San Pedro Sula It seems forever ago when the use of facial identification software in detecting members of the crown prince’s security detail implicated them in the murder of Khashoggi, the dissident and journalist in the Saudi Arabian embassy office in Istanbul. I found the assassination frightening, but I also raised the red flag on the likely abuse that governments, both democratic and authoritarian, might use of this new, powerful, and somewhat frightening tool. More recently in the endless Facebook foul-ups the almost seamless ability to put the faces of people on violent and pornographic images and videos, including former President Obama, has been a subject of our concern as well. The role it placed in inciting genocide in Myanmar and communalist outrage and killings in India is well known.
We are not naïve. Certainly, these tools were mastered in the US and in rich, industrial countries and our tech waste and wonderlands before they were able to put real blood on the knives of hate. Nonetheless, to see doctored videos pushed out of the White House by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press spokesperson, in order to defend the indefensible barring of a CNN reporter from press briefings and the White House, is appalling. It smacks of the common practices of dictatorships that we abhor. Doctored videos are plainly and simply nothing more than propaganda and are hallmarks of authoritarian regimes.
If you missed it, the President in a rare open press conference after the midterm elections became offended at the questions being asked by Jim Acosta, a CNN White House reporter, calling him “rude” for persisting in asking him about Russia and the like. An intern was dispatched to take the microphone from him. He held on when she tried to grab it, saying “Excuse me, ma’am.” The doctored video, that reports now say was done by the notorious and infamous Alex Jones and his much scorned Infowars shop, makes it appear like Acosta more aggressively chopped his hand down at the intern and deletes his “Excuse me, ma’am.”
In and of itself you might say, “whatever, no big deal, they’ll work it out.” Wrong! This is the marker of another place where the waters rose on the flood wall, before it swept us all away. First, the barrage of constant lies and fabrications from the White House and the President that now numbers on average more than seven daily. Now, we have deliberately doctored videos released with the White House seal of approval as legitimate in order to divide the country and justify curtailment of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. What’s next when there are now no limits? I shudder to think, but it must be stopped.
We’ve just seen a historic number of at least one-hundred women elected to Congress for the coming term as part of the long footprint of the resistance. We’ve seen 20,000 Google employees, part of the tech high priesthood of contemporary business and society, walk out over forced arbitration and sexual abuse policies. We’ve even seen booksellers strike Amazon for barring books from purveyors in several countries. In all cases, these actions were successful.
Why are reporters talking about CNN filing a lawsuit, rather than standing together collectively to protest this propaganda assault with fabricated video? There’s a lesson in recent actions: if some protest, people will stand up in support. If there is no protest, we continue to lose the semblance of rights we still have.
Please enjoy Helter Skelter 2018 Mix by The Beatles.
Thanks to KABF.