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Big Monolithic & Anti-Christian
The Media Conspiracy

From Secrets, Plots and Hidden Agendas
by Paul Coughlin

We the people have had about all we can stand of the twisted, slanted, biased media in America who take their signals from a few private, covert interest groups bent on destroying what's left of the American way. We request that you rely upon your own investigations, steering clear of the media and their rumor-gossip mills of dis-information.
Bob Fletcher, Militia of Montana

After finding out about the establishment's control of mass communication. I was even more appalled, but now, at least, I understand why I hadn't learned about the conspiracy any earlier. The Rockefellers controlled every facet of the information industry.
Christian conspiracy theorist Gary Kah

People need to question and analyze what they hear, and ponder the motivations of those spreading the propaganda. The truth lies deeper.
Timothy McVeigh's letter to the Editor

The Christian conspiracy community believes that more people would heed their concerns were it not for the deceptive control of the information industry. The media, they argue, will not reveal the true nature of domestic or international affairs, which are designed to usher in the New World Order. They do not believe that the media occasionally get a story wrong. Even the reports written by Christian journalists are intentionally deceptive, they say, so people must look to the conspiracy community alone to know what is really happening in the world. It is this belief that has led to the rise in the number of militia-produced newsletters and catalogs, antigovernment Web sites and patriot talk shows.

Media Blackout
Christian conspiracy theorist James W. Wardner has a name for this alleged refusal to report the real story behind international affairs: "media blackout." The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), he says, "owns Congress and the media." (Christian conspiracy theorists believe that the CFR is part of an anti-Christian socialist conspiracy to usher in Satan's New World Order.) As proof Wardner includes in his book a list of publishers who are supposedly part of the conspiracy. The list includes Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Harper & Row. But this is an impossible accusation to support, given the content of some of these publishers' books.

Macmillan publishes many of the works of C. S. Lewis. Harper & Row, which was part of what is now HarperCollins, published Paul Johnson's Intellectuals, a scathing critique of liberal or socialistic thinkers, including Karl Marx (one of the supposed conspirators), Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Bertrand Russell, Bertold Brecht, Norman Mailer and Lillian Hellman. HarperCollins published Hollywood vs. America, an incriminating review of Hollywood by movie critic Michael Medved. This Jewish conservative fills in for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show from time to time and is critical of the liberal views expressed in Hollywood. Simon & Schuster published The Book of Jesus: A Treasury of the Greatest Stories and Writings About Christ. Edited by Calvin Miller, professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, the work includes the writings of Max Lucado, Billy Graham. Martin Luther, Elisabeth Elliot and T. S. Eliot.

Wardner says that textbooks from these publishers sew the CFR's secret "philosophies into the fabric of our nation's children and college students as well." He receives this information from fellow conspiracy theorist Gary Kah: "After finding out about the establishment's control of mass communication, I was even more appalled, but now, at least, I understand why I hadn't learned about the conspiracy any earlier. The Rockefellers controlled every facet of the information industry." Yet as chapter four demonstrated, Kah quotes extensively from anti-Semitic sources. Also, if the Rockefellers have so much control, why would they allow for the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, the medium to which the militia owes so much?

Media Cover-ups
Don McAlvany often accuses the press of aiding the New World Order conspiracy, yet he quotes major news magazines as proof of the New World Order's increased government surveillance. For example, he writes that dozens "of different government agencies maintain millions of records on the America public. Articles about these records have been published in Newsweek and Time." McAlvany, like many Christian conspiracy theorists, wants it both ways. On the one hand he dismisses the mainstream press as propagandists of the New World Order. On the other hand, when the press prints information that supposedly proves the existence of a widespread conspiracy, he is quick to accept the information without question. The troubling inconsistency is this: if the press were conspiring against Americans, why would it print proof of the conspiracy?

