The GOP’s 40-year Criminal Conspiracy to Take Over the U.S.

Trump addresses the Council for National Policy (CNP), courtesy Center for Media and Democracy

The current state of the Republican Party in the U.S. is the result of a 40+ year conspiracy by right-wing zealots to overthrow the government and to replace it with one more friendly to wealth, corporations, and hypocritical morality. This conspiracy is criminal in its use of tax exemptions to hide the real reasons for a coup de-tat in the name of “education”. I was a part of this in its early days, so I’m not surprised it has come very close to success.

Here’s how I recall one meeting in particular from my book about Pat Robertson, The Gospel of Self: How Pat Robertson Stole the Soul of the GOP. Pat gathered a small handful of key executives in charge of content for The 700 Club. It was January 1, 1985. Ronald Reagan had been re-elected, but Pat saw a void beginning in 1988. Here’s the gist of what he told us in the board room that day:

“We must form a shadow government,” he began. “We must begin to find and train Christian people, so that they can be placed in every position that matters, because the country is on the verge of collapse. The Lord is showing me that when it goes, nobody is going to know what to do, and they will turn to us, because we will have answers. We won’t be afraid. We’ve got to work to make sure God’s people are in the schools, the school boards, the city councils, the county commissions, the trash collectors, the tax collectors and all local government positions. We need to be in the state legislatures, the statewide offices, Congress, the courts, everywhere. We can’t be overt and obvious about this; we must do it quietly and create this shadow government.”

In many ways, this statement was years in the making and was energized by the election of Ronald Reagan and the rise of the televangelists in America. Satellite TV was just being birthed, and CBN owned a transponder on the very first Satcom satellite, which positioned us to ride above the grip that the networks had on the TV screens in American homes. Pat knew that this advantage would provide the technical mechanisms for disrupting the status quo provided by network domination of the news hegemony. We called our content “TV Journalism With A Different Spirit,” which was euphemistic for right-wing political propaganda. We were criticized by certain media observers as “so slanted that it’s vertical.” It turns out that what we actually did was to write the playbook upon which Fox News is based.

Pat Robertson ran for President in 1988 as the man who would replace Ronald Reagan. Think about that for a minute. This event and events surrounding it were the direct result of the politicization of the tongue-talking (expression for those Christians who practice the Gifts of the Spirit outlined in the gospel, speaking in tongues being one of them) audience of The 700 Club and the more staid worshippers under the Moral Majority brand of Jerry Falwell. The core beliefs of these two groups couldn’t be more different, and yet they found fellowship with each other under the banner of relieving the country of what they called sin. Both groups preached separating themselves from a culture that threatened their sensibilities as neighbors. This threat seemed to directly attack their faithfulness to what the Bible taught them about men and women, prayer in public places (like schools), displaying creches and the Ten Commandments, and especially what they viewed as infanticide through abortion. Together, we made the claim that the country was hostile to Christianity, and that the country’s issues were simply expressions of human fallenness.

It was a powerful argument to those who believed that they were of the redeemed, and thus their ability to rightly judge the culture was a given among them. This is still quite evident today.

Privately, Pat Robertson despised Jerry Falwell, especially in the wake of him taking over Jim Bakker’s ministry to the tongue-talkers. Falwell represented that he was the right person to intervene in the mess created by Bakker’s infidelity, but we knew it would be a disaster. Strange bedfellows they were, Falwell and Bakker. Add to all that Oral Roberts’ presentation that if he didn’t raise $9 million by Friday, God would take him home, and Jimmy Swaggart’s illicit rendezvous with street hookers, and you had the makings of a total dismembering of televangelism as a whole.

Our biggest fear at the time was that Pat’s run for President would be included in the follies of televangelism as a whole, and Pat’s shadow government seemed to take an enormous hit. After all, Pat’s entire vision included his ability to draw a more intelligent crowd than the others. Unfortunately, it was these very people who abandoned all television ministries as a result of the antics of Roberts, Bakker, Swaggart, and others.

Regardless of judgments coming from outside Christian circles, Pat pressed forward with his plans to run for President. Almost overnight everything changed when the IRS office of criminal investigations opened an investigation into misuse of our contributions for political purposes. They were right, and they had mounds of evidence even before my deposition in the case.

The investigation came “right from the top” according to the investigator who handled my deposition. I took it to mean that it was “requested” by George H.W. Bush to force Pat out of the 1988 race. It worked, but it’s very important to understand that Pat and his associates thought little of pushing tax exemptions to their extreme limits in the process of his efforts. In the case of the Council for National Policy (CNP), of which Pat was president in 1982, they took up Pat’s cause of “restoring America to its rightful place as a Christian nation”. Here is an organization behaving exactly as we did, up to their necks in politics and yet having the enormous benefit of being a tax-exempt organization. This is illegal, folks, and yet we’re all looking the other way while they try to[ take over the government. CBN was also profoundly pro-business, which appealed to wealthy contributors, I’m convinced that the hundreds of tax exempt organizations under CNP leadership are — like we did in the 1980s — breaking the law when it comes to the “education” exemptions of 501©3 tax exempt organizations.

One of the beneficiaries of the coup attempt is J.D. Vance, the presumptive Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio in the fall. In an Intelligencer article about Vance, there is one particular paragraph that’s noteworthy for this missive. Here it is:

“I think Trump is going to run again in 2024,” he said. “I think that what Trump should do, if I was giving him one piece of advice: Fire every single midlevel bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people.”

“Our people”. This would be the same ones that Pat Robertson referred to in his Shadow Government secret proclamation. It’s all illegal in its use of tax exemptions and needs to be put down permanently.

It’s hard for me to imagine why a Democratic White House doesn’t open an investigation into the CNP, for the results would have an important and necessary chilling effect on their efforts to overthrow the U.S. Government.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For much more information about the CNP and its members, I strongly recommend you read Anne Nelson’s investigative reporting book, Shadow Network.

Trouble For The Town That NASA Built?

Northrop Grumman Facebook Ad for Huntsville

As people in North Alabama go about their daily lives, they do so without an active press watching out for their best interests. There’s no real newspaper to speak of, as Huntsville’s a part of the AL.com franchise. Huntsville is a boom town that recently captured the title of Alabama’s biggest city from Birmingham, so it stands to reason that it would support efforts to keep an eye on all that money floating around. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and so residents here tend to whistle along in the hope that their leaders aren’t (just) in it for themselves. That’s what happens absent a press that takes its job seriously.

The emperor of Huntsville is NASA, and nobody here has the courage to call a boondoggle what it is, because it puts so much food in so many mouths that it would be inappropriate to say that NASA is leading the parade completely naked. There’s been a significant disruption to the space industry in the form of reusable boosters, led by Elon Musk and the team at Space‑X. While Huntsville relies on our government to support space efforts, the private sector is advancing by giant leaps and bounds.

NASA is well aware of what’s happening, as well as those in Congress who approve or disapprove the massive funding of NASA and NASA projects. SpaceX is winning NASA contracts with increasing frequency based on a history of innovation, expertise, and outstanding performance. When SpaceX won the $2.9 billion Artemis lunar lander contract over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, a Marshall Space Flight Center regular, Bezos sued NASA. The suit was tossed in court, and this was a bellwether event in U.S. space program history, although not publicly acknowledged in North Alabama.

NASA and Huntsville have long been the center of activity between the government and the private sector. One drive through Cummings Research Park, and you’ll see the logos of every private company involved in the U.S. space program, although many go back to the heyday of the race to space between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Huntsville is a museum for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programs. The Saturn‑5 that stands along the interstate is a testimony to the gargantuan effort by Werner von Braun’s Nazi rocket team that led up to it and set the U.S. on the path to outer space dominance in a changing world. The problem is that the technology has passed us by. Being married to the archaic means we cannot — dare not — do anything that might conflict with the government. NASA is tied to taxpayers, and therein lies the real problem. U.S. Senators simply cannot continue to fund such a monster forever, and its end is likely to surprise everybody here, because no one’s really reporting about it. The government has watched as NASA has shifted its most precious cargo — astronauts — to SpaceX, which has handled the responsibility with class and perfection. SpaceX has successfully landed over 100 boosters, most of them via landing platforms at sea. Think about that for a minute. Its Falcon9 program has been incredibly successful, especially as it relates to delivering cargo and people to and from the International Space Station.

But what about Huntsville? It’s all hyperbole and golly gee about the Artemis program and its Space Launch System (SLS) approved by Congress and taxpayer-funded. It makes much more sense for NASA to invest in the real future instead of one that’s built on politics and warm, fuzzy memories of days gone by. Cost overruns for SLS and its contractors (here in Huntsville) are enormous and continuous, and the handwriting on the wall is not favorable for a reliable future for the space program in Huntsville. And all of this is taking place without the watchful eyes of even the hint of a questioning press.

Absent a vibrant local press, information becomes public relations or some other form of favorable propaganda. The Huntsville Business Journal, for example, is producing a 3‑part series “Huntsville Takes the Lead to ‘Rock-it’ Back to the Moon” that goes far beyond the make-up of a simple puff piece. It’s hard propaganda that sings the praises of Huntsville’s businesses who are living off the nipple of NASA’s money. Here are just a few quotes from the series:

…Today, a new generation of space explorers is taking over. They are watching and learning and building their own bright futures right here in the Rocket City. They are the Artemis generation, who will once again lead the way as America returns to the moon, this time with the Space Launch Systems (SLS) – the most powerful rocket ever developed…

…“Currently, the SLS program has contributed $2.4 billion to Alabama’s economy; 13,000 jobs across the state; and generated more than $55 million in state and local taxes,” Mayor (Tommy) Battle said. “When you look at how much it is adding to our economy and then look at what it is adding to the world, you realize we are doing something no one else can do, that we’ve done it before, and we are doing it again…

…Home to the propulsion systems associated with the rockets we currently fly, and every successful rocket we have flown in the past, the Rocket City is once again at the heart of world-changing feats and life and death-defying technology.

Rocket scientists here in Huntsville are already working on hardware for five iterations of the Artemis Space Launch Systems (SLS), America’s next generation exploration class rocket, and the only rocket that can fly the manned Orion spacecraft safety to the moon.

Fifteen percent more power than the Saturn V, the SLS is the only exploration class vehicle capable of sending humans into deep space along with large systems that are necessary to live and work in deep space.

And none of these missions can get off earth and escape earth’s gravity field without the SLS, managed and for a large part, built here in Huntsville!…

I hope you can see the denial present in this “news.” The Marshall Space Flight Center needs a rock solid relationship with SpaceX in order to continue with the moniker “Rocket City,” because Musk and others from the private sector (who worry about things like cost instead of just dipping into tax dollars for more) are taking over everything. Likewise, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center needs “used” SpaceX props for its museum. Without those show pieces, the place is, again, a museum about the early days of space.

What does exist of a “press” here in Huntsville seems completely sold on the idea that SLS, Artemis, and the Orion lander are the future of space. Meanwhile, the open nature of SpaceX’s work gives us daily views of what’s taking place in Boca Chica, Texas and the SpaceX Starship program. NASA funds some projects, including a Starship orbit around the moon. Elon Musk, however, has his sights set on Mars and colonizing the red planet. SpaceX has yet to test its genius Starship booster and Starship combination and is waiting for an environmental impact study from the FAA (which certainly has the ears of NASA) before approving a test flight of Booster 4 and Starship 20. This system will destroy the Huntsville claim that SLS is the most powerful rocket ever developed.

