Jan. 19, 2023

663: The Media's War on Truth - How to Spot Propaganda and Censorship

@tonybrasunas helps uncover the media's role in shaping public opinion and the tactics used to spread propaganda and censorship

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Join hostBrian Nichols on this explosive episode of The Brian Nichols Show as he sits down with guest Tony Brasunas, a former corporate media insider, to discuss the shocking truth about the media's role in dividing Americans. 

Tony, who is currently writing a book about his experiences called "Red, White and Blind", shares his personal story of being terminated from Huffington Post for advocating for Bernie Sandersduring the 2016 Democratic primary. In this episode, Tony delves into his book, which exposes the censorship and deception in the media and how it affects everyone, not just one side of the political spectrum. He also provides specific examples of censorship in recent events such as the Jeffrey Epstein case, theorigin of the Coronavirus, theHunter Biden laptop story, and the Russian bounties story. 

Later, Brianand Tonyshare their final thoughts and discuss the importance of media consciousness and balancing one's media diet to see different sides of issues. Don't miss this eye-opening episode of The Brian Nichols Show as we uncover the truth behind the corporate media's manipulation of news narratives.

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Brian Nichols  0:10  
Americans are divided, deceived, and more confused than ever. And that's the corporate media's fault. Yeah, let's talk about that. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics, teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Wow, happy Thursday there, folks, Brian Nichols here on The Brian Nichols Show. And thank you for joining us on of course, another fun episode. I am as always your humble host. Joining you live from our Stratus ip Studios here in lovely Eastern Indiana. Don't let cyber attacks or outdated Business Technology put your company at risk. Learn more at Brian Nichols show.com. Forward slash Stratus ip Well, yeah, folks, if you're new to The Brian Nichols Show, maybe this is news to you, I don't know. But if you're a longtime listener, the idea that the corporate media is planting seeds of divisive pneus and doubt amongst the American electorate, and just the overall American populace. By and large. Yeah, it's a no brainer. But let's go ahead and actually talk to somebody who's seen things behind the scenes. He knows what's been going on, because he's experienced it first. And that is one, Tony presume is joining us here on The Brian Nichols Show, Tony, how are things going

Tony Brasunas  1:26  
in your world? Things are going great, Brian, thanks for having me.

Brian Nichols  1:30  
Absolutely. And rumor is you're not only joining us with some experience behind what actually takes place with the corporate media and all the nasty, nasty things happening behind the scenes, but you're writing a book about it. And it's called red, white and blind. Let's talk about that. Obviously, you have some experience. And I think it starts with a story at HuffPost. Back in 2016. Start off there and kind of walk through your experience in the world of corporate media and the Corruption Lies.

