“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” (Joseph Goebbels)
“He who controls the media controls the minds of the public.” (Noam Chomsky)
When God gave Adam and Eve their Edenic assignment to bring the untamed world outside the boundaries of Eden under control and then maintain it, did He give them instructions other than, “Do it My way” (Genesis 2:16-17)? Did their King teach them about animal care and landscaping, or did they learn by experience or both? We know Adam and Eve walked with God in Eden (Genesis 1-3). Perhaps their Heavenly Father took great delight in showing His children the ins and outs of earthly life. That thought makes me wish I had been there.
Imagine that first team of humans working together in the Garden. I assume there must have been some exchange of information with warnings (“Don’t eat those yellow fruit, Eve. Way too sour!”), news (“Did you hear the giraffe give birth last night?”), conditions (“Yup, just another perfect day in Paradise!”), strategies (“Let’s trim that side back first so more light gets through to the undergrowth.”), or basic knowledge to strengthen their relationship and coordination. As a society of two, they needed to relay information back and forth, especially the primary ground rule, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Since Adam was the only one alive who heard those words from God’s mouth, we must assume his job was to pass that information along to Eve. But judging by Eve’s response to the serpent, Satan, something was lost in transmission. Well, gained. God never gave Adam the prohibition against not touching the fruit, only not consuming it.
And we know the rest of the story. Satan showed up and used Adam and Eve’s faulty communication against them. Adam had the information, but somehow that information was twisted into misinformation. Satan then capitalized on Eve’s misinformation and twisted it further into disinformation, opening the door to doubt (“Did God say?”), and then Satan promptly twisted it into malinformation (“God is wrong. God is holding you back. God is denying your opportunities to achieve and grow”).
Based on the newly-spun information combined with doubt and a new-found willingness to disbelieve God’s truth, Eve embraced the lie. Fueled by the lusts to enjoy, obtain, and achieve, Eve took the bite. Worse yet, Adam refused to correct Eve’s misinformation and stop the serpent’s dis/malinformation plan. Instead, Adam, “who was with her” (Genesis 3:6), watched as Eve believed Satan’s malinformation, chose to deny God’s truth of a consequence for disobedience, embraced Satan’s dis/malinformation, and acted on it with no immediate harm. But the damage was done.
That same thing goes on today.
It’s called the media.
I’m only half joking.
The interlinked domains of the media and technology are tremendous gifts from God. Through technology-fueled media, vast quantities of information stream worldwide simultaneously. We’re constantly swamped with information (especially if you’re addicted to your phone), and we’re continually processing it. Media and technology have become remarkable tools in humanity’s hands to instantly share information with nearly everyone anywhere on earth at any moment. What Adam and Eve could only do through words and gestures, we can do with the fantastic tools God has given us.
Technology-driven media warns us of impending natural disasters such as extreme weather events, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and pandemics. We witness social upheaval and the rise of dictatorial regimes with ambitions for global conquest. We can take preemptive action against war or prepare for its escalation, as we’re doing right now. Talk of WW3 is ripping across the Internet daily, with NATO and Russia threatening each other in nuclear brinkmanship.
On a calmer note, media, and technology assist us with daily life. We live on our smartphones and computers, ingesting and processing information to help us plan a meal, fix a car, coordinate a city-wide church outreach, find a new garden tool or method to increase our strawberry harvest or get information about how our investments are performing. The number of ways we use media and technology daily is staggering when we pause to consider their ubiquitous presence and constant impact on us. Why are they such valuable gifts from God? Because they amplify our work at subduing and ruling our God-given personal domains. Most importantly, God has used media and technology to spread the knowledge of Himself and the Gospel worldwide in remarkable ways.
But again, like anything God has given us or let us develop, we find ways to use media and technology for our own Conquer and Dominate ends.
Over the following parts, I want to share some observations about how we use media and technology in godly Subdue and Rule and ungodly Conquer and Dominate ways. The topics of the media and technology are mind-bogglingly extensive. Believe me, as a near-pathological internet surfer, I’ve used the media and technology for years to pursue research, knowledge, and understanding. As a technologically-minded consumer and producer of media, I have some observations about how our Subdue and Rule Mandate drives us to use media and technology to control our lives and how our Conquer and Dominate drive use the media and technology as devastating weapons against others in the quest for control and supremacy.
In this first part, I will focus on the media side. In the second part, I will focus on social and entertainment media. In the third part, I will focus on technology. However, because both contribute to the other, there will be some blending as we go.
What is media?
