Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Feb 28, 2017

By Carole Cadwalladr

Just over a week ago, Donald Trump gathered members of the world’s press before him and told them they were liars. “The press, honestly, is out of control,” he said. “The public doesn’t believe you any more.” CNN was described as “very fake news… story after story is bad”. The BBC was “another beauty”.

That night I did two things. First, I typed “Trump” in the search box of Twitter. My feed was reporting that he was crazy, a lunatic, a raving madman. But that wasn’t how it was playing out elsewhere. The results produced a stream of “Go Donald!!!!”, and “You show ’em!!!” There were star-spangled banner emojis and thumbs-up emojis and clips of Trump laying into the “FAKE news MSM liars!”

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?

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21 comments on “Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

  • This is a report about the most important thing happening in the World today.

    I urge everyone here to read the full article.

    Also, here is a companion piece from 2015, yes 2015. I am shocked, shocked, to learn that manipulation is going on in the media establishment.

    I have said this many times, and I make no apology for saying so yet again: Social Media is evil. Don’t just say no, unsubscribe.



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  • SoW 2015 piece.

    Bannon is fascinating and deeply scarey. So much is right about him, the use of facts, this

    He underwent a conversion like the one Michael Lewis has described, watching with horror as staid private partnerships such as Goldman Sachs became highly leveraged, publicly traded companies operating like casinos. “I turned on Wall Street for the same reason everybody else did: The American taxpayer was forced to cut mook deals to bail out guys who didn’t deserve it.”

    and his (techno assisted) ability to press people’s buttons. But he is heartless, utterly heartless. He is like a very clever little boy, which makes him choose exactly wrong.

    A year or so ago I suggested that society’s biggest current problem is how to better deal with our psychopaths, an important if terrifying resource. This (Bannon, Mercer, the technocrats) is what I feared.

    No facebook, no twitter for me. I can’t see any downside.



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  • Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.

    So irredeemably depressing. Thank someone-or-other I’m the age I am – pity all of our poor grandchildren. There’s no hope left.



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  • I concur that social media is a dangerous negative force. It is a platform for a mostly immature and illiterate audience who are manipulated by the media and other powerful cartels. It seems that the lower the IQ, the more obsessed the user becomes. Little children are literally addicted as if on drugs. And in their hands social media becomes the most powerful mind-control tool ever invented. Even the US military has departments filled with Internet and Social media soldiers who both monitor and manipulate public social media. The false narratives are implanted while the users believe that it is of their own making. Subscribers are validated in their collective delusion or ignorance. Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag and the challenge is now to figure out if it is possible to supplant insidious propaganda with scientific truth and reality. It is clear that the billionaire’s club will get first crack at the next generations minds. The war on science just got more costly. I do not engage in social media and I am ridiculed by everyone I know as a dinosaur who just doesn’t “get it”. And yet somehow I manage to survive.



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  • Hi Phil [#2],

    I thought you were taking a year off? I believe that to seek confirmation of any bias in Bannon’s opinion of, er, ‘low’ finance is to miss the point of how the 2015 article meshes with the OP of this thread.

    The Guardian has researched Mercer’s organizations and their blatant propaganda work in ‘social’ media in order to undermine truth and an informed electorate in politics. The 2015 Bloomberg piece profiles Mercer’s most visible politician and exposes another arm of the organization’s propaganda efforts – using the Deep Net to replace the early stages of investigative journalism, then feeding politically preferred stories to mainstream media.

    4Chan, Breitbart, Infowars (etc.) can now (mis)use real news to paint a background social narrative. They then piggy-back on a favorable real news narrative to present a World that is so far moved to the right as to be a caricature – yet seems legitimate to a public not used to, and not inclined to in their time-poor lives, having to research sources.

    This makes feeding the public a fake news additive so much easier – particularly as Bannon has been concentrating on feeding the real media with anti-establishment stories, adding a peppering of conspiracy is no harder than twisting the grinder over your steak. Of course they go much further – but after so long the media habits of the Mercer/Bannon media consumers means they’re pallets for spice is so jaded they can handle quite a lot of nonsense like conspiracy theories.

    The Fake News line of commentary is a smoke-screen and a tactic to level the playing field in terms of news organizations’ reputations. This is not new it’s a tactic borrowed from earlier efforts called astro-turfing (after the Houston Astrodome’s first use of plastic grass using that name to replace real grass – in a further tangent: a play on words referring to grass-roots political organizations).

    Corporations in particular would spend money launching political organizations (astro-turf-roots political) that released fake news (statistics, studies, polls, expert commentary, etc.) in order to support the corporation’s (or corporations’ if an industry decided to spread the costs and risks) political spin. This political tactics for the rich that goes back to the ’70s at the very least – before hedge funds were even a twinkle in Mercer’s eye.

    The two stories together show that there is a highly organized, exceptionally well funded, leading edge-technology-enabled, Republican-connected, long term effort to undermine democracy.

    This is not hubris, this is not exaggeration.

    I agree Bannon is interesting, I don’t believe I have ever seen him in an unguarded moment. His co-operation with the piece for Bloomberg reeks of a would-be political bruiser and poseur. He claims to be anti-establishment. His actions speak louder and like all those who have used this line before him in the media he clearly stands together with others seeking to impose a replacement establishment – that has as many, if not more, problems as the establishment they want to replace built into it by design.

    In the case of the new US Aristocracy (including Mercer, Bannon and Trump) that establishment model includes the direct disenfranchisement of the electorate. The Guardian piece is good at drawing lines from old media knowledge to new media evils and in particular the lessons such as repeated simple messages and exercising emotions. Bannon is surprisingly clear on this point – though perhaps he believes it so obvious it isn’t worth dissembling.

    There are rays of hope. A majority of US citizens are clear headed enough to vote with their heads rather than their hearts. Even with the further assistance of gerrymandered districts, and the Electoral College the US Aristocracy could not get a result without teaming up with the Russians.

    As someone with Russian family I have been keenly watching Putin’s development. There is no doubt that the near-disaster he has had in at least one election cycle ensured that he diverted significant state resources into (mis)using the Net for political gain through propaganda. I am prepared even to say that I find the Guardian’s piece too shy on this point. It is a subject that cries out for further investigation.

    On the other hand, the US Aristocracy managed to get one of the most surprising candidates ever elected to the highest office, and control of the Senate. I dare say no more for fear of exciting the ire of the moderators. But we all know what I mean.

    Where will the US Aristocracy go from here? Here is a third piece on that subject. Personally I don’t believe the numbers add up and that, therefore, this third piece goes too far. On the other hand it is notable for appearing in a religion-focused Site.

    While I don’t believe, based on the empirical numbers, that some of the US religious trends in this third piece really support the column’s conclusions we must remember this: It appears to be what the leaders of those religions, and many leading Republicans, believe to be true.

    We can expect, therefore, that religions and republicans will continue to press what they believe is their advantage and the work of RDFRS is even more urgent and necessary.

    Peace.



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  • I dare say no more for fear of exciting the ire of the moderators.
    But we all know what I mean.

    Our ire is totally unexcited at present, Stephen of Wimbledon. We haven’t said we don’t want people to discuss Trump, just that comments on the subject should remain thoughtful and analytical, rather than hyper-emotional. Besides, it would be hard to fully discuss the topic of this OP without any reference to him!

    The mods



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  • Well, not surprised by this article and the use of propaganda and mass persuasion. It is a powerfull weapon. Unfortunately too many people are realizing it just now, although history is repeating itself. I mean, the first thing any politician (including monarch) do (and did) when they want to grab a power and a control over people, is that they kidnap media. I am not on facebook, but I was for a few months. Ghastly experience, haha… I somehow can not stand to be a part of a group, …to be “controled” by someones opinions or to concede somebody (anybody) right to evaluate me (thumbs up, and emoticons). I also find significant resistance and repulsion to this forum because of that feeling of being encapsulated or controled by media. 😉



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  • SoW

    I am desperately busy and shouldn’t be doing this. But it is just all so…interesting (interesting, like the old Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times). And now you have given me guilt…

    The two stories together show that there is a highly organized, exceptionally well funded, leading edge-technology-enabled, Republican-connected, long term effort to undermine democracy.

    After quite a number of these articles here now, I think we’d all pretty much agree. But what this last article of yours brings, with considerable surprise, is that what seems to be key to getting the mainstream media to consume his stuff and re-manure the entire fourth estate, is a substantial admixture of new and tasty truths however seemingly petty. We can’t be coy about this and think accusations of his ignoble intentions will fix it. We have to get the good guys (well, better guys) to clean up their act until squeaky, to teflon coat themselves going forward.



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  • Hi OHoolgan,

    “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”.

    You’re not the first to recognize that the Clown is a distraction. His antics perfectly designed to avert our gaze from the Scene Shifters, the Rope Pullers and the next acts warming up in the wings.

    Please don’t interpret my comment as patronising – as my quote from the book of Mathew indicates, I am welcoming you to the club of Eyes Wide Open. All members are equal, at last in their penetration.

    Like all clowns, the Clown is far more skilled at playing the fool then at first appears. Indeed, if clowns were not skilled they would not exist. We are already rich in, um, entertainers.

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #13
    Mar 2, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    You’re not the first to recognize that the Clown is a distraction. His antics perfectly designed to avert our gaze from the Scene Shifters, the Rope Pullers and the next acts warming up in the wings.

    Indeed! – Behind the monkey is an organ-grinder who calls the tune and pockets the money!



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  • Hi Phil [#11],

    No, don’t pull me into your guilt-trip. Do what you have to do in your own life Phil. You’re useless to the rest of us until you’re more settled. I say that with the heavy heart of someone who highly values your counsel. It had to be said. The greatest charity comes from those who can truly give.

    … this last article of yours brings, with [it] considerable surprise, [it] seems to be key to getting the mainstream media to consume his stuff and re-manure the entire fourth estate, is a substantial admixture of new and tasty truths however seemingly petty.