Tony Brasunas  1:56  
Sure, absolutely. Yeah, that is a good place to start the red, white and blind story. So 2016 Democratic primary, as you may recall, it was on the Democratic side, it was between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And so I had written a bit independently about Bernie Sanders and somebody at Huffington Post reached out to me, one of my pieces have gotten a lot of distribution on social media, and asked to publish it at Huffington Post and to bring me on board to cover the primary from sort of that point forward. So I did that. And it went well, I was I wrote quite a bit. And since I was one of the few journalists in, you know, relatively mainstream media covering the Bernie Sanders side, a lot more of the coverage was, was from the Hillary Clinton side, I did quite well with my pieces, a lot of them got 50,000 views, sometimes 100,000 views, sometimes they'd make it to the front page of Huffington Post and be featured there. And things were going well, I was covering, you know, I covered all kinds of things, differences in fundraising differences in the supporters differences around there, some irregularities and some of the primary elections, I covered those. And everything was going fine until the eve of the convention and I wrote a piece, just a few days before the convention, it was going to be a contested convention, neither of them had reached enough earn delegates to claim the nomination outright. And so it's gonna be decided by the quote unquote, super delegates, the these delegates at the convention who vote with the strength of 10,000, Mere Mortals. So they were going to determine the nominee and I wrote a piece basically saying, it'd be much smarter to pick Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump had won the nomination on the Republican side, week before and head to head polling should Bernie Sanders much stronger against Trump. And I focused on this issue of trust. And the trust metric was really divergent between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, there was a much higher trust, level of support for Bernie Sanders. And I said, particularly when this election goes to the independent voters who aren't really necessarily showing up on the Democratic side, this is going to swing the vote. And so I wrote this piece, basically laying this out, and I had to get into some of the reasons people don't necessarily trust Hillary Clinton. And for some reason, that piece, I published it in the evening, I looked, it was already at 10 or 12,000 views, I went to bed I woke up, the next morning was gone. The piece was just taken down. I was kicked off, I was I would never again write for Huffington Post, it was over based on that single piece. And so it's a really interesting experience to be censored. I had studied media consolidation for a while on an Independent Journal that I had written in the early 2000s. But to experience censorship firsthand like that, the cold hand of censorship just so so obliquely placed upon me like that, it really was something else. And so that was the beginning of red, white and blind. I was really interested in that. And so I started writing the book. It actually took me a few years I had this my son was born and I had to focus on some other things. But then in 2019, I started working on the book and I was really pouring myself into it when you know 2020 He rolls around. And these things that I was researching, suddenly they were just playing out in real time. And so, you know, through 2020 and 2021, it was really interesting because I'd write a chapter. And then I'd be like, Oh, I gotta go rewrite the chapter. Because now we know three more things about, you know, Twitter and shadow banning, or we know much more about the Hunter Biden laptop story. You're not whatever it was. And so it was a really interesting experience. So yeah, I mean, I'm proud to say it's now out the book just came out last week. It's brand new, hot off the presses. I hope anybody listening here will go find the book, red, white, and blind is the name of it. And red, white and blind.com is the website. So? Yeah, it's been quite a journey.

Brian Nichols  5:38  
Yeah. Last one pack. And let's kind of rewind a little bit, because I think from your personal perspective here, I'm curious to see what you've experienced, because I've had conversations with folks over the past few years that the proverbial veil has been lifted off their eyes, right? They were blind, but now they can see. And a lot of it was due to what happened with the COVID insanity. And I've actually seen some folks who I mean, they were maybe moderate, or at least the politically agnostic, and they've completely turned on a head now. They're very politically active, much more on the right side of campus. I'm curious, you're going from your being at the Huff Post. Was that something that you found your politics changing along the way?

Tony Brasunas  6:20  
Well, it's a great point. And I really do talk about this a bit in my book, and some of these conversations I've had with people, people really are feeling this strange political disorientation that I think has happened over the last two to three years. Yeah, I mean, I don't feel like my policies. My personal beliefs have changed. I'm a progressive at heart. I'm a classical liberal. And so I can't support the Democratic Party anymore. Yeah, it's really interesting. I mean, it's just we've gone in such a different direction. I mean, I was never much of a Democrat. I was active in the Green Party in San Francisco. And then and I, that was when I started writing, I got a little deputy blogger position at the San Francisco Chronicle. And that's sort of where my writing started. And then with Bernie Sanders, yeah, obviously, I was supporting, you know, the progressive side of the Democratic Party. I was writing as you know, I was interested, but I was also supporter. But yeah, I think it's been a really interesting time. And I think, you know, when I'm covering in red, white and wine when I write about, you know, the chapter when Biden and Jen Psaki are basically proposing this notion where if somebody's spreads, what they decide is misinformation, or disinformation on one social media platform, not only should that social media platform take you down, but every other one should as well, based on what they decide is misinformation. I mean, that was that was chilling at a level that I don't think I had never anticipated seeing that. And I was never a supporter of Biden, but to see that really, you know, sort of the writing on the wall was really intense. And, and I reserve in the book, and also, you know, personally, in my conversations, I reserved my harshest language for censorship, it's, it's something that we can't actually survive as a civilization as Western civilization. Like we're, we're built that, you know, the building blocks of what we're doing here is democracy and science. And you can't really have either one, if you are allowing censorship if you're allowing some centralized power to decide what can be said, what can't be said.

