The suppression of information takes many guises, I’m beginning to realise. Many guises, but at the heart, the old ways of doing things still rule. Someone pulls strings and the neck of the bag tightens.
Take, for a start, Hillary’s Secret War, a book detailing the ways in which a rightwing think-tank’s output on the internet was allegedly suppressed by Hillary Clinton during the Clinton regime, which has just been brought to my attention. According to the author, a Richard Poe, Clinton protected her husband’s regime rigorously. “Hillary’s attack machine bullied,” he writes, “blackmailed, terrorized, and intimidated every serious investigator, from journalists to federal prosecutors and independent counsel, until they simply gave up. In many cases, Hillary’s operatives carried out these attacks openly and in full sight of major media. No one blew the whistle. No one cried foul. No one stopped her.”
Poe describes himself as part of ‘the New Underground’: “By the New Underground, I mean the growing network of dissident journalists on cable TV, talk radio, and the Internet. In the course of our labors, we stumble, now and then, upon what Patrick Henry might have called ‘painful truths’.”
The book came out in 2004, but – whether or not you subscribe to Poe’s political leanings – his description of the ways in which information is suppressed rings true enough. There are many ways of suppressing – and getting out – a story. Only this morning I was reading Guido Fawkes’ Twitter feed, which suggested that the MOD were attempting to suppress footage of troops in Afghanistan refusing to shake the hand of Gordon Brown – shortly afterwards, he wrote that a source had confirmed the existence of footage and he was trying to acquire it. This is the New Underground in action – although Poe ascribes it to a rightwing think-tank, it is much more a bipartisan group of journalists and bloggers who won’t let anything lie in the face of suppression.
What, then, of Copenhagen? The internet is fascinated with the ongoing situation around the Climate Change Conference and is awash with information and misinformation. The net coverage is an ongoing fight between painful truths and distractions. The leaking of the East Anglian stats has given all concerned a personal wire service to the onslaught of information in all its variant states of truthfulness.
What many fail to understand is that the format is usually the winner. However many gatekeepers Hillary Clinton is alleged to have set up for the web, however often the MOD try and hide the fact that the troops don’t like an unpopular leader, however much obfuscation, argument and endless counter-argument surrounds Climate Change, the internet – that most flexible of formats – will always win through.
You just have to look at the X Factor for proof. It’s not Joe McElderry who’s won the X Factor, it’s the format. It’s Simon Cowell, who owns the format. The only difference between the X Factor and the internet is that the TV talent show is the sort of Mogadon for the Nation that allows people to suppress news from Copenhagen, merely because you can bury anything on page 20 or in an article on the internet if you have enough articles about tearful contestants – who’ve been slugging it out in a glitterball for the past three months – surrounding the story.