What is media? Media is plural for “a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression” (merriam-webster.com). In art terms, a medium refers to an artist’s selected material or instrument, which they use to cultivate, convey, or express within their mind, heart, and spirit. Types of art media include material media like clay, paint, and metal or immaterial media such as music, light, or words. Regardless of media type, the purpose is the same; to serve as a tool to cultivate, convey, or express ideas, feelings, or information.
What is the media, and what is its purpose?
“The media” refers to “the means of communication, such as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet, that reach or influence people widely” (dictionary.com). The media’s purpose is, generally speaking, to share information. “The media encompass all communications that transmit facts or information to citizens and includes the mass media in print and on the radio, television, and Internet…We expect the media to cover important political and social events and information in a concise and neutral manner” (lumenlearning.com). More specifically, we expect the media to disseminate the news primarily.
How does the Media function?
While the media’s purpose is to share information, its expected functions include “raising revenue to support itself, serving as watchdogs of society and public officials, engage in agenda setting, which is the act of choosing which issues or topics deserve public discussion, and promoting the public good by offering a platform for public debate and improving citizen awareness. Sometimes the public seeks opinion and analysis of complicated issues that affect various populations differently…This type of coverage may come in the form of editorials, commentaries, Op-Ed columns, and blogs” (lumenlearning.com).
On the Subdue and Rule surface, there is no problem with the above functions, which are vital for developing a well-informed general public to run their lives in cooperation with their fellow citizens.
But when Conquer and Dominate drives the media’s functions, raising revenue to support itself morphs into buying out competitors and creating monopolistic media empires to control the flow of information in news markets. Under Conquer and Dominate’s influence, the media is no longer a watchdog of society and public officials but a guard dog to protect public officials from scrutiny by the public.
When driven by Conquer and Dominate, the media become gatekeepers who selectively screen what issues and topics they feel are in the public interest to debate rather than letting the public set the agenda. Conquer and Dominate media have repeatedly limited platforms for public debate to a particular political or social side to partially blind public awareness rather than present all sides for open discussion and complete understanding of all sides of an issue or topic. Under Conquer and Dominate’s sway, news often becomes opinion, and opinion sometimes becomes propaganda.
The issue of control determines whether the media is being used to Subdue and Rule or Conquer and Dominate, to help people or hurt them, to benefit society or harm it, to open up the marketplace of ideas to evaluate or create a coliseum where opposing views are slaughtered. Like any other part of life, the media can be a tool or a weapon. Noam Chomsky wrote, “He who controls the media controls the minds of the public.” This shouldn’t surprise us as those who seek to control the public need the means to do so, and the media has historically been their willing accomplice.
Three common strategies of the Conquer and Dominate media.
I’ve observed three strategies the Conquer and Dominate media use to gain control over people via managing information.
Cancelation via silence or “noise.” The media is the all-too-willing collaborator that facilitates cancel culture today via radio, television, print, and social media, and it does so by either silencing the target’s voice or creating immense media noise to overwhelm or override the opponent’s attempts to share their message. Examples would include President Trump being de-platformed, ignored, and shouted down by the Conquer and Dominate media during his administration and the 2020 election, Dr. Peter McCullough and other doctors who held contrarian views about COVID and its treatment, and most notably, Tucker Carlson, popular former host of FOX NEWS. The Left-leaning media have steamrolled all three and many conservative voices like them to hinder their messages and screen their views out of the public square.
Sadly, it’s not just big names the Conquer and Dominate media have attacked. Nicholas Sandmann, Kyle Rittenhouse, any January 6 participant, and scores more who are out of favor with the Left have suffered silencing or being shouted down in the media.
Invalidation. When faced with uncomfortable issues or topics, especially when they contain alleged words or actions that any responsible and neutral journalist would investigate, too many media outlets rush to invalidate their target immediately. They do this via character assassination (attacking the messenger), discrediting the source (the “conspiracy theory” label), outright dismissal, or ignoring legitimate observations, claims, or questions about a situation they do not wish to acknowledge or lend credence to. Recent examples include attempts to invalidate allegations of corruption against the Biden administration, the fraudulent 2020 election (2,000 Mules, Dinesh D’Souza), and the origins of COVID as a Chinese lab leak.
The problem with the Conquer and Dominate media using the “conspiracy theory” claim lately is those claims are proving to be conspiracy facts, as is evidenced by recent government hearings. The “conspiracy theory” invalidation technique is deployed via talking points to media outlets and so-called experts (who notably side with the given agenda) with the understanding that “everyone believes it’s a conspiracy theory, so it must be so.”
