Henry Rollins: The Myth of Online Transparency

Musician, Writer, and Spoken-word Artist
The Godfather of DIY Punk says that the internet has opened up new worlds of instantaneous communication, and new opportunities for media and governments to obscure and evade the truth.
  • Transcript


In the last few years technology has changed the way we pursue and share information, how we pursue friendships, how we relate to one another, how societies work and how information is disseminated. With any advent in technology there is the good part—excuse me.  I'll say that again.  With any advent in technology, any technological innovation there is the good and the bad.

The good a somewhat level playing field where the broke guy with an internet connection can go to a cyber café and for a few bucks know a whole lot of stuff real fast, no library needed, get a lot of information, read local and international newspapers, etcetera, etcetera.  The down part is internet predators who have done awful things to people who don’t know how to protect themselves, fraud and scandal where people have been bilked out of all kinds of money, amelioration of privacy, the fact that I can see you, you can also see me.  There is that two-way and so that is a downside, but the ability to make a quick contribution to a politician who you feel some empathy with I think this is a good thing.  The dissemination of information on a just click, gone like a Twitter feed I think this is fantastic.  I'm actually on the Twitter like all those crazy young kids are and if I'm going to do an in-store appearance or I post something on my website I tweet these followers, a word I don’t like so much, and over 50,000 people go like okay, I got it. What they do with it I don’t have any idea, but I love that idea of I can get to you and you can get to me very quickly. 

But it has also allowed media to become convincingly transparent while they become mischievously and maliciously non transparent and in the media now, what you get now is lots of opportunity to get information and lots of opportunity for the information to be misinformation, disinformation, non information, distractive information, when we should be looking at this we’re going to find out about the Kardashians because we can point and click and so I blame CNN as much as I blame the Bush Administration for all the dead Americans and the dead Iraqis in Iraq.  I think CNN was complacent.  I think all the news outlets.  I think they knew more than what they were saying.  I think they were afraid of losing access to the president, to the White House, to the skinny by not reporting all that they knew, so eventually they are moral cowards at best.  At worst they are war criminals.  They are coconspirators in a mass murder and maybe they need to be eating government cheese sandwiches and wearing bright orange suits.  Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld certainly need to go to a court of law and answer some very, very straight ahead questions with all truthfulness, so do people at CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and on and on and on because they knew more than what they told because they were sucking up to a corporate bottom line and they wanted access so they traded the truth for access and basically we got non transparency on everything from 9/11 to the invasion and occupation of Iraq to what is going on with drone strikes in Pakistan to whatever else you are not getting and I'm not Mr. Conspiracy Theory Boy.  That you are not getting total transparency in the media is kind of no-brainer and I don’t think anyone is really going to argue that unless they own CNN or Fox News and they’ll just you know.  They’ll tell you what they’re going to tell you, but as a consumer I'm not Einstein, but I do know when I'm getting pulled around and I think we’re getting pulled around quite a bit.  

That lack of bravery and that lack of transparency in the media has gotten a lot of people killed and made a lot of people go broke and it’s moral cowardice that is the most despicable part about this. I wonder how Colin Powell sleeps at night.  I would like to have a word with him because he lied.  He lied.  He lied to me.  He lied to my face through the camera at the UN.  

Directed/Produced by

Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd