Big Monolithic &
The Media Conspiracy
From Secrets, Plots and Hidden Agendas
by Paul Coughlin
people have had about all we can stand of the twisted, slanted, biased media in
America who take their signals from a few private, covert interest groups bent
on destroying what's left of the American way. We request that you rely upon
your own investigations, steering clear of the media and their rumor-gossip
mills of dis-information.
Bob Fletcher, Militia of Montana
After finding out about the
establishment's control of mass communication. I was even more appalled, but
now, at least, I understand why I hadn't learned about the conspiracy any
earlier. The Rockefellers controlled every facet of the information industry.
Christian conspiracy theorist Gary Kah
People need to question and analyze what they hear,
and ponder the motivations of those spreading the propaganda. The truth lies
Timothy McVeigh's letter to the Editor
The Christian conspiracy community
believes that more people would heed their concerns were it not for the
deceptive control of the information industry. The media, they argue, will not
reveal the true nature of domestic or international affairs, which are designed
to usher in the New World Order. They do not believe that the media
occasionally get a story wrong. Even the reports written by Christian
journalists are intentionally deceptive, they say, so people must look to the
conspiracy community alone to know what is really happening in the world. It is
this belief that has led to the rise in the number of militia-produced
newsletters and catalogs, antigovernment Web sites and patriot talk shows.
Christian conspiracy theorist James W. Wardner
has a name for this alleged refusal to report the real story behind
international affairs: "media blackout." The Council on Foreign Relations
(CFR), he says, "owns Congress and the media." (Christian conspiracy theorists
believe that the CFR is part of an anti-Christian socialist conspiracy to usher
in Satan's New World Order.) As proof Wardner includes in his book a list of
publishers who are supposedly part of the conspiracy. The list includes
Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Harper & Row. But this
is an impossible accusation to support, given the content of some of these
Macmillan publishes many of the works of C. S.
Lewis. Harper & Row, which was part of what is now HarperCollins, published
Paul Johnson's Intellectuals, a scathing critique of liberal or socialistic
thinkers, including Karl Marx (one of the supposed conspirators), Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, Bertrand Russell, Bertold Brecht, Norman Mailer and Lillian Hellman.
HarperCollins published Hollywood vs. America, an incriminating review of
Hollywood by movie critic Michael Medved. This Jewish conservative fills in for
Rush Limbaugh on his radio show from time to time and is critical of the
liberal views expressed in Hollywood. Simon & Schuster published The Book
of Jesus: A Treasury of the Greatest Stories and Writings About Christ. Edited
by Calvin Miller, professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, the work
includes the writings of Max Lucado, Billy Graham. Martin Luther, Elisabeth
Elliot and T. S. Eliot.
Wardner says that textbooks from these
publishers sew the CFR's secret "philosophies into the fabric of our nation's
children and college students as well." He receives this information from
fellow conspiracy theorist Gary Kah: "After finding out about the
establishment's control of mass communication, I was even more appalled, but
now, at least, I understand why I hadn't learned about the conspiracy any
earlier. The Rockefellers controlled every facet of the information industry."
Yet as chapter four demonstrated, Kah quotes extensively from anti-Semitic
sources. Also, if the Rockefellers have so much control, why would they allow
for the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, the medium to which the militia
owes so much?
Don McAlvany often accuses
the press of aiding the New World Order conspiracy, yet he quotes major news
magazines as proof of the New World Order's increased government surveillance.
For example, he writes that dozens "of different government agencies maintain
millions of records on the America public. Articles about these records have
been published in Newsweek and Time." McAlvany, like many Christian conspiracy
theorists, wants it both ways. On the one hand he dismisses the mainstream
press as propagandists of the New World Order. On the other hand, when the
press prints information that supposedly proves the existence of a widespread
conspiracy, he is quick to accept the information without question. The
troubling inconsistency is this: if the press were conspiring against
Americans, why would it print proof of the conspiracy?
conspiracy disciples who called in to The Paul Thomas Show also revealed
similar inconsistencies. Some read the Wall Street Journal religiously every
business day, yet the Wall Street Journal has editors on the Council on Foreign
Relations. These disciples were aware of that membership, but for some reason
they did not find the discrepancy worthy of their concern.
sweeping claims have been challenged by some within the Christian community.
