Chapter Thirteen: The Media – The Specter’s Mouthpiece (UPDATED)

The specter of communism did not disappear with the disintegration of the Communist Party in Eastern Europe

The Epoch Times is serializing an adaptation from the Chinese of a new book, How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World, by the editorial team of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Mass Indoctrination in Communist Countries

2. Communist Infiltration of Western Media and Hollywood

3. Left-Wing Bias Among Media Professionals

4. The Media Takeover by Liberalism and Progressivism

5. The Film Industry: Vanguard Against Tradition

6. Television: Corruption in Every Household

7. The Media: A Key Battleground in a Total War

8. Restoring the Integrity of the ‘Fourth Branch’

References

Introduction

The influence of the media in modern society is enormous and continues to grow. It permeates communities of all sizes, from the local to the global. With the rise of social media and user-generated content, the internet has greatly amplified the speed and reach of audiovisual communication.

People rely on the media for the latest news and analysis. In an ocean of information, the media — from newspapers and magazines, to radio, film, and television, to websites and social media — influence what information people see and how they interpret it. The media are in a position to influence people’s first impressions on a particular topic, and thus carry considerable powers of psychological priming. For social elites, particularly politicians, the media can be used to determine the focus of public opinion and can serve as a rallying beacon for the public. Topics that the media cover become matters of grave social concern. Issues that go unreported are ignored and forgotten.

In the West, the media are traditionally regarded as the guardians of the truth and societies’ core values. Journalists are respected for their expertise and sacrifices. Their duty is to report the truth of the world’s major events in a fair, accurate, and timely manner. They must support justice and condemn wrongdoing, while promoting goodness. Their mission goes beyond the private interests of any one individual, company, or political party. Thomas Jefferson, father of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” [1]

As the voice of a society, the media can act to safeguard morality or become instruments of evil. In the midst of mankind’s moral decline, it’s difficult for the media to protect their virtue and perform their duties under the pressure of power and the temptation of money.

Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, after whom the Pulitzer Prize is named, said: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.” [2]

In communist countries, the media are controlled by the state. These regime mouthpieces brainwash the masses and act as accomplices to communist policies of terror and killing. In Western societies, the media have been heavily infiltrated by communist thought, becoming communism’s main agents of anti-traditional, anti-moral, and demonic trends. They propagate lies and hatred, adding fuel to the flames of moral degeneration. Many media entities have abandoned their duties of reporting the truth and guarding society’s moral conscience. It is imperative for us to awaken to the state that the media are in today and to bring responsibility back to this field.

1. Mass Indoctrination in Communist Countries

From the very beginning, communists have viewed the media as tools for brainwashing. The 1847 document “Rules of the Communist League,” which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels helped write, asked members to have “revolutionary energy and zeal in propaganda.” [3] Marx and Engels often used terms like “party battlefield,” “party mouthpiece,” “political center,” or “tool for public opinion” in their articles to express the character and function they desired of the media.

Vladimir Lenin used the media as tools to promote, incite, and organize the Russian Revolution. He helped run the official communist newspapers Iskra and Pravda to promote revolutionary propaganda and activism. Soon after the Communist Party of the Soviet Union seized power, it used the media for domestic political indoctrination and for spreading propaganda abroad to improve its image and export revolution.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also regards the media as tools for controlling public opinion and as the mouthpiece of the Party. The CCP is highly conscious of the fact that “the guns and the pens are what it relies on for seizing and consolidating power.” [4] As early as the Yan’an period (1935–1947), Mao Zedong’s secretary Hu Qiaomu put forward the principle of “Party nature first,” saying that the Party newspaper “has to carry through the Party’s viewpoints and understandings in all articles, every essay, every news report, and every newsletter.” [5]

Upon establishing its dictatorship, the CCP imposed strict control over the media and later the internet. It uses them as tools to indoctrinate the Chinese with communist ideology, suppress dissidents, intimidate the public, and conceal or distort the truth. Media workers are experts in self-censorship, constantly aware that a single error can result in a miserable outcome. Censorship not only permeates the official news channels, but also personal blogs and online communities, which are monitored and controlled by a vast network of internet police.

There is a contemporary Chinese phrase that vividly describes the role of the media under the CCP’s rule: “I am the Party’s dog, sitting by the Party’s door. I’ll bite whomever the Party tells me to bite and however many times I am told.” This is no exaggeration. Every communist political movement starts with manipulating public opinion: The media spread lies to incite hatred, which cascades into violence and killing. The media play a crucial role in this deadly mechanism.

During the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP claimed that the students were violent thugs and so used the army to suppress the alleged “riot.” Following the massacre, it claimed that the army didn’t shoot anyone and that there were no casualties in the square. [6] In 2001, early on in the persecution of Falun Gong, the regime staged a self-immolation hoax in Tiananmen Square to frame the spiritual practice and kindle hatred toward Falun Gong practitioners across China and around the world. [7]

Leading cadres in committees at all levels of the CCP place great importance on propaganda work and field considerable personnel for this task. By the end of 2010, China had more than 1.3 million staff working in the national propaganda apparatus, including about 56,000 in propaganda departments at the provincial and county levels, 1.2 million in local propaganda units, and 52,000 people in the central propaganda work units. [8] This figure does not include a large number of staff who are responsible for monitoring and manipulating online opinion, such as internet police, moderators, Party-controlled commentators, and others employed in various forms of public relations.

Countries ruled by communist parties, without exception, use great amounts of resources to manipulate the media. Years of operation have honed communist state media into efficient mouthpieces for their totalitarian masters. They use any and all means to deceive and poison the minds of the people.

2. Communist Infiltration of Western Media and Hollywood

The last century was witness to great conflicts between the free world and the communist camp. All the while, communism has been successfully infiltrating and subverting the media in Western countries. This chapter focuses on the United States, in light of the extraordinary influence of American media throughout the world.

After the Soviet regime seized power in Russia, it attempted to establish control over public discourse in the West, dispatching its agents to infiltrate Western media and enticing local communist sympathizers. It used these people to great effect in eulogizing the Soviet Union and concealing the brutality of communist rule. Soviet propaganda efforts swayed large numbers of Westerners and even influenced government policy to favor the Soviet Union.

The Soviet KGB used its agents in the United States to work directly with prestigious American media organizations. Among these agents were John Scott, Richard Lauterbach, and Stephen Laird of Time magazine, who used their positions to mingle with politicians, celebrities, and heads of state. Aside from gathering a wide range of intelligence, they also influenced high-level decisions concerning matters of politics, economics, diplomacy, war, and more. Another Time editor and Soviet spy, Whittaker Chambers, later defected and wrote the book Witness detailing communist subversion in the United States. [9]

Walter Duranty, the Moscow correspondent for The New York Times, won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles on the Soviet Union. Former American communist Jay Lovestone and prominent journalist Joseph Alsop both believe Duranty acted as a Soviet agent. [10] During the 1932–1933 famine that ravaged Ukraine and other regions of the Soviet Union, Duranty denied that the famine even existed, let alone that millions of people were starving to death. He claimed that “any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” [11] Describing the consequences of Duranty’s false reporting, Robert Conquest, a famous British historian and authoritative scholar on the history of the Soviet Union, wrote in his book The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine: “As one of the best known correspondents in the world for one of the best known newspapers in the world, Mr. Duranty’s denial that there was a famine was accepted as gospel. Thus Mr. Duranty gulled not only the readers of The New York Times but because of the newspaper’s prestige, he influenced the thinking of countless thousands of other readers about the character of Josef Stalin and the Soviet regime. And he certainly influenced the newly-elected President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union.” [12]

At the same time, Hollywood was infiltrated by communist and leftist ideas. Willi Münzenberg, a German communist and member of the Third International, traveled to the United States and recognized that the American film industry could be used as a tool for propaganda, implementing Lenin’s concepts of film development and production. He sent his trusted assistant Otto Katz and his associate Louis Gibarti to infiltrate the industry. Katz was highly successful in penetrating the social circles of the Hollywood elite and soon established a Communist Party branch organization, the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.

Step by step, the Soviet Union’s influence began to set in. Many filmmakers of the era idolized the Soviets, and these sentiments only grew during World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union were briefly allied against Nazi Germany. A famous playwright claimed that the German invasion of the Soviet Union was “an attack on our motherland.” [13] A line in Mission to Moscow, a 1943 film intended to bolster support for the Soviet–American alliance, portrays the Soviet Union as being a country founded on the same fundamental principles as the United States. [14]

The Chinese communist regime also has greatly benefited from leftist media and journalists in the free world. Prominent among them were left-wing American journalists Edgar Snow, Agnes Smedley, and Anna Louise Strong. Snow’s book Red Star Over China painted a glowing picture of Mao and other senior Chinese Communist Party leaders while hiding their crimes and the evil nature of communism from Western readers. Mao said, “Snow is the first person to clear the road for the friendly relations needed to establish a united front.” [15] Smedley wrote many articles and books flattering the CCP and its leadership. There is strong evidence from the Soviet archives suggesting that she was a Comintern agent who worked to foster armed revolution in India and collect intelligence for the Soviets. [16] Strong also was an admirer of the Chinese communist movement. The CCP has acknowledged these three Americans by issuing postage stamps in honor of their “meritorious service.”

3. Left-Wing Bias Among Media Professionals

The majority of Americans say the media have partisan biases. A 2017 Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of people felt that the media favor Democrats. By comparison, 22 percent believe the media favor Republicans. [17] A question then arises: With the news industry being so competitive, how can such an extreme bias exist?

Though reporters and editors have their own political and social views, their reporting should not be colored by personal opinion — objectivity and neutrality are key principles of journalism ethics. By normal market principles, any bias that exists should be offset by the emergence of new, more neutral competitors.

The reality is more complicated. American political scientist Tim Groseclose, in his 2011 book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, used rigorous scientific methods to analyze the political leanings of major American media. His findings revealed that the political leanings of American media on average trend dramatically toward liberalism and progressivism — far left of the typical voting citizen. The “mainstream” media are even further left of this average. [18] The book explains that the majority of media professionals, be they the owners of these organizations or the reporters and commentators, are liberal, which, objectively speaking, puts pressure on traditionalists in the field; the small number of conservatives working in liberal media companies may be seen as “mildly evil or subhuman,” according to Groseclose. Even if these journalists aren’t squeezed out of employment, they dare not air their political views publicly, much less promote conservative viewpoints in print or on television. [19] According to a 2013 ABC News/Washington Post poll, about 28 percent of journalists in the United States self-identified as Democrats compared to just 7.1 percent who identified as Republicans. [20]

The community of media professionals excludes views that do not align with its liberal bias, thus forming political echo chambers. Individuals in this community see themselves as the compassionate and intelligent elite at the forefront of societal development, while looking down on ordinary citizens as stubborn commoners. Left-wing bias discourages students with conservative viewpoints from picking journalism as their major or seeking a job in the media after graduation.

During the 2016 US presidential election, fifty-seven of the nation’s one hundred biggest newspapers — with a combined circulation of thirteen million — endorsed the Democratic candidate. Just two of the top hundred, with a combined circulation of three hundred thousand, supported the Republican candidate. [21] But the mainstream media does not necessarily represent the opinions of the social mainstream. A 2016 poll conducted by Gallup found that 36 percent of American citizens identified as conservative, while liberals made up 25 percent. [22] That is to say, if the media accurately reflected the views of a majority of citizens, then the media as a whole wouldn’t lean left.

The leftist bent of the media is evidently not the result of popular will. Rather, it comes from the behind-the-scenes pushing of a political agenda intended to shift the entire nation to the political left. The gap between conservatives and liberals in 1996 was 22 percent; in 2014, it was 14 percent; and in 2016, it was 11 percent. The proportion of conservatives has remained stable, but many in the middle have been converted to the Left. The mainstream media undeniably play a role in this demographic transformation, which, in turn, sustains the media’s ideological bias.

Why does the media lean so far to the left? In the 1960s, the country was heavily influenced by communist ideology, with radical left-wing social movements taking the United States by storm. The radical students of that period later entered the media, the academic community, government agencies, and the arts scene, where they established control over public discourse. Today, the vast majority of university professors are leftists, and departments of journalism and literature have brought generations of graduates under leftist influence. Media workers are not paid high salaries, instead relying on their idealistic sense of purpose to persevere in the field. This idealism has become the tool for transforming the media into a left-wing base of operations.

Along with news media, the film industry also is under siege. Hollywood has become a bastion of left-wing propaganda. Using sophisticated production and narrative techniques, left-leaning producers promote leftist ideologies that have reached the entire world. The main theme of Hollywood films usually appears to be slandering capitalism and emphasizing class conflict, while praising immoral behavior or anti-American sentiment.

Author Ben Shapiro interviewed movie stars and producers in Hollywood for his book Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. According to Shapiro, a famous producer said that in his profession, liberalism is “100 percent dominant” and that “anyone who denies it is kidding or not telling the truth.” When asked whether having a different political standpoint could hinder a person’s ability to secure work in the film industry, the producer answered, “Absolutely.” Another famous producer openly said that Hollywood has been selling liberal political views through its works: “Right now, there’s only one perspective. And it’s a very progressive perspective.” [23] The producer of a television series about police said he intentionally portrays more whites as criminals because he doesn’t “want to contribute to negative stereotypes.” [24]

Shapiro argues that nepotism in Hollywood is ideological rather than familial: Friends hire friends with the same ideological views. The openness with which the Hollywood crowd admits its anti-conservative discrimination inside the industry is shocking. Those who talk about tolerance and diversity have no tolerance when it comes to respecting diversity of ideology. [25]

4. The Media Takeover by Liberalism and Progressivism

Walter Williams, the founder of journalism education and of the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri, created “The Journalist’s Creed” in 1914. It defined journalism as an independent profession that respects God and honors mankind. Journalists should be “unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power.” They must exercise self-control, patience, fearlessness, and constant respect for their readers. [26] After the 1960s, however, as progressivism became prevalent, advocacy replaced objectivity, and liberalism and progressivism replaced impartiality.

In the 1986 book The Media Elite, author Samuel Robert Lichter wrote that reporters tend to add their own opinions and educational background to their reports on controversial issues. Because the majority of the people in newsrooms are liberals, news reporting has shifted in favor of liberal politics. [27] Jim A. Kuypers, in his research on the evolution of American journalism over the past two hundred years, concluded that today’s mainstream media are liberal and progressive in both their personnel and their reporting. He quoted a liberal editor of a major newspaper as saying: “Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions. … We’re not very subtle about it at this paper: If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat.” [28] In a commentary piece published by The Wall Street Journal in 2001, former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote that mainstream news anchors are so biased that they “don’t even know what liberal bias is.” [29]

Despite polls suggesting that Americans are aware of media partisanship, many people still take it for granted that reports are written objectively and comprehensively, and that what is cited is serious expert analysis based on information from reliable sources. The leftist media make use of their consumers’ trust to inculcate them with their ideological worldview. Because the free societies of the West have traditionally emphasized the need for a truthful, objective, and fair media, the left-wing media do not always spread fake news to deceive the public outright. Their methods are more subtle and elaborate, as described below.

Selective Coverage

Every day, thousands of newsworthy events occur around the world. But which events receive attention or quietly fade from view is almost completely determined by what the media chooses to cover.

Selective coverage can be divided into three categories. First, events are selected only or primarily for their utility in helping readers accept the ideological stand of the Left. Second, instead of reporting comprehensively on an event’s context, the media report only the aspects that support the leftist point of view. Lastly, the media tend to give greater voice to those who lean left or whose statements agree with the Left, while other organizations and individuals are sidelined. Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo wrote in their 2005 paper “A Measure of Media Bias” that “for every sin of commission … we believe that there are hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sins of omission — cases where a journalist chose facts or stories that only one side of the political spectrum is likely to mention.” [30]

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of selective coverage is the dearth of reporting on the largest persecution of faith in contemporary history. In China since 1999, the CCP has persecuted members of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, which upholds the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. This persecution has directly affected hundreds of millions of people in the world’s most populous country for more than two decades, and it is being perpetrated to a degree of brutality that is hard to fathom. However, its coverage by the Western media has been disproportionately weak when placed next to the magnitude and severity of the actual events taking place. Most of the mainstream media outlets, influenced by the CCP’s political clout, have exercised self-censorship or remained silent amid the CCP’s monstrous assault on freedom of belief and the core values of human civilization. Some have even been complicit in helping the CCP spread its deceit.

At the same time, a trend has emerged that opposes communism and advocates a return to tradition. As of May 2020, more than 350 million people have withdrawn from the CCP and its affiliated organizations in the Tuidang (“Quit the Party”) movement. Yet such a major phenomenon, which holds great significance for the future of China and the world, is rarely if ever mentioned in the Western media.

Agenda-Setting

In the 1960s, media researchers came up with the influential theory that the media determine which topics people find suitable for discussion. American political scientist Bernard Cohen articulated this well when he said that the press “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” [31] That is to say, the press can determine the importance of events by the number of reports and follow-up reports that an event receives, while equally or more important issues can be dealt with more summarily or not at all. For example, though the issue of transgender rights concerns only a very small portion of the population, it has become a focal point of discussion and an example of the media successfully setting the agenda. In addition, a narrative about global warming became prominent in public discourse as the result of a long-term conspiracy between the media and other political forces.

Many progressive ideas — such as so-called social justice, equality, and feminism — have become mainstream, while the crimes of communism have been whitewashed. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich once wrote in 2018, “The academic Left and its news media and Hollywood acolytes refuse to confront the horrifying record of Marxism’s endless inhumanity.” [32]

Framing

Many issues are too big to ignore, and in these cases, the media use the method of framing to influence the informational environment. The sexual liberation movement and state welfare policies of the 1960s resulted in the disintegration of the family, worsened poverty, and increased crime. However, leftists use the media and Hollywood to depict an image of the strong and independent single mother, hiding the real social issues behind this phenomenon. They get experts to blame systemic discrimination for the poor financial and social status of minority groups, thus obscuring the real causes — many of which have their roots in communism. The prevalence of such narratives is largely the result of collusion between the media and political forces.

The method of framing is seen mainly in the phenomenon of narratives preceding facts. In objective reporting, the writer summarizes the facts to form a narrative. But reporters and editors who hold prejudiced views on an issue shape the facts to fit the narrative that validates their biases.

Using Political Correctness to Enforce Self-Censorship

Political correctness, a potent communist tool, permeates the media. Whether written in the style guide or left implicit, many media outlets have policies of political correctness that affect what may or may not be reported and how it should be presented. Because of legislation on “hate crimes” in some European countries, many local media outlets dare not report on crimes committed by immigrants, despite that such crimes have become a severe social issue and are threatening the domestic security in those countries. American media organizations also self-censor when it comes to reporting crimes, often omitting the perpetrators’ immigration status.
The Western media, along with leftist political groups and academia, have created a lexicon of politically correct language. It has been applied so frequently by the media that the language has become deeply rooted in the public consciousness, influencing the public on a subliminal level.

Labeling Conservative Sources to Neutralize Their Influence

In order to create the impression of balanced reporting, the liberal media have no choice but to report on the opinions of conservatives or conservative think tanks. But the media typically use labels like “far right,” “right wing,” or “religious right wing” when quoting these sources, subtly implying that their opinions are prejudiced or not trustworthy. By contrast, when quoting from liberals or liberal think tanks, the media usually use neutral titles such as “scholar” or “expert,” suggesting that these opinions are impartial, objective, rational, and trustworthy.
Once the media validate a left-wing opinion, it manifests in all aspects of society. An October 2008 article by The New York Times headlined “Liberal Views Dominate Footlights” stated, “During this election season theatergoers in New York can see a dozen or so overtly political plays, about Iraq, Washington corruption, feminism, or immigration; what they won’t see are any with a conservative perspective.” [33]

The media’s political colors are also reflected in their coverage of the democratic process. Liberal candidates are reported positively, while candidates who espouse traditional views receive more criticism. Such reports and “expert” analysis have great influence over the voting population.

Groseclose discovered that more than 90 percent of reporters in Washington voted for Democrats. According to Groseclose’s calculation, in typical elections, media bias assists Democratic candidates by around 8 to 10 percentage points. For instance, if it weren’t for media bias, John McCain would have defeated Barack Obama 56 percent to 42 percent, instead of losing 46 to 53. [34]

5. The Film Industry: A Vanguard Against Tradition

Hollywood, as an international symbol of American culture, has served to broadcast and amplify American values worldwide. But it also has become an instrument for exposing all of humanity to distorted, anti-traditional values.

Today it’s hard for most Americans to imagine that families in the 1930s and ‘40s had no need to worry about the negative influence of movies on children, as the film industry at the time followed strict moral regulations. In 1930, with strong backing from churches, the film industry introduced the Motion Picture Production Code, commonly known as the Hays Code. Its first principle was that no film should be produced that would lower the moral standards of its viewers. The audience should never be made to sympathize with crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin. The Hays Code principle on sex was to uphold the sanctity of marriage; motion pictures were not to imply that low forms of sexual relationships were acceptable norms. Adultery, while sometimes necessary as plot material, was not to be justified, nor depicted attractively or in an explicit manner.

After the 1950s, however, sexual liberation caused cultural and moral shock waves. The rise of television in the American household fostered enormous market pressure and rivalry among film producers. Hollywood increasingly ignored the Hays Code. For example, the 1962 Academy Award-nominated film Lolita, adapted from the novel of the same title, depicted an adulterous and pedophilic relationship between a man and his underage stepdaughter. Though the film received both negative and positive reviews after its release, today it holds a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a film and television review aggregator. This reflects the sea change in social morality that has occurred in recent decades.

The counterculture movements at the end of the 1960s marked the collapse of traditional morality and order in Hollywood productions. Several iconic films depicting themes of rebellion reflected the degeneracy that was growing in the American film industry. As discussed in previous chapters, a key tactic of communism is to cast criminal behavior in a noble or righteous light. Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 crime film based on the real story of the Great Depression-era robbers. During the Great Depression, many families became homeless after banks foreclosed on their homes. The protagonists in the film are depicted as expressing righteous anger at this phenomenon and as fighting injustice when they commit bank robbery and murder. The film, which features some of Hollywood’s first depictions of graphic violence, has a Robin Hood-like narrative. The criminal couple, played by a handsome actor and a beautiful actress, are portrayed as having an inherent sense of justice. The police, meanwhile, are cast as incompetent stooges rather than protectors of law and order. The deaths of Bonnie and Clyde as they are caught in a police trap in the film’s finale had a profound impact on adolescent audience members. The two came to be regarded as martyrs, as though they had sacrificed themselves for the sake of some great cause.

The themes of crime and violence depicted in the film shocked the mainstream of American society, but found great resonance among rebellious students. Youth started to copy the titular characters’ speech, style of dress, and contempt for tradition and custom. Some even sought to emulate the couple’s manner of demise. [35] Though an initial review of the film in Time judged it as bawdy and full of plotholes, the lead actor and actress appeared on the magazine’s cover several months later, with the cover story proclaiming, “Bonnie and Clyde is not only the sleeper of the decade but also, to a growing consensus of audiences and critics, the best movie of the year.” [36] One film reviewer for a left-wing publication wrote an article comparing Bonnie and Clyde to Cuban guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Viet Cong terrorist Nguyễn Văn Trỗi. [37] One radical group of young people claimed, “We are not potential Bonnie and Clydes, we are Bonnie and Clydes.” [38] In addition to glorifying crime, Bonnie and Clyde featured an unprecedented level of sexuality. However, the film still received critical acclaim, receiving ten Oscar nominations and winning two. Hollywood had deviated from its traditional principles.

The Graduate, released at the end of 1967, reflected the inner anxiety and conflicts of college students of the period. The film depicts a new graduate at a crossroads in his life, and the traditional values of his father’s generation are presented as dull and hypocritical. Instead of entering mainstream American society, the graduate accepts the advances of an older married woman, only to fall in love with her daughter, who discovers the affair. At the end of the film, the protagonist storms the church where the daughter has just married someone else, and he and the young woman run off together. The Graduate features a jumble of adolescent rebellion, uncontrolled libido, and other themes reflecting the confused, anti-traditional milieu of rebellious youth. The film was phenomenally successful, generating high box-office sales, as well as seven Oscar nominations and one win.

Films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate kickstarted the New Hollywood era. At the end of 1968, the Hays Code was replaced with the modern film-rating system. That is, films with all kinds of content could be screened as long as they were labeled with a rating. This loosened the moral self-discipline of the entertainment industry considerably and blurred the standards of right and wrong. In this way, entertainers and media staff separated morality from their creations, giving them free rein to feature amoral and evil content. Degenerate entertainment hooked audiences with cheap, exciting, and readily available stimulation. Meanwhile, producers gave in to greed as they reeled in prodigious commercial profits.

Film is a special medium with the power to depict compelling atmospheres and realistic personalities. Skillful direction can alter the viewpoints of audience members, especially the young and impressionable, on many levels, shaping their feelings and worldviews. A well-known film producer once said: “Documentaries convert the already converted. Fictional films convert the unconverted.” [39] In other words, documentaries strengthen the values that viewers already hold, while fictional films use fascinating stories to prime their unwitting audiences with a new set of values.

The producer and male lead of Bonnie and Clyde is a supporter of socialism. His 1981 historical drama Reds won him Academy and Golden Globe awards. At the height of the Cold War, the film changed the stereotype of a radical communist into that of a calm and sympathetic idealist. [40] In another of his Oscar-nominated movies, Bulworth, he played a liberal senatorial candidate who takes drugs, raps about socialized health care and class inequities, rages against corporate America, and hires an assassin to kill him so his daughter can cash in on his life insurance policy. [41] The film was such a success that some urged him to run for president of the United States.

After the introduction of the new movie-rating system, Hollywood began to mass-produce films that cast a positive glow on degenerate behaviors such as sexual promiscuity, violence, illicit drugs, and organized crime. A study found that up to 58 percent of the Hollywood movies produced between 1968 and 2005 were rated R. [42] One of the first R-rated movies, 1969’s Easy Rider, became an instant hit and contributed to the popularity of drug abuse. The film follows the adventures of two cocaine-dealing hippie motorcyclists as they practice “free love” at a commune, visit a brothel, and indulge in hallucinogenic drugs on their way to Mardi Gras. Real drugs were used during the film’s production. The characters’ lifestyle of antisocial indulgence free from conventional values became the dream of numerous youth. The director said: “The cocaine problem in the United States is really because of me. … There was no cocaine before Easy Rider on the street. After Easy Rider it was everywhere.” [43]

American scholar Victor B. Cline did an analysis in the 1970s of thirty-seven movies that were shown in the Salt Lake City area. He found that 57 percent of the movies presented dishonesty as heroic or as justified by the circumstances and that 38 percent portrayed crime as something that pays off or as an exciting pastime without negative consequences. In 59 percent of the movies, the heroes killed at least one person. He also found that 72 percent of the heroines were shown to be promiscuous to some extent and that only one of the films suggested normal sexual relations between a married couple. Only 22 percent of the movies portrayed any principal characters as having healthy and satisfying marriages. [44]

A common argument against criticizing violence and sexuality in films is that such things exist in real life and that films only reflect the nature of reality, rather than causing any negative impact. But from the figures above and more, this is demonstrably false. Moreover, numerous films produced by Hollywood leftists naturally reflect their values and, in turn, have changed the values of society. According to film critic and former Hollywood screenwriter Michael Medved, the liberal-minded social revolutionaries in Hollywood are attacking the values of society by assaulting the legitimacy of the family, promoting sexual perversion, and glorifying ugliness. [45]

Others argue that the profusion of morally degenerate content in the film industry is merely driven by market forces. But whatever the means, diabolical goals are being achieved to frightening effect. The speed and power with which the film industry has been used to take down public morality are astounding. Some movies glorify beasts or monsters. Those that depict man transforming into a beast or even engaging in bestiality are approved of and praised by the Hollywood mainstream. In a spiritual sense, this may be understood as a manifestation of the specter’s control in our world, as humankind has come to fetishize the demonic and the monstrous.

Although these anti-tradition movies probe into social issues with an air of sophistication, their critiques of society are superficial at best. Ugly deeds that conventional society disapproves of are rationalized, given sympathetic treatment, or even made to appear positive. Audiences immersed in such movies are led to regard moral standards as circumstantial. The ultimate message, implanted in the minds of the audience, is that there isn’t a clear divide between right and wrong or good and evil, that traditions are boring and oppressive, and that morality is relative.

6. Television: Corruption in Every Household

Television has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life, and watching it frequently can change people’s worldviews without their noticing. Research conducted by the Media Research Center has found that the more people watch television, the less committed they are to the traditional values of honesty, reliability, and fairness, and the more lenient their attitudes are likely to be toward issues related to sexual morality, such as sex outside of marriage, abortion, and homosexuality. [46]

The research compared two sets of people: light TV viewers who said they believed in God, and heavy TV viewers who said they believed in God. Although the percentages of the two sets who believed in God were almost the same (85 percent and 88 percent, respectively), the study found that the more one watched television, the less likely it was for the person to value religious principles. For example, when asked on a questionnaire to choose whether people should always live by God’s teachings and principles or should combine their personal set of morals and values with God’s teachings, those who watched more television tended to choose the latter. From figures like these, it can be generally concluded that television predisposes people to moral relativism.

Television has been an integral part of daily life since the 1950s. Not only do TV series and movies achieve a similar effect in molding people’s values, but talk shows, sitcoms, and documentaries also quietly inculcate their audiences with all sorts of distorted ideas.

Take talk shows, for example. Television studios are especially keen to invite guests whose opinions or behavior contradict traditional values or whose lives are fraught with conflict, or to invite “experts” to discuss some controversial issues of morality. The guests are encouraged to disclose the “deep” or “complex” problems in their personal lives. The host, experts, or even audience members then suggest solutions to the problems. To ensure the popularity of such programs, usually no moral judgment is made about the guests’ choices. In this way, many programs become a venue for displaying corrupt and distorted behaviors and perspectives. People have gradually come to believe that the values they used to uphold should not apply under some special circumstances. This perspective negates the existence of universal principles.

Many television programs are filled with despicable and distasteful content that is hard to watch. Some program hosts take pride in swearing profusely. Quite a number of programs indoctrinate people with vulgar taste and anti-culture or anti-tradition content via entertainment — while the audience is in a state of relaxation and thus more vulnerable to suggestion. As time passes, people do not feel alarmed at all and even come to accept and appreciate this material, thus eroding their moral thinking.

Sitcoms, in particular, serve to normalize deviated values and behaviors that are rarely seen in people’s daily lives, by airing such content repeatedly and encouraging audiences to feel amused by it. Shapiro gave the example of a scene from the episode “The One With the Birth” from the popular US sitcom Friends. Ross’s lesbian ex-wife, Carol, is having his baby. Ross is perturbed that Carol’s lesbian lover will play a bigger role in his child’s life than he will. Phoebe says to him: “When I was growing up, you know, my dad left, and my mother died, and my stepfather went to jail, so I barely had enough pieces of parents to make one whole one. And here’s this little baby who has like three whole parents who care about it so much that they’re fighting over who gets to love it the most. And it’s not even born yet. It’s just, it’s just the luckiest baby in the whole world.” [47] As Shapiro writes, the episode portrays “pregnant lesbians and three-parent households as not only normal, but admirable.”

Modern medicine has discovered that human brains experience five different types of electrical patterns, or brain waves. The two that occur most often while one is in a state of wakeful consciousness are alpha and beta waves. When people are busy working, their dominant brain waves are beta waves. They exhibit an enhanced ability to analyze and tend to use logical thinking. A person having a debate would exhibit predominantly beta brainwaves. In other words, people in a state of beta-wave dominance are more alert and less gullible. When people are relaxed and alpha waves dominate — as is the case while one is watching television — their emotions take the lead and their analytical ability weakens. Under such circumstances, people tend to be subliminally persuaded by the themes and views represented in the television program.

Television programs begin polluting people at very young ages. Research shows that close to two-thirds of TV programming, including children’s programs, contain scenes of violence. Further research shows that viewing such content desensitizes young people and increases their chances of committing violent acts later in life. Some children’s programs are loaded with hidden themes of progressivism and liberalism, such as teaching homosexuality under the name of “cultural diversity.” They use sayings like “there’s only one person in this whole world like you” to foster unearned self-esteem and the concept of welcoming all people regardless of their immoral behaviors.

Television and movies have had a very negative influence on youth, increasing the tendency for violence, underage sexual activity, and teen pregnancy. Young people list the media as the second-most important source for learning about sexual activity, after sex education classes. Two studies found that teenage girls who often watched programs containing depictions of sexual activity were twice as likely to be pregnant within three years compared to girls who more rarely watched such programs. Such media programs also increased the risk of sexual assault and engagement in dangerous behavior. [48] As one academic pointed out: “The media are so compelling and so filled with sex, it’s hard for any kid, even a critic, to resist. … I think of the media as our true sex educators.” [49] Due to media influence, sex outside of marriage, adultery, and other behaviors are regarded as normal lifestyle choices; as long as all parties are willing, such behaviors are thought to be acceptable.

In the book Primetime Propaganda, Shapiro studied nearly one hundred influential American TV series. He found that over time, these programs increasingly promoted liberalism and leftist viewpoints, including atheism, disdain for faith, the rejection of morality, the admiration of promiscuity, violence, feminism, homosexuality, and transsexuality, and the rejection of the traditional relationships between husband and wife, and parent and child. Such programs also established ruthless antiheroes devoid of sympathy as the protagonists. The evolution of this kind of programming has been a process of continuous moral decay. The promotion of these anti-traditional lifestyles has had a major influence on the mindset of the general public, and of young people in particular. [50] A show running five nights a week on the channel MTV in the early 2000s, for example, unreservedly promoted perverse sexual behavior and content similar to softcore porn to young audiences. [51]

After the film-rating system was implemented, many pornographic films could be sold as long as they were labeled with an X or NC-17 rating. As technology developed, these indecent programs went from underground to general consumption and could easily be obtained at movie-rental stores, through paid TV channels, and in hotels. Certainly, few Hollywood producers had a formal agenda to instill their audiences with corrupt ideologies. But when the producers themselves agree with the concepts of progressivism and liberalism, then these corrupt ideologies will inevitably end up on the screen. The real plan is moral subversion, and producers who stray too far from the divine become pawns of evil.

7. The Media: A Key Battleground in a Total War

The communist philosophy of struggle spares no means and respects no moral bottom line in achieving its political objectives. In the 2016 US presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump opposed “political correctness” and supported measures to shift America away from the far left in order to return to traditional values and rule of law, renew the nation’s spiritual faith, cut taxes to revitalize the economy, secure the borders, and correct the skewed trade relationship with communist China. Trump’s outspokenness threw liberals into a frenzy. Armed with the mainstream media, they lashed out in a full-scale assault against him, abandoning virtually all pretense of balanced journalism.

During the campaign, left-wing media used various methods to willfully demonize and denigrate Trump while ostracizing his supporters, who were described as racists, sexists, anti-immigrant xenophobes, and uneducated whites. That is, the media tried to influence the results of the election by manipulating public opinion. Almost 95 percent of the media repeatedly predicted that Trump would lose the election in a landslide. Against all expectations, Trump was elected.

Under normal circumstances, no matter how fierce the rhetoric on the campaign trail may be, the different parties and their supporters should return to normal operations after the election is over. More importantly, the media should uphold the principle of fairness, put national interests first, and maintain neutrality. However, after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, the media have continued their campaign-trail frenzy, even at the risk of their public image. Most media outlets have since deliberately ignored the achievements of the Trump administration, such as record-low unemployment rates, the stock market’s soar to record highs, American diplomatic successes, and the near-total eradication of the ISIS terrorist group.

In 2017, 90 percent of coverage on Trump was negative, according to a study by Newsbusters, the analytical arm of the Media Research Center. In the beginning of 2018, negative coverage reached 91 percent. Rich Noyes, a senior editor from Newsbusters, concluded, “Without question, no President has ever been on the receiving end of such hostile coverage, for such a sustained period of time, as has Trump.” Furthermore, the media is doing everything possible to undermine the Trump administration by making groundless accusations. For example, the media stirred up a conspiracy theory of collusion between Trump and Russia, with two prominent newspapers even winning the coveted Pulitzer Prize for such coverage. According to the study, the Russia-collusion investigation was the main focus of Trump-related evening news broadcasts by the three main US media networks over the previous two months, taking up nearly one-fourth of those networks’ Trump-related airtime. [52] However, a two-year special counsel investigation found no evidence to support the allegations. [53]

The media have been known to fabricate some news stories. In 2017, a TV news giant suspended a senior journalist for four weeks without pay and issued a correction of his work because he had created a fake report that Trump had ordered Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to make contact with Russia when Trump was a presidential candidate. [54] The reporter and the producer who had worked with the journalist ended up leaving the TV station. This particular team had previously achieved outstanding success, winning four Peabody Awards and seventeen Emmy Awards.

When Trump condemned the violent MS-13 gang, especially those members who had committed brutal murders after entering the United States illegally, he said: “They’re not people. These are animals, and we have to be very, very tough.” However, media outlets immediately took his statement out of context, claiming that Trump said that illegal immigrants were animals.

In June 2018, a photo of a crying Honduran girl was widely circulated in the media and on the internet. This little girl and her mother were stopped by Border Patrol while trying to sneak into the United States. The media claimed that the girl was forcibly separated from her mother and used this opportunity to criticize Trump’s border policies and zero-tolerance stance toward illegal immigration. Later, Time combined the photo of the little girl with a photo of Trump on the magazine cover, adding the caption “Welcome to America” to ridicule Trump. However, the girl’s father later told the media that border officials had not separated her from her mother and that the mother had taken his daughter against his wishes. [55]

Fortunately, the American public is becoming more aware of fake news. From a poll conducted by Monmouth University in March 2018, the percentage of Americans who thought that the major media outlets were reporting fake news at least occasionally had increased from 63 percent in the previous year to 77 percent. [56] In 2016, a Gallup poll found that Americans’ trust in the media had sunk to a new low, with only 32 percent of people having “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the media, down 8 percentage points from the previous year. [57] Unsurprisingly, the owner of a large media company lamented that “fake news is the cancer of our times.” [58]

Judging from the results of the US election, half of Americans support Trump, but the attitude taken by the media is one-sided. Under these abnormal circumstances, Trump is attacked and demonized because he adopts a conservative political stance and supports traditional American values, ideals that cannot coexist with the anti-traditional ideology of the Left. If the media’s attacks on Trump are able to cause the public to lose their confidence in him, the attacks will achieve their underlying objective: to prevent society from returning to tradition.

More worrisome, however, is that many media outlets have become catalysts for magnifying radical rhetoric, provoking animosity and hatred, and polarizing the population, thereby further widening the cracks in society. Basic ethics have been thrown out, and consequences are ignored to the point that destroying oneself so as to bring about the demise of an opponent has become acceptable. The country has been pushed to a state of extreme chaos and danger.

8. Restoring the Integrity of the ‘Fourth Branch’

Because of the role it plays in shaping and guiding public opinion, the media is often referred to as the “fourth branch” alongside the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Under the communist specter’s influence, the media has been used effectively to sway and deceive billions of people, corrupting their traditions and morality.

In Western countries, many liberal media establishments have become tools for concealing the truth and deceiving people. Many have forsaken basic professional ethics and now resort to all sorts of unscrupulous attacks, abuse, and slander, regardless of the impact on their reputation or on society.

Communism has been successful because it has exploited human failings: the pursuit of fame and gain, ignorance, laziness, selfishness, misapplied sympathy, competitiveness, and the like. Some journalists self-righteously rebel against traditional values under a facade of knowing the truth. Some conform to the already morally debased “public demand” in order to get views. Some conform to the lowered standards for the sake of their careers. Some fabricate fake news out of jealousy and hostility. Some believe fake news because of their ignorance and laziness. Some exploit the kindness and sympathy of others in advocating social justice and thus tilt the entire society toward the Left, resorting to unscrupulous tactics to achieve their political and economic goals.

The mission of the media is a lofty one. They are meant to be the lifeline by which people obtain their information about public events, and they are also an important force in maintaining the healthy development of society. Objectivity and impartiality are the basic ethical requirements of the media and are key to the trust people place in it. But in the media today, chaos reigns, severely affecting the confidence people have in it. Reclaiming the mission of the media and re-establishing the glory of the news profession is the noble responsibility of people employed in this field.

Restoring the media’s mission means that the media need to pursue truth. The media’s coverage of the truth must be comprehensive and come from a place of sincerity. When reporting social phenomena, many media outlets present only part of reality in ways that are often misleading and can do more harm than outright lies.

The media will be good if they can help society value and uphold morality, for good and evil are both present in human society. It is the responsibility of the media to spread truth, to extol virtue, and to expose and restrain evil.

In returning to this mission, the media must pay more attention to the major events that affect the future of humankind. The last century has seen many battles between the free world and communism. While it appears to be an ideological confrontation, it is, in fact, a life-and-death struggle between righteousness and evil, for communism is ruining the morals that hold civilization together. Even after the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the specter of communism persists.

As the world undergoes great changes, truth and traditional values are more important than ever. The world needs media that can distinguish between right and wrong, do good deeds, and maintain public morality. Transcending the interests of individuals, companies, and political parties to present the real world to the people is the duty of every media professional.

Today, when facing the moral decline in the media profession, it is imperative that readers and audiences make a conscious distinction between right and wrong, and scrutinize rationally the information produced by the media. People must judge issues in line with the moral tradition, regard social phenomena through the lens of universal values, and, in doing so, push the media to fulfill their historic mission. This is also the key for humankind to stave off the influence of the communist specter and find the path to a better future.

Read Next: Chapter Fourteen

Updated June 9, 2020.

Read the series here: How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World

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24. Ibid., 161–223.

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39. Ibid., 338.

40. Ibid., 338–39.

41. Ibid., 352.

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55. Samantha Schmidt and Kristine Phillips, “The Crying Honduran Girl on the Cover of Time Was Not Separated From Her Mother,” The Washington Post, June 22, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/06/22/the-crying-honduran-girl-on-the-cover-of-time-was-not-separated-from-her-mother-father-says/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bd08dbdaf5bc.

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58. Polina Marinova, “New LA Times Owner Tells Readers: ‘Fake News Is the Cancer of Our Times,’” Fortune, June 18, 2018, https://fortune.com/2018/06/18/los-angeles-times-owner.