Part of the invalidation process often includes ad hominem attacks on the messenger. Civil rights leader, Malcolm X, said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” The media’s threat against individuals, groups, movements, and governments has long existed. Mark Twain wrote about the media’s terrible ability to assassinate characters and reputations. “Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your honor.”
Obfuscate and deceive. A third strategy is using previously covered mis-, dis-, and mal- information. Misinformation is errant information that could be mistaken or intentional. If intentional, it complicates an issue or “muddies the waters.” Disinformation is the information intended to deceive others. Malinformation is the information intended to harm others.
During the COVID pandemic, misinformation spread as fast as the virus because the science world didn’t know enough about the novel coronavirus. As time passed, further investigation revealed the truth that continues to negate the previous misinformation. What became most concerning was the amount of disinformation disseminated regarding COVID treatment. It has become clear since 2020 that disinformation was launched in favor of Big Pharma’s mRNA injections and against other therapies, such as hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, to drive people to accept a new technology with limited testing under the auspices of Emergency Use Authorization. News outlets pushing “the shot” claimed that the injections were FDA authorized and were, therefore, “safe and effective.” However, an Emergency Use Authorization differs from Full FDA Approval (yalemedicine.org/news/what-does-eua-mean). While the COVID injection EUA required two to six months of observation after vaccination, Full FDA Approval requires a “median clinical development period (meaning from a Phase I trial to approval) (of) just over 8 years.” Six months versus eight years leaves a lot of daylight to determine whether a biological product is, in fact, safe and effective.
However, media outlets continue to push the official “safe and effective” line. Time will tell whether the public was getting information or mis/dis/malinformation intended to boost Big Pharma’s bottom line. (Spoiler alert! Big Pharma raked in USD 90 billion in profits with COVID-19 vaccines, somo.nl)
Conquer and Dominate media’s fear of the “wrong” information.
The Conquer and Dominate media fear the “wrong” information because without information suppression, particularly freedom of speech, the Left loses power. “No. 1: The most important human freedom is freedom of speech. Free speech is what makes the pursuit of truth possible. It is what makes the advancement of science possible. It constitutes the very definition of a free society. And free speech is what makes human dignity possible. People who cannot say what they believe are dehumanized. They ultimately become robotic beings exemplified by North Koreans… No. 5: There is no example in history of the Left attaining power and allowing free speech. From the French Revolution to the Russian Revolution to the Maoist takeover of China to almost any university in America today, wherever the Left comes to power, it suppresses speech… No. 6: The Left must suppress speech in order to retain power. If it were to allow dissent, it would lose its hold on power… No. 9: All tyrannies label dissent ‘misinformation.’ That is what Vladimir Putin’s government labels all dissent in Russia today” (Prager).
Since much of the Legacy media are aligned with the political Left, is it any wonder they share the same drive for control that their political partners display? Rather than being watchdogs, the Legacy media have become lapdogs and attack dogs to do the bidding of their political and financial masters on the Left. “The media want to maintain their intimate relation to state power. They want to get leaks, they want to get invited to the press conferences. They want to rub shoulders with the Secretary of State, all that kind of business. To do that, you’ve got to play the game, and playing the game means telling their lies, serving as their disinformation apparatus” (Noam Chomsky). Today’s Conquer and Dominate media’s willingness to suppress free speech and information except that which favors’ its master reveals which master they serve.
No good comes when the government and media climb into bed together. Notorious Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels understood a government’s magnified power over a nation when the media joined the team. “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” (Joseph Goebbels).
As I write this, the Australian seeks control measures to prevent unfavorable truths from being expressed. “‘Dangerous for Christians’: One nation looks to severely punish truth-telling: Fines could be in millions for negative comments about LGBT ideology, election officials, (wnd.com/2023/07/dangerous-christians-one-nation-looks-severely-punish-misinformation).
During the current Biden administration, an attempt was made to establish a Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. “The purpose of the board was to coordinate disinformation efforts at DHS across topics ranging from migration to addressing plots from Russia and Iran. The Republican National Committee dubbed it the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in a nod to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ and couched disinformation as ‘any speech we don’t like.’” Also, “Federal and state agencies treat disinformation as a national security threat. In a statement announcing its launch, DHS said the new initiative would coordinate efforts around threats of Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at the US and false claims that encourage migrants to travel to the US-Mexico border” (theguardian.com, italics author).
