far from offering to pay for Stacy ticket to go on the errand you wanted her to do for you, you’re actually spending their money and inviting yourself along for the trip too.

    @ frances,
    The nytms-se.com is a spoof future edition (with a political point):

    The Fine Print
    By NYTimes Editorial
    Published: July 4th, 2009

    This special edition of The New York Times comes from a future in which we are accomplishing what we know today to be possible.

    The dozens of volunteer citizens who produced this paper spent the last eight years dreaming of a better world for themselves, their friends, and any descendants they might end up having. …”

    Confusion arises due to a lack of source evaluation and background research.

    Stacy’s piece, and the concerns she’s discussed in recent podcasts about twitter & the Iranian elections, and the comparison with information warfare targeted at the domestic US-UK population by their own states, is all about source evaluation.

  41. frances snoot says:

    @HarryW:

    “is all about source evaluation.” Really?

    My grandmother believes in God. I believe my grandmother. I believe in God.

  42. harry_w says:

    frances,
    Your belief in God, and your grandmother’s, has nothing to do with whether God exists or not. It’s a belief, not something founded on observation, or subject to verification.

    If you want to state that belief as a fact and cite your granny as a source, I’ll tell you that you and your granny have no verifiable experience or evidence of God, and cannot be considered reliable sources on the question of God’s existence.

  43. T says:

    These are all interesting points. But the truth is the Stateside corporate (key word) MSM won’t change. In many problems (Iraq, torture photos, war criminals, etc.), they still won’t do their job.

    All that matters is ratings and profit. There’s no more Fairness Doctrine or any accountability. The ONLY way to get them to change is to refuse to be part of the profit margin. Otherwise, they couldn’t give a s**t what you the public think.

  44. frances snoot says:

    @HarryW:

    “It’s a belief, not something founded on observation, or subject to verification.”

    I personally don’t have a grandmother nor do I ‘believe’ in God. You don’t have evidence that my ‘belief’ in god is not founded on observation. Verification is subject to corruption. All beliefs eminate from personal perspective, the antithesis of this ignorant sentence from Wikipedia:
    According to Richard Wilson, who highlights the phenomenon in his book Don’t Get Fooled Again (2008), the characteristic feature of false skepticism is that it “centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence of a preconceived ideological position”.

    Tell me one belief anywhere that is not a defence of a preconceived ideological position. please.
    [

  45. Davros says:

    Fair points sensibly made though it should be mentioned Max often does work for Iran’s English language news station Press TV

  46. stacyherbert says:

    @Davros – yes, it’s in Max’s bio at the top of the page; we make the show for AP TV to syndicate to other networks.

  47. I’ve probably got the quote all mucked up, but I seem to remember a line from Kipling, something to the effect that “Truth is a stranger in any crowd.” The SNM crowd can hardly be expected to differ.
    Apologies to Mr Kipling, Peachy Carnahan, Mahboob Ali and all those terrific RK characters.

  48. juergenwahl says:

    @ frances snoot

    Very nice verse. May I reciprocate with a few fragments I wrote long ago, in a strange language, in a far away land:

    1)
    King Lazar prayed in crimson socks,
    “God grow this land and fatten it.”
    But Turks said, “No!” at Kosovo,
    And stomped their boots to flatten it!

    2)
    I came into this world with no pretense
    And vainly tried to culture common sense.
    This quest for meaning seemed to mar my span:
    The face of Truth was hidden by her fan.

    O golden baby, cosmic child of woe,
    The lightning strikes the ground where e’er you go.
    A tempest stirs and wraps you in a cloud –
    No one can hear you crying through the shroud.

    ……….

    There was a man who ate no meat nor bread,
    A thousand worms are gnawing through his head.
    He viewed his state with sharp, offending eyes,
    And saw the whole built on the sand with lies.

    A wounded savior raised his hand to me
    Beneath the branches of a Penance tree.
    His blazing words told of a coming crash,
    But his machine could only run on cash.

    A wounded Minstrel slumped down near defeat
    To redefine his art in terms of Beat:
    “As seasons change, we find we have to choose,
    And now the time has come to dig the Blues!”

    In the Receptacle the Forms were shaped,
    From Pure Perfection all things less were aped.
    Cold Reason was designed to set the Rule,
    But Passion’s Vices voted for the Fool.

    And Plato’s Great Inversion blew my mind:
    Gross Passions top’ling Reason made me blind.
    The courtroom filled with such a din and shout,
    Poor Justice, bound and gagged, was left without.

    ……….

    Our Future’s curved and Destiny is bent,
    The Apex fades, and soon the Trough is spent.
    Fast as we rush we find the Time is late,
    And end as Grist ground by the Wheel of Fate.

    Sweet Anima in gentle voice replied,
    “Come to the Light and you shall see the side
    Of being, hitherto to you denied,
    Before embarking on your final slide.”

    On the horizon was a blast of light.
    Long ere the shock waves hit we lost our sight.
    The searing heat made all our Atoms prance:
    Death’s screeching fiddle played our final dance.

    The Cosmos creaked from such a lack of Grace,
    My hands weren’t large enough to hide my face.
    And all at once, imploding out of sight:
    The World in conflagration, cleansed of Blight!

    A pulsing Vortex sucked me deep inside.
    The Warp of Time and Space became my Bride.
    I turned to look, before I’d travelled far,
    And saw the once-bound Souls becoming Stars.

    3)
    Ah, Love, let storms blow
    This Life so harsh and fleeting:
    Our two Hearts beating.

  49. Nancy says:

    So “how do we judge truth in 140 characters?” Love the article.

    There was a rumor about Jeff Goldblum falling to his death in New Zealand the same day MJ died.

    But speaking of being a “mouthpiece” for the Administration, wasn’t Huff Post doing that with its planted question last week?

  50. harry_w says:

    @ frances,

    I personally don’t have a grandmother nor do I ‘believe’ in God. You don’t have evidence that my ‘belief’ in god is not founded on observation. Verification is subject to corruption. All beliefs eminate from personal perspective, the antithesis of this ignorant sentence from Wikipedia:
    According to Richard Wilson, who highlights the phenomenon in his book Don’t Get Fooled Again (2008), the characteristic feature of false skepticism is that it “centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence of a preconceived ideological position”.

    Tell me one belief anywhere that is not a defence of a preconceived ideological position. please.

    I was commenting on Stacy’s piece, which I said was ‘Stacy’s piece, … is all about source evaluation.’

    You said you had a grandmother who believed in God, and that you believed her and believed in God. Now you say you don’t have a grandmother (which raises questions about the conception and birth of your parents) and you don’t ‘believe’ in God. Then you say it’s up to me to provide evidence that your ‘belief’ in God (which you’d just said you didn’t have) is not founded on observation. You’d previously implied it was derived from your belief in your grandmother.

    So you’re an unreliable reliable witness regarding the existence of family members (let alone God), you conjour them up or conjour thtem away to suit some debating point you’re making. Nor are you reliable on whether you ‘believe’ in God or not, or what the foundations of that ‘belief’ or othewise might be. It’s not up to me to establish the basis for whatever you may or may not believe, nor to prove or disprove with whatever point your trying to make with wiki-Richard Wilson. If it’s about sources for a belief in God, then I don’t think it’s really relevant to Stacy’s piece or my response.

    It would be helpful if you actually cited your source fully, so I could at least verify what you cite from the open-access encyclopedia. That’s a basic standard in journalism, academic research or intelligence. I couldn’t find it, but I’m not going to trawl the whole site just to makes sense of some point you might want to make.

    I have no problem with what I understand to be Richard Wilson’s substantive point:

    Against the evidence
    Published 18 September 2008, New Statesman.
    “…The genuine sceptic forms his beliefs through a balanced evaluation of the evidence. The sceptic of the bogus variety cherry-picks evidence on the basis of a pre-existing belief, seizing on data, however tenuous, that supports his position, and yet declaring himself “sceptical” of any evidence, however compelling, that undermines it.

    [...]

    Bogus scepticism does not centre on an impartial search for the truth, but on a no-holds-barred defence of a preconceived ideological position. The bogus sceptic is thus, in reality, a disguised dogmatist, made all the more dangerous for his success in appropriating the mantle of the unbiased and open-minded inquirer.”