One is Richard Abanes, who has written a compelling book about rebellion,
racism and religion within American militias that are saturated with conspiracy
theories. While obtaining information for his book, he decided to research one
of the numerous claims made by this leader within the church.
McAlvany claims in his newsletters that "SWAT teams from several Idaho police
departments participated in a practice raid on the Community Presbyterian
Church in Post Falls. Captain Travis Chaney of the Kootenai County sheriff's
department said the SWAT teams' goal is "to provide a controlled, measured
response to critical incidents ... to successfully resolve threats to public
safety." McAlvany then asks, "Why would a SWAT team practice a forced armed
entry of a church? Are Bible believers a 'threat to public safety'?"
Abanes called the church to verify the report. According to Jennifer Chapman,
the church had donated its old building to the police. "It had become vacant
and condemned" after the congregation moved into a new house of worship.
Chapman said, "There was nothing anti-Christian about it, or anything at all
bad ... They were just going to tear the building down, so we let [the police]
have it to practice raids in and train their dogs to search for drugs. There's
nothing to it."
Given their loyalty to McAlvany, it is doubtful that
Christian conspiracy theorists took the time to check out this or any other
assertion. As one former conspiracy disciple said on The Paul Thomas Show,
"These people claim to be Christian. I didn't think they could be wrong."
If the media have for decades been part of a one-world global conspiracy,
then Christian conspiracy theorists must find it difficult to explain away
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). Perhaps the most powerful member of the
media of his time, he built the nation's largest chain of newspapers. Born in
San Francisco, he took over his father's newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.
By 1927 he controlled a chain of twenty-five newspapers published in major
cities across the United States. He also produced newsreels and feature films.
He exerted so much influence on America's public opinion that reports
in his newspapers of Spanish atrocities in Cuba helped lead to the
Spanish-American War in 1898. Yet Hearst was a staunch isolationist, especially
during World War I. He despised Newton Baker, Woodrow Wilson's secretary of
war, who wanted America to join the League of Nations. Yet the Christian
conspiracy community argues that the League of Nations was one of many New
World Order organizations controlled by satanic forces to pave the way to a
world government-all with the help of the "evil secular media," led for many
decades by Hearst.
Callers to The
Paul Thomas Show have often repeated the belief that the press has done the
bidding of the United Nations in an ever-expanding attempt to usher in the New
World Order. It was only a matter of time before politicians prone to
conspiracy thinking joined in. Talk of a media/United Nations conspiracy
entered the political mainstream with the help of beleaguered Republican
Representative Wes Cooley from Oregon.
Representing the Second
Congressional District, Cooley found himself embroiled in controversy about
false statements he made in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet, as well as on the
campaign trail. The press, especially the Oregonian newspaper, ran a series of
articles that helped cause many true-blue Republicans to call for his
resignation, but Cooley dug in. In a speech given in La Grande, Oregon, in July
1996, Cooley went on the offensive, saying that the real reason the press
criticized him a was because it was part of a one-world conspiracy: "There's a
movement to make this a UN country, and the press is part of that."
Chris Williamson, political reporter for KTVL television in Medford, heard
Cooley's accusation. "Cooley was in attack mode, railing off a list of attacks
against the media. He stunned me. How does he know what I think about the New
World Order and American sovereignty?" Williamson admits that most people in
the media fall on the liberal end of the political spectrum, but he does not
believe this necessarily means that: their stories are slanted. He speaks for
many in the media who are accused of aiding nefarious conspiracies: "When I go
to Rotary, I put my hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to the flag. We
have the best political system in the world. I do not want to destroy it."
Cooley pled no contest and was convicted in March 1997 for his false
statements in the Voters Pamphlet. Yet conspiracy theorists believe that this
conviction and the pressure against Cooley to step down were part of a greater
conspiracy on the part of the media, Newt Gingrich and Republican
Representative Bob Smith, who replaced Cooley. Writes conspiracy theorist Gary
Wean, "The newspapers and TV programs throughout the state of Oregon constantly
were full of lies and innuendoes against Cooley every minute of the day, every
day of the week for months."
