“You can get information online,” investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson says, “but trust your cognitive dissonance and talk to the people around you. You’ll get a whole different picture of what’s really happening.”
In this episode of “American Thought Leaders,” host Jan Jekielek talks about censorship and finding truth with Sharyl Attkisson, host of “Full Measure” and author of “Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism.”
Jan Jekielek: Sharyl, I’ve been thinking about your book “Slanted.” You wrote this pre-COVID. I think you were seeing something profound, earlier than many were.
Sharyl Attkisson: Prior to 2015, there was no big movement begging Big Tech or third parties or fact-checkers to get between us and our information online or on the news.
Yet here we are just a couple of years later where some know-nothing third party whose strings are being pulled by corporate or political interests is telling us what we can and can’t read and what we should believe.
Mr. Jekielek: The whole phenomenon is strange. People who aren’t qualified are fact-checking people like Dr. Robert Malone, an expert in vaccine technology.
Ms. Attkisson: Nearly every mode of information has been co-opted by some group. Fact checks are no different. They’ve been co-opted in many instances or created for the purpose of distributing narratives and propaganda.
This is all part of a well-funded, well-organized landscape that dictates and slants the information they want us to have.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about coronavirus. When did you realize there was something amiss in how we were thinking about this?
Ms. Attkisson: Pretty early on, quite a few scientists questioned the advice being given by Dr. Anthony Fauci. These scientists had important differences of opinion with what we were doing. I said to them, “Shouldn’t you say something? Shouldn’t you speak out?”
But if the government doesn’t like what you say and do, that can get you fired from your institution or make it so you’ll never get a grant again. So a lot of people are afraid to talk about these things. It’s a dangerous environment when esteemed scientists who have valuable information and opinions are afraid to speak up.
It’s well-documented, for example, that taxpayer money was used over a period of years to fund controversial research involving China. Every scientist I spoke to thought this partnership with the communist Chinese was one of the most ill-advised things they could think of. Yet they didn’t want to say that publicly.
Mr. Jekielek: I was stunned to discover that the term anti-vaxxer in the Webster dictionary was modified at some point. It was changed from someone who’s against vaccines to someone who’s against vaccines or vaccine mandates.
Ms. Attkisson: Remember I said that virtually every form of information and sourcing that can be co-opted has been. That includes dictionary definitions.
Definitions now are being rewritten and changed to fit with whatever the establishment wants people to think. Websites are changed and definitions are altered to fit the narrative.
In the beginning, some claimed that the vaccines were nearly 100 percent effective at preventing infection. Today I’m hearing people say, “No, no one ever said the vaccines would prevent infection.” So this definition of these vaccines was modified over time because they turned out to be wholly ineffective in a traditional sense at preventing infections.
Do you know about the Wayback Machine?
Mr. Jekielek: Of course.
Ms. Attkisson: This is a really invaluable tool for reporting. You can go to archive.org, and you can paste in a website. Many times—I would say three out of five times—an old version has been captured. You can prove to yourself you’re right, that this website used to say something different or a definition has been changed, because the old site is captured.
It’s a fascinating way to prove this attempt to change our perceptions of reality.
Mr. Jekielek: The mainstream corporate media and our officials got a lot of the narrative wrong. I don’t think it’s a problem to be wrong, as long as you say, “Oh my goodness, I was wrong. Here’s the truth.”
Ms. Attkisson: Yes. Our public health officials first said masks don’t work. Then they said masks do work, but we didn’t tell you because we didn’t want you making a run on masks.
Very early on, Dr. Fauci testified to Congress that the death rate for coronavirus was 10 times worse than the flu, which sounded pretty serious.
Yet I came across an article published in a scientific magazine about the same time, authored by Dr. Fauci, that said it was about like a bad flu season. Why would he be testifying to Congress that it was 10 times worse, but writing in a scientific journal that it was about the same?
It turns out COVID wasn’t 10 times worse than the flu. We were also wrong in sending infected people from hospitals to nursing homes. Many scientists told me that it was wrong to isolate at home. We had early data that showed the vast majority of the people hospitalized with coronavirus had been isolating at home and that people outside weren’t getting as sick.
Yet here we were telling people to isolate at home when we should have been telling them to go to the parks and beaches.
We were wrong to say the vaccines prevented infection. We were wrong to say they prevented spread. Then we were wrong to say it prevented hospitalization and death. It may do so in some cases, but it certainly didn’t do what it was designed and advertised to do.
And we were wrong not to focus more on therapeutics prior to vaccines and even post-vaccine. Many scientists will tell you that.
Mr. Jekielek: The narrative I’ve found most problematic of all—and there’s no data to support this—is that unvaccinated people are responsible for perpetuating the pandemic. We’ve heard rhetoric like this before, and it’s never ended well.
Ms. Attkisson: It reeks to me of a propaganda campaign.
In fact, as we know, Omicron spreads very well among the fully vaccinated. Maybe it doesn’t make them sicker, but it seems to be a very efficient spreader among the vaccinated. The notion that this was a pandemic of the unvaccinated isn’t supported by the scientists I talked to.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s almost like we’ve given up on common sense.
Ms. Attkisson: A whole generation of people have lived “in the box,” as I call it. By the box, I mean the internet. They’ve never known a time when information was gathered by talking to people and looking at books and research.
The people who want to control the information understand that if they can control a few sources, like Google and Twitter and Facebook and Wikipedia, they’ve got a lock on information. The goal is to make people live online and think it’s reality.
As I wrote in The Smear, their goal is to make you believe you’re an outlier and to make you afraid to say what you think. They want to make you feel like you’re the one that’s crazy, even though you may be of the majority opinion. So I’m constantly telling people to live outside the box.
You can get information online, but trust your cognitive dissonance and talk to the people around you. You’ll get a whole different picture of what’s really happening than if you’re looking online.
Mr. Jekielek: I know you’re a pretty optimistic person from having talked to you enough. What do you see as the path through this?
Ms. Attkisson: Truth finds a way to be told. That’s a phrase that came to me when I was writing one of my books. The truth finds a way to be told and it may take some time and there may be a lot of people that don’t want a truth out, but inherently, we as humans seek it. There may even be a certain percentage of the population that’s happy to go along with whatever they’re told.
But there’s a large chunk of the population that wants the truth, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Our search for the truth is part of us, and it will ultimately win out.
Today, I really encourage people to try to find some original sourcing. From The Epoch Times, for example, I get all kinds of information I can’t find elsewhere, including great investigations with graphics that explain things in-depth—good old-fashioned journalism.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts?
Ms. Attkisson: I always say do your own research, make up your own mind, think for yourself, and use your common sense. You’re going to be right more often than you think. Open your mind, read a lot, think a lot, and don’t buy into the prevailing narrative at face value.