By Will Banyan, Copyright © 18 June 2019
The failure of duly designated authorities,
both formal and informal, to acknowledge what are considered to be self-evident
truths is a constant bug bear of alt-right conspiracists, such as the John
Birch Society (JBS). When not parroting President Trump’s “fake news” mantra,
some of the Society’s leading lights are hurling accusations at the mainstream
media for failing to expose the role of “Insider
groups” (now labelled as “Deep
State” to keep up with the Trump Administration’s preferred
lexicon for the president’s enemies) such as the Council
on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Bilderberg Group. The latest
example of this peculiar obsession can be seen in the
angry screed (Figure 1) by William F. Jasper, Senior Editor
of JBS magazine, The New American, lambasting the Washington Post’s
failure to adequately cover the recent
Bilderberg meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.
was the third in Jasper’s vitriolic series castigating the “Fake News Media”
for their failure to cover Bilderberg to his preferred standard. In the first
01 Jun 2019) he focused on the Bilderberg participation of former
Georgia politician Stacey Abrams:
The Fake News organs that regularly shower Stacey Abrams with adulatory coverage are now mum about her entry into the secretive, shadowy corridors of power.
In the second
10 Jun 2019), Jasper accused the “controlled Fake News Media” of
providing “protective cover for the super-secret confab of the high and mighty.”
The main fault of the media, as Jasper saw it, was their concerted and
deliberate effort to downplay the importance of Bilderberg whilst lambasting
critics such as himself:
When not ignoring the signal event completely, the presstitutes of the Fourth Estate dependably delivered snarky, sneering, snickering commentary on the supposed lunacy of “conspiracy theorists” who insist on seeing something sinister in the super-secret gathering of the uber-elites.
particularly incensed by the apparent paucity of coverage despite the
participation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House adviser and
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and four other US officials in this year’s
meeting. He also took issue with meeting participants claiming that: “none of
them are commenting publicly; the Bilderberg oath of Omerta (code
of silence) appears to be holding.”
In this latest article
Jasper focuses on mainstream media coverage of Bilderberg, and on the Washington
Post in particular. Jasper mocks the Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness”
motto as “mawkish” and “gag-worthy” (he also noted that Post journalist Bob
Woodward of Watergate fame appeared to be the creator of this slogan). He also
takes issue with the Post’ “cringe-inducing self-puffery” in its other slogan:
“Others cover stories. We uncover them.” For Jasper this claim is easily
Yes, Woodward and the Washington Post are courageously shining the light into the caliginous corridors of power, bringing sunshine and transparency to the shadowy recesses of government. Right? Ah, yes, so where were fearless Bob and WaPo during the recent very secretive Bilderberg gathering of the high and mighty[?]
Jasper does not deny the Washington Post has provided some coverage of
the Montreux meeting. He briefly analyses a May 30 Post article, criticising
its content as both “anodyne” and “drivel” for failing to take seriously the
concerns of those labelled as “[c]onspiracy theorists”, that Bilderberg may
have a more sinister purpose.
attacks Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle (on her second Bilderberg outing)
for failing to report on her Montreux experience:
However, we’ve waited more than a week to hear from McArdle about her glorious outing with the great and the good at the most exclusive and secretive club on the planet…We’re still waiting, but all we hear is crickets chirping.
He also claims
that the eight other journalists and editors present at Bilderberg, the “ruling
class presstitutes”, also had “kept their silence.” And yet, as one might
expect from one of the John Birch Society’s leading propagandists, Jasper backs
his article with a number of factual errors and misrepresentations that serve
to mislead rather than inform.
The Lure of Counterknowledge
glib denunciation of Bob Woodward and the Washington Post for failing to
do what neither he nor his stable of correspondents at The New American seem
capable of achieving overlooks the increase of the Post’s Bilderberg coverage.
In his critique of its reporting of the Montreux meeting, for example, Jasper
understates how many reports the Post produced, suggesting there was only one:
The Washington Post didn’t completely spike coverage of the event. The paper’s anodyne report on the leadup to Bilderberg is typical of what we have come to expect [emphasis added].
expect that in an article attacking the Washington Post’s Bilderberg reporting
that Jasper would at least provide a fuller accounting of how many reports and
whether this represented a deviation from the norm. Instead, with his reference
to an “anodyne report” Jasper creates the impression there was only one item of
no value, even though the Post actually published at least five articles
mentioning the meeting (Figure 2).
already this year the Post has published at least six reports mentioning
Bilderberg, a figure it last reached in 2014 (Figure 3) and part of
notable increase in such mentions compared to the paltry coverage in the Post in
the previous decade. Moreover, five of this year’s reports actually referred to
the Montreux meeting rather than being the usual litany of disparaging
references to conspiratorial thinking, or a curious fact in someone’s obituary.
At the same
time, however, it is worth noting the Post’s reporting (and also the New
York Times) on this year’s event was driven by a transparency failure on
another front, specifically news that Secretary of State Pompeo would be attending.
Pompeo was not on the original
participant list (first published on May 28) nor was his
participation announced on his public
schedule on the US State Department website (published on May 24) (Figure
It was a Swiss newspaper, the Tages Anzeiger (May
28, 2019), citing information apparently sourced from André
Kudelski, the only Swiss member of Bilderberg Steering Committee, that revealed
this special addition to the program.
prompted this exchange with an anonymous State Department official at a special
briefing for journalists on May 29, previewing Pompeo’s overseas
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Thank you very much. I wanted you to expand a little bit about the Swiss leg of the trip. There’s some reporting in the Swiss media saying that Secretary Pompeo will go to the Bilderberg meeting and join Jared Kushner there. Is that right?
[Second question omitted]
MODERATOR: Hey, David, this is [Moderator]. So I’m happy to confirm on background that he is attending one session at Bilderberg. I would not describe it as him going with Jared. I don’t even know if they’ll be there at the same time. I haven’t seen Jared’s schedule, and I think that there’s other people from the administration going as well. But the Secretary will be there for one session only, so he’ll be in and out, and he won’t be attending with others as the way that you described it.
significance of this exchange was that perhaps for the first time, a fleeting
visit to Bilderberg by a notable personage otherwise not on the official
participant list had been officially confirmed before it had happened. And
the Washington Post didn’t ignore it.
compare this to Vice President Dan Quayle’s sub rosa participation at the 1990
Bilderberg meeting in Glen Cove, New York or then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s clandestine
visit to the 1997 Bilderberg meeting at PineIsle Resort in Atlanta,
Georgia. In both cases there was no official announcement of their attendance
before or immediately after the event. Although the late James Tucker had
apparently reported their participation for Spotlight,[†]
mainstream media reporting lagged: the Washington Post (Jan. 12, 1992) mentioned
Quayle’s visit a year and a half later, while Clinton’s participation was only
reported shortly after she had departed (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jun.
Behind Closed Doors
critique of the Washington Post’s reporting overlooks the cognitive
dissonance evident in its treatment of Bilderberg. Following the death of
Bilderberg stalwart David Rockefeller in 2017, a curious
feature of the numerous obituaries was that they both denigrated and
implicitly confirmed the conspiracies about the deceased plutocrat. The same
can be seen with Bilderberg: the Post’s reports both testify to Bilderberg’s
importance by highlighting its exclusiveness, its secrecy, lack of transparency
and the high-level of its participants, whilst at the same time deriding
conspiracy theories that surround it.
The first Washington Post article (ignored by Jasper) was by Post journalist Carol Morello on May 29. After mentioning Pompeo’s “unlikely side excursion”, Morello characterised Bilderberg as an “exclusive meeting…where royalty, government officials and business executives are gathering to discuss U.S.-European issues in sessions so secretive that participants must vow never to divulge who says what.” “The secrecy is supposed to encourage free discussions”, Morello noted, before going on to suggest that it is Bilderberg’s “clandestine nature” that has “led to a raft of conspiracy theories that the group is plotting a new world order.”
The second article by Post journalist Adam Taylor on May 31, and the focus of Jasper’s ire, also both derides and affirms theories about Bilderberg. Taylor made reference to the interest of the “conspiratorially minded” in Bilderberg, but he also highlighted the paradox of high-level Trump Administration officials attending a meeting that key Trump supporters, such as Alex Jones, viewed Bilderberg as a “nefarious gathering of the global elite.” Taylor adds that “[p]eople who have attended the meeting say that there is little to these theories and that it is just a forum for honest and open debate.” But in his review of this “unusual event”, Taylor merely reinforces the reasons for suspicion. Bilderberg, he writes, began in 1954 when “a small group of powerful Europeans met with a group of influential North Americans…” Looking at the “vast” list of known attendees, Taylor even contributes to the Bilderberg-choses-future-leaders narrative:
A number of them have gone on to lead nations shortly afterward: Angela Merkel attended in 2005, only months before becoming the German chancellor, while Bill Clinton attended in 1991 when he was still governor of Arkansas.