Christian conspiracy disciples who called in to The Paul Thomas Show also revealed similar inconsistencies. Some read the Wall Street Journal religiously every business day, yet the Wall Street Journal has editors on the Council on Foreign Relations. These disciples were aware of that membership, but for some reason they did not find the discrepancy worthy of their concern.

McAlvany's sweeping claims have been challenged by some within the Christian community. One is Richard Abanes, who has written a compelling book about rebellion, racism and religion within American militias that are saturated with conspiracy theories. While obtaining information for his book, he decided to research one of the numerous claims made by this leader within the church.

McAlvany claims in his newsletters that "SWAT teams from several Idaho police departments participated in a practice raid on the Community Presbyterian Church in Post Falls. Captain Travis Chaney of the Kootenai County sheriff's department said the SWAT teams' goal is "to provide a controlled, measured response to critical incidents ... to successfully resolve threats to public safety." McAlvany then asks, "Why would a SWAT team practice a forced armed entry of a church? Are Bible believers a 'threat to public safety'?"

Abanes called the church to verify the report. According to Jennifer Chapman, the church had donated its old building to the police. "It had become vacant and condemned" after the congregation moved into a new house of worship. Chapman said, "There was nothing anti-Christian about it, or anything at all bad ... They were just going to tear the building down, so we let [the police] have it to practice raids in and train their dogs to search for drugs. There's nothing to it."

Given their loyalty to McAlvany, it is doubtful that Christian conspiracy theorists took the time to check out this or any other assertion. As one former conspiracy disciple said on The Paul Thomas Show, "These people claim to be Christian. I didn't think they could be wrong."

If the media have for decades been part of a one-world global conspiracy, then Christian conspiracy theorists must find it difficult to explain away William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). Perhaps the most powerful member of the media of his time, he built the nation's largest chain of newspapers. Born in San Francisco, he took over his father's newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner. By 1927 he controlled a chain of twenty-five newspapers published in major cities across the United States. He also produced newsreels and feature films.

He exerted so much influence on America's public opinion that reports in his newspapers of Spanish atrocities in Cuba helped lead to the Spanish-American War in 1898. Yet Hearst was a staunch isolationist, especially during World War I. He despised Newton Baker, Woodrow Wilson's secretary of war, who wanted America to join the League of Nations. Yet the Christian conspiracy community argues that the League of Nations was one of many New World Order organizations controlled by satanic forces to pave the way to a world government-all with the help of the "evil secular media," led for many decades by Hearst.

U.N.-Media Connection
Callers to The Paul Thomas Show have often repeated the belief that the press has done the bidding of the United Nations in an ever-expanding attempt to usher in the New World Order. It was only a matter of time before politicians prone to conspiracy thinking joined in. Talk of a media/United Nations conspiracy entered the political mainstream with the help of beleaguered Republican Representative Wes Cooley from Oregon.

Representing the Second Congressional District, Cooley found himself embroiled in controversy about false statements he made in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet, as well as on the campaign trail. The press, especially the Oregonian newspaper, ran a series of articles that helped cause many true-blue Republicans to call for his resignation, but Cooley dug in. In a speech given in La Grande, Oregon, in July 1996, Cooley went on the offensive, saying that the real reason the press criticized him a was because it was part of a one-world conspiracy: "There's a movement to make this a UN country, and the press is part of that."

Chris Williamson, political reporter for KTVL television in Medford, heard Cooley's accusation. "Cooley was in attack mode, railing off a list of attacks against the media. He stunned me. How does he know what I think about the New World Order and American sovereignty?" Williamson admits that most people in the media fall on the liberal end of the political spectrum, but he does not believe this necessarily means that: their stories are slanted. He speaks for many in the media who are accused of aiding nefarious conspiracies: "When I go to Rotary, I put my hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to the flag. We have the best political system in the world. I do not want to destroy it."

