Definitive proof that the mainstream media is scripted?

By: Michael Lotfi
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On his late night TV comedy, Conan O’brien decided to highlight local news stories over the holidays. What he shows his audience probably doesn’t shock many, but certainly it seems to provide warrant for the growing movement challenging the mainstream media. The video of O’brien recently began to go viral during the holiday season. Here it is.

In fact, O’brien has caught the mainstream media in the act more than once.

However redundant these stories may seem, is it truly a problem? Many media stations are owned by the same company for ease of production, which takes hours of work. Obrien’s videos touch on a controversial subject, but should it really surprise us that many stories are “scripted”? Especially the more generic ones.

As Ben Swann points out “In most of these cases where O’Brien uses anchors from different TV stations all over the country reading the exact same script word for word, the source of that script is some kind of wire service.  This means those stations have subscribed to AP, Reuters, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, etc wire services.  In those cases, the wire story will come down and a station reporter or producer will copy and paste it word for word into a newscast.  The problem with this policy is that reporters and producers simply take that content as gospel and no one in any newsroom ever bothers to fact check or verify if the wire story is correct.  Simply put, in a newsroom, if it is on the wire it has to be true.”


What are your thoughts?

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook and on Twitter: @MichaelLotfi

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Michael Lotfi is a political analyst and strategist living in Nashville, Tennessee where he works as the executive director for the Tenth Amendment Center (TN). Lotfi also writes a column at The Washington Times called "American Millennial". Lotfi graduated in the top 5% of his class with honors from Belmont University, an award winning, private university located in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Sagebrush

    I’m with Conan, very scary. I wonder what else and how much is scripted and exactly who is doing the scripting?

  • Michael S. Doran

    I notice that these stations are not all affiliated with the same network. I doubt that the stations are owned by the same company when some are ABC and some are NBC and some are CBS.

    • Jacob Nyhart

      They don’t have to be owned by the same station to subscribe to the same news source for aggregated reports. That’s the second point the author of this article was making. You also see it in affiliated and non-affiliated local “news” sites around the country as well. Personally, I think aggregation of news has wrecked the integrity of the journalistic community.

      • PomMom1

        But you are confusing “news” with “fillers”. The piece repeated over and over in Conan’s video is a filler. These are syndicated material, sold to news outlets, newspapers and magazines across the country, by a syndication service. It’s like a silly magazine article on Christmas shopping, or something. It’s not “news” and it doesn’t come from a wire service. It’s the same as when hundreds of newspapers across the county carry comic, like “Doonesbury”. It’s syndicated and it’s been around forever.

  • BillyBob

    Since the job pays in the hundreds of thousands to a million a year for 1 person to shut up and read the screen… your theory that it’s saving each station money to skip a writer and skip a person who has a brain is nonsense. People with brains go for less than $800k / year.

  • BillyBob

    No offense. Don’t you have someone here with TV experience you could have interviewed? There are 4 replies here to your story and every one has valid points you should have considered.

  • Rich Hersey

    Read about Operation Mockingbird, and this will scare you even more.

    • Albert Nelson

      Oops, I posted my comment before scrolling down.

  • heidi

    Acutally, it is a publicity thing. Someone will make a video about a topic and send it to a bunch of media outlets. Each company can choose whether or not they want to pick up the story. When the are used, it’s as a filler of sorts…and therefore, the actual station broadcasting it doesn’t care to exude any effort to write their own script, thus, they use the footage provided and have their on-air personalities read what was already on the video….not a conspiracy….not trying to push anything, just news filler at no cost.

  • Lu MacKie

    In 1956 my first husband was a Radio/TV major at U. of Texas. I went to school with him quite a lot. I learned, too, that even then the news casters received their news over a machine and clicked out the same news stories to them all, and so, the news that the mainstream media was scripted was not a surprise nor a worry for me. They, could, however, paraphrase their information, so they all won’t sound so much alike! :-)

  • rogerfgay

    Back in the 1970s, the “news” industry fired a lot of journalists and investigative reporters, and stripped down to retail operations, leaving the story creation to wholesalers. The wholesalers started creating “news” on the cheap in order to provide stories in large numbers at competitive prices. For your important politically related news, this usually means picking up press packages from congressional offices, stocked with a press release written by a lobbyist and what is thought to be PC sided “reports” from special interest groups. I looked at this for quite a while during the 1990s, visiting a shop in town that sold newspapers from all over the country and many magazines. It’s a copy-paste world out there in the “newsrooms” and it has nothing whatsoever to do with helping you understand what’s real and true.

  • Bermudaguy

    Holy shit, this provides evidence of psychic phenomena!

    • JeninFortWorth

      HAH! Bermuda, that’s actually very funny, LOL

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    Is this the same controlled state run media that criticized Rand Paul’s staff for plagiarizing from Wikipedia?

  • JeninFortWorth

    Yeah, I would say it’s a bug f*cking deal! We all know they do this sort of thing when it comes to news on the economy, foreign affairs, the wars, the passing of certain legislation and so forth but seeing that they are doing it for not only the important thigs, to deflect from government f*ckery, now they’re doing it for stupid stuff like …CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! If you don’t believe by now, especially after seeing this, that govt and news are all in bed together and a “free press” no longer exists, God help you. God help America. :-(

  • jeff_r0x

    I saw that very plainly during the Ron Paul campaign. It was no secret that the AP hated him. Most of the disinformation on the man turned out to be from wire stories originating at the AP. Anchors and websites merely reprinted the story without question, resulting in as many as 130 online news outlets dispensing the same lie by the end of the day, one that could easily be refuted, but was wholeheartedly swallowed by many who simply believe whatever emanates from their favorite news source.

    • Gregg Braddoch

      Nobody can forget the “Ron Paul is great, but he’s un-electable” line they repeated over and over again.

  • Beverly Buckman

    Why does Conan have a chemtrail on his set….more propaganda….brainwashing that Chemtrails are good…hate this crap.

  • Ricky Ross

    “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

    - Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister of the Nazi Regime

  • David Hatch-Bernier

    So basically, whatever Rupert Murdoch says goes

  • Toldya

    It’s ok. You can admit it. Mainstream media is nothing but sheep chow.

  • Michael Norton

    You don’t have to tell us this is how corporate whore media owners brainwash American people with this propaganda tactic.

    If they don’t get you with their national or cable news, they’ll try to program you with their local news.

    Mainstream media is America’s enemy #1. Thank god virtually no one goes to their news channels anymore. The internet is where we get our news now.

    • Gregg Braddoch

      ^ Most unfortunately, facebook is also another manipulation method – I had to unlike many ‘activist’ pages because they spammed my feed with propaganda – Now facebook does it for you, without likes, using “suggested posts” – It’s actually more transparent mind manipulation than TV if one is not careful.

  • Albert Nelson

    Google; Operation Mockingbird

  • BambiB

    If they’re all going to tell the same story the same way – why have “local” newscasters? Isn’t that what the talking heads on the “national” news are for?

    • It’s an illusion of choice. The same way voting is an illusion of choice. It’s a way of keeping the mass population pacified.

  • J

    For the sake of our future, can this story please be given the center of your attention and efforts? THIS STORY WILL MAKE YOUR ENTIRE CAUSE MORE IMPORTANT IF PEOPLE CAN KNOW AND SEE THAT THEIR NEWS PROVIDERS ARE PHONIES.

  • smartin38

    Having worked at a tv station many years ago… I know that stations will capture the closed captioning from other stations inside and outside their markets… It is a simple program, and it allows smaller markets to see what is big news in larger markets. We had an old anchorman who had been on the job for 20+ years.. when we put the capture system in, he stopped writing his own material, and sampled the larger market content… We have corporate media, but I can understand why several stations will say the exact same thing… Especially if they are using the AP newswire feed…

  • Michael Norton

    So if you ever wanted to know how our overlords brainwash an entire country and chose our presidents, this is how they do it.

