“As part of the plea bargain, Purdue agreed to pay the federal government $600 million and 27 states $20 million. The three executives agreed to $34.5 million in fines but avoided jail-time. By contrast, Purdue has earned an estimated $31 billion in total revenues from extended-release oxycodone since its launch. Rather than deterring fraudulent marketing, the penalties simply became a cost of doing business.”

A cost of doing business. The preceding is an excerpt from a Harvard study published last year titled “The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market“. It describes the illicit marketing practices advanced by Purdue’s executives for its wildly profitable opioid Oxycontin, and how the criminal and civil cases brought against the company for those practices weren’t consequential enough to prevent those practices from remaining highly profitable.

Big pharma has the highest profit margins of any industry in the United States and is also the number one lobbying industry in the United States, a correlation which won’t surprise anyone who knows anything worth knowing about politics in capitalist societies. One of the many, many ways that the US government has collaborated with these massive pharmaceutical corporations to increase their profit margins has been to put into place laws which make them obscenely difficult to sue, therefore rendering the cost of the few lawsuit settlements which get through a mere drop in the bucket of profits made by unethical marketing practices. Even fines for downright illegal practices can be chalked up to mere overhead, with the largest fine ever levied against a drug company being $3 billion against GlaxoSmithKline, which sounds like a lot if you don’t know that Glaxo raked in $27.5 billion just that year.

Which, if you think about it, is kind of like the business practices we’re seeing implemented by corporate media with the establishment-authorized Russiagate conspiracy theory.

If you haven’t heard already, the Guardian has published an article titled “Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy”. The story went insanely viral and dominated the trending topics on Twitter yesterday, despite the fact that it contains zero proof for its central claim that Paul Manafort met multiple times with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, despite the fact that the story defies all logic since there’s no reason there wouldn’t be public record of those meetings, and despite the fact that the story’s central figures are aggressively denying its claims. Both Manafort and WikiLeaks have stated that they are interested in taking legal action against the Guardian, with the WikiLeaks Twitter account also going so far as to bet the news outlet “a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”

The accusations in the article will never be proven true. Definitive proof that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange will never surface. There are far too many gaping plot holes in the narrative, far too aggressive a denial from the accused parties, a ridiculous absence of anything resembling proof, as well as the fact that the Guardian has already walked back its headline with the addition of “sources say” and softened some language in the article, and the fact that the article’s author, Luke Harding, is a sniveling establishment sycophant with no interest in truth and an already established history of lying about Assange. The Guardian cannot prove the article’s central claims, and it won’t.

So why publish it? There are a number of possible reasons to consider, but former Guardian employee Glenn Greenwald published an article for The Intercept about the latest Luke Harding debacle in which he brings up one reason that’s probably worth poking at.

“The Guardian does not bother to question, interrogate or explain any of this,” Greenwald writes. “It just tosses the word ‘Russians’ into its article in connection with Manafort’s alleged visits to Assange, knowing full well that motivated readers will draw the most inflammatory conclusions possible, thus helping to spread the Guardian’s article all over the internet and generate profit for the newspaper, without bothering to do any of the journalistic work to justify the obvious inference they wanted to create with this sloppy, vague and highly manipulative paragraph.”

“In sum,” Greenwald adds, “the Guardian published a story today that it knew would explode into all sorts of viral benefits for the paper and its reporters even though there are gaping holes and highly sketchy aspects to the story.”

Generate profit, worry about facts and consequences later. The Guardian committed journalistic malpractice to advance a popular conspiracy theory for viral views and profit, and if it’s forced to print a retraction or settle a lawsuit out of court it will be a drop in the bucket of the profits made. A cost of doing business.

In that same article Greenwald writes that apart from its seething institutional hatred of Assange, the Guardian is “an otherwise solid and reliable paper,” which I would say is a very charitable view for anyone to take today. In the last few years this outlet has been aggressively trafficking in the Russiagate conspiracy theory to sometimes absurd degrees, like the time it claimed people who are demonstrably real were Russian “bots”. It has been viciously and deliberately undermining Jeremy Corbyn with a despicable smear campaign, and has become what is surely the single most virulent promulgator of imperialist war propaganda against Syria on the entire planet. Legendary Australian journalist John Pilger said in an interview earlier this year that anti-imperialist writers like himself had been de-platformed by the paper in a “purge” some three years prior.

“But my written journalism is no longer welcome — probably its last home was The Guardian, which three years ago got rid of people like me and others in pretty much a purge of those who were saying what The Guardian no longer says anymore,” Pilger said on the Flashpoint radio show.

At least up until the time of its decision to publish Harding’s deceitful screed, the Guardian has managed to maintain a somewhat respected image as a mainstream outlet which markets itself to the political left. I would say that its doing so is exactly as legitimate as a pharmaceutical company which markets oxycodone as a non-addictive painkiller or markets antidepressants to children despite knowing the disastrous side effects it can give them. The Guardian, at this point, serves no agenda other than those of the intelligence and defense agencies of the western empire, as do the rest of the mass media outlets whose plutocratic owners have a vested interest in manipulating the public into supporting the status quo.

UPDATE: The Guardian has issued an unsurprisingly pathetic statement: “This story relied on a number of sources. We put these allegations to both Paul Manafort and Julian Assange’s representatives prior to publication. Neither responded to deny the visits taking place. We have since updated the story to reflect their denials.”

WikiLeaks has responded to this statement by saying that it did indeed deny the claim hours before publication, publicly on its Twitter account. The statement is essentially a suggestion that the Guardian has a right to publish any libelous fabrication it wants about anyone if they don’t quickly send a denial to the proper email address. This may be the closest we’ll ever get to a retraction of this story by this toxic outlet.


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9 responses to “MSM Is Like Big Pharma: The Rewards Of Malpractice Outweigh The Penalties”

  1. Comment on 3rd paragraph: By the classical definition of “capitalism” (free market voluntaryism, i.e.: no government meddling), the US has not been a “capitalist society” in a very, very long time (arguably, ever).

    “…the US government has collaborated with…” — this is full-blown Cronyism, and definitely not capitalism. For some industries (Big Pharma is a great example), the situation in the US is almost closer to fascism.

    Great article calling out the slimy MSM, but really hate to see important terms used incorrectly.

  2. I started to pay attention on Julian Assange story because of you, John Pilger, PCR and others. It is not that I didn’t know he is targeted by the war criminals and the psychopaths, I just haven’t read any of the allegations, smears and stories written about him. Now I read some of them. It is absolutely disgusting. Not only the journalists are disgusting, but the comments of “ordinary” people about him are disgusting. I will tell you something which is held as a strong believe in my own country – people deserve their politicians.

  3. lynn allen Young Avatar
    lynn allen Young

    The Guardian isn’t a what , the Guardian is a “who” . Who is it , at the Guardian , who
    gives a sniveling dissembler like Harding a platform to launch and distribute innuendo and
    and outright lies as reliable information. that’s not news , that’s propaganda . Who owns
    the Guardian now . Who is running the “show” there now? ” they ” deserve recognition for
    their ” courageous ” journalistic efforts.

  4. One of the things that surprised me during the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq was the number of people who seemed to have forgotten that the media lied to them in the run-up to the invasion of Vietnam. Actually, many people seemed to have a paradoxical view: the media lie (when they say what we don’t want to hear) and tell the truth (when they say what we do want to hear). The history, though, was completely forgotten. As, probably, will be the history of the Russia fables.

  5. Guardian – ‘fraid so in the last years.
    I have been reading the paper for 50 years
    I guess the slide went with the changeover to the internet – which it now boasts is a success… ‘a million signed up readers’.
    In the words of one specialist on Russia whom I listened to; “When it comes to Russia, the Guardian just makes it up”.
    I finished reading this summer a 2016 book by British academic, Richard Sakwa, on the real Russia / West / NATO/ Ukraine. It provides a factual base.

    And the Guardian editorial slant is unreliable on Brexit, Trump, and indeed Climate Change and Renewables. And this was the paper whose Editor back in the day tried everything he knew to prevent WWI in that desperate six weeks build up in 1914.


  6. Brilliant connection. It seemed obvious as soon as Caitlin pointed it out. I wish I could de-program my Russiagater friends, but they seem immune to all logic. I wonder if this could be the insight they need.

  7. Big Pharma is a counterfeiting operation…and has been very successful at replacing original medicine based on herbs,nutrition and stress management/exercise and fresh air and sunshine. People die from their poison potions all the time,and somehow,their marketing team,the AMA has managed to get most of the population addicted to their convenient abuse. They are maintaining a monopoly and, just like the MSM, depend on keeping the people ignorant and misdirected or distracted. They have imposed their “authority” on a gullible culture that has been mind controlled for countless generations. Those two industries depend on each other to stay in power. They are addicted to their own medicine. We are waking up to the true conditions and realizing that it’s time to throw off this wet blanket and get busy creating real value and social currency. Thank you Caitlin, for tirelessly doing your best to awaken us!

  8. I am disturbed by this in many ways. For example, I am forwarding a copy of this to Greg Palast who, for years, I have considered to be the best investigative reporter of my lifetime, one who goes out and gets the truths, rather than wait for someone to hand them to him, as Woodward and Bernstein did with regard to Watergate.
    Where my concern lies is that Palast was blackballed by American news sources and found refuge in the Guardian. He worked there for many years and still shows it, in his bio, as current. I will seek some clarification, as he still seems to take on the difficult tasks and, while he was active in supporting Bernie Sanders in 2016, does seem to still seek the truth collateral to politics.

  9. Will the people reading and watching the MSM remember that what the MSM “reported” to them did not turn out to be true — for example that the whole Russiagate thing was a complete hoax, or that Manafort did not meet with Assange? And if they do, will they care? Will they continue to view those sites, or read their pieces of paper?

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