Conspiracy theorist and self-professed
militia leader Linda Thompson also believes that the media are government
controlled. She came to such a conclusion after realizing that most
progovernment articles, especially from the Associated Press, have no byline.
"Every time there's a piece of government propaganda, it comes across the wire
services with no author on it."
I have sold stories to the Associated
Press, and contrary to Thompson's accusation, my name has appeared on most of
them. But the name is often irrelevant to many of the stories that come across
the "wire." Editors will often drop the name of the writer if the story is
small, if the name is irrelevant to the overall story or if the information is
of common knowledge and does not justify attribution.
If the press is part of a global conspiracy, what does the Christian
conspiracy community do with a man such as David Aikman, a senior correspondent
for Time? Aikman has formed a fellowship for Christian journalists nationwide
and is a member of a charismatic Episcopal church in Fairfax, Virginia. He has
reported from Vietnam, China's Tiananmen Square, the Persian Gulf and hot spots
throughout the Middle East. He has also provided extensive coverage of the
Aikman was once a guest on The Paul Thomas Show for two
days. Topics included his book When the Almond Tree Blossoms, his work with
Prison Fellowship and the belief among Christian conspiracy theorists that the
Soviet Union never fell. Aikman, who is not a member of the Council on Foreign
Relations, says that most Russians would be astounded at the news that the
Soviet Union never fell. "A lot of people long for the 'law-and-order' days of
the old Soviet Union. But they're gone for good," he said.
the Russians propagated conspiracy theories about the West, which made it
extremely difficult for Russian spin-doctors to explain the fall of a U.S.
president. They had a great deal of trouble explaining how President Nixon was
driven out of office: "Here was the man who supported détente, he was
anti-Communist, and all of a sudden he was under pressure to resign." The
Soviets then created an improved conspiracy theory. "They said twenty-three
major American corporations that were Anti-Nixon ganged up and kicked [out]
Nixon" by means of their control of Congress and the media.
Conspiracy theorists argue that as part of the media conspiracy against them,
officials at bureau headquarters alter fair and honest stories submit-ted by
reporters who may not be part of the conspiracy. They say that the evil New
World Order editors change the story in order to keep the conspiracy hidden. I
asked Aikman if any of his stories were ever dramatically changed by Time
editors. He said no journalist would tolerate such abuse of his or her stories.
If such a thing did happen, a reporter would be furious and blow the whistle.
"I have found some Christian leaders making absolutely outrageous statements
about the media.. . . It's inconceivable that any conspiracy can be so superbly
organized that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Journalists are sworn to secrecy
and wouldn't even tell their neighbors. It is as lunatic as the paranoia of the
left," as seen in Oliver Stone's movie JFK.
Aikman has interviewed
CIA officers in the United States and overseas, as well as people in the State
Department. "Believe me, it's almost impossible for people to keep secrets.
There are very, very few secrets that ever last for more than a few years. The
only secrets I know that have been well kept are military ones because military
people are better disciplined."
Aikman says that a journalist would
skyrocket to stardom if he or she could prove even part of the alleged
conspiracy. "I know a lot of people in news organizations who are
profit-minded. They couldn't care less who was behind a conspiracy"; they would
Aikman knows Christians who believe that the CFR controls
world events. "I've met members of the Council on Foreign Relations. They can't
even control their neighborhood watch committee, much less another country. The
real world is a very complicated place. Things happen that even the most
briffiant people can't predict. Who would have predicted the fall of the shah
of Iran or the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union?"
oppose end-times conspiracy theories find themselves accused of being part of
the conspiracy. Aikman calls this "ecclesiastical McCarthyism." Sigmund Freud
used a similar line of attack: when people adamantly disagreed with his
psychoanalysis, Freud shot back that those who disagreed with him were in most
need of help. Likewise, when those in the press refute Christian conspiracy
theories, they are quickly labeled as coconspirators. After my interview with
Aikman, a conspiracy disciple called him a "quack" and said that Aikman was
indeed part of the media conspiracy.
Media Bias Against
Christians have varying viewpoints regarding how the press
treats the church and issues of faith. Many evangelicals and fundamentalists
believe that the press often maligns them, so they are somewhat sympathetic to
rhetoric about a media conspiracy. Yet Christian journalists such as Aikman and
Freelance writer Carey Kinsolving graduated from
divinity school in 1989, then went straight into journalism. "Most Christians
see the media as big, monolithic and anti-Christian-and that's not true," he
says. Peggy Wehmeyer, religion reporter at ABC, was handpicked by news anchor
Peter Jennings. Wehmeyer has portrayed Christian faith in America as it is:
strong, complex, imperfect, real. Wehmeyer says that Jennings has "been pushing
the networks to take religion more seriously and cover it as news."
Granted, the popular press has clearly shown ignorance of Christianity.
Bridging the Gap: Religion and the Media, a report sponsored by Vanderbilt
University, reveals that both the media and religion foster unhealthy distrust
and even fear of each other. It concludes, however, that there is "more
ignorance than bias" in the average newsroom.
talked with Christian journalists across America who work in mainstream media:
From CNN correspondent Craig
Heaps, who's also a San Francisco TV-anchor, to Hal Wingo, a Southern Baptist
in New York who is an assistant managing editor at People magazine, nearly all
the Christian journalists interviewed agreed there is no organized "conspiracy"
against Christianity within the industry.
I am a graduate from a school of
journalism. I was the editor of my school's only conservative publication, the
Oregon Commentator. During my senior year at the University of Oregon, the
committee that controlled our funding, led by members of the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance (GALA), took away my publication's funding because of its conservative
editorial content. There was a storm of protest among the student body and in
the school's daily paper, The Oregon Daily Emerald. The committee that took our
funding away reversed their decision two days later, failing to give an
adequate explanation for their reversal. The committee's original decision was
a clear incident of political correctness, a problem that has plagued other
I know that my experience of prejudice was not
as profound as that of racial minorities who have experienced the deep and
humiliating pains that come from discrimination. But for those two days and the
following months, I did feel a particular pain, anger and humiliation that
makes a person either stronger or bitter. You cannot remain indifferent toward
something so powerful.
While all this controversy was swirling in my
head, the dean of the journalism school called me into his office. Fresh in my
mind were the death threats I had received from anonymous, angry and sometimes
hysterical men. I had been compared to a Nazi in the school's paper. A roommate
of mine was criticized for sharing the same roof. One fellow journalism
student, once she recognized me, got up and moved across the room for fear of
being seen with me. Staff members would later quit the publication.
Needless to say, I was not at my best. I was in great turmoil, though I tried
not to show it. The wind was knocked out of me. Though I never told anyone, I
was making plans to forget it all and move back home. If he had wanted to, the
dean of this liberal school of journalism could have dealt me the final blow,
but he didn't. This man, who I later learned supported the ACLU, told me to
keep up the fight. He said that I was talented and encouraged me to persevere.
It was a defining moment for me. Though we were worlds apart politically, he
did his job of nurturing another student of journalism, even one of the most
conservative students in the program.
It is bewildering to me how
such an experience fits into the CFR's secret philosophy for our nation's
"college students." If the dean of my school of journalism, as Wardner argues,
was part of this anticonservative conspiracy, he did exactly the opposite of
what he should have done. When I hear people say that journalists are liberal
and that sometimes this bias shows in their reporting, I agree with that
criticism. I have even heard liberal journalists admit as much. But it is
another issue when one contends that leaders in the world of information
dissemination are part of a century-old satanic conspiracy designed to murder
those who disagree with them.
As a former editor of a weekly
newspaper and a freelance writer for a daily newspaper, l am familiar with the
secular perspective in newsrooms. They are one of the most sober places in
which to work. As in a library, laughter is uncommon. Many journalists think
deeply about life and do not settle for simplistic, easy answers. They work
long hours and receive little thanks either from their bosses or from their
community. Large egos are common, especially among those who contribute to the
editorial page. Many have received their degrees from universities that, as
Henry David Thoreau observed, laugh at the old but follow religiously the new.
These universities have infused in them major tenets of liberalism,
which include a potent distrust of traditional religions and "heartless"
conservatism in general. These universities have also taught students to put
their faith in relativism-that moral decisions should be based not on absolute
truth but on what is considered appropriate at a particular time and place.
Thus many embraced a relativistic philosophy, though later, as adults or
parents, they have experienced mental turmoil.
attend meetings and join groups that give the impression of bias, which is also
a legitimate beef among their critics. That is why some newsrooms have both
written and unwritten policies that reporters and editors should not give money
to political organizations. Smart editors do not join politically charged
organizations, whether they be on the left or right. When journalists attend
secretive retreats, such as the Renaissance Weekend attended by President
Clinton, and take an oath that they will not report what they see and hear, it
does smack of special interest and perhaps even conspiracy. It gives the strong
impression of being in President Clinton's camp. Journalists should avoid such
associations. In light of rising conspiracy paranoia in America, resnonsible
journalists should reject such invitations.
There is a secular
perspective within journalism, and a conservative journalist, especially one
whose conservatism comes from religious conviction, is in the minority.
According to Yale law professor Stephen Carter, this secular perspective
saturates much of society. America's "culture of disbelief," a term coined by
Carter and chosen for the title of his book, assumes that "no one of learning
or sophistication could possibly be a religious believer." Worse, the media,
among others, hand out social penalties to those who express religious beliefs
in a secular setting.
When I told one news editor that I would be
reporting for a conservative radio station, he told me, "That's good. Your
ideas would fit in better there." One of these ideas was my opposition to
abortion on demand in most cases. Opposition to abortion on demand is slightly
tolerated when derived from ethical, practical, sociological or medical
considerations. "But should someone stand up and oppose abortion for reasons of
faith, he is accused of trying to impose his religious beliefs on others. Call
on Timothy Leary or Chairman Mao, fine. Call on St. Paul, and all hell breaks
loose." Writes Charles Krauthammer in an essay for Time:
Oddly, though, in our thoroughly
secularized culture, there is one form of religious intolerance that does
survive. And that is the disdain bordering on contempt of the culture makers
for the deeply religious, i.e., those for whom religion is not a preference but
An example of the media's skepticism
(which some might label disdain) for religious conviction comes from its
response, or more accurately its lack of response, when presidential aide
Sidney Blumenthal labeled Whitewater prosecutor Hickman Ewing a "religious
fanatic." Ewing's "fanaticism" included daily prayer, membership in a
fundamentalist church, and a sincere belief in God. The media's response to
this brazen religious bigotry? "The question of Ewing's alleged fanaticism so
pricked the interest of The New York Times, zeitgeist arbiter of the
Establishment, that it dispatched a reporter to investigate. The result was
hilarious: a classic of condescension posing as judiciousness."
part of its investigation into Ewing's religious convictions, the Times pointed
out that Ewing's 1980 law-review article "Combatting Official Corruption by All
Available Means" began with an Old Testament quotation. Writes Krauthammer,
"The horror! By that standard Martin Luther King was not just a fanatic but a
raving zealot." Ewing's peers defend him, saying that when he enters his
office, he leaves his Christian faith at the door. To which Krauthantmer warns:
We've come a long way in America.
After two centuries, it seems we finally do have a religious test for office.
True religiosity is disqualifying. Well, not quite. Believers may serve-but
only if they check their belief at the office door.
something, and beware. You may not warrant presidential-level attack, but
you'll make yourself suspect should you dare enter the naked public square.
For a profession that prides itself
on objectivity, journalism has a long way to go. Some yell that this is a
conspiracy, but as the dictionary defines it, there is a world of difference
between perspective and conspiracy.
