If you Google "cyber security legend", then of the more than one million results, my name comes up nine times on the first page. In fact, my name is the only name (bar one) that comes up on the first and second pages. If you Google "Cybersecurity Guru", of the nearly two million results, my name shows up as the number four reference on the first page.
I write a regular cybersecurity column for IBTimes UK, I have keynoted Defcon, the world's largest hacker convention in Las Vegas, and the European Infosec, among many others. I am frequently a guest on Russian television, Canadian television, British television, and other foreign stations, but in the American popular press, in my own country, I am shunned.
Certainly my outspoken, unedited self may have something to do with it. I was frequently on Fox News until the day, on the Neil Cavuto Show, live, I called the Obamacare website "A hacker's wet dream".
Cavuto was shocked into silence, finally responding: "I can't believe you said that." In truth I was about to say something far more shocking, which, before it left my lips, my mind edited down to the phrase that, to me, seemed acceptable.
Another issue with Fox might be that I hacked Stuart Varney, live and on national television as a demonstration of how easy it is for hackers. The Fox executives felt that it indicated a weakness in their own cyber security systems and were not pleased.
In any case, Fox removed my name from the list of "Industry Specialists" to be consulted in times of heightened cyber security awareness, and I have since only appeared, with the single exception of one appearance on the Greta Susteren Show, only for brief interviews that were taped, so that they might be edited before airing.
But the real reason that the popular press in America snubs me, while many other countries embrace me, has little to do with my colourful language. It has to do with my perceived controversial views – so controversial that when I appear not to be so, it shocks people. For example, tech publication The Register stated in June: "John McAfee delivered a surprisingly non-controversial keynote speech to the London Infosec Conference on Wednesday afternoon."
The press in America, more in television than in other media, has increasingly aligned itself with specific political, social or cultural elements. Fox news and CNN news, as the premier examples, can be predicted before the news even airs. Fox might as well be the mouthpiece for the Republican Party, and CNN the propaganda outlet for the Democrats.
Neither network will invite a guest to a one-on-one impartial interview unless they can guarantee the guest will support the party line. Unpredictable participants, who speak from their heart, rather than from an ideology, have no place.
The American press is no longer a collection of thousands of independent news outlets that represent thousands of disparate views. The American press has been purchased and co-opted, lock, stock and barrel.
There are now just six giant conglomerates that control more than 90% of all US media: Disney, CBS Corporation, News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner and Comcast. Two of these conglomerates, CBS and Viacom, are controlled by one person: Sumner Redstone. It is CBS, by the way, who owns Showtime which, in conjunction with Jeff Wise, is producing a documentary of my time in Belize based entirely on paid interviews.
These conglomerates control the newspapers, magazines, books, radio and TV stations, movie studios, and much of the web news content in the United States. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 enabled this handful of corporations to expand their power provided legal means for them to assert an extraordinary control of information.
The "news", for these conglomerates, is not a moral and social responsibility, it is a business. The making of money is the prime concern and bowing to stockholders far outweighs bowing to the American public.
Reporters and editors working for these conglomerates acquire and share values that agree with the corporate power structures – with good reason. Failing to do so could risk their careers.
Those who follow their own conscience are marginalised or fired. So self-censorship rules. Real world examples of this process have been dramatised in such movies as The Insider, The Corporation and Good Night And Good Luck.
The tragic part of self-censorship is that it is voluntary. Issues and opinions are kept out of the press, primarily by editors, not because of outside intervention, but because of the fear of damaging the entity that feeds them. Thus, controversy must be limited to a narrow range of opinion and there is only the illusion of open debate.
In one of the highest examples of irony, The Voice Of America – wholly owned by the US government – just yesterday reached out to me for an interview. I called the reporter – Douglas Bernard – and inquired whether he had the right person. I am, after all, one of the most vocal opponents of the US government on record. He informed me that there is an editorial firewall between the agency and Congress and they could report on whatever they wanted.
It warmed my heart and I gave "US presidential candidate and cybersecurity legend John McAfee discusses implementing Article 5". In it, I called for Article 5 of our Constitution to be invoked – a failsafe put in place by the designers of the Constitution in order to allow the American people, through the implementation of a Constitutional Convention, to change or even abolish the government. It has never been invoked in the history of America.
The interview is coming out within a week. If the government somehow edits it down, then the only publishable statement will be "hello". I will just have to wait and see. God bless America!
Who is John McAfee?
John McAfee is one of the most influential commentators on cyber-security anywhere in the world. His new venture – Future Tense Central – focuses on security and personal privacy-related products. In September, McAfee announced he will be running for US president in 2016.
McAfee provides regular insight on global hacking scandals and internet surveillance, and has become a hugely controversial figure following his time in Belize, where he claims to have exposed corruption at the highest level before fleeing the country amid accusations of murder (the Belize government is currently not pursuing any accusations against him).
McAfee was a finalist at the 2015 Comment Awards for his work for IBTimes UK.