    This has seemingly been Bannon’s task for the last few years: To divert the attention of the factual media by giving them what appears to be exactly what they want (on the one hand) while also laying the rich manure of yellow-press-style emotion-driven sound bite style on-line media (on the other hand).

    The best trick of all being that Bannon’s facts to the fact-checkers are like a Clown playing at being a president. Everybody is entertained, the Fact Checkers go home and pat themselves on the back for a good day’s work, the professional trolls and the bots use the factual springboard to generate, then confirm, ad nauseam, the biases of those with little time, or knowledge, or skill to spot a faker.

    Don’t speak to me of inclination – that’s just another emotional button: We can’t persuade you to vote Red? Then we’ll persuade you to be sick to your stomach of the so-called ‘options’. Result: Turnout 58%. In the margins? The we’ll speak ill of the ‘establishment’, of its corruption and its waywardness and of how it ignores little you.

    Yes, we’re all so entertained, and the Aristocrats laugh at us behind our backs.

    We can’t be coy about this and think accusations of his ignoble intentions will fix it.

    Indeed not.

    We have to get the good guys (well, better guys) to clean up their act until squeaky, to teflon coat themselves going forward.

    Forgive me Phil, but you appear to have learned nothing from the Hillary Clinton story. If innuendo were a weapon then Clinton received an entire series megaton blasts. I am no fan of either of the Clintons, and it has to be said that as a patsy HC graduated summa cum laude in 2016 (to be fair, along with the entire Democrtic Leadership). Even so, her political career was sunk by others who know how to make teflon sticky.

    I started this thread by saying:

    This is a report about the most important thing happening in the World today.

    I did not jest.

    No one, I can’t help but notice, is persuading me otherwise.

    Begging your pardon Phil: Clean politicians is the very least of our problems at this juncture – though, given Hilary Clinton’s experience, picking someone with a known stain on their character would be akin to a suicide pact.

    Unfortunately, as Al Franken said so recently to Bill Maher (paraphrase): “There are Republicans in the Senate who don’t talk to me, so this could take months.”

    Senator Franken was only joking about Impeaching Trump. At least, I hope he was joking. Impeaching Trump would be playing by the Aristocrats rules of distraction by politics as entertainment.

    Peace.



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  • SoW

    Forgive me Phil, but you appear to have learned nothing from the Hillary Clinton story.

    I think I may have learned too much. Its been a point of considerable research for me to understand why someone who should have trumped Trump easily rather tanked at the finish.

    This is no fickle opinion based on the article, but rather part of my analysis of the motivations of the bunch I have termed the new cohort of the dispossessed, the folks who finally recognised the aristocratic scam foisted upon them over the last thirty years. It was way too easy for the mud flung at HC to stick. HC had not the least to say about the banks amongst her policies except for the ones tacked on at the end just pre-Sanders endorsement of her. She was way too aloof and patrician with little track record reining in the kleptocrats.

    The Bannon book Clinton Cash had way too easy a target proving at least there was a serious conflict of interest for HC. My interpretation of the election is that this new (playable) cohort was the key to it and that this particular blemish on the bonafides of HC as a champion to lead the charge against the kleptocrats (especially after the promise of Sanders) key in turning them to the dark side, if only for terrorist purposes. Not a single significant shot across the bows of the banks and Goldman Sachs from HC, just a promptly paid invoice.

    This, this is why squeaky clean matters now more than ever it did. The real kleptocratic swamp drainers must be the squeakiest. The cohort is still in play and the mid terms will be on us soon enough.



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  • Hi eejit [#3],

    Can’t remember if I told you before: I love your user-name, very inventive and it makes me smile every time. I wonder how many people have to look it up?

    So irredeemably depressing

    I was deeply touched by your reaction. Be of good heart my friend, all is not – yet – lost. As my post #5 outlines these moves are more desperate than they might at first appear. Those on the far right of politics (most of whom are now in power in the US) are struggling against the long and inexorable tide of history. As education has gained ground, far right politics has been the biggest loser.

    This does mean, of course, that education (including adult education as was achieved in the 20C) is in the sights of those who seek power only for its own sake. The RDFRS has never been more needed, its task more urgent, its goals more pertinent and, most important if all, our active support for progressive change more fundamental.

    Thank someone-or-other I’m the age I am

    Do I hear the plaintive cry of a volunteer? I think I do.

    … pity all of our poor grandchildren

    No. There is still time to teach them critical thinking, and media analysis, and the evils of ‘social’ media and much more besides. There is still time to campaign, to teach them the value if all human lives, of lifetime learning and the joys of knowledge and mystery – and of the Tribe that is in them, waiting to deceive and distract.

    There’s no hope left.

    Pandora’s Box has been opened, no question. But, dear Friend, hope remains in abundance.

    And energy, and fight, and our Team. Our time is coming.

    Peace.



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  • SoW

    There were a couple of times in the last year you have shot me deservedly down in flames. I’ve always found it therapeutic. If this is a gulf on this occasion, then for me, this time, it must remain standing…or whatever it is gulfs existentially do.

    For the rest, I suspect a beer, one day, is called for.



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