Filling in the Media's Gaps
Dick Reavis, an investigative journalist from Texas who quit his job
with the Dallas Observer wrote perhaps the most important book about the
tragedy at Waco. Reavis testified during the congressional hearings, leveling
significant and damaging charges against some federal agencies. He also
testified in the trial against Timothy McVeigh, helping to expose McVeigh's
antigovernment conspiracy theories.
In The Ashes of Waco: An
Investigation, Reavis complained about the lack of interest among journalists
in the Waco tragedy. "It was incredible. The most amazing thing about this was
I had no competition. Everyone said, 'Reavis is crazy. He's off pursuing a dead
subject.' Nobody cared about it anymore." Reavis carried on, unearthing many
important facts about Waco, facts that would later put the FBI and ATF on the
hot seat. Yet according to Christian conspiracy theorists, the press is part of
the New World Order. If so, it should have hidden the mistakes made at Waco.
Data, information or news? Because information that disagrees with
theirs is labeled part of the conspiracy, the Christian conspiracy community
has formed its own media, primarily through the Internet. But as Clifford Stoll
asks, are they getting information or data?
This information highway is
actually delivering a fountain of data. We're drowning in data-which is
different from information. Information has context, content, utility,
timeliness, accuracy. It has a pedigree-you know who wrote it. Information has
value. Data doesn't. Classically, we've had people who filtered information-
reporters and editors. That's what the Internet is missing. People who will
filter out the chaff.
Conspiracy theories disguised as
news have floated in cyberspace for years. It was only a matter of time before
some seasoned newsman got taken for a ride on the information highway. As
mentioned earlier, this is what happened with long-time ABC news correspondent
Pierre Salinger, who said that he had evidence that friendly fire, a U.S.
missile, destroyed TWA flight 800.
Another disturbing example of an
Internet conspiracy theory that made its way into the popular press was a story
run by the San Jose Mercury News in October 1996. The paper released
information gleaned from the Web that the CIA had sanctioned cocaine sales and
launched a crack epidemic by supporting Nicaraguan drug dealers whose profits
went to the Contras. Though the paper later admitted that the story "Dark
Alliance" was "significantly flawed," Rep. Maxine Waters convened a town
meeting in south-central Los Angeles. She and her fellow African-Americans were
outraged by the news and grilled CIA representatives, such as director John
Deutch, on live television.
This further fueled African-American
conspiracy theories. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, a University of California Berkeley
professor, said, "Black-oriented talk-radio shows are rife with conspiracy
stuff." (For more about African-American conspiracy theories, see chapter
seven.) The Web allowed the story to bypass the mainstream media and enter the
national debate, a unique position that many African-Americans and their
supporters utilized. For example, Final Call Online, the journal of Louis
Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, created an Internet link between the article and a
short commentary entitled "The CIA Drug Pipeline: How the U.S. Government
Spread Cocaine in the Black Ghetto." Slate magazine's Karenna Gore wrote, "Not
only has it allowed the series to leapfrog the mainstream press, but it has
also made the mainstream press as much the enemy as the CIA."
question of footnotes. Christian conspiracy theorists often begin with
verifiable facts. It's the life-after-the-fact that causes many problems. For
example, with the secrecy of the Masonic brotherhood comes the possibility, if
not probability, that insider deals will be cut. Writes Richard Hofstadter,
"There was something to be said for the anti-Masons. After all, a secret
society composed of influential men bound by special obligations could
conceivably pose some kind of threat to the civil order in which they were
suspended." The typical procedure of those who attempt to exhaustively document
a conspiracy is to start with "defensible assumptions and with a careful
accumulation of facts, or at least of what appear to be facts, and to marshal
these facts toward an overwhelming 'proof' of that particular conspiracy that
is to be established."
It is an aggressive effort that leaves little
room for mistakes, failures or ambiguities. For example, The Politician,
written by Robert H. Welch Jr., founder of the John Birch Society, includes a
hundred pages of bibliography and notes that purport that President Eisenhower
was a treasonous communist. (Many ardent Christian conspiracy theorists receive
a substantial number of their theories from the John Birch Society. They would
be shocked if they knew Welch's liberal religious beliefs-so shocked they might
accuse him of being part of a New Age conspiracy.)