    • zenloki

      this has been widely known for at least a couple decades and I’ve heard a former CIA agent explain thats how they’re brain-washing the citizens. His advice was to stay away from television altogether. the brain-washing is ubiquitous among programs. why do you think they call them programs in the first place?

      • BambiB

        I probably watch the local and national news programs a combined total of a dozen times a year.

        But I’m better informed than all but one of my friends. (The guy is AMAZING.)

        I get most of my information on-line… from a wide variety of sources… even benswann.com!

  • Mike Shaw

    And who owns AP, Reuters, etc.? The globalist bankster criminals. Double-speak is already here.

  • Teufelhund Or

    And exactly WHAT is funny about this, it proves how guided and controlled our media is. If you think it is amusing you are a part of the problem.

    • Chris D

      I most definitely with you, but I laughed. The willing ignorance of most people is astounding. For example, you call a new phone a smart phone…and people scoop them up. Then walk around like mindless dumb zombies. This thing called “pop culture” is a travesty. Mtv can play shows about 14 yr old moms and its just fine to implant that crap in kids minds, but Duck dynasty and thousands of years of the teachings is HATE. And my favorite, my daughter used to watch the HUB, a cable cartoon station. Until the day they premiered the transgender superhero…I mean come on. If your born that way fine, but dont shove it in my kids face, like its normal

  • ToeTaggerH

    He’s done more than these in the past and they were even better than these 2.

  • Stacey

    Ok, I admit it: I deleted my TV many years ago.

    • Lino

      Ok, I admit it: I deleted my TV many years ago. Oh wait you already posted that

      • Brook Perkins

        Ok, I admit it: I deleted my TV many years ago.

        • Stacey

          lol…

  • Becky

    Nothing suspicious is going on. News stations pay for a service that provides broadcast scripts and news articles that they are fully allowed to repeat and/or publish word for word. It’s part of the subscription, no different than belonging to a gym and being allowed to use the same equipment at all of the same gyms around the country.

    • Becka

      are you kidding? do you not see the power involved?

    • Egg Plant

      And of course, you think all of us should stop being so frightened, and just “trust” this process. I say yer nuts, lady. This is a sign of rot in our society, where we’ll accept any canned story as the truth, just as long as it came down from some supposedly all knowing, all seeing news service. No one fact checks, but instead just pumps out whatever it is they’re told to pump out there. Were Walter Cronkite still alive, he’d have called this nonsense out a long time ago.

      • Opticalpig

        Hah! That’s funny! Walter CRONKITE!?! He was the biggest liberal lame brain that ever walked the earth! He’s probably the CAUSE of this mess!

        • PomMom1

          Yeah, hahaha, that would be like electing an ACTOR for President, or something!! Hahaha, wouldn’t that be hilarious?? Oh…wait…

    • PomMom1

      Exactly, Becky. Thank you. They’re called “fillers” and they’ve been used in all forms of media forever. Geez, some people see everything as some kind of big conspiracy. LOL

  • Greg Papadatos

    It is not suspicious, but it IS despicable.

  • raycathode

    It is suspicious, and it is frightening, because the MSM follows the same procedure with serious news stories – like only FOX, talk radio, and internet news and blog sites found Benghazi, or the orchestrated IRS attacks on the Tea Party and so on, particularly newsworthy. Like the New York Times, it is only the news that the left-tilted media sees fit to print, give voice, or let you see. If the main stream media is your only source, then you are a blind, deaf, and dumb monkey.

  • Howard Treesong

    And in one stroke the main stream media, insofar as it wasn’t already, has become pointless.

  • drek

    Its not big brother is watching you but you are watching big brother. He doesn’t need to control you if he can control everything around you he’s already got you.
    Control, the news (what you know), control education (what your children know), control food and farming, oil prices and next they’ll know exactly where you are and what you’ve been doing… ow wait they already know that thanks to the smart phones…

  • BambiB

    Turns out there are only something like six major corporations that own 95%+ of all the news “sources” – network and local TV, radio, newspaper. When was the last time you saw a story that denigrated GE or Disney? Take a wild guess why that is.

  • Dawn

    Then the question is, WHO is writing the lines? Yes, I’m aware, only 6 corporations own the MSM. I want to know WHO the writers are, who is this modern day american Josef Goebbels, and which (presumably 3 letters agency) does he work for?

    • elbuggo .

       

    • Zeeba Neighba

      If you think it’s government agencies, and not the interests of private corporations, that the MSM represents, you have a lot of catching up to do. The writers are in the tens of thousands, while those who ultimately sign their checks are but a handful.

  • Cheryl Newcomb

    Mindless blather. These mouthpieces are nothing but script readers of the elite brain washers. All scripts being White House approved of course.

  • Frank Ansede

    Ron Burgundy would never use a script.

  • Freedom liberty

    The issue is honestly LAZY. The news is a joke. All stations focus on ridiculous levels of “national” news. Sever weather sensationalism, random act of violence sensationalism etc. they all report opinion biased and as you seen wire reported stories. What’s even more laughable in this age of political biased media. People continue perpetrate that fox is some how conservative. Just goes to show how the sheep all flock together and want more big government. “limited Government” as is the clear concise mandate needs to be restored
    And people who receive government assistance and those who work in government should not be allowed to vote.

    • Zeeba Neighba

      It’s not so much lazy as it is cheap. Gathering and reporting the news is an extremely labor-intensive endeavor. A single investigative journalism piece that covers one page of a daily newspaper may represent the cumulative efforts of six months’ of work by a 4-person team. So storm reports, the police blotter or inspiring videos of a six-year-old picking her nose are quick filler that draws eyeballs. News is a business after all, and the crap you see is the free market at work.

  • PomMom1

    Has nothing to do with the wire services. Those types of pieces are called “fillers”. Basically, they’re fluff pieces that are syndicated, similar to how lots of newspapers across the country run the same comic strip. You can actually write those fillers, shop them around to syndication services (who in turn sell them to the news stations) and make a pretty good living. Point is, someone wrote them, so they are copyrighted and you can’t really change the content, without violating that copyright. Obviously, THAT one was very popular for the holidays. :)

    • libertychick

      Who needs fillers? Isn’t there some real news to report? They should call themselves reporters, just readers.

      • PomMom1

        All publications and news shows use fillers, in addition to the news they report. It’s not new and it’s not some kind of conspiracy. It’s just the way it works. Newspapers, magazines, etc. all use syndicated material to fill space. Non-story, move along, nothing to see here. Yawn…

        • Antonio Da Silva

          Why not just fill that space with relevant news? Things people could hear about and use that information to prosper in life. Instead of just filling the space with filler to promote cyber monday :D on a sketch piece called consumer news :D

        • Lecho

          No reputable news sources would ever use complete nonsense like this. On the flipside, if you were to respond that there ARE no reputable news sources on TV than I would probably agree with you. It’s embarrassing,

    • dave

      yeah so its like theres no news and they have to use fillers? lmfao what a joke

  • That guy

    All these local news companies are owned by major corporations that also run the bs mainstream media so its not suprising

  • bobtruck

    fabrication of en mass opinion is big business, where False mis-attribution is commonplace, and the false facade of the fairytale is upheld. The truth is stranger than fiction.

    • Big Momma

      Totally agree!

  • Kyle
  • elbuggo .

    Watch September Clues if you world like to see the really hard core stuff.

  • IRONMANAustralia

    Are all you Libertarian bloggers reading from the same script or something? This is the 20th post I’ve seen about this today. ;)

    • jeff_r0x

      Because you saw it shared on Facebook 20 times?

  • chris

    Conan certainly didn’t “expose” this. John Stewart has “exposed” it on the Daily Show a million times. Why was it not a big story each time he did it? But now that Conan is on the case….. NEWSFLASH!

  • Taljim

    I personally EXPOSED this crap on my radio show, when John Stewart and Conan were still trying to get jobs as comedy writers, nearly 30 years ago. The best illustration of the mindlessness of your typical news talking-head, is in the movie Anchor Man when Ron tells San Diego to go f*** itself.

  • Michael Norton

    The MSM has started early to plant into the sheeples minds their acceptable chosen establishment presidential candidates.

    If my selection is between Christy and Clinton, I’ll vote for the Clinton bitch in protest.

    • Kibber_SF

      I think there will be more than two people running…perhaps not waste your vote and use it on someone who actually cares about the US and it’s people!

  • burghprof

    Anyone who thinks that every member of the Associated Press can, should, or will check every word of every AP story does not know the scale of the AP or the limitations of local news organizations. The AP is nonprofit cooperative of newspapers and TV stations, it does not have individual citizens as subscribers nor does it sell any advertising. It has been around for about 170 years. And the AP “wire” has new stories and updates on it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And it and Reuters are a lot more reliable than CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or especially Fox. The top wire services should not even be compared with an individual TV network.

  • Christopher Ayala Menchaca

    Thats new news like the old news.

  • Kibber_SF

    Come on, it’s the new norm. Just look at the DNC and GOP. They believe if they put the same article on different websites they can, somehow, make it true. They then claim it has to be true because it is “all over the web”…and many people then believe it IS!!! What a bunch of maroons!!!

  • sirernestbarker

    I’ve heard of a Persian-American, but what is a “Persian, American…”? The writer needs to buff his proofing skills a little as does, evidently his readership. Regarding the story, it’s not exactly news that the Ricky-rip-n-reads of the world serve up a big bowl of banality with a side of formulaic fluff. Here in New England even a nine-year-old could recite the hackneyed lines repeated 4 times an hour when a “blizzard” forces preemption of normal programming: “when all is said and done” “one-two punch” “coming down at a pretty good clip” “the brunt”. I’m not scared at all but I guess the New World Order or aliens or the Koch brothers could be involved. Ya never know.

  • deb

    Well….. im not much informed, I do know mainstream media blows. Can I have some information as to where I can read real news?

    • johnny

      rt.com / infowars.com

  • Dave

    You can find the exact same wording of an AP story in 100 newspapers on any given day. Anyone jumping up and down about that? Any snickers from the “funny boys”? It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a wire service, fer chrissakes. Stop getting you panties in a knot because everone reads the same thing about the new polar bear cubs born at the national zoo

  • Johnny Cirucci

    Michael, I appreciate your attempt to be balanced:

    “Many media stations are owned by the same company for ease of production, which takes hours of work. O’Brien’s videos touch on a controversial subject, but should it really surprise us that many stories are ‘scripted’? Especially the more generic ones.”

    Here’s why this is a sickening outrage:

    These local stations have violated a sacred trust TO DO THEIR JOBS.

    If this were widely-known, would citizens still patronize these programs?

    I’ll take Ben’s statement on parroting whatever they take off the wire one step further–they also parrot whatever they are told by governments, Federal and state, especially.

    If there is corruption, if there is something malignant or poisonous, they do what they’re told and leave it BURIED.

    THAT is why we are on the verge of COMPLETE COLLAPSE.

  • public_servant_watch

    Knowingly and willfully corrupt!! Especially in Massachusetts!! End of story!

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Anyone needs proof???!!!! Ever since Hearst decided “to make the news rather than report the news.”

  • CaptainUSA

    Awesome.

  • Pocket Nem Esis

    Next script… The ACA is saving peoples lies and those that are against it are racist!

    • Rastor728

      Need to change your script as well, it isn’t any more accurate that the News Casters reported above.

  • faustinaagatha

    As a writer below noted, these are just filler pieces. The problem is if they use the pre-written scripts for major news stories. That IS a problem because it means stations are not doing their own independent verification of facts. We want lots of different eyes and ears on the look out.

    • MymindisFREE

      Its the same…. AP is corrupt and controlled….

      • faustinaagatha

        Do you have actual documentation of that? I agree it probably is, but we need documentation to help convince those who are still asleep.

  • Eric

    And this surprises people why?? Everything we see today coming out of the media looks to me like a low budget b-movie production designed to make people think, act, and behave a certain way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsBuKUK2H6Y