A mockingbird gets its name because of its uncanny ability to mimic the sound and calls of other birds. The Latin name, Mimus polyglottos, literally means “many-tongued mimic.” This clever bird is one of the few creatures that doesn’t, in fact, have its own natural sound. The fledgling will pick up sounds from the environment initially, and then, as it begins to recognize individual bird sounds, it will mimic those.
This brings us to the idea of the Mockingbird Media. It has become more apparent than ever that the Fourth Estate in the Western world exists in an echo chamber of opinion and agenda. How often do we see the same lines trumpeted across different channels from various organizations, all using the same words and defining the corresponding parameters of the argument? Is this because they have each independently arrived at the very same conclusion and have the very same limited vocabulary with which to express themselves?
Or is it more likely that what we are exposed to is propaganda, first disseminated, and then mimicked?
From 1975 to 1976, Congress authorized a series of investigations into the relations between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the media. The most notable findings were exposed in the now infamous Church Report (named after Idaho Senator Frank Church), which showed that the CIA was, in fact, deeply involved in propaganda aimed at Americans through the assistance (unwitting in some cases) of the mainstream media.
The report found that:
“Approximately 50 of the [CIA] assets are individual American journalists or employees of U.S. media organizations.”
And what was the specific job of these individuals?
Put simply, they were embedded to manipulate media coverage in an ongoing effort to propagandize the Cold War. But the domestic operation was small potatoes compared to the international effort. The report found that the CIA:
“… maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times, attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.”
This was a huge operation that shaped the narrative and crafted public opinion. But it’s all in the past now, right?
How does it work? Surely these are inelegant solutions to controlling a narrative? The modern era has made it far more difficult just to invent a story, mock up a few pictures, and let the trusted anchor do the rest. There are as many websites dedicated to hunting down false flag operations as there are to debunking false flag claims. With the advent of the internet, instances of propaganda must now be presented within a set of boundaries. Agenda setting, framing, and priming are all useful methods of giving the narrative a boost. Let’s use the now discredited Steele Dossier as an example.
If you’ll recall, this document was set to bring down the president of the United States. It proved that Vladimir Putin had “kompromat” on President Trump and that Trump was clearly under Russian control. The only problem with it was that it was not real.
The agenda setting began by asking questions, but never the right questions. What does Putin have on Trump? Will Trump do Russia’s bidding? Can we really trust the Trump administration when so many of his team have Russian ties? The questions that a responsible Fourth Estate should have asked were: How credible is the report? Who wrote it? Who paid for it? Is there any outside verification that its contents are genuine?
Instead, we were presented with the former questions, those that assumed it was true and that all that remained was the fallout.
The framing and priming of the audience were also left to the media machine. From the prosecution of the now exonerated Michael Flynn to the idea that Russia tried to swing the election for Trump, this is precisely what a propaganda war looks like.
However, Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program to put assets in the mainstream media, is said to have ended in 1976. Are the shameful mimicking and partisan attacks we witness today likely to be a continuation? Probably not. But it does highlight a concerted effort from an institution that boasts of its “independence” and “just the facts” reporting legacy.
To spot a narrative drive is often simpler than you might think; there will always be an inconsistency, something that doesn’t quite mesh. More often than not, this involves contradictory truths. Just consider a handful of recent contradictions sure to spark cognitive dissonance:
- Stay at home to save lives from COVID-19 v. Get out and show support for Black Lives Matter.
- These protests are largely peaceful v. 25 dead and cities on fire.
- Trump is destroying our relationship with China v. Trump asked China for help getting re-elected.
You’ll see these contradictory approaches broadcast on just about every mainstream media channel, but are they working in concert, or is it all a coincidence?
The truth is that it’s neither. It is just the fact that they genuinely are the Mockingbird Media. Like our feathered friend, these creatures of the swamp do not have their own voice with which to sing. They first take their cues from the environment – like other media outlets – and then mimic the sounds they hear.
That the people who run the stations hold sympathy with the left-leaning politicians is evident, yet it is not evidence that they are running a combined campaign. Instead, they are attempting to survive and grow. Right now, they see this purpose best served by following one narrative over another. They are not smart; they are not clever; they are not original. They are desperate, uninspired, and unable to compete at a level so far beyond their capabilities. So they band together with other mimics in an unnatural echo chamber of their own opinions, convinced that the majority is with them.
It’s time to start looking for the original songbirds, those that whistle their own beautiful, individual tune.
Read more from Mark Angelides.