Examining Bilderberg’s secrecy, Taylor explains
that participants “are barred from revealing who said what” and that
journalists “are not allowed to report on the event…” even if they do attend. And
after observing that Iran was not on the Montreux topic list, Taylor posed the
question whether the “world’s power brokers” at Bilderberg would raise it,
though “it’s unlikely we will ever know.”
The Post’s third article was by two Associated Press journalists and appeared on June 1. This piece was notable for avoiding any mention of conspiracy theorists, whilst using many superlatives to describe Bilderberg and its participants. For example, Bilderberg was described as an “annual gathering of high-profile participants from business, politics, intelligence and defense…” The participants included “America’s top diplomat”, “notable Europeans” and “two senior Pentagon officials”. In addition:
Attendees from media outfits like Bloomberg, The Economist and The Washington Post were rubbing elbows with political leaders such as rising Democratic Party personality Stacey Abrams and chiefs of international organizations like the U.N. cultural agency and animal rights group WWF.
Finally, the Bilderberg meeting was further mentioned two of the “Daily 202” columns. In the first instance, on May 29, it was reported that Jared Kushner would be attending the “this year’s secretive Bilderberg meeting in Switzerland.” This was followed by a lengthy quote from a CNBC report (May 28, 2019). The second column, on May 30, merely noted that Pompeo was due to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis “before heading to the exclusive Bilderberg meeting.” The rest of the snippet quoted from Corello’s article, but only in reference to Middle East policy issues, not Pompeo’s participation at Bilderberg.
bristle that his preferred theories are not being openly confirmed and even
jeered at, but the language employed by the Post’s journalists – “unusual
event”, “exclusive meeting”, “secretive”, and “world’s power brokers” – suggests
the increasing pervasiveness of the conspiratorial view has succeeded in shaping
much of the public narrative about Bilderberg. To be sure, the Post’s reporting
on this year’s meeting appears to go no further than these articles. Neither
Adam Taylor nor Carol Morello seem to have chased up US participants to obtain
a summary of proceedings. And no one seems to have asked Post columnist Megan
McArdle for any insights. But in its reporting of the event, even the Washington
Post’s journalists cannot resist mimicking the conspiratorial narrative.
Silent No More
makes an accusation against the journalists attending Bilderberg without
bothering to check his facts. “True to form, all these presstitutes have kept their
silence,” Jasper writes in the final paragraph of his last Bilderberg article,
after listing all the journalists who attended this year’s meeting (Figure 5).
But, out of the eight journalists or “ruling class presstitutes” he listed and
accused of “treason…in the moral, ethical sense” for “covering up for the
manipulations of the uber-elite cabal”, two of them had actually written about
this year’s meeting before Jasper’s article was published.
The first of these articles was written by Stefano
Feltri, deputy editor-in-chief of Italy’s Il Fatto Quotidiano,
participating in his first meeting (Figure 6). On May 28, Feltri had
already published a blog post explaining that he had been invited. Feltri’s
reasons for wanting to accept the invitation seemed uncontroversial: “I am
curious, I am interested in participating in an event that is so much
discussed and that brings together personalities that any journalist would like
to approach.” Although his blog post also demonstrated why he was invited, namely
that he held the correct opinions about Bilderberg. Back in 2012, he recalled,
the Dagospia.com website had attacked him because of his brief collaboration with Italian
journalist and Bilderberg Steering Committee member Lilli Gruber and his
scepticism about Dagospia’s claims that a “Bilderberg Club” dinner in Rome
would decide the European Commissioners for Italy, Spain and Greece. He also
attended a Trilateral Commission meeting and justified the late announcement
for this year’s meeting arguing that Bilderberg conspiracy theorists were
creating security problems for some participants.
Subsequently, in response to twitter criticism from
the Guardian’s Charlie Skelton that he was “embedded” with
Bilderberg, on June 3 Feltri insisted that he was “was not ‘embedded’, but ‘invited’”, and would be publishing
an article Il Fatto Quotidiano about the meeting “tomrrow.” Sure enough on
June 4, Il Fatto
Quotidiano published Feltri’s insider account of then Montreux meeting,
replete with his observations about it being the “apotheosis of American
networking culture”; an event designed for “building personal
relationships as a bridge between different cultures, professions and ideas.”
As for the actual
content of the meeting, the topics listed in the official Bilderberg press
release, Feltri offered this meandering summary of proceedings:
Brexit, artificial intelligence, cyber threats and then China, lots of China. Bloggers and onlookers wonder, “What does Bilderberg have to say about these issues?”
The answer is difficult. The audience is fairly homogeneous (European or American, English-speaking, cosmopolitan), but rarely there are two who think the same way.
Will there be a second referendum in Great Britain or is the exit from the EU certain and should we only hope that it is also rapid?
Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia a real danger or is it aggressive to mask its frailties?
Everyone has a different opinion, nobody feels the need to reach a synthesis. I’ll risk an I, on the balance sheet of the fifteen panels. Europe is on the edge of the thoughts of the United States, focused on China: the Americans have confided for a few years that along with the well-being in Beijing came reforms, democracy and the market.
Now they understand that it will not happen and react accordingly. The EU hesitates.
In the conference hall of the Fairmont hotel there is no Greta Thunberg, but bankers, entrepreneurs and ministers seem to be aware that climate change either stops now or it will be too late. And that green technologies are a business opportunity, as long as coal and fossil fuels are released without too much trauma.
Then there is artificial intelligence: “It is not a philosophical question, but a military one”, summarizes a participant. The analogy with the Manhattan project recurs. But Enrico Fermi worked at the atomic bomb for the US government, not for companies in Silicon Valley led by nerds who didn’t finish college [emphasis added].
The second “presstitute” who wrote about
the meeting was Martin Wolf, Chief
Economics Commentator at the Financial Times. Wolf opened his
first post-Bilderberg article in the Financial Times (Jun. 5, 2019)(Figure 7)
by briefly discussing the main conclusion he drew from the Montreux meeting
about the US approach towards China.
But that wasn’t
all that Jasper missed. Also publishing
their impressions of Bilderberg (Figure 8) was Turkish
academic Selva Demiralp, a Professor
of Economics, Koç University, whose article appeared in the BBC Turkish
Acknowledging that this gathering of “high profile participants” generated
conspiracy theories, she offered this observation based on her own attendance:
With the confidence of having participated in this year’s meeting, I can clearly say that these meetings are not a platform on which “hidden secrets and plans are shared.” If this were the case, the participants would not be allowed to give information about the content of the meeting as required by the “Chatham House” rule. Nor would I be writing this article.
She noted that
the aim of the meeting was for the US and Europe to find common ground and to
be able to “produce common solutions for increasing threats”. These “threats”
Firstly, concerns regarding the future of the European Union were discussed.
It was expressed that when problems such as trade wars, terrorism and climate change are added to the existing problem of immigration, the EU is unable to produce effective solutions for these problems.
It was noted that this concern feeds populist and nationalist movements and causes fault lines in the EU.
It was stated that in order to eliminate populist and nationalist movements, freedoms should be preserved through prosperity, a common understanding of identity and community that would prevent divisions in society should be created, and the foundations of democracy and supremacy of law be strengthened.
Among the other
issues discussed was climate change:
Climate change played a critical role in the agenda of the meeting. There were many green party and green industry representatives among the participants. It was said that the duty of the governments regarding this issue is to point clearly and transparently the direction to be taken in the long run, to strengthen the belief that this route will be followed with determination and, by doing so, to ensure that the industry makes the desired investments.
US rivalry with
China was also a critical topic, with the Europeans uncomfortable with aspects
of the American approach:
Another main topic discussed at the meeting was how the ideological differences between the West and China could be based on a compromise in the global order, which is increasingly tied together commercially and technologically.
It was emphasized that a technological cold war with China should be avoided in particular, which would create a break in both communication channels and technology.
It seems that the European wing is quite uncomfortable with the US attitude towards China and the expectation that it will keep its side with the US in this environment.
Demiralp also noted that, although not a topic, some official business occurred
when Turkey’s plans to purchase the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from
Russia was raised. The message, presumably the US officials in attendance, was
clear: “if Turkey insists on purchasing the S-400 missile defense
system from Russia, there will be U.S. sanctions, concessions will not be made
to Ankara…” Turkey would also be removed from the consortium building the new
F-35 fighter jet and it would be excluded from the supply chain.
Jasper’s article was published on The New American website on June 10. All three of these articles were published at least five days before their respective authors were falsely accused of keeping silent about Bilderberg. The response required of Mr Jasper on this matter, and on the others detailed above, is clear: Corrections please!
[*] That the State Department did not mention Pompeo’s Bilderberg participation ahead of the official announcement of the event on the Bilderberg Meetings website suggests some level of coordination between the State Department and the Bilderberg Meeting organizers. The gap between the announcements was only four days, but it would seem that Secretary Pompeo’s office had no intention of undermining Bilderberg’s intent on announcing its meeting at latest possible moment.
[†] See Jim Tucker’s Bilderberg Diary (American Free Press,
2005), pp.63, 138-139.
[‡] An English translation of this article later appeared in the Hurriyet Daily News (Jun. 10, 2019).