Cooley pled no contest and was convicted in March 1997 for his false statements in the Voters Pamphlet. Yet conspiracy theorists believe that this conviction and the pressure against Cooley to step down were part of a greater conspiracy on the part of the media, Newt Gingrich and Republican Representative Bob Smith, who replaced Cooley. Writes conspiracy theorist Gary Wean, "The newspapers and TV programs throughout the state of Oregon constantly were full of lies and innuendoes against Cooley every minute of the day, every day of the week for months."

Conspiracy theorist and self-professed militia leader Linda Thompson also believes that the media are government controlled. She came to such a conclusion after realizing that most progovernment articles, especially from the Associated Press, have no byline. "Every time there's a piece of government propaganda, it comes across the wire services with no author on it."

I have sold stories to the Associated Press, and contrary to Thompson's accusation, my name has appeared on most of them. But the name is often irrelevant to many of the stories that come across the "wire." Editors will often drop the name of the writer if the story is small, if the name is irrelevant to the overall story or if the information is of common knowledge and does not justify attribution.

David Aikman
If the press is part of a global conspiracy, what does the Christian conspiracy community do with a man such as David Aikman, a senior correspondent for Time? Aikman has formed a fellowship for Christian journalists nationwide and is a member of a charismatic Episcopal church in Fairfax, Virginia. He has reported from Vietnam, China's Tiananmen Square, the Persian Gulf and hot spots throughout the Middle East. He has also provided extensive coverage of the Soviet Union.

Aikman was once a guest on The Paul Thomas Show for two days. Topics included his book When the Almond Tree Blossoms, his work with Prison Fellowship and the belief among Christian conspiracy theorists that the Soviet Union never fell. Aikman, who is not a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, says that most Russians would be astounded at the news that the Soviet Union never fell. "A lot of people long for the 'law-and-order' days of the old Soviet Union. But they're gone for good," he said.

In fact, the Russians propagated conspiracy theories about the West, which made it extremely difficult for Russian spin-doctors to explain the fall of a U.S. president. They had a great deal of trouble explaining how President Nixon was driven out of office: "Here was the man who supported détente, he was anti-Communist, and all of a sudden he was under pressure to resign." The Soviets then created an improved conspiracy theory. "They said twenty-three major American corporations that were Anti-Nixon ganged up and kicked [out] Nixon" by means of their control of Congress and the media.

Conspiracy theorists argue that as part of the media conspiracy against them, officials at bureau headquarters alter fair and honest stories submit-ted by reporters who may not be part of the conspiracy. They say that the evil New World Order editors change the story in order to keep the conspiracy hidden. I asked Aikman if any of his stories were ever dramatically changed by Time editors. He said no journalist would tolerate such abuse of his or her stories. If such a thing did happen, a reporter would be furious and blow the whistle. "I have found some Christian leaders making absolutely outrageous statements about the media.. . . It's inconceivable that any conspiracy can be so superbly organized that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Journalists are sworn to secrecy and wouldn't even tell their neighbors. It is as lunatic as the paranoia of the left," as seen in Oliver Stone's movie JFK.

Aikman has interviewed CIA officers in the United States and overseas, as well as people in the State Department. "Believe me, it's almost impossible for people to keep secrets. There are very, very few secrets that ever last for more than a few years. The only secrets I know that have been well kept are military ones because military people are better disciplined."

Aikman says that a journalist would skyrocket to stardom if he or she could prove even part of the alleged conspiracy. "I know a lot of people in news organizations who are profit-minded. They couldn't care less who was behind a conspiracy"; they would expose it.

Aikman knows Christians who believe that the CFR controls world events. "I've met members of the Council on Foreign Relations. They can't even control their neighborhood watch committee, much less another country. The real world is a very complicated place. Things happen that even the most briffiant people can't predict. Who would have predicted the fall of the shah of Iran or the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union?"

