VICE’s Fall From Counterculture Hipster Rag To Neoliberal Government Mouthpiece

Robbie Martin, director of the documentary series ‘A Very Heavy Agenda,’ joins Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline’ to discuss how VICE became a government lapdog pushing pro-interventionist messaging to a millennial audience wary of the government.
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    MINNEAPOLIS — Disney, Fox News, Bill Maher and former U.S. government officials — seems like a pretty random list, right? Well, they have one surprising thing in common:


    No, I’m not talking about porn, gambling or drugs.

    I’m talking about the multimedia empire that’s leading the mainstream media machine in producing “edgy” reporting behind a hipster, cooler than thou facade.

    As a brand, VICE is built around an anti-establishment vibe that’s always feeling the pulse of the fringe. So how did VICE go from producing a niche magazine in Canada focused on street style and sex, to being a bona fide multimedia empire that includes a popular website, growing digital footprint, and partnerships with major corporations?

    The shift happened gradually. There was $200 million from Disney and another $70 million from 21st Century Fox that made Rupert Murdoch a major owner. One talk show sponsored by Bank of America, and another hosted by career Islamophobe Bill Maher. World-famous puppet master George Soros, who funds coups in favor of NATO, got his own segment. Throughout all of this, VICE Media expanded by quietly embracing the very corporate and government entities that hold the least credibility with its own, young audience.

    While positioning itself as a ballsy, no-holds-barred alternative to the mainstream media, it’s actually become the mainstream media. VICE Media hasn’t just sold itself out to the neocon agenda, it’s also normalized that agenda among its audience through its growing digital platform.

    Sure, sure, VICE still bucks the government line on issues like marijuana legalization and does stories on what people wear to get laid.

    But on matters of foreign policy, VICE’s tone tends to align with Washington’s maneuverings, including the re-emergence of Cold War narratives pushing “Russia-phobia” and justifying NATO’s aggressive posturing toward Russia in Ukraine and Syria.

    And, as Robbie Martin notes in Part III of his documentary series “A Very Heavy Agenda,” “VICE achieved what Fox News’ terrorism fear-mongering could never achieve: fear of Islamic terrorism among young American liberals” to justify more so-called “humanitarian” bombs.

    As a news outlet, VICE has become a tool of soft propaganda. Its reporters frequently cite outlets like Voice of America and Voice of Asia, broadcasters which fall under the umbrella of the U.S. state-sponsored Broadcasting Board of Governors that pushes U.S. interests abroad.

    VICE, it turns out, is an ideal vehicle for delivering Cold War, interventionist messages to a generation that knows better than to trust the mainstream media or the government. The problem is, that generation doesn’t seem to realize that VICE is the mainstream media and it’s pushing government narratives.

    Robbie Martin is here to explain how VICE towing the line of the establishment and how it managed to sell mainstream narratives to its anti-mainstream audience, and why it’s so dangerous.

    Watch the full episode of Behind The Headline: Tracking VICE’s Hipster Propaganda; The Death of the Anti-War Left:

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    • Michael Yang

      Vice is pushing an American policy agenda.
      AND Russia annexed Crimea illegally.

      It’s not so difficult. You don’t have to ‘choose a side’ to prove your credentials. They’re both corrupt. Be better than a foot soldier or mouthpiece people – there is no ‘non mainstream media’ anymore as it, and the very idea of it, has been co-opted by different sides. Sad but true.

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    • Option11

      vice is kind of interesting but then again, its hipsterness is becoming boring with each new edition. and its definitely left biased so alot of their output should be taken with a grain of salt.

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    • BourrasqueDeNeige

      I didn’t notice any transition. It was already pushing the US State Department’s and Ukraine’s line on MH=17, the reunification of Crimea with Russia, and the and coup separatists in Donetsk and Lughansk. I had already figured they were establishment mouthpieces. However, if millennials fell for the ruse, that’s understandable. No experience and no knowledge of history.

      • Snowonweb

        Thats when I noticed VICE was a joke.

