By Will Banyan (Copyright © 29 June 2017)
The 65th Bilderberg Meeting, held earlier this month, from 1-4 June at Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Virgina, was noteworthy on a number of counts, starting with the presence of four members of the Trump Administration at a gathering where it was widely assumed that both the policy direction and legitimacy of Trump’s presidency would have been hotly contested. This represented a deviation from the poor attendance by senior US officials at Bilderberg during Obama’s second term – during the previous four Bilderberg meetings the Obama Administration sent just one official in 2015. For a number of alternative news outlets, particularly Alex Jones’ Infowars, the presence of the four Trump Administration officials presented a unique ideological challenge given their previous incantations against Bilderberg as a hot-bed of intrigue by the elitist supporters of globalism, and their strong support of Trump, whom they had exalted as the globalist giant-slayer. The Infowars solution to this dilemma was to hold a poorly attended pro-Trump rally outside the Marriott.
While the overall turnout from the anti-Bilderberg protestors at Chantilly was, as Intellihub noted “substantially lower than in 2012 when the Bilderbergers last met at the very same hotel”, the alternative media and key activists were still well represented. In addition to the Infowars crew of David Knight and Owen Shroyer (incredibly, despite the convenience of the US location, Alex Jones failed to turn up with his bullhorn) there was Luke Rudkowski from We Are Change, Dan Dicks from Press For Truth, Jeff Berwick from The Dollar Vigilante, Mark Anderson of the American Free Press, Loose Change producer Jason Bermas (who got into an argument with Jack Posobiec over Trump’s relationship with Bilderberg), Leigh Stewy from Independent Citizen News, Conspiracy Cabbie TV, Lulz Machine, and Chris Dorsey the self-styled “commander” of the Virginia Militia.
Less amusing was the near complete absence of mainstream media to cover the event. Aside from Charlie Skelton from The Guardian, who filed four reports, only James Tennent from the International Business Times briefly flitted through to file one report that claimed Chantilly remained a “sleepy town”, despite the secretive meeting down the road. Even the local media seemed disinterested, with neither the Fairfax County Times nor the Chantilly Connection, bothering to report on the conclave:
Of course the Financial Times (UK), Wall Street Journal (US), Bloomberg (US), The Economist (UK), The Evening Standard (UK), Cook Political Report (US), La Stampa (Italy), Kathimerini Newspaper (Greece) and Dagens Næringsliv (Norway), were all represented at the meeting, but not outside, leaving it to the alternative media to cover the event and thus drive the narrative about Bilderberg. The results, though, were problematic not least because of the persistent repetition of various myths about Bilderberg, mainly by Infowars, that served to mislead rather than inform the public about media treatment of the annual gathering. There a couple of Bilderberg myths in particular that warrant correction.
Not the “Record” You Were Looking For
Among the claims made, perhaps the most astounding was Kit Daniels assertion in Infowars (Jun. 4, 2017), that news coverage of Bilderberg had “hit record highs as the establishment media is forced to admit the true nature of the globalist gathering.” The sub-heading of his article even implied a link to Trump’s ascendency: “Bilderberg more exposed than ever as Trump nationalism rises!” But Daniels claims were odd and contradictory. On the one hand, to support his bold claim, Daniels noted that various mainstream media outlets, specifically the BBC, Sky News and the Guardian were “openly discussing the meeting in Chantilly, Virginia…” Presumably to support his argument Daniels reproduced without comment a screenshot of a Google News search which showed 214,000 results for Bilderberg (Figure 1). But on the other hand, seeming to contradict this claim, Daniels acknowledged that in the US there had been a “mainstream media blackout” on the Bilderberg meeting.
One might well ask how media coverage of Bilderberg can both be hitting “record highs” at the same time as a “mainstream media blackout” seems to be in force in US. Daniels suggests this US media blackout is because “many American media owners are connected to the [Bilderberg] group.” This is an interesting and provocative claim but he makes no attempt to substantiate it. It also fails to explain why in 2015 the Austrian newspaper Der Standard published a number of articles on Bilderberg despite its editor and publisher Oscar Bronner being a long-time participant. Or why in the same year outgoing Steering Committee member and Chairman of Portuguese media conglomerate Impresa SGPS, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, would allow one of Impresa’s publications to run an article quoting approvingly the views of anti-Bilderberg activist Daniel Estulin.
Then there is the curious matter of the avidly pro-Trump media outlet Breitbart. None of its part-owners, the Mercer family, Susie Breitbart or Breitbart CEO Larry Solov, are Bilderberg participants. Last year Breitbart published at least four critical articles on Bilderberg’s Dresden meeting, but this year, despite the convenient US location there was nothing. Breitbart had joined the “mainstream media blackout.” Why?
More problematic is that, other than the Google News screenshot, Daniels provides absolutely no evidence that news coverage of Bilderberg has hit “record highs”. Moreover, the Google News screenshot tells us little as it is just an aggregate figure of all the times Bilderberg is mentioned. Daniels made no attempt to compare this year’s coverage with last year’s or even to show trends over a longer timeframe.
Performing such a search, however, suggests that media coverage for this year’s Bilderberg meeting was actually less than last year’s. A Google News search covering the period of the 2017 Bilderberg meeting brings up 1,130 results (Figure 2), compared to 1,510 results for the 2016 meeting (Figure 3).
If there ever was a “record high” for media reporting on the Bilderberg meeting, that moment has passed as it was surely achieved for the 2013 meeting in Watford, Hertfordshire in Britain with some 14,900 reports according to Google News (Figure 4).
Indeed, a search on the Dow Jones Factiva database (Figure 5) suggests that after spiking in 2013 for the Watford meeting, overall media interest in the annual meeting has trailed off significantly.
This also seemed to coincide with a more widespread collapse in interest in the annual conclave, again after peaking as the subject of Google News searches in 2013. A search on Google Trends suggests that Watford again marked a key point with public interest peaking before falling off dramatically (Figure 6). The continuing decline in interest also appears to coincide with the falling numbers of anti-Bilderberg protestors, compare the 2000 protestors at Watford with the few dozen at best, protesting at Chantilly this year.
In short, without proper context, i.e. comparing media coverage of Bilderberg over time, Daniel’s claims about “record highs” are both inaccurate and misleading. Mainstream media coverage of Bilderberg may well be higher than it was 10 to 20 years ago, but the evidence shows that it peaked in 2013, and since then has fallen off steeply, coinciding with the significant drop in public interest. The “mainstream media blackout” that Daniels complained about, with few if any significant US media outlets even mentioning this year’s Bilderberg meeting, should have been an important indicator that his claim was wrong and that, at least in terms of media exposure, the tide has once again turned in Bilderberg’s favour.
‘There is no Bilderberg Group’
Another claim made by quite a few alt-media journalists and analysts during the Chantilly meeting, often with almost identical wording, is that the very existence of Bilderberg had been “denied” up until very recently by the mainstream media. Kit Daniels, for instance, declared in Infowars: “Remember, it was only a few years ago that the mainstream media denied Bilderberg even existed.” Infowars rather earnest correspondent, Owen Shroyer, dispatched to the wilds of Virginia, boldly asserted this as undisputed fact numerous times whilst questioning unsuspecting members of the public at the Herndon Festival:
“Until about five years ago they denied it. They said [Bilderberg] didn’t exist. Now they have to admit it because of the media coverage…Remember they used to deny it even existed. They used to say it didn’t exist.” (Locals Clueless, Then Terrified of Bilderberg, 1.15- 1.16)
“But that was during the first fifty meetings that [Bilderberg] ‘didn’t exist’ according to the New York Times.” (Trendy Scared Speechless Over Bilderberg, 1.36).
“They used to deny [Bilderberg] went on. Now they have to admit it.” (Awake Local Warns: Bilderberg Will End USA Forever, 1.24).
“They used to act like [Bilderberg] didn’t exist.” (Proof Public Education is Globalist Propaganda – Bilderberg 2017, 0.59)
The first group was very secret. They didn’t want anybody to know this. It was a secret. The Bilderberg Group was a secret. They denied it. They denied it for years [emphasis added]
He made the same point on Russia Today, claiming that for decades the Bilderbergers would clear out resorts to host their annual meetings, bringing in their own security:
When they were asked, “What are you doing?” They would say, “We don’t know what you are talking about. You are a conspiracy nut. There is no Bilderberg Group.” Then one year they said, “There is”, and now they have Bilderbergmeetings.org online (2.31).
Bradley Brewer, a contributor to Borderland Alternative Media (Jun. 2, 2017) also declared: “Less than a decade ago, the media and the Bilderberg group itself denied it’s existence and concealed it’s meetings” [emphasis added].
