The Real Fight Against Fake News 

On the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds, here are Project Censored's Top 10 underreported stories of the year.

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Carlo sent letters to each of the industry's chieftains on Oct. 7, 1999, reiterating that the Wireless Technology Research project had found the following: "The risk of rare neuro-epithelial tumors on the outside of the brain was more than doubled ... in cell phone users"; there was an apparent "correlation between brain tumors occurring on the right side of the head and the use of the phone on the right side of the head"; and "the ability of radiation from a phone's antenna to cause functional genetic damage [was] definitely positive...."

Carlo urged CEOs to do the right thing and give consumers the information they need to make an informed judgment about how much of this unknown risk they wish to assume, especially since some in the industry had repeatedly and falsely claimed that wireless phones are safe for all consumers "including children."

The Kaiser study involved exposure to magnetic field non-ionizing radiation associated with wireless devices as well as cellphones and found a 2.72 times higher risk of miscarriage for those with higher versus lower exposure. Lead investigator De-Kun Li warned that the possible effects of this radiation have been controversial because, "from a public health point of view, everybody is exposed. If there is any health effect, the potential impact is huge."

Project Censored summarized: "The wireless industry has 'war-gamed' science by playing offense as well as defense, actively sponsoring studies that result in published findings supportive of the industry, while aiming to discredit competing research that raises questions about the safety of cellular devices and other wireless technologies. When studies have linked wireless radiation to cancer or genetic damage, industry spokespeople have pointed out that the findings are disputed by other researchers."

This is same strategy used by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries described in the 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

While some local media have covered the findings of a few selected studies, Project Censored noted, "the norm for corporate media is to report the telecom industry line — that is, that evidence linking Wi-Fi and cellphone radiation to health issues, including cancer and other medical problems, is either inconclusive or disputed.... As Hertsgaard and Dowie's

Nation report suggested, corporate coverage of this sort is partly how the telecom industry remains successful in avoiding the consequences of [its] actions."

Sources

Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie, "How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe: A Special Investigation," The Nation, March 29, 2018.

"Phonegate: French Government Data Indicates Cell Phones Expose Consumers to Radiation

Levels Higher Than Manufacturers Claim," Environmental Health Trust, June 2, 2017, updated June 2018.

Marc Arazi, "Cell Phone Radiation Scandal: French Government Data Indicates Cell Phones Expose Consumers to Radiation Levels Higher Than Manufacturers Claim," Dr. Marc Arazi blog, June 3, 2017.

Marc Arazi, "Phonegate: New Legal Proceedings against ANFR and Initial Reaction to the Communiqué of Nicolas Hulot," Dr. Marc Arazi blog, Dec. 2, 2017.

5. Washington Post Bans Employees from Using Social Media to Criticize Sponsors

On May 1, 2017, the Washington Post introduced a policy prohibiting its employees from criticizing its advertisers and business partners, and encouraging them to snitch on one another.

"A new social-media policy at the Washington Post prohibits conduct on social media that 'adversely affects the Post's customers, advertisers, subscribers, vendors, suppliers or partners,'" Andrew Beaujon reported in The Washingtonian the next month. "In such cases, Post management reserves the right to take disciplinary action 'up to and including termination of employment.'"

Beaujon also cited, "a clause that encourages employees to snitch on one another: 'If you have any reason to believe that an employee may be in violation of the Post's Social Media Policy ... you should contact the Post's Human Resources Department.'"

Project Censored noted, that mainstream news coverage of the Washington Post's social media policy has been extremely limited."

It's part of a much broader problem, identified in Jeremy Iggers' 1998 book, Good News, Bad News: Journalism Ethics and the Public Interest. Iggers argued that journalism ethics focused on individual reporters completely missed the larger issue of corporate conflicts whose systemic effects fundamentally undermined journalism's role in a democracy.

Source

Andrew Beaujon, "The Washington Post's New Social Media Policy Forbids Disparaging Advertisers," Washingtonian, June 27, 2017.

6. The Impacts of Russiagate

Russiagate, of course, is not an underreported story. But Project Censored noted that mainstream news' wall-to-wall coverage of "Russiagate has superseded other important, newsworthy stories."

In April 2017, Aaron Maté reported for The Intercept on a quantitative study of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show from Feb. 20 to March 31, 2017 which found that "Russia-focused segments accounted for 53 percent of these broadcasts." Maté wrote: "Maddow's Russia coverage has dwarfed the time devoted to other top issues, including Trump's escalating crackdown on undocumented immigrants (1.3 percent of coverage); Obamacare repeal (3.8 percent); the legal battle over Trump's Muslim ban (5.6 percent), a surge of anti-GOP activism and town halls since Trump took office (5.8 percent), and Trump administration scandals and stumbles (11 percent)."

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