Brian Nichols  8:15  
So it makes it impossible for us to have a conversation. And I think that we

Tony Brasunas  8:18  
couldn't have this conversation. Now, if somebody decided, you know, Tony, and Brian are gonna say something we don't like, you know, that's the end of it. So. So yeah,

Brian Nichols  8:28  
well, let's talk about because there's something you mentioned, where media would basically be presenting completely different versions of the same story. And I would like to see me give some examples of that where we could be like, Oh, that makes sense.

Tony Brasunas  8:43  
Sure. And I'd love to read a little passage from the book here in a minute. And I really do that because I want I don't want red, white and blind. When I was writing this book. As I said, I came I come from sort of the progressive left. But as I was writing the book, I actually found myself shifting because I was finding more actually more censorship and more like when I was reading Zack for his book, The Google leaks, and I was studying the Twitter, you know, the early stuff on Twitter. Now we have the Twitter files, which is, you know, brought into a whole new level. I was shifting my views, I was seeing more of that going against the right. So I wrote the book, really, because really not to be the Democrat or the Republican criticism of the media, but really to be a nonpartisan look at the media. And the idea of red, white and blind is that we're all in this place of deception. We're all deceived, to some extent, by the corporate media and by the deliberate manipulation of the news narratives, that it affects us all. And it's very sophisticated. We can't sit here and say I'm, I'm 24 students. I'm a smart guy and writing about this. It doesn't affect me. No, it affects us all. It's very sophisticated. It's been going on for 100 years since the beginning of propaganda with Edward Bernays in the 1920s and things like that. So it's been going on a long, long time. So So yeah, I mean, I my experiences have been led me to write this book in a way that's nonpartisan And so I start the book with Jeffrey Epstein. And we can get into that here. There'll be a passage I'll read, and then I talk about the Coronavirus and the origin of the Coronavirus. I think these issues are nonpartisan at this point. Like why were these issues censored? Why? Why are we not allowed to know about Jeffrey Epstein for 20 years are asked about where the Coronavirus came from for two years, when it would have been really, really helpful to know that it would have been very, very helpful to have known that it had come out of a lab, we know now with probably 97% Certainty it came out of the lab. So So yeah, those are issues that are that are really, I think, demonstrative of what's going on with the media, that it's not a partisan issue. There are some issues that are partisan, you know, and I talk a little bit about some of the stuff that I found leading into the 2020 election with the censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the censorship around or the propaganda around the bounties that supposedly Russians are paying to Afghanistan, and you know, all that stuff. And it turned out that story was completely made up, and was basically just meant to disparage the candidacy of Donald Trump. And so that was very interesting to uncover some of that. So, you asked for specific examples. You want me to pull out a few examples from a book or something, do it? Okay, well, I mean, yeah, I mean, the Russian bounties, that one's that one's great. I think it's almost been swept under the rug at this point, because it was January 6, and all these other things that have happened, but it was really interesting story was it was just leading into the 2020 election. And there was this story in The New York Times. Unsourced intelligence agents, you know, basically said, that we have reason to believe, you know, there's no proof, there's no evidence that, you know, Russia and Vladimir Putin has paid all this money to the Afghan, you know, the Afghan Taliban resistance to basically kill Americans. And that because, and there was, it was sort of just laying it at the feet of Donald Trump and saying, Because Trump has been too soft on Russia, for which there was very little evidence because Trump actually was, you know, had had some policies about Russia in Europe that were pretty strong. But that, that because of that, that that's why Americans were dying. And they're all these cases of like, supposedly Afghanis launching these Russian weapons, killing Americans. And then, you know, it's really interesting, because the New York Times would put it out. And then the Washington Post would read a similar story The next day, and then the rest of the corporate media newspapers would write the same story a day later, two days later. And so not only is that and then it turned out to be totally false. It was there was no evidence of that Russia hadn't sold weapons to Afghanistan. And the whole story was kind of ridiculous. Because Afghani, like they don't need any extra reason to want to get Americans out of their country. I mean, it's like, we're the American military as an invader in their country, those people would want the Americans to get out, they don't need Russian to tell them, hey, like, you know, shoot those Americans. Like know, imagine if you had a foreign force, you know, like down the street from you. And they were, you know, taking over your town, you know, if you were, you know, a reasonable person, you'd want to get them out of your country because they're, you