I penned the following letter to Dave Worstell, head honcho of the Billings (MT) Gazette, not intending to send it. After all, it would never get read. Anyway, Worstell is a journalist, and in my life I have never known a more smug group. They presume (without evidence) that they do good work, and so turn inward to their group for validation. They hand out awards to each other like candy to trick-or-treaters. David Crisp, once owner of the Billings [MT] Outpost, a smaller newspaper, once took issue with me on this blog for saying that journalists are smug and do not do good work. He said, and I would quote if it did not take an hour to find it, that the reason they do not respond to criticism is because the criticism is stupid. I answered him … isn’t that a bit smug?
I paid $1.00 for a six month subscription to the Gazette – Billings is my home town and I lived there until 2002 or so. I like to keep up. Honestly, it is not a bad newspaper, lots of coverage of lots of stuff. But the letter below addresses some real issues in their coverage. Read it, see if it agrees with your own experience.
Dear Mr. Worstell,
I was watching a show called Silicon Valley a few years back and noticed that the entire group of computer nerds was in a state of shock that a new software from them might result in a censored Internet. They were shocked!
I’ve long known that our Internet and social media are heavily censored. We love to point at China, as it is well known that its Internet is censored. We imagine our own is free. This is key to effective censorship. If we know it is there, it ceases to be effective.
Some years back some friends in Bozeman created a traveling display for Montana libraries showing books that were censored in American history. These included books like Fool’s Crow, Invisible Man, Lolita, Catcher in the Rye. How, I did not ask, can you claim these books are censored when you know about them? I recognize every title! If a book is truly and effectively censored, it either 1) never got written, or 2) never got published.
I have seen another form of social pressure (a form of mind control) in my reading of the Gazette these past few weeks. It’s a little harder to define, but effectively operates as a thought-stopper. You accuse people of holding “conspiracy theories.” The dominating force behind the accusation is mental illness, or paranoia. In fact, while the phrase was not new, it in fact came from the CIA, seemingly frustrated that the Warren Commission Report was not going down easily. The following is from Truthstream Media, where you can also access the memo itself.
The Central Intelligence Agency released the following memo in April 1967 categorized as “PSYCH” which essentially weaponized the use of the label “conspiracy theorist” and laid out a number of dirty tactics using “elite friendly contacts” including politicians and media figures to discredit and shut down any claims and ultimately demonize anyone who attempted to challenge the government’s official version of events.
The purpose of the “conspiracy theory” meme is demonization of skepticism. It is held that smart people do not hold any ideas or curiosity about the behavior and affairs of powerful people. When people say “Watcha got there, a conspiracy theory?”, they think they are being smart. Quite the opposite is true – they are being stupid – Dunning-Kruger stupid.
On October 27 you printed an article by Gabe Stern of AP concerning election recounting in Nye, NV. Right away he refers to “election machine conspiracy theories”. What is wrong, I wondered, with recounting ballots? If the election system is a good as officials say, what harm can come of it? (Stern also miscounted the number of registered voters in Nye County, saying it was 33,000. I learned (it took about five minutes) that to was 40,419. Hmmm. Interesting mistake.)
Today you used an article by Dave Klepper of AP, who says that “Misleading or deceptive claims about voting and elections…” are proliferating. Not long ago one of your writers used the term “election deniers” to demean skepticism around electronic voting.
The “deniers” meme is widely used. I used to follow news, and learned that I am an election denier, a Covid denier, a Climate Change denier, an AIDS denier. I must now be a journalism denier too. Why can I not just be a skeptic? I have read and researched tons about all of this stuff, and have a far deeper knowledge base than you or any of your staff. How do I know this? Because journalists are generalists, and never “rabbit hole” anything. Consequently, they surface skim, and move along to the next story.
For instance, I used to buy into Climate Change. Why did I change my mind? First, I read a large number of the Climategate emails. In them “scientists” at the University of East Anglia were exposed as being dishonest and unscientific in their research, and heavy-handed in treatment of anyone who disagreed with them. So powerful is this climate alarmist movement that Climategate was whitewashed and covered up by the University of Pennsylvania. Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame) resides there.
I have here in my office stacks of evidence that any warming happening is barely perceptible. The climate change movement appears to have unstated purpose, as CO2 is easily shown to be harmless, even beneficial to us. (Even a cub reporter could figure this out.) It is a propaganda movement. Its true nature? Misanthropy.
It is worse, far worse than just bad and corrupt science. We are brainwashing kids in schools about their climate future, and they are naturally despondent about it. Kids should be optimistic, but these climate zealots are robbing them of that. Most adults of a certain age, say 40 or older, have the ability to stick their heads out a window and see that Climate Change is not real. Kids, however, are being abused by their teachers, who are apparently also indoctrinated (or afraid to speak the truth).
So here I am, according to your newspaper, a “denier.” Use of that term is another way of saying “We own the truth, and you are not allowed to question it.” It is a propaganda technique.
I have a been reading your newspaper daily, and it is not all that bad, but I do see the same propaganda techniques in use in the Gazette as everywhere else, stifling thoughtful people by labeling them conspiracy theorists or deniers, and labeling anything counter to official truth as misinformation. You need to be more like me – skeptical of everyone and everything, moved only by evidence. I thought that journalists were supposed to be pesky and probing and skeptical- at least they are portrayed on TV that way. As I view it, you are all rather passive observers, never burrowing. ***
So, label me if you must, but understand that I know the tools of your trade, and propaganda is a big one.
Mark Tokarski (a 59-year Montana resident)
***Pat Williams was a Montana Congressman from 1979-1997, On leaving office, he was asked about the Montana news media, and said:
“I can tell you from my viewpoint that spinning Montana’s newspapers was as easy as spinning a top. There’s precious little congressional news that is actually broken by a Montana newspaper. That works to the advantage of the politician. Absolutely. When you are free from a burrowing press, you pretty much have clear sailing.”
I had a hard time running down this quote, though I knew it was real. I finally found it … in an Idaho newspaper.
3 thoughts on “An open letter to Dave Worstell of the Billings Gazette”
Arrogant; self-righteous; disingenuous; UNHELPFUL; CRIMINAL.
Attributes shared by academia, medicine, government… and a whole lot of proclaimed experts in “business.” Giving us the business – if you know the phrase.
Well said.. very dry and witty. The only decent response by anyone (deservedly) receiving such a letter, would be to print it, issue a public apology and walk around for a year wearing a sign that says “I will not take the public for saps.”
At least one has the satisfaction of knowing that they know we know, even if they’re chuckling cynically about it, rather than listening to whatever dim voice of conscience may intrude at dark moments (if they’re not complete shells of human beings who feel no guilt whatsoever.)
And yes, “denier” has spread like a noxious weed in the modern lexicon. I guess “conspiracy theorist” was a little stale and they needed something more gratingly smug and offensive to logic and reason.
Perfectly rendered, MT, well-done! The narcissistic clown likely never read past the first paragraph, but then that just outs him as an intellectual coward as well.