ZERO HEDGE: Another reason to assume zero trust in media provenance

by John Ward

Those media who take the sponsorship shilling will eagerly deny you justice for thirty pieces of silver

 


I can’t be the only commentator worried about the once-admired better established online news sites and their motives for writing this, that and the other. Can I? The obviously “planted” PR opinions in the New York Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail and Sun have been an open secret for years. But now, I read some sites – especially in the financial sector – and get that funny, familiar, never quite forgotten feeling of Cui bono?  crawling up the nape of my neck.

I had it again this morning, catching up on the latest antics at the once “libertarian” US site Zero Hedge. Let’s take today’s ‘front page’ there as an example.

Coronavirus – the virus ‘is now entering a more serious and complex stage’ Is it? We have 2,799 cases, and 80 fatalities so far. That’s a death-rate of 0.285%. I’ve no desire to seem heartless or smug, but I can’t find the basis for this “story”. Cui bono – pharma, and a vast range of medical suppliers, lock-down services, containment consultances and so on. Death is big business.

Climate change – ‘We need to plant 25 percent more trees than there are on Earth right now, or more than half a trillion in total’. No we don’t.  ‘This would reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by a quarter, erasing 20 years of emissions.’. Why is CO² still the villain, Durden guys? ‘Burning trees for heat and replanting them won’t help’. Oh yes it will, depending on which ones we burn, and the species with which we replace them. Cui bono – Every carbon fund on Wall Street, every oil and gas baron in Texas, the entire fracking sector, and every hustler engaged in the promotion of wind power.

Agriculture – ‘Biblical Locust Plague With Mega-Swarms The Size Of Cities Descends On East Africa’. No shit? Define mega swarm. Which cities – London or Harare? ‘“Even cows are wondering what is happening,” one local farmer laments’….cool. Who asked them? The piece is littered with ‘rare occurrence of apocalyptic proportions’, ‘by all accounts’, ‘according to AP reports’. Cui bono – Agrochemical combines, aid agencies, charities,   food commodity traders.

Find my thesis far-fetched? Here is some disturbing collateral evidence at the same site today:

ZHSponscont1

My, my – just fancy that. And just look at the subhead – Hurry now while stocks last folks!

Above, I mentioned charity-based lobbying. This is big business nowadays, and one of the great battles continuing to rage is the human v animal sectors. Yet again at Zero Hedge today:

ZHSponscont2

Towards the end of each article at ZH, we are shown (this time quite openly) what the PR guys have taken to calling ‘sponsored content:

ZHsponscont3

Now, if this kind of “journalism” is what floats your boat, then fine. In my time, however (and I mean as an adman) no self-respecting editor would have allowed such a blurring of the lines between news and commercial propaganda.

It is yet another symptom of the media having completely lost sight of what their primary task is: to hold the privileged to account.


ZH first appeared in January 2009, its main writer using the pseudonym Tyler Durden. By September of that year, he been identified as Daniel Ivandjiiski, a Bulgarian-born,U.S.-educated former hedge-fund trader. What’s initially interesting is Ivandjiiski’s choice of the title Zero Hedge, given that he himself is barred for life from hedge fund trading, having illegally used inside information to make money during 2008. He did not contest the ban.

In the eleven years since his brainchild’s foundation, Daniel has amassed a personal fortune of $11 million, and lives with his wife in a large mansion in much sought-after Mahwah, New Jersey. A former contributor to ZH Colin Lokey remarked in 2016 that Ivandjiiski and his partner Tim Backshall “live a lifestyle you only dream of, yet are pretending to speak for you.”

Backshall himself used to work for CNBC….not exactly what you’d call a mouthpiece for the Resistance.

Sadly – just as with Guido Fawkes, Max Keiser, Private Eye and so many others affecting greater Holiness than their readers, Zero Hedge is now feted by Establishment critics as Top Ten this and indefatigable that, while also batting for the other side.

The two rarest elements in the 21st century are Trust and Ethics.

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Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.