"I think part of the problem of why we're having so many wars and fighting is because people carry around trauma that they haven't processed and that manifests itself into anger and in lying, cheating, and stealing. So if everyone is able to have access to these medicines to purge that trauma, then we won't have nearly as many problems in the world."
-- Former CNN correspondent Amber Lyon, who is launching a new website devoted to "psychedelic journalism"
And suddenly it all makes sense.
In case you need a refresher course, Amber Lyon was one of CNN and CNNi's most recognizable faces on the investigative and international beats, a seemingly fearless reporter who scuba dove under the Deepwater Horizon oil slick, took on online sex trafficking and covered social media's impact on the Arab Spring. That all ended, though, when CNN let Lyon go in what appeared to be a pretty uncontroversial staff reshuffling.
Lyon, however, didn't see it that way and began lashing out to anyone who would listen, claiming that CNNi had refused to run a documentary she'd put together on Bahrain after being pressured by the Bahraini government, which had bought ad time at the network. There's a better than average chance that, since CNN U.S. did run the doc, CNNi's decision not to run it was less the result of a secret conspiracy and more just the usual unfortunate jack-offery anyone who's worked in cable news long enough should come to expect.
Here's what I wrote about it:
Is it possible that Lyon’s report was quashed at the behest of the admittedly none-too-pleased officials in Bahrain, who knew in advance that the documentary featured a segment on the government’s crackdown on dissidents? Sure — anything’s possible. Is it just as likely, if not more so, that some programming decision was made somewhere up the food chain of dolts in management that had literally nothing at all to do with the content of the piece that ended with it just being bypassed? No conspiratorial, nefarious undercurrent — just a really dumb decision? Absolutely. The news business is one fucking giant tale of good stories being buried by short-sighted suits and the reporters and producers of those stories — often pain-in-the-ass narcissists in the best possible way — screeching about how the brilliance of their work is being inexcusably overlooked. Lyon had actually been laid off in a standard shuffling of CNN personnel — unfair maybe, but unsurprising stuff — before she really began speaking out about what she felt had gone on with her documentary and when she did, her management got an entirely predictable phone call from CNN saying that if she continued to talk, she’d risk losing her severance. I assume she took this to mean that she was on to something and they were trying to shut her up, rather than simply accepting that she was still being paid by CNN and they didn’t want her, you know, talking shit about the network. (Not defending CNN here by any means, but their reaction is to be expected.)
The thing about corruption at most news networks is that it’s a little like the kind of corruption you find in U.S. politics. The fanciful would love to have you believe that there’s some kind of Star Chamber in an undisclosed penthouse at the top of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan making deals with world governments and money interests just like they’d love to have you believe that there’s a secret cabal at work behind the scenes within our government that pits the Illuminati, the U.N. and the Disney Company against the interests of every man, woman and child on the planet. It’s fun to imagine. It’s also horseshit. Corruption within a newsroom is typically the kind borne from incompetence and lethargy, not cunning. It’s forgetting to do shit; overlooking important news stories because everybody suddenly succumbs to the tunnel vision of groupthink without even knowing it; picking one story over another for a show or a schedule because the former’s reporter has a higher Q-Score or because you just happen to have a hard-on for her or him, or excluding someone from a show because you think that person’s an arrogant little shit who needs to be knocked down a peg. It’s the kind of petty, stupid nonsense you thought you left behind in high school and can’t imagine still being subjected to as an adult.
But there was of course an audience for Lyon's tale of being crushed under the jackboot of corporate media and its world government thugs -- and that audience was Alex Jones's. Since leaving CNN, Amber Lyon has staked out space among the InfoWars friendlies, people who as you know will believe any fucking thing you tell them as long as it appears to go against the "official story" the sheeple are haplessly devouring. So what you got was Lyon going from being a respected journalist working both nationally and internationally to somebody posting Facebook messages claiming that Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings may have been assassinated by the U.S. government. It was all pretty sad, actually.
Now comes this: the news that Lyon's starting a website called "Reset.me," which she hopes will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking information on alternative remedies for whatever ails him or her. And by alternative remedies, she means 'shrooms and yajé. Lyon claims that she began doing ayahuasca out of desperation to treat the PTSD she suffered in the wake of, you know, working in TV news.
"For me, I was out in the field for 10 years covering violence, fighting, slavery, drug abuse, the underbelly of society," Lyon tells Daily RFT. "I saw the worst of the worst in my career and I was kind of absorbing the pain of others. I started to have problems sleeping, problems with short-term memory, it got so bad that I couldn't write and I'm a writer, so that's when I knew something was wrong."
Her new site will concentrate on the benefits of psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms, which Lyon says she embraces because pharmacological painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycodone are dangerous and addictive.
"It's like hitting the reset button on your brain and life and like going back to your true self." she says. "And it's like dissolving your personality and dissolving all of the trauma that you've had throughout your life and just starting over."
Anyone who knows me knows that I can't prudishly decry the use of psychedelic drugs -- or really any drugs for that matter -- and get away with it. I spent years working as a broadcast journalist while simultaneously carpet-bombing my mind and body with an awe-inspiring arsenal of chemicals, both natural and pharmaceutical. Journalism is one of those professions that seems always willing to wrap its comforting arms around crazed, amoral misfits, which is probably what drew me to it. You wanna know what it's like to work on a pirate ship? Get a job in either a restaurant kitchen or a newsroom.
Maybe there's something a little worrisome, though, about Amber Lyon doing anything that risks further detaching her from reality. She's already proven herself to be a thought leader among the raving paranoiac crowd; "reseting" her brain and those of the people she'll probably be marketing to, while no doubt therapeutic in a New Age kind of way, doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for remaining safely tethered to the plane of existence most people call home.
Then again, if she's been doing hallucinogens the past couple of years it would at least explain a few things.