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    • Silverado

      I like Huang’s World and the Weediquette and the Black Market programs but i’m drawing the line at the rapping tattooed chef dude who I can’t watch. Long as it’s food and or weed and an adventure I’m in. Otherwise not so much…

    • Juicy

      This makes me sad!! I thought Vice was better than that. (╥_╥)

    • marc billington

      No wonder Gavin McInnes left.

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    • Daniel Scott Smith

      cant you post the video from youtube with the audio level accessible, if youre gonna make it so loud at default? thanks. love the story though.

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    • dale ruff

      Vice recently did an outstanding segment on the slave labor used by the investors in the Trump Dubai golf/villa project, worth 6 billion but paying workers $1.50 an hour and holding their passports so they cannot leave.

      I don’t think a blanket condemnation is in order; each story should be judged on its merits.
      “It is easier to condemn than to think.” Emma Goldman

      • iresonancei

        I too watch ViCE but it begs the question, why focus on Trump? Why not expose all companies that engage in similar tactics? Answer: Agenda.

        But is it ok because the piece was an anti trump piece? Ask yourself this: are you a trump supporter or critic? Your answer will reveal your bias. I’m not trying to criticize just trying to point out bias that’s all. As for VICE, as long as they are receiving backing from corporations with their own agendas, then the VICE network content will reflect the agenda of said owners.

        • dale ruff

          I anticipated response. I take it you have not seen the documentary in question which shines a light (with a hidden camera) on a widespread practice, of particular note in this political season since the guy promising to bring the jobs home uses slave labor abroad as the foundation of his business empire.

          It is the job of the press to challenge the claims of candidates, and this documentary deserves an award for excellence and timeliness. Does this benefit Clinton (my guess is the Vice people supported Sanders)? Perhaps? If exposing the truth behind the Trump facade helps Clinton, that is as it should be.

          Ironically, the dirt on HRC is just as deep as on Trump, leaving only one team to rescue us: Sanders/Stein…..the People’s choice. This entire election should be thrown out since its slate is rejected by nearly 2/3 of the public. Two pathological liars?????

          You can credit this one documentary while criticizing others. And if it hurts Trump, that’s karma, since he told his supporters he would bring back the jobs if elected (but not if not elected).

          Telling the truth about Trump is not bias, nor is the timing, which is relevant. You just can’t handle the truth.

          • iresonancei

            For your information I am neither aTrump nor Clinton supporter. To answer your question , no. I haven’t seen the documentary, but if it does indeed shed light on the greater practice of foreign slave labor, then that’s great, but to target Trump in particular means that VICE is more than likely pushing their agenda which is influenced by their backers. My point is Regardless of whether bias is in your favor or not is not the issue… The issueis the bias itself. If you think the timing isn’t an issue, then why not put out the documentary before Trump decided to run? You know why?? Because it’s politically relevant.

            I am assuming you read MintPress because you are seeking alternative sources of news that doesn’t slant one way or another??

            Also, I can handle the truth just fine, but obviously it’s hard for you to swallow your own bias.

            • Daniel Scott Smith

              to me the enlightening thing was i would have never thought specifically about disney let alone murdoch investing in them. the money is the answer its a virus.

              • iresonancei

                You’re absolutely right. Money has a way of corrupting and it’s unfortunate. I enjoy reading the MintPress but even they are a for profit paper though they specifically state that they would readily drop sponsors who Try to influence their content. I applaud them for saying that but my point is 1.) How would we know and 2.) Its incredible just how pervasive the influence of money is on everything we encounter in our lives. The scariest part is that money is the gatekeeper of our information sources (media and such), it actively shapes and influences what we think and believe, which is why I try and go out of my way to find alternative media sources like democracy now, or other not for profit sources.

            • norskmann

              Try replacing “bias” with the truth. As long as something is honest and truthful, it is useful. Reality really does have a liberal bias, even if Colbert said it.

        • Maryrbates2

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        • W. Roberts

          Soros = Clinton = Vice’s anti-Trump continuous 24/7 pounding. Counterpunch laid bare what might be in store for us should Clinton get crowned: