Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Anatomy of an American Conspiracy Theory

The Anatomy of an American Conspiracy Theory

Andrew Meyer, more commonly known as the “don’t taze me bro guy,” is an outspoken political activist who maintains an entertainment website as well as Facebook group of the same name. On January 27th, Meyer posted sequence of videos with the central thesis that there exists a single organization of people who control all of the American media with a smaller group inside of that organization who determines what the American public are allowed to watch.

Below I have posted his commentary and links, as well as my subsequent analysis of one of the videos.

J’accuse

Andrew Meyer: If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s essential for understanding what the media is. It’s also the best produced video and tool for explaining the media to people. Rothschild’s Council on Foreign Relations (video link)

Andrew Meyer: CFR members include Bush, Obama, Clinton, Cheney, McCain, etc., etc. The banking cartel gives marching orders to politicians on both sides, and makes them the “frontrunners” in both parties through the “mainstream media” they own. Dick Cheney ex-director of CFR talks to David Rockefeller (video link)

Andrew Meyer: Here’s the full film: Behind the Big News – Full film (video link)

Zachary David: This type of logic is no more meaningful than proclaiming a grand conspiracy among world leaders who have a U.S. college education. The CFR publishes Foreign Affairs. This is easily one of the most reputable and reliable publications on the subject of its namesake. I suggest you actually open up an issue or two. 

Would you care to explain a few of the more poignant issues you have with the CFR? No sane person (nor your regular reader) is going to take to this argument-via-information-flood. 

I understand that numerous and lengthy youtube videos are the media of choice for the conspiracy theorist. The sources cant easily be fact checked. Cognitive biases can be leveraged via non-clever visual and auditory juxtaposition. But if you want to be taken seriously, this is certainly not the format.

Andrew Meyer: Did you watch the video and do any fact-checking?

In argument, if you wish to temper the patience of your opposition, all you need to do is respond to a nicely articulated point with an irrelevant and very stupid question.

Below is a play-by-play of the first video as it descends from routine uncorroborated conspiracy claims to outright intellectual fraud.[1]

0:00 – 2:13

Let’s do the first video from start to finish.

The video’s opening assertion: The people who report the news have had dinner with the people about whom they are reporting, and that this is a problem, and that this is corrupt.[2]

After the unidentified bearded-bow-tied man and the unidentified glossy-eyed-sweater-vested man finish their claims without offering any supporting facts, the History Channel voiced narrator proclaims: “main stream news is more about career enhancement than reporting the truth.” No evidence appears. But we do see a familiar picture of people holding scripts and setting up for a camera shot. 

Cut to UBBTM (unidentified bearded-bow-tied man). He says: people give the boss what they want, and that is why the media is homogeneous. What are we supposed to gain from that? That unevidenced claim doesn’t even make sense. 

Then UGESVM begins to ramble about a metaphorical pyramid that young journalists have to climb, and that as they climb they begin to realize something. Then with almost perfect comedic timing, the music stops as he stumbles over his words trying to figure out just what load of bullshit he should conclude with. And like a torrent from Zeus’ plunger, he says that news outlets “aren’t interested in major news that rocks the boat.”[3]

Cut to the NYC skyline. Our narrator identifies the previous man as Charles. Apparently “the boat” is not actually a boat. Charles explains that the boat is the people at the top of the metaphorical pyramid. A pyramid then fades in to the background of the skyline.

2:13 – 3:33

Next we have part 2. And I am very excited that it appears to be opening with an actual fact.

1917: Representative Oscar Callaway charged that JP Morgan had purchased interest in the most influential newspapers and installed editors to promote a corporate agenda. Perhaps the editor of the most influential paper was asleep on his job, because the source the video gets those quotes from is a 1917 issue of the New York Times. Callaway said that he had proof of these accusations, but it appears that proof never surfaced.[4]

Next, images of JP Morgan, Paul Warburg and John D. Rockefeller are placed side by side as we are told that the freshly purchased media organizations will be run by JP Morgan and “his colleagues.”

This is when “The Council on Foreign Relations” is first introduced. The juxtaposition of the CFR next to unsubstantiated conspiracy claims is meant to condition the viewer into associating one with the other—never mind that the CFR began with a group of scholars, formed by Woodrow Wilson, who traveled to The Paris Peace Conference which successfully ended World War 1.

3:33 – 4:40

Our narrator first tells us that the public mission statement of the CFR is to “increase America’s understanding of the world.” However, he quickly notes that the real mission statement is something else. Something rarely admitted. Something more sinister.[5]

Introducing Professor Carroll Quigley: We are told that for two years, Quigley was “allowed to examine the confidential records and secret papers of this network.” In the academic world, this is otherwise known as having a library card

Our narrator quotes Quigley as saying that these men aim “to create a world system able to dominate the political system… of the world as a whole.” At this time, it is important to note the narrator’s use of these men. In the past two minutes of film, we have moved from JP Morgan & Friends to the CFR and then to these men. However, it is unclear if Quigley was even referring to the CFR. This typifies the sort of dishonest juxtaposition I had mentioned earlier. 

This part concludes with a familiar picture of Earth as seen from space.

4:40 – 5:16

Citing a 1993 Washington Post column by Richard Harwood, the narrator quotes Harwood as writing “CFR membership– the ruling establishment in the United States.” This is type of academic dishonesty could get you expelled from school in certain cases.

Here’s the actual quotation: “[Foreign Affairs] is published by the Council on Foreign Relations, whose members are the nearest thing we have to a ruling establishment in the United States.” Harwood follows with, “The president is a member. So is his secretary of state, the deputy secretary of state, all five of the undersecretaries….” Saying that the people in the executive branch of government are like a ruling establishment isn’t as ground breaking as our dear narrator would have us believe.

In fact, this video completely misrepresents the main point of Harwood’s article. He argues that having journalists involved more closely with lawmakers has improved public knowledge of world events and encouraged greater moral behavior as, “humanitarianism has taken on new dimensions as a component of American foreign policy, and the media are largely responsible.”

Moral bankruptcy aside, the video’s editors were apparently unaware of Harwood’s militant stance against journalists who blow stories out of proportion: “‘The tendency to make big pictures out of small facts,’ he said, ‘is so common it often appears to be a beatitude in itself.'”[6] 

This part concludes with quick cuts to video equipment to the sound of tympanies.

5:16 – 6:50

The narrator introduces us to a list of news anchors who are CFR members, and also mentions two corporate mergers. No point is made.

We can lift the veil of “clandestine meetings” and “secret membership” that this video would like us to associate with the The Council on Foreign Relations; The CFR annually publishes its membership and is available for anyone to download. Information on becoming a corporate member is also available online.

6:50 – 7:34

We are told that the New York Times is one of the CFR’s strongest media allies.[7]

Our dear narrator then informs us that the New York Times is one of the most popular newspapers. Then we are given a brief lesson on how a newswire works.

No point is made.

7:34 – 10:00

The final part of this video covers the unapologetic fraud of New York Times writer Walter Duranty and his failure to accurately report  the famine and genocide of Ukrainians under Stalin. The New York Times would later denounce Duranty’s work and issue a thorough report through Mark Von Hagen.

This is clearly a terrible mark on journalistic integrity. However, two problems exist with this point as it pertains to the argument of the video. First, the video does not offer any evidence to suggest that Duranty was instructed to report the inaccurate version of events. Second, Walter Duranty has not been established as a CFR member.

Maintaining Intellectual Credibility

At this time, I have reached out to Andrew Meyer for either his complete disavowing of this video as a legitimate source of information, or a thorough addressing of the intellectual fraud committed by the video’s creators.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. This was originally a multi-part reply to his question. I have left it out of quotations for stylization, readability, and to add citations
  2. Full disclosure: I have had dinner with Andrew Meyer and his lovely fiancé.
  3.  I’ll instruct you to pause the video and really think about that last statement before deciding which type of laughter it merits
  4. Callaway had already lost his congressional seat by the time he made those claims, so he didn’t have the opportunity to enter anything else into the congressional record
  5.  And apparently something the producers of the program can’t put in quotation marks
  6. Richard Harwood (1925 – 2001) was the Washington Post’s first ombudsman—a position he created to thoroughly investigate complaints. He campaigned heavily against the paper’s usage of words that have judgemental connotations, and he made sure that the recognition of mistakes was not buried. Accuracy and honesty were staples of Harwood’s code as a journalist and as an editor. It is safe to say that Richard Harwood would despise the creators of this video
  7. Yes, the same New York Times which published the anti-CFR article that this video previously cited