know, not don't belong here. So, it was a ridiculous story. But it was demonstrative also of something I talked about in the book, which is nefarious bias, I decipher, in the book, three different types of bias, because everybody's biased, you know, I'm biased, you're biased, we all have bias. So there's innocent bias. Innocent, that there's innocent bias, systemic bias and nefarious bias. And it's worth it, I think, to take a minute to understand these. So innocent bias is the bias we all have based on who we are, like, where we grew up, like what our parents were, like our race or class, or gender, national origin, you know, all of those kinds of things around our identity, those bring us bias, that's just the way it is. Then there's systemic bias. And that's the bias that comes from wherever you work, like, if somebody's paying you a paycheck to do what you're saying, you're gonna be biased to continue to get that paycheck. You know, if you work at some large organization, or some huge, mega, you know, media conglomerate, you're gonna be biased to say the things that will get you promoted, and not get you fired, you know, so not run against those advertisers and things like that. So systemic bias is the bias that comes from where you work as a journalist. And then the final one is nefarious bias. And various bias is deliberate, deceptive, manipulation of the narrative by covert forces, like intelligence agencies. So there's innocent bias, which we all have can't really avoid that, but we can balance our diet about it. There's systemic bias, which we get a lot. The bigger the corporation is that's distributing the news, the more systemic bias there is. And then nefarious bias, which is sometimes the hardest to pin down, but I go in red, white and blind, I go through some ways to recognize it. And one of them is this. So in that story about the Taliban, the suppose it bounties paid to the Afghans in the lead up to the 2020 election, you saw a number of reasons to believe there was nefarious bias. So first of all, its unnamed intelligence sources are the reason for this All right. So that's a almost a dead giveaway that there's some ulterior motive. And it's not the real story. The other thing that I go into is Operation Mockingbird, which went on for, you know, from the 50s through the 70s. And it's now declassified, it's you know, it was fully brought out in the church committee in the 1970s. And that was, you know, the CIA and other intelligence agencies directly recruiting journalists recruiting, or placing agents at newspapers, and disseminating news narratives and news stories throughout the media. And when George HW Bush took over the CIA in the late 70s, or I think, right around 1980, I think was late 70s. He said, Oh, we're not going to do this anymore. And put out a memo saying, Yeah, we're not doing this anymore. But even built into the memo. I put the memo in the book. There's all these loopholes. You know, there's like we're, well, we're not going to do any more of this paid work with journalists. But we we welcome unpaid help. So there's like just so many loopholes that there's no doubt it continues to go on. And then I go through another dozen examples of why we know that that's still happening. And so that that story of the the bounties paid to Afghans Afghans, which is a false story, absolutely is nefarious bias. It's evidence of nefarious bias of intelligence sources placing the story. And the reason they called it Operation Mockingbird is another interesting thing to understand, because Operation Mockingbird, the idea is, you know, mocking birds in the forest, one will call out a tune, and the other ones will repeat the tune, and then more will repeat it and repeat it. So you have this song sort of going on throughout the forest. So you see the street places in New York Times. And then the next day, the Washington Post hears the song and repeats it. And then the other corporate journalists write hear it and they repeat it. And this Mockingbird model is very useful and helpful, because it reduces the need for this sort of back channel collaboration. So you don't have to have some like, you know, back channel, Twitter, or like email or something where it's like, Hey, I'm gonna write this story on Monday, you write it on Tuesday, you know, the news article itself is, is the beacon is the beacon. The other thing is that it's, it works really well. And in terms of how the human brain works, or when we hear thing Well, here's something once it's kind of like, oh, yeah, that's an interesting story, but probably not true. But if you're an over and over again, and again, from different sources, the human brain had just sort of works that just sort of starts to incorporate that, like, oh, I guess we should all wear masks or something, because I've heard it from these different sides are like, oh, you know, whatever the narrative is, oh, I guess Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction. You know, because you've heard it from enough different sources, and somebody here said it in there, and it's on the radio. So that's Operation Mockingbird. And that's, and that's a good example of it, I think, where you can, you can use part of red, white and blind as I'm trying to teach you the tools. You know, it's like Teach a man to fish, I can show you some of the examples. But it'd be much more helpful if, by looking at these examples, you realize now how you can disseminate, you can decipher and you can notice the narrative, nefarious bias and the types of narrative manipulation in the news.