Government-generated environmental concerns have kept SpaceX from testing its innovative system, and there’s talk of delays and even moving from Boca Chica to the Florida space coast. Meanwhile, Huntsville holds its breath, for this event is likely to get ALL of the global attention of space industry watchers (including Congress) and firmly place SLS in the junk bin of technological disruption.

Generally speaking, the press outside Huntsville includes skepticism about SLS, but it’s not something you’ll receive here. The bane of local media is always its relationship with local advertisers, and this is no different. Local news departments, for example, stay away from complaints about car dealers, because sales departments would have a cow!

The SpaceX vision includes fuel tankers in space, space stations, and everything else that would be necessary for humans to become an interplanetary species. And Elon Musk’s primary concerns are the outer space aspirations of countries like China, Russia, and other U.S. (business) adversaries. SpaceX gladly embraces these challenges, while NASA and Huntsville are hung up on the costly and time-consuming elements of doing it the old way. The damage to North Alabama’s economy will eventually be devastating.

The Government Accounting Office’s 2021 NASA report will be out this Spring, and it will describe even greater cost-overruns, errors, and delays in the SLS program. There’s talk of another launch delay, possibly to the summer of 2022. In the end, SLS will deliver on its promise to send Americans back to the moon, but as each month passes, Huntsville sinks deeper and deeper into the quagmire of yesterday when it comes to innovation and the future. There simply is no future in outer space without reusability, and that’s not what NASA is doing with SLS.

Behind all the public cheerleading for NASA, leadership here knows of what’s happening, and that may be the biggest story of all. Hush everybody, for as long as the emperor THINKS he’s clothed, what’s the problem?

Giving Up on TV News

Cable TV and Coronavirus: How Americans perceive the outbreak and view  media coverage differ by main news source | Pew Research Center

My entire career was with the newsrooms of the television broadcasting industry, but today, at age 75, I don’t watch a lick of TV News, and I want readers to understand the hows and whys of my decision. First of all, it’s just awful. Crime and bad behavior dominate the news, because those are easy topics to cover. The homogeneity of it all produces a subtle but dangerous undercurrent that life is dangerous all the time, and most of what’s presented is shallow, repetitive noise. 

Most of my life’s work was in newsroom management or consulting on digital matters for broadcasters, and I considered myself well-informed. So, let’s begin there, with being informed.

For the record, not watching television news of any sort doesn’t automatically qualify me as being uninformed today. All I need is a simple news aggregator to READ about the things that interest me, including politics, foreign policy, social policy, Congress, etc. This only requires an internet connection. I actually think I’m better informed today, because I can sample whatever I wish without some editor standing between me and what’s important. It takes a whole lot less time to read something than it does to watch the same thing on TV. Besides, maybe I don’t need to see the whole report anyways.

Back in the day, it was easy to be informed. Since newsrooms were governed by the “objectivity” hegemony, one could — and I think safely — understand most issues simply by paying attention. Both sides were presented — usually — and life in the USA was governed by a moral code based on the golden rule. It may still have seemed like a firehose to some, but it was at least digestible in large gulps. That’s not the case today, where a media-driven separation of peoples is the norm, one that comes with a fully loaded firehose for consumption. Each “side” has their own version of the golden rule, but the right’s is so filled with propaganda that they don’t even realize they’re being duped.

Fox News, for example, is referred to as “right-wing media,” which is patently absurd, for it assumes the existence of “left-wing media.” This is done deliberately to deceive viewers into a victim role, because Fox is “fighting” to provide a mouthpiece for two groups: the wealthy (the silk stockings) and fundamentalist Christians. Hence, the truth is that Fox, et al, serve a propaganda role in distributing right-wing messaging as if it were “news.” The wealthy, of course, don’t really give a crap, except as they’re able to present the source of their wealth as being free from restrictions and regulations. The fundamentalist Christians, however, believe Fox, et al, represent their faith, including their supposed ticket to Heaven in the afterlife. Think about that for a moment. Their minds will not be changed, and so we have a serious lack when it comes to news that is for everybody.

My book, The Gospel of Self, is based on what I knew behind-the-scenes as Executive Producer of The 700 Club in the 1980s. We used this attachment to eternity, among other things, to position The 700 Club (we wrote the playbook that Fox, et al, followed) as a voice for the unheard, the media company that represented Christians (right-wing Christians) in the country. That, too, was propaganda, and I knew it as an executive of the program. Just because we claimed to be “TV Journalism With A Different Spirit” didn’t mean that such a concoction existed and, moreover, that it could borrow the language and systems of the news industry to make itself into what we wanted, to use our facilities to basically overthrow the government on behalf of the rich and mighty, and, of course, the church.

We had a secret handshake that we used with viewers known as “the language of Zion” — the grammar of the Christian faith. It’s the language that you’ll hear Sunday mornings in any Christian church. These are shortcuts that by-pass reasoning, for they translate within the convicted soul. After Sunday School and decades of sermons, when this “language” is used, it signals that what’s being spoken of comes from — must come from — the gospel and the church. When people so predisposed actually hear these words coming from their television sets, they feel at home in paying attention. And as long as that framework can be maintained, any message — no matter how illogical — can be slid into place without discussion. In other words, faithfulness to the messaging of the right is tied to — in their minds — their salvation. Just put Jesus between you and the Covid vaccinations, and you’ll be fine.

When leaders of enormous, often suburban, churches began sprinkling the idea of changing the world “for” Christ into their sermons, the political connection for their members was set. They joined forces with those from rural, uneducated America, and the die was set for the anointing of one of the most public reprobates in our history for President of the United States. I’m afraid that I played a role in this development, which is why my book was written as an apology.

The press has been tricked into supporting this two ways. One, by its insistence that religion rightly belongs as part of the deviant sphere of public discourse. In his remarkable book about the Vietnam War, Daniel Hallin created a helpful diagram of concentric circles to show the three spheres of influence that determine what the press (the Washington Press) covers or doesn’t cover. There’s the Sphere of Consensus in the middle, the Sphere of Legitimate Controversy just outside the middle circle, and the Sphere of Deviance on the outside. By categorizing religion as deviant, it doesn’t require coverage, which is an argument against the myth, superstition, and interpretations routinely found in religious circles. As long as those exist, the thinking goes, religion doesn’t belong in discussions pertaining to political discourse. The right turns around and complains that they are not deviant but a part of the very fabric of America’s foundation no matter how much the establishment clause of the First Amendment is used to argue the opposite. The religion of the founders matters little in the running of our government, and if it did, it would certainly follow the dictates of the golden rule and not “to the rich go the spoils.”

Deep in the shadows of all of this, lurks the connecting of righteousness with politics, and this is where we must ALL draw the line. A great many of these Christians — perhaps all of them — connect the modern day appearance of success and happiness with a future in Heaven. If one sees another that is successful and happy, one can rightly assume that they are in God’s favor and therefore Heaven-bound. This has led to all sorts of mischief within the church, including the entire “freedom from vaccinations” embarrassment. They’re dying at every turn, but at least they’re in Heaven, right? Um….

And so, there is an enormous conflict in our culture today that exists as a divide between people, and television news plays a magnified role in all of it, because it just doesn’t (and can’t) truly understand what’s taking place. So, they give space to a fallacy by never challenging the use of the term “right-wing media” and actually embracing it. We will never get to the truth by justifying a marketing slogan in the name of fairness. By giving space to the voices from this fantasy, the mainstream press — especially TV, with its built-in biases of appearance, marketing, inflection, guest choices, and ad-libbing — has failed magnificently to protect us from the very real harm (think 1/6/21) that’s bubbling constantly beneath the surface today.

We cannot serve God and mammon.

Can/will the Virus Open Eyes?

The deception that is Fox News grows more dangerous to our republic as time passes and more and more people are bathed in the lie that it is a news organization. It is warping our sense of unity and pitting American versus American at a scale that wasn’t even present during the Civil War. Add to this the omnipresence of so-called “conservative” commentators who mix news events with their propaganda, and we have a monster storm against “peace and good will” on this Easter weekend.

Well, Terry, but they’re no different than those on the other side of the aisle.

And this, my friends, is the essence of the lie. It’s perhaps too late to fix it, but let me explain.

The news doesn’t care about political affiliation. It is neutral in that sense, because it’s always based upon that which is “new.” If “new” drives the news agenda, “old” drives the conservative point-of-view. This was evident in Donald Trump’s Make America Great AGAIN slogan. We can’t go back as a culture, and everybody should know this, for to run with a perspective that pushes only the good from yesteryear without considering the alternate pressures that were also in play is foolishness gone-to-seed.

Political coverage is certainly a part of any “news” agenda, but only to the extent that news organizations can speak to new events or trends in informing their audiences. It’s very easy to accuse, but when the accusation is required to justify one’s own existence, it ceases to be relevant to the very concept of news. Simply stated, it’s just propaganda. Contemporary marketing is very often a form of propaganda, foisted upon us in the name of commerce. The same is true with conservative “olds”, and that’s the point.

If news organizations spent as much time trying to shape those thoughts as they are accused of doing, we would have left-wing propaganda groups sharing their views in the form of news. We don’t, and ANY attempt to shape a narrative that says otherwise is pure and self-serving folly. It’s simply absurd, so the argument that “both sides do it” is specious, at best. Survey any group of citizens, however, and this is exactly what they’ve been taught to believe, namely that the news industry’s players are either left or right. Nonsense, and I know, because I was there when we created the concept of “conservative news” in the early 1980s at the Christian Broadcasting Network. We wrote the playbook that Fox copied.

A key part of this effort was to position ourselves alongside existing news organizations and claim that a liberal bias was the same thing as liberal propaganda. Hence, we saw no problem with presenting our conservative propaganda as a participant on the same level as CBS, ABC, and NBC. We spent our money on technology and especially graphics to make ourselves look no different than the rest. We were selling this to an audience ripe for the taking by stating our abhorrence with what we felt was a satanic effort to destroy America.

Conservatism is not at all associated with the news except to provide a “side” to developing stories. News organizations have an ethical governor that demands presentation of all sides in any issue relating to political points of view. The organization itself has no political point-of-view, except perhaps from their editorial boards. As anybody who has worked in the news business knows, there is a vast separation between a news organization’s newsroom and its editorial side. But ownership is ownership, and there are plenty of stories of owner pet projects that find their way into the content presented.

The point is that the bias of news is towards that which is new, and if that is seen as political, the only response can be propaganda. It cannot be expressed as “news”, because that would require a bias towards something else. It also requires looking the other way when events — take, for example, the gender identification movement or political correctness — weaken or destroy its propaganda. Again, this is why we cannot use the term “news” in describing something that isn’t “news”.

I was ridiculed and mocked during a talk about this subject with a group of Colorado right-wingers. When it got too uncomfortable for them, they retreated to the gospel to end the discussion. Open minds, these were not. I knew that going in, but the overwhelming and defensive response revealed that the matter is far more important to their worldview than most observers really imagine. Why else use the Bible to talk back to me, the former Executive Producer of the TV program that created the thing in the first place?

This is why I often reference religion in my writing. White evangelical Christians are completely convinced of their righteousness in this or any other argument.

Methinks they doth protest too much.

A Lesson on the Coronavirus and Media Hype

In 1998, I published an essay called “The Lizard on America’s Shoulder.” I strongly recommend reading it, because it contains a lesson on how hyphenated markets tend to produce newscasts that are highly crime-focused and misleading.

In North Alabama, for example, the TV market includes communities that are spread out by many miles. To properly cover such disparate communities and their parochial mindsets, we needed news bureaus in several places in order to cover everybody. Since, “if it bleeds, it leads,” the stories coming from each of these places are very often crime-related, because, well, crime is easy to cover and a sure thing.

However, the result is a veritable waterfall of bad news, and this taints the minds of viewers who see it all as one, gigantic reason to be terrified. I called this “the lizard on America’s shoulder” as a reference to C.S. Lewis’ terrific book, The Great Divorce. It’s the tale of a busload of misfit ghosts from hell who are being taken to the pearly gates for a second chance. Only one survives and makes it into Heaven, and he’s hounded relentlessly by a red lizard that does nothing but speak filth and trouble into the poor ghost’s ears. He complains to the angel guard that it’s been that way his whole life, but when the angel attempts to kill it, the guy steps back to say, “Don’t touch my lizard.” It’s a metaphor for how evil thoughts can block the way into Heaven.

Eventually, the angel transforms the lizard into a white horse that the ghost rides through the gate in victory.

TV news — and especially when the same story comes from many different places — is the Lizard on America’s Shoulder.

Now, consider the necessary coverage from around the world on the subject of the Covid-19 virus. It’s the same no matter where the story comes from. Even if it’s a nice story of our ability to care for each other and survive, it carries the same coverage weight of any story from the battle zones around the world. The effect is cascading, and no lectures about hype or who’s doing what to whom is going to matter, because it’s the nature of news to scare people.

The role the press plays here is to underestimate its audience, and I don’t think this is something that news people generally think about. In an effort to continue producing archaic, finished-product news, we keep repeating things over and over, as if the audience is somehow unaware.

Last night during my viewing of the CBS show “Bull,” I called my local affiliate to complain about the continuous crawl at the bottom of the screen advising viewers of school closings. This had been going on for at least two full days, but the crawls contained significant repetition. Instead of a simple crawl listing all the school systems that were shutting down on the same day, each school system was treated as its own story and contained the identical language as the previous system. The font was way bigger than necessary, but the real annoyance was the broadcast assumption that THEY were the only source to which people could turn in order to find out if their child’s school would be closed. By Monday night, this was a real statement about how the manager of the station assumed nobody knew. In today’s day and age, this is a ridiculous reason to continue the hype across the station’s programming. The idea that a single media outlet must carry the weight of informing every last viewer was killed and buried long ago, and it’s just another illustration of how the people who manage TV stations are out of touch with reality.

In light of the hyperbolic effect of this lizard-like practice, bulletin-like uses of the press to state or mostly restate the obvious is not only foolish but downright dangerous. These practices have become so automatic that news people aren’t required to actually think about what they’re doing, and it’s one of the reasons they’re becoming useless and obsolete.

Let’s save the news for, well, the news.

The Re-Rise of the Newsletter

The professional news industry is being forced to return to its roots by a world it doesn’t — and probably never will — fully understand. It began with the industry’s initial response to the digital disruption, which was to reproduce its entire finished product for the web. The web, however, wasn’t built by newspapers; it was built by highly creative and rebellious geeks who changed the world without the status quo telling them it needed changing.

The web was a brand new communications invention, not a new distribution channel for old ways of doing things, and in missing this truth, the industry was completely lost. The newspaper people wanted to present their finished product online, but the geeks knew from the start that this was inefficient and a cheap substitute for what was possible.

Blog software, with its reverse chronological flow, came first, quickly followed by ways to distribute content apart from its host. Social media is, at core, the news “audience” talking amongst themselves, which was contrary to the top-down relationship that the press had with its readers. The shift to mobile brought new challenges, the biggest being a playing field built around scrolling and video in portrait mode. News drifted away from the finished product variety and into the world of continuous news.

Of course, the biggest disruptor by far was how advertising was changing to adapt to the new, and a realization that smart marketers could provide ads at the browser level and based on the behaviors of that browser. This offered a much greater likelihood of advertiser return-on-investment. History books will cite this as causing the death of newspapers, but it’s really more a case of ignorance, for newspapers still lack the technology and the networks to provide this to local advertisers. The industry has ceded defeat to Google without even firing a shot.

And, now comes the newest era of the email newsletter, a technology that’s been around since the dawn of email but generally only used to provide links to the industry’s “real” content online. The shift today, however, includes those who give the energy it takes to produce actual content for newsletters, and it’s a godsend to overwhelmed news consumers. This trend is going to continue until a company’s online newsletter will become the primary method that news organizations use to disseminate news and information.

People can pass them around, which often results in new subscribers.

The first trader newsletters during the Middle Ages — actual letters from observers in far away places — were the precursor to the newspaper industry. Wikipedia notes that “Trader’s newsletters covered various topics such as the availability and pricing of goods, political news, and other events that would influence trade.” This is the essence of today’s developing process, and it suits not only the web’s unique abilities but also that most precious of earthly commodities: time.

I’ll be 74 this summer, and I spend most of my days online in an endless search for knowledge. Even with all that time, I still feel uninformed, because studying modern times is like trying to take a sip from a firehose. It’s the primary reason I’ve turned to newsletters. They’re out there; you just have to find them. Here are five newsletters that hit my inbox overnight or every morning:

The New York Times: While this is primarily a tool to “drive traffic” back to its newspaper site, the content is growing to include small story summaries throughout. It’s a way to follow the Times without subscribing to its main product.

Mondoweiss: I have family of Palestinians that lived in Amman, Jordan for a great many years, so my window on the Middle East is a little different than most. I don’t trust the Israeli’s, and I need an outlet that understands this. Mondoweiss is a terrific example of a point-of-view news organization that represents an extreme minority in the West. I need that to stay informed.

Dave Winer: Dave is one of the real gems in providing important technology news in a highly conversational format. I also really like Dave as a person, and his takes on life in general also give me food for thought. Dave’s is a constant voice on Twitter, and he uses his newsletter to summarize those thoughts. Moreover, and this is important, Dave is always a yard ahead of everybody else, and if he’s taking the trouble to produce a newsletter, it’s something that requires my attention.

Mathew Ingram: Mathew provides summaries and links to the stories he finds important. I trust Mathew and lean on his understanding to help my own.

Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy: CNN’s Reliable Sources is (by a mile) the most useful contemporary newsletter in the market today. It is the model for others to copy, for it’s loaded with content written for readers of the newsletter. What a concept! Oh, it contains marketing and links, but it is written to be read, and the summaries are specifically aimed at people such as myself and all of those who just don’t have the time to invest in reading complete stories.

There are many others out there, and I’ll probably be extending my subscription list as I find those suited to my tastes. The point is that I get to decide what I wish to influence my thinking, not the forced and irritating offerings of the artificial and manipulative hegemony known as objectivity. That old standard disappeared with the advent of continuous streams of news. Journalism has always spoken with the authority of overseers, which is the luxury afforded to those who could afford a printing press. Today, every single person on the net is a media company and able to distribute their content just like the big boys.

To those who would drag out the ol’ echo chamber meme to accuse me of circular logic, let me state once again that my experience in helping to create right wing news means that I know that it’s just political propaganda disguised as news. Give me a little credit for that tidbit, because I’ve already turned the page on it.

If you don’t subscribe to newsletters, my advice is to begin today. Click on the links I’ve provided, if you’re interested in those. If you find yourself being fed content that you find bitter or tasteless, unsubscribing is just a click away.

To those in the news industry, if you don’t produce a newsletter, what are you waiting for? The only rules are that it can’t be a vehicle that merely “drives traffic” back to its point of origin, and ads should be presented as content, perhaps even written by the newsletter’s author(s).