This claim that Bilderberg has connived with the media plot to deny its existence has a very long pedigree, almost as old as Bilderberg itself. Sixty years ago syndicated US columnist Westbrook Pegler suggested something “very mysterious” was afoot if “67 self-qualified, polyglot designers and arbiters of the economic and political fate of the western world” could go into a “secret huddle” on St Simon’s Island, but “not a word gets into the popular press beyond a little routine Associated Press story which completely muffled the importance of the occasion.” Pegler also accused two Bilderberg participants, Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, and Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times of suppressing news of the meeting, (The Spokesman Review, Apr. 10, 1957).
Gary Allen and Larry Abraham, co-authors of the million-selling None Dare Call It Conspiracy (1971), a major anti-New World Order work of the 1970s, also took issue with media treatment of Bilderberg:
One would assume…that when the world’s leading parliamentarians and international tycoons meet to discuss the planning of their various nations’ foreign policies, that the news hawks from papers and televisionland would be screaming to high heaven that such an event held in secret makes a mockery of the democratic process…But, of course, the landscape painters merely brush the Bilderbergers right out of existence… (pp.95-96)[emphasis added].
The late Jim Tucker, the main Bilderberg correspondent for the Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight newspaper and its successor, American Free Press, once claimed that:
High officials of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Times and all three major networks have attended Bilderberg many times, on the promise of secrecy, to report nothing and to not use the world “Bilderberg.” Except for some minor, inconsequential accidents in which the word “Bilderberg” has suddenly appeared in print…the promise has been kept (Bilderberg Diary, p.7) [emphasis added].
Tucker cited just two instances where “Bilderberg” had appeared in the New York Times, and four times it had been inadvertently mentioned in the Washington Post (ibid, p.7).
These original claims of media suppression have evolved into the pervasive myth that mainstream media reporting about Bilderberg is both very recent and was in response to counter-pressure from the alternative media. For example, in 2013 the Guardian’s Charlie Skelton, noting the huge crowds gathered at the Watford meeting and having been shown reports in the Portuguese press declared: “Finally, after 59 years, Bilderberg has beeped its way onto the radar of the mainstream press.” More recently the John Birch Society’s The New American (Jun 14, 2015) claimed the surge in mainstream media reporting about Bilderberg was “following decades of complete silence.” Author Mark Dice, in his book The Bilderberg Group: Facts and Fiction (2015), writes that “for over half a century there wasn’t more than a peep about the meeting in the American mainstream media” (p.1) due to an “arrangement” with the Bilderberg “to keep them out of the news” (p.5). This arrangement was only overturned recently when the alternative media “finally forced some major mainstream media outlets to admit that Bilderberg is real…” (p.3).
This has emerged as the key Bilderberg myth, but none of these statements are true.
Contrary to Daniels’ blanket assertion that until very recently the media had “denied Bilderberg even existed” – an incendiary claim that he, Shroyer, Nation and Brewer fail to back up with any evidence – the mainstream press had actually covered its existence since its very first meeting. For example, we find on the first day of that very first meeting of a still unnamed group at the Bilderberg Hotel in Oostebeek, the Netherlands, the London Times (May 29, 1954) carried this one line report under the heading “Telegrams in Brief”:
On that same day the Guardian newspaper ran a four paragraph Reuters report which also provided some more detail on the first conference, citing a statement from the meeting’s first Chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands:
At the conclusion of the first conference, the New York Times (Jun. 2, 1954) ran two short pieces, one giving a brief run down on who went and the nations represented, while the other reviewed the outcomes of the meeting and Prince Bernhard’s views on its success. The Guardian (Jun. 2, 1954) also ran a longer report from its unnamed “Political Correspondent” which referred to how the “mystery” of the Oostebeek meeting was lifted with the publication of a “ten-page statement” from the organizers (Figure 7).
This was only the first meeting. What is also interesting, and again contrary to the claims of most of the aforementioned conspiracy researchers/activists, is that when Prince Bernhard’s meeting eventually obtained its Bilderberg name in 1957, this was reported in a number of outlets. These included the United Press (The Evening Times, (Pennsylvania) Feb. 12, 1957) and the New York Times (Feb. 16, 1957) ahead of the Bilderberg meeting on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia; and by the Times (Oct. 7, 1957) and the Sunday Times (Oct. 6, 1957), in their reports on the Bilderberg meeting in Fiuggi, Italy (Figure 8). This appears to be first time the term “Bilderberg group” appears in the press. It would not be the last.
To be sure, media coverage of Bilderberg did change, as Prince Bernhard and Bilderberg co-founder Joseph Retinger’s views on how the annual meeting should work moved away from directly inserting its ideas into public discussion through post-meeting communiques or statements, towards using its members to disseminate its ideas into the public sphere. But a review of the media over the 63 years since the first Bilderberg meeting fails to sustain the claims that there was an active campaign to suppress news of its existence.
The following table (Figure 9) tracks media reporting either directly citing the “Bilderberg Group” or covering its meetings before it acquired that name for the period from 1950 through to 2009 just before the Bilderberg Meetings website appeared in 2010. It also includes profiles or obituaries of its members that specifically mention their Bilderberg role. This graph samples only four publications: three British newspapers, the Times/Sunday Times, the Daily/Sunday Telegraph, and the Financial Times; and the leading US paper, the New York Times. A more comprehensive survey of the US and European media will no doubt yield more hits. But this small sample alone is arguably sufficient to refute the baseless claims of Daniels, Shroyer, Nation, Brewer and others that the mainstream media had “denied” for “years” or “decades” the very existence of Bilderberg.
The record of mainstream media reporting on Bilderberg is not without its faults. There appears to be no media reporting in the English-speaking press at least, about the Bilderberg meetings in 1956, 1959, 1960 and 1961, and coverage dropped off in the 1980s and 1990s. The New York Times, for example, published just two articles in the 1980s mentioning Bilderberg. And of course there remains a problem of whether that reporting bothered to really delve into Bilderberg; much of it did not, but Bilderberg’s existence was not denied.
Proponents of “they used to deny [Bilderberg] went on”, also have to contend with the plethora of voluntary public statements and memoirs from members of the Bilderberg Steering Committee and other participants, acknowledging both Bilderberg’s existence and their own role in it. In 1959, for example, Bilderberg’s chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, mentioned Bilderberg in his article “Minds Across the Atlantic” in Delta: A Review of Arts, Life and Thought in the Netherlands, a journal published by the Netherlands Institute for International Cultural Relations. Prince Bernhard wrote about how he had formed a “group of persons” with “outstanding qualities” for the purpose of promoting “mutual rapprochement” between America and Europe. He continued:
This group has come to be known as the Bilderberg Group, the name being derived from the Dutch hotel where they came together for the first time and where they have often met since. Some odd people detect a sinister conspiracy in all this, but the true facts would disappoint them (Delta, September 1959, p.24; emphasis added).
There were whole chapters devoted to Bilderberg in Alden Hatch’s 1962 authorized biography of Prince Bernhard (H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands) and in John Pomian’s 1972 biography of Bilderberg co-founder Retinger (Joseph Retinger: Memoirs of an Eminence Grise). In the first volume of his memoirs, The White House Years (1979), former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger mentions attending the 1971 Bilderberg meeting at Woodstock. George W. Ball, an Undersecretary of State in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations and Steering Committee member, addressed his Bilderberg experiences in his memoir, The Past Has Another Pattern (1983). British politician Denis Healey, a one-time Chancellor of the Exchequer, devoted a lengthy chapter to his Bilderberg history in his autobiography, The Time of My Life (1989). Former media mogul and convicted felon Conrad Black, a former Steering Committee member, briefly discusses his Bilderberg participation in both volumes of his memoirs – A Life in Progress (1993) and A Matter of Principle (2012).
…Bilderberg is an intensely interesting annual discussion group that debates issues of significance to both Europeans and North Americans—without reaching a consensus (p.411).
Rockefeller also intimated that Bilderberg, living up to its original transatlantic purpose, had helped to resolve the tensions between Europe and America by performing the shaping and influencing role envisaged by Retinger:
If these fissures had not been addressed, the consequences for the Atlantic Alliance might have been disastrous. While it is not Bilderberg’s role to resolve disputes among sovereign states, individual participants are free to report on what they have heard to those who do wield official power in their respective countries (p.412; emphasis added).
All of this is, of course, utterly inconsistent with the supposed plot hatched between Bilderberg and the media to suppress the very existence of the Bilderberg Group. The claim made by the alternative media, particularly Infowars, on the fringes of this year’s meeting that Bilderberg’s existence has been “denied” until very recently, should be seen as the utter falsehood that it is. Donald Trump would surely call it “Fake News”.
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