Seven years after the launch of Project Censored, in 1983,
the founder of the media research, education and advocacy initiative, Sonoma
State University professor Carl Jensen, added the Junk Food News component.
If you’re going to publish a yearly list of the stories
most-censored by corporate media, and if corporate media’s annual denial argues
that there’s always more news than there is time and space to report it, then
the next logical step is to compare the quality of the stories that were
reported with the stories that were not.
Jensen found that the news peddled by corporate media had about as
much fiber, protein and minerals as a bowl of children’s cereal.
Just this month, Seven Stories Press, released Censored 2017:
the Fortieth Anniversary Edition, a work researched, written and edited by
Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth, with help from student researchers from five
The researchers gave the lay of the media landscape of this past
year, noting that while the press is about as well regarded as Congress, the
public still trusts its information about key issues of the day.
Project Censored also cited studies showing
that the millennial generation is more accepting of censorship of offensive
content than previous generations, while the corporate media has continued to
frame storylines to serve power.
Additionally, Project Censored researchers zeroed in on
social media emerging role in keeping Americans informed and perhaps
uninformed. Meanwhile, governments and corporate interests censor and
Referencing the work of analysts such as Sean McElwee whose
writings in Salon explored why working and middle class Americans vote
against their own self-interests, Censored researchers noted that while
analysts tend to focus on the Democrat versus Republican binary of media bias,
they totally miss the bias that results in reporting that matters to the rich
rather than reporting on matters that affect most Americans.
Project Censored researchers noted that the
nature of news abuse and preeminence of junk food news is that it emphasizes
the spectacle of the circus rather than the substance of the issues involved.
Junk Food News
Project Censored writers noted that Donald
Trump has appeared in the book at two different times. The first was in the
1990s, in the story, The Marital Woes of Donald and Ivana Trump and the
second time was in 2015 when he became a presidential candidate.
Corporate media coverage of Trump’s run for president has been
treated as a reality show that almost blacked out the Sanders campaign
Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly displaced stories such as Common
Dreams: As of Today, Humanity has Exhausted its 2015 Supply of Natural
Resources and Choking to Death in Detroit: Flint isn’t Michigan’s Only
The coverage of hand and penis sizes, and the attractiveness of
candidate wives overshadowed the Foreign Policy in Focus story on newly
released documents that exposed how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
provided arms to Saudi Arabia.
Trump stumps in Albuquerque.
The corporate media fawned over how “presidential” Trump was
beginning to look following his primary win in New York rather than fact
checking his victory speech-which included 71 inaccurate, misleading or deeply
Project Censored took particular note of how
the Internet creates, discusses and shares junk only to be picked up and
circulated by the traditional corporate press. Ted Cruz, the Zodiac Killer
was a primary example. But others included the bird that landed on Bernie
Sanders podium before his speech in Portland this past March. That garnered
more attention than the report on Israeli army medic executing a wounded
Corporate media inserted themselves into stories to distract the
public from their hijacking of the democratic process, including censoring
reporting on the role of dark money on the corporate media itself.
In a relevant example, Project Censored noted that MSNBC
and CNN edited out several lines from a video where Sanders attacked the
corporate media for failing to fulfill its role in reporting all important
issues in the election, including the issue of corporate media biases.
“Corporate media’s refusal to delineate between
fact and opinion, slant and bias, perspective and falsehood, allowed the
election coverage to co-opt serious issues of equity and social justice
including racial and gender prejudice, immigration, climate change, human
right, sexuality and civil liberties,” Project Censored stated. “Furthermore, it allowed for
political falsehoods to permeate the corporate media echo chamber.”
Youth played a major role in primaries, but corporate media plants
seeds of cynicism and apathy in the days leading up to the primary election by
suggesting they not bother voting because the election was already rigged in
favor of Hillary Clinton―this despite youth lead victories, which include Maine
becoming the first state to abolish the use of super delegates in presidential
Project Censored editors argued that the
Clinton campaign did not take the acrimony seriously. Instead, the campaign
went on the defense with former President Bill Clinton, ignoring how his
policies contributed to the present climate of discontent among the youth. The
campaign blamed them for not voting to prevent the Republicans taking over
Congress in 2010.
But corporate media got significant help from social media in
planting seeds of apathy. A Clinton super political action committee and a
lobbyist group wrote a pro-Clinton op-ed for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. He
denounced Sanders, but the op-ed that had few facts.
In another instance, a Clinton super PAC, Correct the Record,
pledged to spend $1 million to push back against Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and
Instagram users who criticize Clinton.
The end result of these particular forms of abuse is the “coronation”
of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
“The corporate media narrative that Clinton was
the frontrunner became self-fulfilling after their coverage included misleading
delegate counts, slanted analysis, a redefining of progressivism, censorship of
a corrupted party committing state crimes against democracy and a premature
declaration of her victory before the primary was over and the convention even
Project Censored spent considerable time
deconstructing how and why the Clinton campaign and corporate media interest
worked so closely in constructing the narrative of the inevitability of
Clinton’s primary victory, while simultaneously tearing down Sanders.
“Polling has found that 50 percent of the U.S.
population has a negative view of Clinton, and only 22 percent of the
population holds a favorable image of the former secretary of state.”
To address this, the Clinton campaign spent $1 million on online
trolls for the purpose of correcting the negative statements about her and
maintaining her close relationship with the press — a relationship that goes
back to the 1990s when she first lady.
In April 2015, before her candidacy was official, she met with
members of the corporate media to discuss her talking points.
One of Clinton’s top financial supporters, Haim Saban, bought out
the satirical website The Onion. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea is on the
board of directors of InterActivCorp, a company that partially owns Newsweek,
the Daily Beast and other news outlets.
Project Censored cited Clinton’s rapport with
the press as having resulted in favorable coverage that hides or excuses her
indiscretions. In one example, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that on
the night of the first primary debate the corporate press unanimously declared
Clinton the winner, though online polls, by margins as high as 65 percent,
believed Sanders had won the debate.
The researchers cited Sanders appearance on Hardball with
Chris Matthews and how it became a debate on Sanders policies, while Clinton
faced nothing similar. Project Censored suggested that that may have to
do with Matthews’ wife being a financial supporter of Clinton.
Project Censored also identified an instance
when CBS used a Harvard poll of millennial voters to declare Clinton had a
6-point lead over Sanders, but the actual poll said Sanders had the 6-point
Researchers at Project Censored noted that polls on top of polls
have worked to further the inevitability of Clinton winning the primary — even
though those polls have often proven to be inaccurate and unnewsworthy.
Project Censored referenced a 2015 study in which Clinton amassed
80 percent of Democratic Party airtime. The study made a correlation between
the poll numbers and the airtime, suggesting that the disparity in coverage favoring
Clinton made her party coronation a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The media watchdog noted that the corporate media declared Clinton
the victor well before all the votes were counted during election night of the
primary, and Clinton went to great lengths to
hide her anti-progressive bona fides, which include refusing to publicly
release her paid speeches to Wall Street bankers and blasting electronic noise
at her private events so that the press cannot hear her speeches to wealthy
Project Censored also meticulously documented the
alignment of corporate interest at the Democratic National Convention, noting
super delegates supporting Clinton are corporate lobbyists paid by the private
prison corporations, private healthcare insurers opposed to the Affordable Care
Act and Rupert Murdock’s News Corp. Former Rep. Barney Frank oversaw the
creation of the DNC platform, which they noted largely supported the corporate
In short, what is reflected in Project Censored’s analysis
of the Clinton campaign coverage is the systematic cloaking of moderate
Republicans as progressives and resulting in keeping civil discourse further
right of center.
The most recent example of this phenomena was the fallout
following the publishing of Kirsten West Savali’s article on Angela Davis’
keynote address at the “Black Matters: The Futures of Black Scholarship and
Activism” this past month.
“I have serious problems with the other candidate, but I am not so
narcissistic to say I cannot bring myself to vote for her,” said Davis, during
her address. “Too much energy went into the struggle for voting rights not to
go to the polls.”
In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, Davis
said she has never voted for either of the two major parties before Barack
“I believe in independent politics,” Davis said. “We need a new
party, a party that is grounded in labor, a party that can speak to all of the
issues around racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, what is happening in the
world. We don’t yet have that party. And, even as we participate in this
electoral process, as it exists today, I think we need to be looking ahead
toward a very different kind of political process. At the same time, we put
pressure on whoever is running.”
What Carl Jensen and his successors at Project Censored have
created is a service-learning program that has taught them abuses in the
creation and dissemination of the news and that they have the power to stop and
or undermine these abuses.
This new generation of educators, students and activists are in
alignment with other contemporary youth-dominated movements including, Black
Lives Matter, Fight for $15, Dreamers and others.
This chapter on Junk Food News concludes by noting that, “among
the best ways the Project believes it is possible to promote democracy in
action is through critical media literacy education.”
They called it the strongest means for fighting against censorship
and propaganda in their numerous guises, while supporting a truly independent
and free press.
© Random Lengths News
2016 Terelle Jerricks has been the Managing Editor at Random
Lengths News since 2004.
Paul H. Rosenberg is Senior Editor at Random
Lengths News, an alternative biweekly newspaper in the Los Angeles Harbour
Area. He is also a regular contributor to Salon.com. He was also a
regular columnist with Al Jazeera English.
Terelle Jerricks has been the Managing Editor
at Random Lengths News since 2004.