Brian Nichols  18:08  
Well, and I guess, as we kind of go towards the tail end of the episode, that goes into the, the significance of us being able to address this right. And I think there's there's a lot of different facets that we have to focus on in order to have success. What we're doing today, having these conversations is super important, but also being able to go out into your point identify this for when we see it and to call it out. Right, I think that it's almost indicative on us to do that. Otherwise, to your point, there are so many other people out there that they will hear this, they will start to believe as truth, because it's been repeated so many times. So I guess to your expert recommendation, right, appeal to the authority, what would you say are some recommendations you see, as like tangible things we can do right now to improve our discourse?

Tony Brasunas  18:56  
Yeah, absolutely. So the main thing I propose is a balanced media diet. And I have a whole chapter about that. And I have a website I'm building called balanced media diet.com. So in addition to red, white, and blind.com, if you go to balanced media diet.com, I'm setting that up to be a so right now there's, there's the diet, I recommend, I've reviewed hundreds of sources. And I put together a diet where you can either spend 30 minutes a day, or 60 minutes a day, or 120 minutes a day, if you want to really go in there, but you know, for 30 minutes a day, there's about 13 sources I recommend, and you do two different sources each day of the week. But then eventually, I want people to be able to customize their own media diet and balance and everything like that. What I really talked about in the book, what I really tried to get to the first two thirds of the book is basically here's how bad the problem is. So I do I talk about January 6, and I talked about the COVID stuff I talked about Epstein. I talked about all the different ways and I talked about social media and like fact checkers that don't check facts and astroturf independent media that pretends to be independent, but it isn't. But then the second, last third of the book, I really want to give people a positive spin because I'm actually be very optimistic, I see that we're actually moving into a new enlightenment, a time in which like the original enlightenment where, where the top down distribution of information is starting to crumble away. And we're beginning to have more conversations like this. And it's already been going on for 10 years, I think a big part of the last 10 years has been this, like screaming about disinformation, when really the screaming is about other information, you know, that's not coming from the mainstream media. And that's going to continue. And that's the new enlightenment. So as part of that, what I really recommend people develop is what I call media consciousness. And it's not this like crazy state we have to get into, it's just the idea that when you hear a news report, you hear a news source, you don't just listen to what it's saying, you think about who's saying it, and why they're saying and what they want you to feel, what they want you to think about and what they want you not to think about that kind of media consciousness, we'll develop our own mind to be able to decipher the different types of bias because ultimately, we do need to know what's going on in the world. We can't just opt out like these narratives are, they're affecting our life, you can pretend Oh, I don't want to I don't I just unplugged the news. Well, it's, you're still going to get it from your friends, you're still going to get it from your family. So media consciousness and a balanced media diet. And I think we're moving into a better world where we're going to be able to have like this conversation we're having now these conversations are happening more and more and more all over the world. And I think it's a time of we're moving into a time of apocalypse in the in the good sense of the word where there's an unveiling, you know, the apocalypse is an unveiling of things, we're learning about things we're learning about, you know, Jeffrey Epstein, we're learning about the Twitter files, you know, each, I think, each couple, each couple of months, there's gonna be more of this stuff coming out. And I had an early reader of my book. And she was one of my beta readers before it came out. And she emailed me and she's like, you know, on the Twitter files came out, a lot of people really stung. Like, but I read your book. And so like I didn't, I wasn't surprised at all, you kind of laid out all the reasons this was already going on. And it's true. I almost feel like my book predicted that because I went into what was going on at Twitter and Facebook and Google and you look at that, and it's like, it's not that wasn't that hard to guess that all that stuff was going on? Although actually some of the stuff that's come out in the Twitter files is worse than then even I would have guessed.

