Stormy with a Chance of Denial:

Junk Food News
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Written by: Nichole Bonsteel Diablo Valley College?

Edited by: Aimee Casey (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Advisor: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)

 

According to Dr. Carl Jensen, the founder of Project Censored, the term “Junk Food News” refers to the news stories covered extensively by the corporate media despite their lack of significance to society at large.  In March 2018, the corporate media covered the junk food news story “Stormy Daniels Describes Her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump,” while the independent media covered the story “Donald Trump Might Be Making Climate Denial More Popular.”  The junk food news story, “Stormy Daniels Describes Her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump” is non-newsworthy because marital fidelity is a private matter in the United States, and Donald Trump is a well-known philanderer and the citizens of the United States voted for him anyway.  However, “Donald Trump Might Be Making Climate Denial More Popular” is newsworthy because climate change will directly lead to worldwide food shortages, natural disasters, and the displacement of millions of people who live in coastal areas subject to rising sea levels.

In March 2018, the corporate media covered the junk food news story “Stormy Daniels Describes Her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump”.  Stormy Daniels is the stage name for adult film actress Stephanie Clifford. In addition to performing in pornography, Clifford writes and directs adult films. Clifford claims she had a sexual affair with Donald Trump in July of 2006, at the same time that Trump’s wife was recovering from the birth of Trump’s son. Clifford also claimed that Trump’s attorney paid her $130,000 for a non-disclosure agreement preventing Clifford from speaking publically about the affair. Clifford further alleged that just prior to the 2016 Presidential election, a strange man threatened to harm her if she talked about Trump and the affair to the media.

In March 2018, the corporate media dedicated a massive amount of coverage to the junk food news story “Stormy Daniels Describes Her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump”.  On March 20th, NBC News ran a story titled “Lie Detector Test Indicates Stormy Daniels Truthful about Trump Affair” while The Huffington Post published “Stormy Daniels Says She ‘Technically’ Didn’t Sleep With Trump”.  On March 25, The New York Times published “Stormy Daniels Tells 60 Minutes That Fear of Trump Kept Her Silent” while CBS released an interview between Clifford and Anderson Cooper on the popular television program 60 Minutes.  On March 26, ABC News released “Stormy Daniels Says She Had Sex with Donald Trump Once”; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wrote “Stormy Daniels Told to Leave Trump Alone Over Affair Claims”; CNN published “5 New Details from Stormy Daniels about her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump”.  Between mid-March to mid-April, corporate media coverage of Stormy Daniels and President Trump continued daily for many outlets such as The Huffington Post and BBC.  At the writing of this paper, the corporate media is still posting articles about the sexual relationship between a pornography actress and the United States President.

In March 2018, while the corporate media covered the junk food news story “Stormy Daniels Describes Her Alleged Affair with Donald Trump,” while the independent outlet Mother Jones covered “Donald Trump Might Be Making Climate Denial More Popular.”  On March 22, Rebecca Leber writing for Mother Jones published “Donald Trump Might Be Making Climate Denial More Popular.” Leber’s article focused on the topic of climate change denial, and how denial is abetting global warming.  The article utilized information from a 2018 Gallup survey on American attitudes towards climate change.  According to the article, prior to the election of Donald Trump, 71% of Americans believed that global warming is currently occurring, and 68% believed it caused by human activity.  After the 2016 US Presidential election, only 66% of Americans believed global warming is occurring, and 64% believe it caused by human activity.  Also, according to Gallup, Republicans are slightly more likely to believe that the reports of climate change are exaggerated. The article agrees that the swing in public opinion is not large, but it is a sign American citizens might be following the example of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly tweeted that climate change is a hoax.

The topic of climate change denial is newsworthy because climate change will directly lead to worldwide food shortages, natural disasters, and the displacement of millions of people who live in coastal areas subject to rising sea levels. The United States is the largest economy in the world, and without US leadership, the rest of the world may fail to try and prevent climate change, resulting in a collapse of the Earth’s sustainable ecosystem as we know it.  On April 2nd, The Guardian, another independent journalism digest, published the article “On Climate Change, Zero-Sum Thinking Doesn’t Work9.”  This article, by contributor Joseph Robertson, described how climate change denial prevents the economy from expanding into green technology, because the fossil fuel industry is threatened by the rise of the clean energy. Robertson claims that “in many places, wind and solar [power] are now cheaper than coal… and entrepreneurs are empowering communities to share surplus clean energy overruling the dominance of fuel burning power plants.”  Roberson concludes that climate-change denial is a tool the fossil-fuel industry uses to suppress employment and investment in the clean-energy industry.

For several weeks in March and April 2018, the corporate media was obsessed with Stormy Daniels’ sexual exploits with Donald Trump.  During the same time, the independent media reported on the alarming trend of denial by American citizens towards the existence of man-made climate change as well as the effect of the denial mindset concerning efforts to prevent further climate change. Trump’s extramarital affairs are not relevant to anyone except his family. There may be some relevance to any payoff and subsequent extortion of Clifford, however this story does not merit weeks of continuous coverage and a live sit-down interview on 60 Minutes. In contrast, climate change and the potential collapse of Earth’s sustainable ecosystems is relevant to every human being on Earth.  If Anderson Cooper spent more time interviewing climate scientists then perhaps America might find the political will to do something to save our environment.

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Junk Food News

Nolan Higdon is a professor of English, Communication, and History of the US and Latin America in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation, Sacred Heart University's Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, the Union for Democratic Communications Steering Committee, and the Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. Higdon is ta co-founder for the Global Critical Media Literacy Project. He has contributed chapters to Censored 2013-2017 as well as Stephen Lendman’s Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (2014). He has published articles on media and propaganda including “Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones War on Your Mind (2013),” “Millennial Media Revolution (2014),” and “Justice For Sale (2015).” He has been a guest on national radio and television programs.

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