By Colleen O'Connor
Once upon a time, public figures were warned, “Don’t attack those who buy ink by the barrel”—referring to the once powerful printed press.
Often compared to giant squids that could blind you with ink—while strangling you with multiple arms—broadsheets such as the Hearst papers could drive countries to war.
Then along came radio and television, with faces and voices that could move nations into, and out of, shock and awe—via photographs and videos. Think Walter Cronkite and the Vietnam debacle. Or the moon landing.
Those “mainstream media” giants were also eclipsed by cable, 24-hour news, forever sports and shopping channels and foreign language outlets.
Enter the heavyweight contender of the World Wide Web, with gigabytes, terabytes, and almost non-existent regulation.
Trying to confine all its predecessors to the junk heap, this wild west of blogs, tweets, and trolls, proceeded to eclipse all its ancestors. Talk about “escape velocity.”
Indeed, evidence of mainstream journalism’s imminent death were commonplace. Their long stories and low approval ratings dragged revenues and subscriptions ever lower.
Public opinion has turned against the social media outlets that promised human connections and delivered silos of loneliness. That offered free expression and delivered unfettered hate, division and “faux news.” That have allowed foreign investments and interference in U.S. elections. That have weakened, rather than strengthened democracy.
Cheer up! What is old is new again.
The dogged, disciplined, and determined work of the much maligned, and frequently tired “old press” is rising again. And they are using their tormentors’ tools against them. Hackers, leakers, and investigative journalists are examining offshore bank ledgers—and sharing their findings.
Together, they have have unleashed a treasure trove of both dollars and hypocrisy among the Trump administration’s team.
The original leaks were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Then shared with the Pulitzer Prize-winning International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and a network of more than 380 journalists in 67 countries.”
Aptly called the “Paradise Papers,” the documents and articles disclose “the offshore ties of more than a dozen Trump advisers, cabinet members and major donors.”
Most of them have deep ties to the Trump Administration’s inner circle.
The most influential cabinet member cited in the Paradise Papers is the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross—aka the “King of Bankruptcies”—guilty of possible perjury before the U.S. Senate for failing to disclose the retention of numerous businesses he promised to “divest.”
And those businesses have deep financial ties to Russia—the country found complicit in interfering in the U.S. Presidential election. The Russians. President Putin’s relatives. And the Oligarchs.
See the Russian stacking dolls?
And now, the new social media giants Twitter and Facebook have finally acknowledged receiving early “major stake” investment backing from Russian interests—this well before news of the Russian “fake news” propaganda against the Hillary Clinton campaign—paid for in rubles.
No red flag warning there?
Promises of more to come. Thanks to that old press reborn.
The press is dead. Long live the press.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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