Brian Nichols  22:12  
Well, that's scary. Jeez, how about this, as we go towards a final thoughts for today, I'll start things off. I think this speaks to why we do what we do here at The Brian Nichols Show. And we take we take things a little bit differently here in terms of we approach things through the lens of sales and marketing, and how do we help set narratives right, but to your point, I have to acknowledge that there are other people out there who are in fact setting narratives on their own. And, again, to your point, unfortunately, some of those folks are in fact, nefarious actors. So it's important and incumbent on us to go out and be the ones trying to help wake people up, set new narratives, and hopefully start new conversations. That's my final thought for the day. Tony, what do you have for us for your final thought as we wrap things up?

Tony Brasunas  22:57  
Yeah, I agree with all of that media consciousness, be aware of what narratives you're being fed. And then realize that by balancing your media diet, you can see all of the different sides of things, and what that ultimately does. And this is useful for business or for sales, or for just getting through the world and making the big decisions we make in our lives about what we're going to do with life, is the ability to then connect with people. Because right now the media is polarized, there's this deliberate attempt to divide people into their different camps. You know that by by balancing our media diet, by developing media consciousness, by understanding the narratives, we can connect with people, we can, again, talk to our sister or wife or, you know, uncle or whoever it is that like we've lost touch with, because of some kind of disagreement about the news, we can reconnect with them. And that's how we can make a better world to connect to connect with each other once again. And I think free speech is one of the most important parts of that.

Brian Nichols  23:54  
All right, well, the book is red, white, and blind. Tony, where can folks go ahead and go grab a copy if they want to grab one themselves, but also, go ahead and stay in touch with you to continue the conversation?

Tony Brasunas  24:06  
Absolutely. Yeah. So I mentioned red, white and blind.com. That's, that's the website, you can find everything about the book. I'm at Tony personas.com. If you want to learn more about me, everything is at 20 percent.com. I'm also on Twitter, Tony, but as soon as Facebook as well. And there's a YouTube channel that I'm building as well. It's kind of brand new, but I should have that up and going in the next next couple of weeks here. So yeah, red, white and blue.com. Find the book. I'd love to connect with you there. Great stuff

Brian Nichols  24:33  
well, and we'll make it easy for the 99% of folks who are joining us over on the podcast version. And that is we'll include all this in the show notes right so all you got to do go to your favorite podcast at your click the artwork, we'll bring you over to Brian Nichols show.com where you can find everything that Tony has mentioned the link to the book, his bio plus you'll find an entire transcript of today's episode and oh, by the way, we have a video version of the show in case you did not know that join us on Youtube rumble and an audit See, all three versions can be found over at Brian Nichols show.com. Wherever it is that you'd like to consume your video content, I ask you to do me a favor hit that little notification bell, and that subscribe button so you don't miss a single time we go live and oh, by the way, we have a brand new ebook that's out. It's for anybody who's interested in running for local office or if you're running for local office already and just trying to figure out what the heck do I have to do from starting out you're building your campaign, voter outreach, messaging and more. All that in our brand new ebook How to Win your local election available at Brian Nichols show.com forward slash win local link in the show notes that's all we have for you find me on social media that is at B Nichols, liberty, twitter, facebook minds.com and pretty much anywhere else you have social media want to get in touch with the email me Brian at Brian Nichols show.com And if you enjoyed the show, go ahead and give us a five star rating and review otherwise, Tony, any other final thoughts for us as we wrap things up? I know the big final thoughts but any last words I guess

Tony Brasunas  25:57  
I will have to do the reading next time I'll come back on the show and we'll do the reading of the book because I time just flew is a great conversation. I really appreciate it Brian

Brian Nichols  26:04  
rock'n'roll All right. Well, I guess this is a To be continued. So with that being said Brian Nichols signing off. You're on The Brian Nichols Show. We'll see you tomorrow.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Tony BrasunasProfile Photo

Tony Brasunas


An independent journalist, Tony Brasunas was censored and sacked by Huffington Post in 2016 for covering the Democratic Primary from the wrong perspective.

He's been researching censorship, media distortion, and disinformation in America for five years now, with the distinct hope that the underlying facts about "fake news" in America -- and the disinformation that is peddled every day in our corporate media -- will inspire Americans to exercise and defend our rights to Free Speech and a Free Press.

He grew up in an intentional community in West Virginia, spent an adventurous year in China being lied to by their media, and lives now with his wife and son in Sebastopol, California.