What happens when few trust that a government Disinformation Governance Board would deliver accurate and truthful information when experience has already proven the government is using mis/dis/malinformation to control its citizens and attack its political opposition? I found this recent quote from Rep. Stacy Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), the ranking member of the House Weaponization of Government Subcommittee, quite revealing. “Well, you know, first of all, they wanna talk about censorship. That anytime you point out untruths, you’re censoring, you’re stopping people from speaking. It’s not that we’re not stopping people from speaking [sic], people can speak, but we’re also going to give the American people the truth so that they can have science and facts and history against wild, outlandish claims that the Republicans are trying to get” (thegatewaypundit.com). Did you catch that? Only Democrats can give the U.S. citizen the truth. That is a Conquer and Dominate mentality.
Why information should flow freely
Free speech is dangerous because you might hear something you don’t want to hear. The free flow of information is just as dangerous. You might also receive mis/dis/malinformation along with valid information. That’s the fear-filled objection many Conquer and Dominate media deceitfully posit to justify their attempt at information suppression or cancelation. To that, I ask,
Are we children that must be spoon-fed information pablum lest we find ourselves with an upset tummy? That’s evidently what the Conquer and Dominate media want us to be. Thank God for mature media mommies and daddies to protect us from the scary things of life!
We’re all big boys and girls; being an adult means learning to discern and discriminate. The biblical Greek word for “discern” means “to cut between two things.” The Left’s solution to the threat of stumbling upon the “wrong” information is for them to become gatekeepers of all information to cull what they believe is mis/dis/malinformation. But by what objective standard? They have no objective standard. If they did, it would force them to be honest. Case in point, with all their biological information, today’s Leftists can’t even figure out if they’re boys or girls. Their standards are subjective, set to whatever cultural whim leads them to ask Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” And like Pilate, who was face to face with the Ultimate Objective Truth Of All Truths, the Conquer and Dominate media stare truth in the face and brazenly dismiss it.
I have to pause here and ask, “Isn’t it interesting that those who claim to want “genuine” information are the ones who primarily traffic in mis/dis/malinformation in politics, science, culture, finances, etc., simply to maintain power?” Just wondering.
To refute the “What if I get bad/false/wrong information?” objection, we need to reassert Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ Counterspeech Doctrine, established in his classic concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927).
“The counterspeech doctrine posits that the proper response to negative speech is to counter it with positive expression. It derives from the theory that audiences, or recipients of the expression, can weigh for themselves the values of competing ideas and, hopefully, follow the better approach” (mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/940/counterspeech-doctrine). In short, what counters bad speech is “More speech, not enforced silence.”
The same is true for the information gatekeepers using the fear of “bad information” to control information. Instead, we need “what counters bad information is more information, not enforced ignorance.” Why? To paraphrase Justice Brandeis, “audiences, or recipients of the (information), can weigh for themselves the values of competing ideas and, hopefully, follow the better (information).” But because of their desire for Conquer and Dominate control, the media gatekeepers tell us, “We’re only doing this to keep you from harm,” when it’s simply their justification to take control regardless of the harm it causes.
Why is a free and open news media so important? Because it’s the vehicle for free speech and the free exchange of ideas.
What is the antidote to a Conquer and Dominate-driven media?
On a personal level, we all need to develop essential skills such as:
· The need to learn and practice discernment and constantly reinforce to ourselves and others the need to be discerning.
· Identifying biases and agendas. We must habitually go to primary sources for news stories. Then we can look for the same story on a news site like FOX or CNN or news aggregate sites like DrudgeReport.com or BonginoReport.com and soon see biases and agendas reflected in word and phrase choices. Over time, you’ll see who can be trusted, who is biased, and to what degree.
· Developing healthy skepticism. Don’t accept what you’re told at face value unless your source has proven neutral and credible. It doesn’t hurt to double and triple-check sources and the information presented.
· Learning the difference between mis/dis/malinformation and how to ferret it. Is it accurate? Is it deceptive? Will it cause harm?
Remember, it’s your life you’re affecting when you receive information. As with a doctor’s assessment, ask for a second or third opinion by tracing a topic across multiple media outlets.
Regarding media sources across the political spectrum, we need to ask crucial questions:
· Who is funding and running them? What is their political leaning, and to which politicians and political causes do they contribute?
· Is this source a proven watchdog or attack dog?
· Are they willing to convey information even though it goes against their personal beliefs, philosophies, and politics?
· Are they working for the public good or only a specific segment of the citizenry?
· Are they a primary source? If not, are they accurately conveying information from a primary source?