    As I said in light of Stacy’s piece, and your confusion between nytms-se.com and the real New York Times, it’s “…all about source evaluation.”

  51. frances snoot says:

    juergenwahl:
    simply beautiful

  52. frances snoot says:

    @HarryW

    Can we just kill Granny and call it a day? I was attempting to be witty by inventing a syllogism. Don’t get your underwear in a twist!

    Yes, we all conjour, world with our mere words!

  53. frances snoot says:

    @HarryW:

    Here’s the link, sorry about that:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepticism

    I’ve decided to name my dear grandmother: Nona Rosa Marie Louise.

  54. frances snoot says:

    “The genuine sceptic forms his beliefs through a balanced evaluation of the evidence. The sceptic of the bogus variety cherry-picks evidence on the basis of a pre-existing belief, seizing on data, however tenuous, that supports his position, and yet declaring himself “sceptical” of any evidence, however compelling, that undermines it.”

    Oh, yes, ahem.blloorargh, time to get my knowledge from “peer-reviewed journals”. NO more cherrypickers! DOWN WITH CHERRYPICKERS! Put all the cherrypickers in camps where they won’t be a danger to society and we…the open-minded ones.

  55. stacyherbert says:

    Are you guys behaving?

  56. stacyherbert says:

    Here is a question I just posted on my twitter account:

    If sheep + people = sheeple; does sheep + twitterers = sh*tterers? Or would it be shortened to sh*tters?

    What do you think?

  57. frances snoot says:

    Open-minded people don’t conjugate words. Only cherry pickers make up new words and meanings. The truly educated rely on the tools provided by the government, being words appropriate for the job. So, we mustn’t attempt to make sh*t out of a tw**t!

  58. Lloyd says:

    It’s interesting how the MSM has been selling the Iranian ‘Green Revolution’: “We’re just passing along stuff reported by Twitterers and YouTubers, so you can be assured it’s real!” Never mind the high potential for there being deliberate, organized disinfo campaigns. By all involved.

  59. Mr Supergeek says:

    Just finished reading first fifty posts….good stuff cool.

    @serky…LSD=MSM…Like it.

    @max power….interesting…overnight figures for internet,,, next evening after shool/work was very busy…very slow as I remember it.

    @All Y’all
    just wonder as always with all ‘our’ discussions on maxkeiser.com where we fit in, as with anything we are just as vunerable. I’m not pointing at anyone in particular, but researching…..primary sources, secondary sources…are they things of the past? internet cut and past fact/logic is used more and more as the pressure to come up with a story or opinion increases…now communication is evolving at such a rate and is so fast we may need to rewrite some the rules for researching and reporting….from the top down.

  60. Mr Supergeek says:

    @Catfish…nice quote.

    Charlie Brooker on using the public and the internet ‘the idiot magnet’ more in news reports.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QN_hd9LeSs

    A classic from Jeremy Paxman on user genetated content (maybe he could see the thin end of the wedge)only18 secs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVaZwJn-ZcM

  61. Max or Stacy,
    Which one of you guys wrote this or was it a collaborative effort? Genius work but I can’t picture these words coming from either of you because it lacks Max’s satirical voice I have become so accustomed to.
    @Nancy, check out a really funny Colbert Report clip about Jeff Goldblum’s “death.” He’s not really dead, nor was he even in New Zealand. Anyway the clip is from June 29th.

  62. Youri Carma says:

    U.S. (Oil) policies (Kissinger) may have contributed to Iran revolution of ’79, study says – L.A.Times http://tinyurl.com/a8cnvs

  63. Ruth says:

    Interesting observations about where the people are who are protesting.

    How widely is handheld technology distributed in Iran? Do poor and rural people have easy access, and use it much?

    I’m just wondering whether the reason there are so many tweets on one side is because that side is wealthy and/or well-connected enough.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "If Iraq was main stream media’s failure, is Iran social network media’s failure? [UPDATED]"
  1. [...] If social networking media is our the future of our journalism, then how do we judge truth in 140 characters? “Whoah, boy!” [...]

  2. [...] Fisk, however, did what good journalists do, he put on his shoes and went out to investigate. Most of these ‘truths’ circling the socially networked universe, he quickly found were simply untrue. [Read more →] [...]

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