People who oppose end-times conspiracy theories find themselves accused of being part of the conspiracy. Aikman calls this "ecclesiastical McCarthyism." Sigmund Freud used a similar line of attack: when people adamantly disagreed with his psychoanalysis, Freud shot back that those who disagreed with him were in most need of help. Likewise, when those in the press refute Christian conspiracy theories, they are quickly labeled as coconspirators. After my interview with Aikman, a conspiracy disciple called him a "quack" and said that Aikman was indeed part of the media conspiracy.

Media Bias Against Christians?
Christians have varying viewpoints regarding how the press treats the church and issues of faith. Many evangelicals and fundamentalists believe that the press often maligns them, so they are somewhat sympathetic to rhetoric about a media conspiracy. Yet Christian journalists such as Aikman and others disagree.

Freelance writer Carey Kinsolving graduated from divinity school in 1989, then went straight into journalism. "Most Christians see the media as big, monolithic and anti-Christian-and that's not true," he says. Peggy Wehmeyer, religion reporter at ABC, was handpicked by news anchor Peter Jennings. Wehmeyer has portrayed Christian faith in America as it is: strong, complex, imperfect, real. Wehmeyer says that Jennings has "been pushing the networks to take religion more seriously and cover it as news."

Granted, the popular press has clearly shown ignorance of Christianity. Bridging the Gap: Religion and the Media, a report sponsored by Vanderbilt University, reveals that both the media and religion foster unhealthy distrust and even fear of each other. It concludes, however, that there is "more ignorance than bias" in the average newsroom.

Charisma magazine talked with Christian journalists across America who work in mainstream media:

From CNN correspondent Craig Heaps, who's also a San Francisco TV-anchor, to Hal Wingo, a Southern Baptist in New York who is an assistant managing editor at People magazine, nearly all the Christian journalists interviewed agreed there is no organized "conspiracy" against Christianity within the industry.

I am a graduate from a school of journalism. I was the editor of my school's only conservative publication, the Oregon Commentator. During my senior year at the University of Oregon, the committee that controlled our funding, led by members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA), took away my publication's funding because of its conservative editorial content. There was a storm of protest among the student body and in the school's daily paper, The Oregon Daily Emerald. The committee that took our funding away reversed their decision two days later, failing to give an adequate explanation for their reversal. The committee's original decision was a clear incident of political correctness, a problem that has plagued other university campuses.

I know that my experience of prejudice was not as profound as that of racial minorities who have experienced the deep and humiliating pains that come from discrimination. But for those two days and the following months, I did feel a particular pain, anger and humiliation that makes a person either stronger or bitter. You cannot remain indifferent toward something so powerful.

While all this controversy was swirling in my head, the dean of the journalism school called me into his office. Fresh in my mind were the death threats I had received from anonymous, angry and sometimes hysterical men. I had been compared to a Nazi in the school's paper. A roommate of mine was criticized for sharing the same roof. One fellow journalism student, once she recognized me, got up and moved across the room for fear of being seen with me. Staff members would later quit the publication.

Needless to say, I was not at my best. I was in great turmoil, though I tried not to show it. The wind was knocked out of me. Though I never told anyone, I was making plans to forget it all and move back home. If he had wanted to, the dean of this liberal school of journalism could have dealt me the final blow, but he didn't. This man, who I later learned supported the ACLU, told me to keep up the fight. He said that I was talented and encouraged me to persevere. It was a defining moment for me. Though we were worlds apart politically, he did his job of nurturing another student of journalism, even one of the most conservative students in the program.

It is bewildering to me how such an experience fits into the CFR's secret philosophy for our nation's "college students." If the dean of my school of journalism, as Wardner argues, was part of this anticonservative conspiracy, he did exactly the opposite of what he should have done. When I hear people say that journalists are liberal and that sometimes this bias shows in their reporting, I agree with that criticism. I have even heard liberal journalists admit as much. But it is another issue when one contends that leaders in the world of information dissemination are part of a century-old satanic conspiracy designed to murder those who disagree with them.

As a former editor of a weekly newspaper and a freelance writer for a daily newspaper, l am familiar with the secular perspective in newsrooms. They are one of the most sober places in which to work. As in a library, laughter is uncommon. Many journalists think deeply about life and do not settle for simplistic, easy answers. They work long hours and receive little thanks either from their bosses or from their community. Large egos are common, especially among those who contribute to the editorial page. Many have received their degrees from universities that, as Henry David Thoreau observed, laugh at the old but follow religiously the new.

These universities have infused in them major tenets of liberalism, which include a potent distrust of traditional religions and "heartless" conservatism in general. These universities have also taught students to put their faith in relativism-that moral decisions should be based not on absolute truth but on what is considered appropriate at a particular time and place. Thus many embraced a relativistic philosophy, though later, as adults or parents, they have experienced mental turmoil.

Journalists also attend meetings and join groups that give the impression of bias, which is also a legitimate beef among their critics. That is why some newsrooms have both written and unwritten policies that reporters and editors should not give money to political organizations. Smart editors do not join politically charged organizations, whether they be on the left or right. When journalists attend secretive retreats, such as the Renaissance Weekend attended by President Clinton, and take an oath that they will not report what they see and hear, it does smack of special interest and perhaps even conspiracy. It gives the strong impression of being in President Clinton's camp. Journalists should avoid such associations. In light of rising conspiracy paranoia in America, resnonsible journalists should reject such invitations.

There is a secular perspective within journalism, and a conservative journalist, especially one whose conservatism comes from religious conviction, is in the minority. According to Yale law professor Stephen Carter, this secular perspective saturates much of society. America's "culture of disbelief," a term coined by Carter and chosen for the title of his book, assumes that "no one of learning or sophistication could possibly be a religious believer." Worse, the media, among others, hand out social penalties to those who express religious beliefs in a secular setting.

When I told one news editor that I would be reporting for a conservative radio station, he told me, "That's good. Your ideas would fit in better there." One of these ideas was my opposition to abortion on demand in most cases. Opposition to abortion on demand is slightly tolerated when derived from ethical, practical, sociological or medical considerations. "But should someone stand up and oppose abortion for reasons of faith, he is accused of trying to impose his religious beliefs on others. Call on Timothy Leary or Chairman Mao, fine. Call on St. Paul, and all hell breaks loose." Writes Charles Krauthammer in an essay for Time:

Oddly, though, in our thoroughly secularized culture, there is one form of religious intolerance that does survive. And that is the disdain bordering on contempt of the culture makers for the deeply religious, i.e., those for whom religion is not a preference but a conviction.

An example of the media's skepticism (which some might label disdain) for religious conviction comes from its response, or more accurately its lack of response, when presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal labeled Whitewater prosecutor Hickman Ewing a "religious fanatic." Ewing's "fanaticism" included daily prayer, membership in a fundamentalist church, and a sincere belief in God. The media's response to this brazen religious bigotry? "The question of Ewing's alleged fanaticism so pricked the interest of The New York Times, zeitgeist arbiter of the Establishment, that it dispatched a reporter to investigate. The result was hilarious: a classic of condescension posing as judiciousness."

As part of its investigation into Ewing's religious convictions, the Times pointed out that Ewing's 1980 law-review article "Combatting Official Corruption by All Available Means" began with an Old Testament quotation. Writes Krauthammer, "The horror! By that standard Martin Luther King was not just a fanatic but a raving zealot." Ewing's peers defend him, saying that when he enters his office, he leaves his Christian faith at the door. To which Krauthantmer warns:

We've come a long way in America. After two centuries, it seems we finally do have a religious test for office. True religiosity is disqualifying. Well, not quite. Believers may serve-but only if they check their belief at the office door.

Believe in something, and beware. You may not warrant presidential-level attack, but you'll make yourself suspect should you dare enter the naked public square.

For a profession that prides itself on objectivity, journalism has a long way to go. Some yell that this is a conspiracy, but as the dictionary defines it, there is a world of difference between perspective and conspiracy.

Filling in the Media's Gaps
Dick Reavis, an investigative journalist from Texas who quit his job with the Dallas Observer wrote perhaps the most important book about the tragedy at Waco. Reavis testified during the congressional hearings, leveling significant and damaging charges against some federal agencies. He also testified in the trial against Timothy McVeigh, helping to expose McVeigh's antigovernment conspiracy theories.

In The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, Reavis complained about the lack of interest among journalists in the Waco tragedy. "It was incredible. The most amazing thing about this was I had no competition. Everyone said, 'Reavis is crazy. He's off pursuing a dead subject.' Nobody cared about it anymore." Reavis carried on, unearthing many important facts about Waco, facts that would later put the FBI and ATF on the hot seat. Yet according to Christian conspiracy theorists, the press is part of the New World Order. If so, it should have hidden the mistakes made at Waco.

Data, information or news? Because information that disagrees with theirs is labeled part of the conspiracy, the Christian conspiracy community has formed its own media, primarily through the Internet. But as Clifford Stoll asks, are they getting information or data?

This information highway is actually delivering a fountain of data. We're drowning in data-which is different from information. Information has context, content, utility, timeliness, accuracy. It has a pedigree-you know who wrote it. Information has value. Data doesn't. Classically, we've had people who filtered information- reporters and editors. That's what the Internet is missing. People who will filter out the chaff.

Conspiracy theories disguised as news have floated in cyberspace for years. It was only a matter of time before some seasoned newsman got taken for a ride on the information highway. As mentioned earlier, this is what happened with long-time ABC news correspondent Pierre Salinger, who said that he had evidence that friendly fire, a U.S. missile, destroyed TWA flight 800.

Another disturbing example of an Internet conspiracy theory that made its way into the popular press was a story run by the San Jose Mercury News in October 1996. The paper released information gleaned from the Web that the CIA had sanctioned cocaine sales and launched a crack epidemic by supporting Nicaraguan drug dealers whose profits went to the Contras. Though the paper later admitted that the story "Dark Alliance" was "significantly flawed," Rep. Maxine Waters convened a town meeting in south-central Los Angeles. She and her fellow African-Americans were outraged by the news and grilled CIA representatives, such as director John Deutch, on live television.

This further fueled African-American conspiracy theories. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, a University of California Berkeley professor, said, "Black-oriented talk-radio shows are rife with conspiracy stuff." (For more about African-American conspiracy theories, see chapter seven.) The Web allowed the story to bypass the mainstream media and enter the national debate, a unique position that many African-Americans and their supporters utilized. For example, Final Call Online, the journal of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, created an Internet link between the article and a short commentary entitled "The CIA Drug Pipeline: How the U.S. Government Spread Cocaine in the Black Ghetto." Slate magazine's Karenna Gore wrote, "Not only has it allowed the series to leapfrog the mainstream press, but it has also made the mainstream press as much the enemy as the CIA."

The question of footnotes. Christian conspiracy theorists often begin with verifiable facts. It's the life-after-the-fact that causes many problems. For example, with the secrecy of the Masonic brotherhood comes the possibility, if not probability, that insider deals will be cut. Writes Richard Hofstadter, "There was something to be said for the anti-Masons. After all, a secret society composed of influential men bound by special obligations could conceivably pose some kind of threat to the civil order in which they were suspended." The typical procedure of those who attempt to exhaustively document a conspiracy is to start with "defensible assumptions and with a careful accumulation of facts, or at least of what appear to be facts, and to marshal these facts toward an overwhelming 'proof' of that particular conspiracy that is to be established."

It is an aggressive effort that leaves little room for mistakes, failures or ambiguities. For example, The Politician, written by Robert H. Welch Jr., founder of the John Birch Society, includes a hundred pages of bibliography and notes that purport that President Eisenhower was a treasonous communist. (Many ardent Christian conspiracy theorists receive a substantial number of their theories from the John Birch Society. They would be shocked if they knew Welch's liberal religious beliefs-so shocked they might accuse him of being part of a New Age conspiracy.)

Welch, a retired candy manufacturer, attended a Unitarian church and believed in evolution: "In The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, he described his beliefs in a way that sounded very much like deism." The "Divine Being," he wrote, created laws and purposes that "caused planets like our Earth to develop; and by creating evolutionary forces." He wrote that communism was a threat to those who adhere to the "great religions of the world," which includes Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. (But some Christian conspiracy theorists believe that Catholics are part of the communist/Marxist/New World Order conspiracy.)

Careful documentation is a virtue, not a vice. But what distinguishes the documentation of conspiracy theorists from others is the "curious leap in imagination that is always made at some critical point in the recital of events." For example, Robison's writing about the Illuminati more than a century and a half ago is filled with pages of details about the history of the Illuminati. "Then, suddenly, the French Revolution has taken place, and the Illuminati have brought it about. What is missing is not veracious information about the organization, but sensible judgment about what can cause a revolution."

Consumer beware. Often during The Paul Thomas Show I have warned listeners that with the "liberation" of information from established news entities comes the responsibility of every news gatherer to become a more sophisticated consumer of information, as well as a disseminator of important news. Who provides the information is as important as the information itself. With the popularity of the Internet also comes the problem of instant experts-people who write with charismatic certainty but without credentials or any formal training in information gathering or in-depth knowledge about the topic they expound upon.

A person does not need to be a graduate of a school of journalism to disseminate information, but some formal training is in order. A responsible journalist is better off learning the basics in the classroom than after his or her faulty story appears on page one. Reporting the facts as they appear at the time is serious business. There is a pecking order within journalism, and it is an important one that helps ensure quality and content documentation:

The Net is a means of communication, not a news service. Everybody who's spent five minutes there knows it's full of self-indulgent rantings, junior-high school feuding-and porno. Just because something's on the Net doesn't give it gravitas. . . . With so much information out there today, people have to know whom to trust. For better or worse, this trust still resides in some TV news organizations and a handful of newspapers and magazines.

High-tech attorney Michael Godwin concludes: "You have to be your own editor. That's called being an adult in an information society."

Contrary to what the Christian conspiracy community believes, the reason people do not accept their theories is not an "evil secular media" conspiracy. Even Christian journalists find their arguments unbelievable and alarming.

With the explosion of cable television has come a diversity of opinions from news and talk programs that further weakens the "media conspiracy" argument. I have been accused many times of aiding and abetting some sort of cover-up because of a story or editorial I had written. Some of these accusations have come from the Christian community. But an end-times media conspiracy theory creates troubling consequences.

Because conspiracy disciples believe that the established press is part of an overall plan designed to brainwash them into the New World Order, they wade deeper and deeper into a world thick with paranoia and fear, two of the most potent byproducts of conspiracy thinking. Since sources of information that disagree with their view of the world are part of the conspiracy, stopping such a slide becomes increasingly difficult. Given such a powerful belief, people who attempt to pull loved ones from the Christian conspiracy community find themselves in an uphill and seemingly never-ending battle. Those who try to extract loved ones from extreme religious groups express the very same complaint (see chapter nine for a detailed explanation).

As a school of journalism graduate, a former editor of a weekly newspaper and a former news and program director of a Christian radio station, I have seen how a secular perspective influences the thinking of many within journalism. This secular perspective, which relegates most things religious to the bottom of the newsroom totem poll, is hypocritical and disturbing. But such a perspective does not equal a masterful conspiracy among the nation's elite. It is not a signpost of the end times, no matter how many times Christian conspiracy theorists say it is. As journalists such as Peter Jennings realize, it is simply one more area within our culture in need of reform.

Taken from Secrets, Plots & Hidden Agendas by Paul Coughlin. © 1999 by Paul T. Coughlin. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. You can purchase Secrets, Plots & Hidden Agendas for a total of $14 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172.

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