Welch, a retired
candy manufacturer, attended a Unitarian church and believed in evolution: "In
The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, he described his beliefs in a way that
sounded very much like deism." The "Divine Being," he wrote, created laws and
purposes that "caused planets like our Earth to develop; and by creating
evolutionary forces." He wrote that communism was a threat to those who adhere
to the "great religions of the world," which includes Catholics, Jews, Muslims
and Buddhists. (But some Christian conspiracy theorists believe that Catholics
are part of the communist/Marxist/New World Order conspiracy.)
Careful documentation is a virtue, not a vice. But what distinguishes the
documentation of conspiracy theorists from others is the "curious leap in
imagination that is always made at some critical point in the recital of
events." For example, Robison's writing about the Illuminati more than a
century and a half ago is filled with pages of details about the history of the
Illuminati. "Then, suddenly, the French Revolution has taken place, and the
Illuminati have brought it about. What is missing is not veracious information
about the organization, but sensible judgment about what can cause a
Consumer beware. Often during The Paul Thomas Show I
have warned listeners that with the "liberation" of information from
established news entities comes the responsibility of every news gatherer to
become a more sophisticated consumer of information, as well as a disseminator
of important news. Who provides the information is as important as the
information itself. With the popularity of the Internet also comes the problem
of instant experts-people who write with charismatic certainty but without
credentials or any formal training in information gathering or in-depth
knowledge about the topic they expound upon.
A person does not need
to be a graduate of a school of journalism to disseminate information, but some
formal training is in order. A responsible journalist is better off learning
the basics in the classroom than after his or her faulty story appears on page
one. Reporting the facts as they appear at the time is serious business. There
is a pecking order within journalism, and it is an important one that helps
ensure quality and content documentation:
The Net is a means of
communication, not a news service. Everybody who's spent five minutes there
knows it's full of self-indulgent rantings, junior-high school feuding-and
porno. Just because something's on the Net doesn't give it gravitas. . . . With
so much information out there today, people have to know whom to trust. For
better or worse, this trust still resides in some TV news organizations and a
handful of newspapers and magazines.
High-tech attorney Michael Godwin
concludes: "You have to be your own editor. That's called being an adult in an
Contrary to what the
Christian conspiracy community believes, the reason people do not accept their
theories is not an "evil secular media" conspiracy. Even Christian journalists
find their arguments unbelievable and alarming.
With the explosion of
cable television has come a diversity of opinions from news and talk programs
that further weakens the "media conspiracy" argument. I have been accused many
times of aiding and abetting some sort of cover-up because of a story or
editorial I had written. Some of these accusations have come from the Christian
community. But an end-times media conspiracy theory creates troubling
Because conspiracy disciples believe that the
established press is part of an overall plan designed to brainwash them into
the New World Order, they wade deeper and deeper into a world thick with
paranoia and fear, two of the most potent byproducts of conspiracy thinking.
Since sources of information that disagree with their view of the world are
part of the conspiracy, stopping such a slide becomes increasingly difficult.
Given such a powerful belief, people who attempt to pull loved ones from the
Christian conspiracy community find themselves in an uphill and seemingly
never-ending battle. Those who try to extract loved ones from extreme religious
groups express the very same complaint (see chapter nine for a detailed
As a school of journalism graduate, a former editor of a
weekly newspaper and a former news and program director of a Christian radio
station, I have seen how a secular perspective influences the thinking of many
within journalism. This secular perspective, which relegates most things
religious to the bottom of the newsroom totem poll, is hypocritical and
disturbing. But such a perspective does not equal a masterful conspiracy among
the nation's elite. It is not a signpost of the end times, no matter how many
times Christian conspiracy theorists say it is. As journalists such as Peter
Jennings realize, it is simply one more area within our culture in need of
Taken from Secrets, Plots &
Hidden Agendas by Paul Coughlin. © 1999 by Paul T. Coughlin. Used by
permission of InterVarsity Press,
P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. You can purchase Secrets, Plots
& Hidden Agendas for a total of $14 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource
line at 1-800-737-0172.