· Is their information presented as if to set an agenda? If so, what is it? Are they telling the whole story from a neutral position? Are they offering an opinion as fact?
· Does your gut tell you the source is trying to sway your thinking to their position?
To return to a more Subdue and Rule-oriented media, we must demand that the media reestablish the standard of objective truth, neutral news reporting, clearly identified opinion and free expression of information. If they refuse, those with journalistic ethics must stand firm. By comparison, they will expose the Conquer and Dominate media spin doctors for the propagandists they are. We must also continue the fight to remove all that silences, invalidates, or obfuscates the truth and quashes the free cultivation, conveyance, and expression of information.
We need not fear using the Big Gun of “lawfare” (the court system) and should deploy legal means boldly as required. The Conquer and Dominate media must learn they are not immune to pushback, especially in their wallets. Making money is part of their function, not losing it. After slandering Nicolas Sandmann for the “crime” of de-escalating a harassment situation, NBCUNIVERSAL MEDIA LLC (MSNBC) and the Washington Post chose to settle a 275 million dollar defamation lawsuit for an undisclosed sum for creating “a false narrative by portraying the ‘confrontation’ as a ‘hate crime’ committed by Nicholas” (lawandcrime.com).
Finally, there must be alternatives. In 1996 FOX NEWS was created to balance an increasingly Left-leaning (okay, leaping) mainstream media. Conservatives starved for truth and tired of having their viewpoints savaged fled to FOX NEWS, making it the overwhelming media champion in reaching people per ratings. However, because FOX NEWS has recently taken an anti-conservative stance by firing strong conservatives (Tucker Carlson) and tamping down their current on-air talent, people are refusing FOX NEWS’ effort to hinder the cultivation, conveyance, and expression of conservative views and issues. Their efforts have resulted in their former conservative star, Mr. Carlson, moving to Twitter, where his initial ten-minute monologue garnered 26 million viewers versus his 3.5 million FOX NEWS audience in February 2023 (forbes.com).
Because Conquer and Dominate media abuse people in their attempt to gain control over the in and outflow of information, and because media impacts peoples’ lives so profoundly, there is never a reason to surrender such powerful and vital tools to the wicked. God’s people must become even more adept at media and technology to disseminate objective truth as widely as possible, refute mis/dis/malinformation, free people to help them live better, especially those who do so for God, and protect people by publicly and loudly exposing bias and propaganda being deployed against them for control purposes.
Creating alternative media outlets to make knowledge more accessible is a danger to those who seek to control information to control people. They often object that doing so would expose people to mis/dis/malinformation. Again, “So what?” Life is full of errant information, and we spend our entire lives sifting through all information to pursue the truth, especially about God.
People must refuse to submit to the Conquer and Dominate media’s control when it comes to sifting truth from error in the media. The contrast between truth and error, neutral and biased, objective and subjective, facts and opinions, and reliable and unreliable jumps into high relief. As we grow in discernment, we’re less likely to fall for the “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” argument.
What Is the Media?, courses.lumenlearning.com/atd-monroecc-americangovernment/chapter/what-is-the-media
Emergency Use Authorization Vs. Full FDA Approval: What’s the Difference?, yalemedicine.org/news/what-does-eua-mean
Big Pharma raked in USD 90 billion in profits with COVID-19 vaccines, somo.nl/big-pharma-raked-in-usd-90-billion-in-profits-with-covid-19-vaccines
Prager, Dennis, Pew Research: Democrats Value Free Speech Far Less than Republicans, dennisprager.com/column/pew-research-democrats-value-free-speech-far-less-than-republicans
US homeland security pauses new disinformation board amid criticism, theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/19/homeland-security-disinformation-board-nina-jankowicz-resigns
Top Democrat on Weaponization Subcommittee Argues Democrats Should Be Allowed to Define Truth in America, thegatewaypundit.com/2023/07/top-democrat-weaponization-subcommittee-argues-democrats-should-define
Counterspeech Doctrine, mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/940/counterspeech-doctrine
Covington Catholic’s Nick Sandmann Settles $275 Million NBC Lawsuit for ‘Confidential’ Amount, lawandcrime.com/media/covington-catholics-nick-sandmann-settles-275-million-nbc-lawsuit-for-confidential-amount
With 3.5 Million Viewers, Tucker Carlson Has The Week’s Highest-Rated Cable News Show, www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2023/02/14/with-35-million-viewers-tucker-carlson-has-the-weeks-highest-rated-cable-news-show/?sh=3d7bc50a7f52
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts