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” I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world — in the field of advertizing — and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency … Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious … I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours … and we tend to disbelieve ours. “a Soviet correspondent based five years in the U.S.

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“The American propaganda system is not centrally programmed as it is in a totalitarian state. Instead it permeates the culture, the media, and the institutions. Individuals who point out unpleasant realities of current or past American behavior are often subjected to social pressures and treated as pariahs. They are disturbers of the dream.”William H. Boyer

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People, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations.”Zbigniew Brzezinski

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There is a transnational ruling class, a “Superclass”, that agrees on establishing a world government. The middle class is targeted for elimination, because most of the world has no middle class, and to fully integrate and internationalize a middle class, would require industrialization and development in Africa, and certain places in Asia and Latin America. The goal of the Superclass is not to lose their wealth and power to a transnational middle class, but rather to extinguish the notion of a middle class, and transnationalize a lower, uneducated, labor oriented class, through which they will secure ultimate wealth and power.The global economic crisis serves these ends, as whatever remaining wealth the middle class holds is in the process of being eliminated, and as the crisis progresses, the middle classes of the world will suffer, while a great percentage of lower classes of the world, poverty-stricken even prior to the crisis, will suffer the greatest, most probably leading to a massive reduction in population levels, particularly in the “underdeveloped” or “Third World” states.”

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“A global financial cabal engineered a fraudulent housing and debt bubble [2008], illegally shifted vast amounts of capital out of the US; and used ‘privatization’ as a form of piracy – a pretext to move government assets to private investors at below-market prices and then shift private liabilities back to government at no cost to the private liability holder… Clearly, there was a global financial coup d’etat underway.”Catherine Austin Fitts

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“Some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena. They share the traits of psychopaths who are not sensitive to altruistic appeals, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse or guilt over their crimes. They possess the personality traits of lying, narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. These are the people to whom we have entrusted our fate. Is it any wonder that America is failing at home and world-wide?”Jim Kouri

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Watch These Videos and You’ll Never Believe Your TV News Again! Mon 19 Dec 2011

I believe these series of videos are some of the most amazing I’ve seen in a long time.  Many of us now know that television news is there to mind control the population to think a certain way.   That’s why when something big happens that they want to take your mind off, there always seems to be some BIG murder trial that takes about a year to play out on mainstream news.  It’s all there to take your eye off the ball.  They don’t want you to focus on how bad the economy is or that our own government was caught red handed running guns into Mexico or that Obama showed us a birth certificate that was proven to be a fraud within hours of release, etc.  So they give you a murder trial, a missing child story or some silly reality show to keep you stuck in the Matrix of things that don’t matter one bit!  The CIA has long bragged that nothing gets on television or even in the newspaper unless they approve it!  This was part of operation Mockingbird which wasn’t just to influence foreign news but also domestic news.

I agree with about 90% of the conclusions made by the maker of the videos.  There are a few of them that I don’t see but I’m not an expert on facial recognition.  There is no doubt in my mind that he is exactly right about the Occupy movement.  When I first began to see videos coming out on Occupy I noticed that there were many “characters” involved that seem to be wearing wigs, sunglasses, hats that seemed out of place.  Many of them seem to be acting out a part and when you see these videos you will see exactly how FAKE it all really is.  I especially like the RT clip that show the fake confrontation between the police and the demonstrators where one of the demonstrators gives a signal to the police and then they begin the fake beatings with the batons.  You can easily tell it’s just like pro wrestling where they pretend to hit the protesters while people scream in the background for show.  It’s very obvious what’s going on – they are trying to build up hate in the American people so they will start rebelling more and they can call for martial law.  That’s what I think is going on regarding the Occupy movement.  The FEDs are controlling the movement and interviewing their actors on the fake news so they get their message out.

Some of the most shocking things were his conclusions that many of these murder trials are fake.  It seems hard to believe but when you see the people playing these roles and in some cases hear their voices and how they match up perfectly, it’s hard to deny that he’s not on to something here.

Watch the videos for yourself.  The man who did these is quite intelligent and is an expert at recognizing people by their ears, eyes and noses.  As I said, I see matches in about 90% of the cases he presents here.  But whether he is right about 25% or 95% of them, there is no question in my mind that there is a lot of good investigative work here that clearly took a lot of time.  So I urge you to watch them all and make up your own mind.   I also urge you to spread this article and the videos through the social networks because knowledge is power.  The more people that are aware of this, the more evidence may come to light to further prove some of this.

One thing the creator of these videos is exactly right about is when he says that once you watch them, you will never really be the same again.  I agree with this statement!  You feel like you literally got dropped down the rabbit hole into Wonderland!  Prepare to get your mind blown!

Glenn

Web Sites

*** http://Wellaware1.com/

*** http://www.project.nsearch.com/

1) The Truth Exposed (Part 1)

2) The Truth Exposed (Part 2a)

3) The Truth Exposed (Part 2b)

4) The Truth Exposed (Part 2c)

5) The Truth Exposed (Part 3a)

6) The Truth Exposed (3b)

7) The Truth Exposed (3c)

END

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Ten things you need to know about propagandaby Nancy

Snowhttp://www.nancysnow.com

1 – Truth is not the absence of propaganda; propaganda thrives in presenting different kinds of truth, including half truths, incomplete truths, limited truths, out of context truths. Modern propaganda is most effective when it presents information as accurately as possible. The Big Lie or Tall Tale is the most ineffective propaganda.

2 – Propaganda is not so much designed to change opinions so much as reinforce existing opinions, prejudices, attitudes. The most successful propaganda will lead people to action or inaction through reinforcement of what people already believe to be true.

3 – Education is not necessarily the best protection against propaganda. Intellectuals and “the educated” are the most vulnerable to propaganda campaigns because they (1) tend to absorb the most information (including secondhand information, hearsay, rumors, and unverifiable information); (2) are compelled to have an opinion on matters of the day and thus expose themselves more to others’ opinions and propaganda campaigns; and (3) consider themselves above the influence of propaganda, thereby making themselves more susceptible to propaganda.

4 – What makes the study of propaganda so problematic is that it is generally regarded as the study of the darker side of our nature; the study of their evil versus our good. Those whom we consider evil thrive in propaganda, while we spread only the truth. The best way to study propaganda is to separate one’s ethical judgments from the phenomenon itself. Propaganda thrives and exists, for ethical and unethical purposes.

5 – Propaganda seeks to modify public opinion, particularly to make people conform to the point of view of the propagandist. In this respect, any propaganda is a form of manipulation, to adapt an individual to a particular activity.

6 – Modern forms of communication, including mass media, are instruments of propaganda. Without the monopoly concentration of mass media, there can be no modern propaganda. For propaganda to thrive, the media must remain concentrated, news agencies and services must be limited, the press must be under central command, and radio, film, and television monopolies must pervade.

7 – One must become aware of propaganda, its limitations, its strengths, its influence, and its persuasive qualities, if one is to master it. To say that one is free of the influence of propaganda is a sure sign of its pervasive existence in society.

8 – Modern propaganda began in the United States in the early 20th Century. During World War I, the mass media were integrated with public relations and advertising methods to advocate and maintain support for war. The Creel Committee established the first American publicity campaign to spread and disseminate the gospel of the American way to all corners of the globe.

9 – In the United States, private commercial propaganda is as important to notions of democracy as governmental propaganda. Commercial appeals to the people through advertising, which plays on irrational fantasies and impulses, are some of the most pervasive forms of propaganda in existence today.

10 – Propaganda in a democracy establishes truth in the sense that it creates “true believers” who are as ideologically committed to the democratic progress as others are ideologically committed to its control. The perpetuation of democratic ideals and beliefs in the face of concentrated power in propaganda institutions (media, political institutions) is a triumph of propaganda in modern American society.

Compiled by Nancy Snow, Ph.D. – Source: Jacques Ellul, Propaganda

END

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The Stupefaction of a NationCorporate Media Propaganda and its Weapons of Mass Distractionby Manuel Valenzuelahttp://www.bigeye.com/, Dec. 10, 2003

He who controls the media controls the masses. Today, America’s media is controlled exclusively by fewer than a dozen multinational conglomerates and their many interests. NewsCorp, AOL, Viacom, General Electric, Disney and others have formed a media oligarch that reaches into every American home and most every citizen. These few omnipresent entities hold as paramount the belief in assuring for themselves perpetual loyalty from as many of the masses as possible. Revenue and profit, corporate growth and power, executive pay and ego, these are all determined by us, the masses, and helps explain why the oligarchy has decided to invest and take an interest in all forms of media that reaches and influences us.

We are the lifeblood of the conglomerate, of vital importance, and, as such, it is in its best interest to control as much of our lives as possible, transforming us into obedient servants of obliviousness. Is it no coincidence, then, that the United States has become a nation whose masses no longer question authority or the propaganda that passes for news? Is it any wonder why we seem so ignorant as to what is being done to us and incurious as to what is happening in the world, readily and naively accepting as true everything that is spewed out of our televisions and newspapers? We have allowed the oligarchy to hide the keys of democracy while we carelessly follow it on the road to fascism, where the elite have control of all aspects of our lives, including our mind.

We live at a time when capitalism’s inner demons are beginning to be exhumed from the catacombs of the human ego, when love for the almighty dollar and her sister greed blinds those basking in the hypnotizing light of greenbacks and materialism. This phenomenon, combined with the addictions spurred by power and pomposity, has created in the last several decades a need by the powerful elite to manipulate and condition the masses; to transform and mold us into subservient drones that neither think, question, participate or demand.

Through the use of the television – the most influential instrument of control and propaganda in present day America – conglomerates can direct and sway public opinion on virtually every subject they see fit. The television has become an opiate for the masses and a conduit from where conglomerates can dictate how society thinks, acts and evolves. Our habits and ethics are manipulated, our ideas and beliefs distorted. We are but pawns in a game of corporate capitalism played by a few elites whose economic interests lie in making us docile, conformist and oblivious creatures of mediocrity ingrained with the need to shop and consume. The system instills a sense of paralysis, isolation and uniformity among the masses. We are assimilated to conform to society, to incorporate how the oligarchy wants us to live. The derailment of democracy as we know it is the end result of the reality we are presently experiencing.

As captives to their propaganda, our ears become theirs, our mouths spout their distortions and our minds contemplate what they want us to believe. To the capitalist elites, we are but a product, hundreds of millions of worker bees addicted to televison, easily persuaded and exploited, wishing for the escapist fantasies we see, sold like shares of stock to other corporate entities interested in our existence, in our captive audience. They are the strings by which we move, the drill instructors by which we march and the brain by which we think.

Propaganda, both corporate and governmental, has seemingly exploded with the ever-increasing consolidation of the media. Today few interests own the majority of our nation’s airwaves, newspapers, Internet access, print media and television stations. One company can in essence control everything you hear, see and read on a daily basis, every year of your life. From coast to coast our sources of information are increasingly being sold to wealthy multinational corporations that more and more are mingling into our daily lives, transforming our beliefs, views and goals. American society is guided by them, evolving through the commands that help shape the direction opinion will take. Diversity of opinion and thought is disappearing faster than biodiversity on Earth.

There is nothing more ominous than peering into the not-to-distant future and seeing Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp – one of the world’s largest media companies and owner of the Fox network (We distort, We decide) – have majority ownership of DirecTV, the nation’s largest home satellite TV company that in many ways represents the future of entertainment and information delivery. If the deal is allowed to go through NewsCorp could incessantly shove down our throats its right-wing, pro-Bush, pro-Murdoch business propaganda while shutting off truthful and diverse sources of information. With Bush’s FCC enamored with consolidation it is a good bet that the deal will go through.

Guided by measly crumbs of ten-second news flashes, in paltry thirty-minute news capsules loaded with a potpourri of deceptions and distortions, the masses are subjected to a blitzkrieg-like summary of that news which the elites deem necessary to serving their own interests. These drops of news and information we are granted are designed to quench the already conditioned low level of curiosity among the masses. These morsels have no intellectual worth, no capacity to inform and act more to exacerbate ignorance than to educate. What tidbits of news are allowed to fester are an amalgam of contorted half-truths, cheerleading subjective diatribe and porous reporting that is biased in favor of those conglomerates that employ the reporter. This assures that the decisions and interests of the wealthy and powerful are maintained and accepted by the masses.

What information does not serve the oligarch interest is either suppressed by omission or attacked. Government and corporate interests, such as those prevalent in our occupation of Iraq, prevent realities and truths from surfacing. Instead, propaganda is disseminated that will distort and manipulate the masses into believing exactly what those in power want. Corporate media caters to military interests because in many instances they are part of the military industrial complex. Simply look at General Electric, one of the world’s largest military contractors and owner of NBC and its sister stations. Helping manipulate the masses in time of war allows both the corporate media and the government advance their respective interest in subverting public participation and discourse while advancing a perception of consent around the nation. Forming a symbiotic relationship, both now fused into the same two headed beast, one the master of the other, their combined actions undermine the reality of a world not seen by the American public.

Corporate media, an extension of its mother company, reports pro-business, pro-corporate and anti-labor positions on a constant basis. News bits lean towards those interests that will help the corporation achieve its goals of profit maximization, whether from pushing conservative, right-wing views onto a gullible public or from conditioning audiences towards those views it sees as paramount in securing allegiance. News reports are created not to be right but to have the highest ratings, which in turn means greater profit. The interests of the masses are ignored and exchanged for that debate which will fit the interests of the elite minority. Today, growing reports of an economic recovery linger on the evening news, but can we see it in our lives and in that of our friends and neighbors? No, but good economic news benefits the elite who depend on your wallets to fatten up theirs.

Many low and middle-class citizens, through propaganda, manipulation and constant bombardment by incessant repetition of sound-bite slogans and visual imagery end up supporting those interests that are contrary to their own socioeconomic well-being. These people have in essence been brainwashed into believing that by assenting to the will and opinion of the elite their lives will be made better. Unfortunately for them, their lives are made worse as the continued exploitation and subjugation of their class continues by the same entities they so fervently believe in. This is a system where the powerful few command the weak majority and where the most important decisions are made to the benefit of the elite at the detriment of the rest.

Manipulation of the masses has been made easy with the advent of television. Populations, many made ignorant by pervasive and purposeful determents of education (itself a different article altogether), naturally believe and blindly place their confidence in those “trusted” entities they watch on a daily basis. Television is made an all-comforting apparatus as we warmly welcome home the many celebrities we become enraptured with, each manifesting inside us our desire to partake in the small fictional fantasy world they inhabit. We become numb to reality and its consequences, failing to analyze and question the actual world we reside in due to conditioning we have undergone since early childhood.

Over time we become robots incapable of discerning or even seeking the truth in the news that is provided us. We have been stupefied into believing the garbage blasted from the monitor. We have been trained to never question, always accept and to always flip the remote when our attention runs dry. News is decided on the basis of ratings and on the advertisers paying for commercial spots. Corporate media is but a business where profit is king and where the seeking of customers ñ other corporations buying ad space ñ is of primary importance. We are but a means to an end, mere statistics in the earnings game. Shows are designed not for our enjoyment but to attract and retain as many souls as possible from which to harvest revenue from advertisements and product consumption.

The corporate media inundates us with promotion, news, gossip, tabloid, rumor and innuendo from those celebrities placed high above the pedestal of sanctimony. Our heroes’ daily lives, loves, mistakes and exploits are absorbed into our psyches through the constancy of corporate media’s assault on our brainwaves. Hollywood-hero news is designed to distract us from real world events such as war and recession, keeping our minds pre-occupied and away from information that might wake our slumbering conscious. While showcasing for our viewing pleasure the present tribulations of our halo-anointed superstars of the moment, so-called journalists dissect, analyze and comment about hairstyles, appearance and supposed crimes with award winning passion. Yet real, pertinent and important news is given minor and oftentimes erroneous insight. Throughout the channel-horizon we see the same news, headlines and marketing package. The oligarch’s WMDs have been unlocked; weapons of mass distraction fester like noxious gases in every state, city and home.

Repetitive sound-bites, facetious imagery, verbosity and one-sided and frivolous analysis and commentary by pundits, spinsters, newscasters and recycled “experts” is a daily and rampant occurrence on corporate channels, each spitting out talking points and the company lines and opinion, never forcing the viewer to actually think for herself. Relevant news is brushed aside in seconds so that the latest up-to- the-second news on “Wacko Jacko” is aired. Stories that have no relevance other than to stupefy a nation into ignorance are played and replayed, trumping that news that affects most people. We are witnesses to a form of propaganda that is transforming this nation from a once bright-shining pulsar of informed democracy into a dark nebula of nothingness where everything that matters is neglected and all that degenerates and indoctrinates prospers.

Without an informed and participatory citizenry democracy begins to stumble. Our government is being taken over by the corporate Leviathan and we are indifferent as to its consequences. Crony capitalism is affecting tens of millions through lower wages, layoffs, longer hours, lost savings, tax burdens, lack of health care, increased pollution, perpetual warfare, electoral fraud and the gradual elimination of social services. Yet we remain passive and loyal, ignorant to the Leviathan’s war against us. The oligarchy uses its powers of manipulation to divide and alienate us from each other. The divisive and passionate topics of class, race, culture, religion, party affiliation, immigration and education are constantly hammered into our collective mind, announcing as real myths and stereotypes, classifying peoples into groups and imputing on them the necessary ingredients by which society will marginalize and disdain them. We are told our way of life is in peril, that we must vote against our interests in order to preserve that which we most cherish. As usual, fear is used to attain the Leviathan’s interests. A united society is a threat to the establishment, which is why we are separated and corralled into distinct clusters, conditioned to segregate ourselves from those deemed different and to fear those labeled a threat to our existence.

In its never-ending campaign to control us, corporate media instills fear into our daily lives. It has found a gold mine with the war on terror, becoming yet another fear-mongering profiteer and looter of the American public. Abusing our still fragile memories of 9/11, the corporate media unleashes the vast array of products it manufacturers onto us, using fear as its principle marketing tool, hurling diatribes about our supposed imminent threats looming in every city. Consume, consume, consume the Leviathan commands, knowing full well that our fear will eventually succumb to their perpetual warnings of apocalyptic zeal.

America has become a nation of obedient drones, aimlessly walking empty streets devoid of an informed and participatory population. Our nation is being pillaged in front of our eyes, the government is now in the hands of our masters. Apathetic puppets we have become, free thinking minds we have none. The light that once shined so bright has disappeared in a fictional world of fright. The elite that pull our strings are becoming stronger, objective information is disappearing. The powerful few now control the nation’s media and its ideas, and soon our free will and freedom to think as well. Democracy is disappearing, the Leviathan is swallowing us whole little by little, assuring itself of allegiance from a people who once questioned, were once curious and who once had control of this great nation.

Manuel Valenzuela is an attorney, consultant, freelance writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel that will be published in 2004. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and can be reached at manuel@valenzuelas.ne

END

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Genocide in IraqThe Numbers Tell the Horrific Story of a Lying Government and Complicit Corporate Media by Kim Petersenhttp://www.dissidentvoice.org, October 16, 2006

As reported by BBC News [1], a forthcoming study in the academic peer review journal Lancet estimates the extra number of people killed because of the aggression-occupation of Iraq at 655,000 — up from a previous Lancet study that estimated 100,000 deaths since the US-UK attacked Iraq. [2] All the killing has its origin in US-UK government lies. Weapons of mass destruction were just a pretext as acknowledged by Ziocon Paul Wolfowitz in a Vanity Fair interview, and the invasion was a foregone matter as revealed by the Downing Street Memos. [3]

There is an ongoing genocide in Iraq. What else can over 600,000 killings be deemed but genocide? A price “worth it”? [4] George W. Bush, who some consider the elected president of the United States, labeled the killings in Darfur as genocide over a year ago. [5] But, in totality and proportionally, the number of deaths in Sudan pale in comparison to the number of deaths in Iraq. Sudan with a population of 41,236,378 (July 2006, CIA Factbook estimate) is purported by some sources to have incurred 200,000 deaths from “fighting, famine and disease.” [6] Using the figure cited in the latest Lancet to-be-published study, Iraq with a population of 26,783,383 (July 2006, CIA Factbook estimate) has a far greater extraordinary fatality rate covering approximately the same period of time.

The genocide in Iraq is perpetrated by US imperialist interests. Despite the large number of body bags returning to the US (at best a lowball figure, as who can really trust the number of US troop fatalities reported given the mendacity and secrecy of the Bush administration — not to forget the complicity of the Democratic Party?), the corporate media continues to pump out the outrageous disinformation and propaganda supporting societal destruction and murder. The media is an ensanguined partner in imperialism.

Why the media pumps out the disinformation is understandable: it is effective in swaying much of the public to the “national interest” — i.e., the interests of corporate “elites.”

The duped support imperialism

A 10 October e-mailing from Project Censored exemplifies the effectiveness of disinformation through a unique methodology for gathering and analyzing polling data. The data collected and analyzed by the firm Retro Poll reveals a connection between people’s ignorance and the opinions they hold. Not surprisingly, misinformation or disinformation appears to affect public perceptions.

Retro Poll’s methodology asks both factual and opinion questions and compares the opinion responses on accurate and inaccurate understanding.

In a recent Retro Poll phone survey, 151 Americans in 40 states were contacted. Among the results were that only 53 (35%) knew that none of the 19 al Qaeda members alleged to be directly involved in the 9-11 attack were Iraqis; about the purported connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, 23% said there were no ties while 28% didn’t know; only 44% knew the International Red Cross has charged the US with systematic torture at Guantanamo; only 40% knew of the “extraordinary rendition” of prisoners by the US to countries that torture.

Furthermore,

86% of people who think Saddam and Al Qaeda worked together agreed that prisoners held at Guantanamo without trials must all be guilty simply for being picked up, while two thirds (67%) of those who knew the truth about Saddam and Al Qaeda reject blanket assumptions about prisoners’ guilt. Three quarters (75%) of those who have not heard about the “renditions” in which prisoners have been secretly transferred between nations say they think that all the prisoners at Guantanamo are guilty, compared to just 39% of those who did answer the rendition question accurately. Statistically such differences were highly unlikely to occur by chance (far less than 1%).

“But the important point,” stressed Dr. Marc Sapir, executive director of Retro Poll, “is how strongly these opinion differences are linked to bad information in our surveys.” Most of the bad information came from TV sources; about half of the TV viewers cited Fox or CNN as their source.

Safir warned, “What people think they know — if it is consistently wrong — can endanger our nation in a world environment of war, crisis and US dominance.”

Giving credit where it is due

The BBC News noted that the Lancet findings are “vigorously disputed by supporters of the war in Iraq, including US President George W Bush.” Bush described the methodology of the discredited researchers as “pretty well discredited.” One cannot help wondering about how thoroughly discredited a warring president must be who justified an invasion based on phantom WMD, leading to the untimely killing of so many people, who described the mission as accomplished but whose troops remains mired in the death and mayhem that engulfs Iraq.

With his credibility in tatters, Bush still uttered: “Six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just … it’s not credible.”

The BBC News mentioned that the 655,000 figure has a built-in “survivor bias.” A bias toward underreporting deaths is reasoned to exist for slain resistance fighter, infant mortality, and the fact of completely annihilated families.

The corporate media abysmally covered the Iraqi civilian fatalities first study published in the Lancet. It is expected that the corporate media will once again focus on the inexpert politicians’ opinions as to what constitutes proper methodology. The effectiveness of such corporate media reporting will depend on the public continuing to trust a media steeped in a genocidal project.

There is, after all, another media that is not beholden to profit nor the spilling of blood to obtain greater profit.

Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives on the outskirts of Seoul in southern Korea. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org.

ENDNOTES

[1] “‘Huge rise’ in Iraqi death tolls,” BBC News, 11 October 2006.__[2] Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham, “Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey, Lancet, 29 October 2004.__[3] Downing Street Memos. “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”__[4] In 1996, then US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, gave the infamous necrophilic reply that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was a price “worth it” in a 60 Minutes interview.__[5] Jim VandeHei, “In Break With U.N., Bush Calls Sudan Killings Genocide,” Washington Post, 2 June 2005. __[6] “Sudan: Obasanjo Warns of ‘Near-Genocide’ in Darfur,” allAfrica.com, 11 October 2006. About genocide in Darfur, Nigeria’s president Olusegun Obasanjo finds Bush to be hasty.

 

END

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Excerpts from the bookInformation WarAmerican Propaganda, Free Speech and Opinion Control since 9-11by Nancy SnowSeven Stories Press, 2003

p14
Walter Lippmann

“The public must be put in its place…so that each of us can live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd.”

p19
1960s anti-war poster

“War is good for business. Invest your son.”

p22
In a controlled society, propaganda is obvious and reluctantly tolerated for fear of the negative consequences. In an open society, such as the United States, the hidden and integrated nature of the propaganda best convinces people that they are not being manipulated.

p23
“Un-American” is a favorite name-calling device to stain the reputation of someone who disagrees with official policies and positions. It conjures up old red-baiting techniques that stifle free speech and dissent on public issues. It creates a chilling effect on people to stop testing the waters of our democratic right to question the motives of our government.

p31
As long as we continue to allow the media to function as a manipulative mind manager without fear or disfavor, we’ll continue to see the brain-numbing effects of a society underexposed to real information and analysis, rendered incapable of critical judgment and social resistance.

p31
The public’s dilemma is to know how to consume the news with an ability to extract opinion from the simple facts and evidence… The best solution to the fact/opinion dilemma is to acquire more diverse information across the ideological and geological divide. If you find yourself relying on one source of information for the news, whether right or left, you are likely to be exposed to more opinion that reinforces rather than challenges your own.

p32
Walter Lippmann, considered the father of modern American journalism, was also a writer of propaganda leaflets during World War I. He saw how easily people could fall for lies small and big, particularly captured prisoners of war who were easily manipulated by their captors. Lippmann became so disillusioned by the public’s inability to analyze policy that he wrote The Phantom Public, in which he basically claimed that the public had no role to play in addressing important questions of state because the media system created a pseudoreality of stereotypes and emotional impressions along with facts. The public is easily manipulated, not because we’re necessarily dumb, but because we’re ignorant. We don’t have the necessary tools to counter propaganda.

p33
Much of our media now are so image-rich and content-poor that they just serve to capture the eye, manipulate our emotions, and short-circuit our impulses. The propaganda and advertising industries therefore function increasingly like adult obedience industries. They instruct their audiences in how to feel and what to think, and increasing numbers of people seem to accept and follow the cues without question.

p37
Censorship ends the free flow of information so essential for democracy and makes dissent less likely. Propaganda injects false or misleading information into the media in order to influence the behavior of populations here and abroad… News organizations often willingly collude with efforts to censor because media owners are members of the political elite themselves and therefore share the goals and outcomes of government leaders.

p39
Since World War I, the United States has borrowed and adapted many of the methods of British political intelligence that were first developed by the English aristocracy to manage its global empire. Most of our secrecy classification system in the United States is based on the British model. Britain has also long been a master of propaganda and deception. The British authors Phillip Knightly and Philip Taylor have shown in their work how the British propaganda machine of World War I inspired later efforts by the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Interestingly, Britain, with its Official Secrets Act, has never shared the American traditional ideals about the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know. Nevertheless, the steady erosion of these ideals in the United States can be traced in part to the special relationship and mutual admiration between the United States and Great Britain.

p40
… propaganda can be more easily injected into news from the inside than from the outside. Using CIA documents, the American reporter Carl Bernstein was able to identify more than 400 American journalists who secretly carried out CIA assignments over a twenty-five-year period between 1945 and 1970. Among media executives who cooperated with the CIA were the president of CBS, William Paley, Henry Luce of Time, Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. The most valued CIA assets were the New York Times, CBS, and Time, Inc. The New York Times alone provided cover to the CIA for at least ten operatives between 1950 and 1966. Bernstein found that those journalists who played along with the CIA by signing secrecy agreements were most likely to succeed in their careers because the CIA connection gave them access to the best stories. The journalists and their CIA handlers often shared the same educational background and the same ideal that both were serving the national-security interests of the United States. Included in the many examples of the intelligence community/media revolving door are: (1) the former CIA director Richard Helms (mid-1960s to early 1970s) was once a UPI wire service correspondent. (2) William Casey, the CIA director under Ronald Reagan was once chief counsel and a board member at CapCities, which absorbed ABC News in Reagan’s second term. (3) Two prominent journalists, Edward R. Murrow and Carl Rowan, served as directors of the U.S. Information Agency under Kennedy, while the NBC Nightly News reporter John Chancellor was director of the government international propaganda radio service, Voice of America, under L. B. Johnson. (4) The first deputy director of the NSA, Joseph H. Ream, had previously worked as executive vice president of CBS, and after NSA, he returned to CBS without disclosing his association with the supersecretive agency. (5} Perhaps best known is the World War I propaganda apparatus known as the Committee on Public Information chaired by the progressive journalist George Creel with the assistance of Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Times of London and the Daily Mail, and a central figure in the massive British propaganda effort of World War I.

The point to be made is that the intelligence and media communities are and have been closely affiliated with each other. What such collusion leads to is censorship, such as when Arthur Sulzberger prevented his reporter Sydney Gruson from covering the United States-backed overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954 at the direct request of Sulzberger’s good friend Allen Dulles.

p42
Norman Solomon and Martin Lee wrote about Reagan-era propaganda strategies:

The pattern was set early in his administration: leak a scare story about foreign enemies, grab the headlines. If, much later, reporters poke holes in the cover story, so what? The truth will receive far less attention than the original lie, and by then another round of falsehoods will be dominating the headlines.

p43
A more sinister version of domestic propaganda insertion is CIA sponsorship of global media, including Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty (Cuba), Radio Free Asia, and numerous print publications, such as Prevves (France), Der Monat (Germany), El Mundo Nuevo (Latin America), Quiet and Thought (India), Argumenten (Sweden), and La Prensa (Nicaragua).

p46
The Tyndall Report by the media analyst Andrew Tyndall analyzed 414 stories on Iraq from the Major Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) between September 2002 and February 2003 and found that all but 34 stories originated at three government agencies-The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.

… According to the Tyndall Report, of 574 stories about Iraq on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news aired between Bush’s address to the United Nations on September 12, 2002, and March 7, 2003, just 12 stories dealt with the aftermath of the war with Iraq.

p47
The American newsroom … lacks diversity not only in ethnic, racial, and gender categories, but perhaps more important, a lack of diversity in upbringing and outlook… This attitude creates a bias born of class, race, and socioeconomic heritage.

p47
James Carey, a scholar at Columbia University and author of Television and the Press

“There is a bit of a reformer in anyone who enters journalism. And reformers are always going to make conservatives uncomfortable … because conservatives, by and large, want to preserve the status quo.”

p48
In the federal government, the largest public-relations division is inside the Pentagon, where government public-relations specialists provide M-F feeds to the national media.

p50
It was 1917. Creel, an American journalist and editor and, more importantly, an F.O.W. (Friend of Woodrow), convinced President Wilson that what the country needed was not a Committee on Censorship to control the mind of the overwhelmingly pacifistic and apathetic American public’s entry into World War I. No indeed, George Creel had the clever idea then to create a Committee on Public Information “for the production and dissemination as widely as possible of the truth about America’s participation in the war.” The CPI was an ad hoc committee whose membership included the leading persuasion and propaganda experts of the day, the avowed dean of American journalism, Walter Lippmann, and Edward Bernays, the grandfather of American public relations. But it was George Creel, that early George, who commanded the spotlight and knew that to win the Great War, he had to convince the American people, like George number 43 does in the first war of the twenty-first century, that this war was a fight over ideas and values more than a fight over land, people, and resources. Controlling public opinion was a major force during World War I as it was to become in World War II and now in the War on Terror. The issues of the day would be fought in the media and mental mindfields of men and women as well as on the minefields of battle. Creel wrote of his mission:

In no degree was the Committee an agency of censorship, a machinery of concealment or repression. Its emphasis throughout was on the open and the positive. At no point did it seek or exercise authorities under those war laws that limited the freedom of speech and press. In all things, from first to last, without halt or change, it was a plain publicity proposition, a vast enterprise in salesmanship, the world’s greatest adventures in advertising…We did not call it propaganda, for that word, in German hands, had come to be associated with deceit and corruption. Our effort was educational and informative throughout, for we had such confidence in our case as to feel that no other argument was needed than the simple, straightforward presentation of the facts.

What does George Creel teach us now about the War on Terrorism? In order to win the information war then, the administration, through Creel’s Committee, had to convince the population that the Great War was not the war of the Wilson administration, but rather a war of one hundred million people: “What we had to have was no mere surface unity, but a passionate belief in the justice of America’s cause that moulds the people of the United States into one white-hot mass instinct of fraternity, devotion, courage, and deathless determination. The war-will, the will-to-win, of a democracy depends upon the degree to which each one of all the people of that democracy can concentrate and consecrate body and soul and spirit in the supreme effort of service and sacrifice. What had to be driven home was that all business was the nation’s business, and every task a common task for a single purpose.”

To George Creel, the peace and labor movements of the early twentieth century created unacceptable conditions for generating a mass warmaking mindset. To turn a pacifist and neutral populace into one white-hot mass instinct, Creel made the Committee a totally integrative enterprise, with “no part of the Great War machinery that we did not touch, no medium of appeal that we did not employ.” This included print, radio, motion pictures, telegraph, and cable messages and worldwide circulation of President Wilson’s official addresses from Teheran to Tokyo, posters, and signboards, along with a volunteer service corps of 75,000 speakers known as the Four-Minute Men, who worked in 5,200 communities and made a total of 755,190 speeches, with “every one having the carry of shrapnel.”

The Committee on Public Information was in the business of mobilizing world public opinion in support of American participation in the war. By the time of World War II, the United States government and military institutions were fully engaged in an all-out information war that built upon the efforts put forth by the ambitious George Creel.

The Bush administration’s war on terror is in the same business of mobilizing mass public opinion both here and abroad.

p53
In the early months of the October 2001 ground offensive in Afghanistan, the propaganda war began to heat up and the truth about war was, in fact, becoming its first casualty. The public diplomacy section of the U.S. State Department, under the leadership of Charlotte Beers, was beginning its global task of reshaping the image of America through international diplomatic efforts. Beers, a former Madison Avenue advertising executive, was assigned the most ambitious branding assignment of her life-repackaging America’s image so to “sell” the war against terrorism to the Islamic world.

p56
The information war on opinion and free speech intensified with the creation of several post-9/11 nonprofit organizations. These included Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT), whose intention is to “take their task to those groups and individuals who fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the war we are facing.” Among those targeted by AVOT were Congressman Dennis Kucinich, chair of the Progressive Caucus and his cochair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper’s magazine; and Robert Kuttner, editor of The American Prospect. AVOT’s work followed from the work of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which issued a November 2001 report, “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America,” that condemned dissident anti-war language propagated by liberal professors on American college campuses. The co-founder of Empower America, one of the wealthiest of the right-wing Washington, D.C., think tanks and former Secretary of Education under President George Bush, Sr. (George 41) William Bennett, has said, “We do not wish to silence people, ” and added that AVOT plans to hold teach-ins and public education events, particularly on college campuses. Both organizations are united in their belief that the United States must retain its superpower empire for global goodness and redemption, keep military ethics and power the primary focus of the United States response to 9/11, and shout down the “morally coward liberals” on American university campuses and in Europe.

p61
Propaganda is defined as any organized or concerted group effort or movement to spread a particular doctrine or a system of doctrines or principles.

p61
Three important characteristics of propaganda are that ( l ) it is intentional and purposeful, designed to incite a particular reaction or action in the target audience; (2) it is advantageous to the propagandist or sender which is why advertising, public relations, and political campaigns are considered forms of propaganda; and (3) it is usually one-way and informational (as in a mass media campaign), as opposed to two-way and interactive communication.

p61
President George W. Bush became an effective commander-in-chief of propaganda because of his ability to frame the war on terrorism in vivid and simplistic either/or terms. “The propagandist strives for simplicity and vividness, coupled with speed and broad impact. He stimulates popular emotional drives…in so doing, he must for the most part bypass factual discussion and debate of any sort.” [Alfred McClung Lee, How to Understand Propaganda, 1952]

p63
The message to the American public is to simply define the problem as an attack on freedom, to present a simplified, readily understood case that “terrorist parasites” want to destroy freedom and democracy. To support the case, an effective propagandist wants to make sure that the case includes plenty of omnibus phrases and symbols-American flags, U.S. Armed Forces, and experts who can lead us, like the avuncular Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as well as a suddenly popular wartime President. Omnibus words such as “freedom” and “liberty” are the shorthand symbols of the propagandists-they carry vague general meanings that arouse
emotions (fear or hate of our enemy, pride in one’s own leadership, in our armed forces). These symbols provide a shorthand dictionary for the conflict. So when you are asked why we fight, you can answer quickly and with a moral imperative: “We fight to defend freedom.”

p64
… the 9/11 attacks were packaged as our generation’s Pearl Harbor and the United States invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as Operations Defending Democracy, Liberty, and Freedom-all of which evokes positive emotional reactions in majorities of people. This leaves little wiggle room for someone to be against the war, because what does being against the war then mean? You don’t support freedom, liberty, or democracy? President Bush quickly succeeded in defining the parameters of our national dialogue in the war on terrorism when he said, “Either you are against us or you are with us.” He wasn’t talking just to the terrorist “parasites” but also to the American people …

p64
“I think this conflict is going to require a suspension of freedom and rights unlike anything we have seen, at least since World War II, ” said Marlin Fitzwater, the press secretary to Bush, Sr., in the New York Times of October 7, 2001.

p66
Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public
[The public is] “a mere phantom. It is an abstraction. The public must be put in its place so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd.”

p67
Bill Bennett is the Director of Empower America, one of the wealthiest of the right-wing Washington, D.C. think tanks, whose motto is “ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well-being, freedom and individual responsibility.” Empower America is not your typical inside-the Beltway think tank that issues annual reports or occasional policy statements known as white papers that go unread on some Congress member’s staff assistant’s desk. Empower America is a full-frontal assault organization involved in changing national policy through active engagement of public opinion… Empower America’s board of directors includes former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen, Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick. But Bill Bennett serves as Empower America’s omnipresent spokesman. Empower America favors a foreign policy that rejects “shortsighted isolationism and imprudent multilateralism,” which could be redefined as advocating international intervention whenever the United States unilateral interests are at stake. Bennett, who served as Ronald Reagan’s education secretary and George Bush Sr.’s “drug czar … joined forces with former CIA director James Woolsey in the spring of 2002 to found Americans for Victory over Terrorism f (AVOT) as a sort of public relations arm of the Bush war on terrorism. A full-page ($128,000 1 AVOT advertisement in the March 10, 2002 Sunday edition of the New York Times attacked the radical Islam of the twenty-first century as an enemy “no less dangerous and no less determined than the twin menaces of fascism and communism we faced in the 20th century.” But AVOT went further by blasting domestic enemies “who are attempting to use this opportunity to promulgate their agenda of ‘blame America first.”‘ In that second flank attack, AVOT aligned with Lynne Cheney (wife of Vice President Dick Cheney), who helped to organize the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), whose fall 2001 report, “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America, ” citing blame-America-itis and anti-war bias among hundreds of American professors. The report included 117 critical quotes from university students and professors in the early days after 9/11 to show proof that American universities were the “weak link” in the war on terror.

p71

University professors remain easy targets for allegedly causing their students to hate the United States by raising questions about the motives and policies of the government. To Bennett [Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism] declarations of war seem to imply cessation of critical thinking, especially on college campuses:

In short, many in the “peace party” who cloak their ~ arguments in moral objections to war are really expressing their hostility to America, and it does the cause of clarity no good to pretend otherwise. That hostility-in more than a few cases, hatred is a more accurate word-is many-sided and has a long history … But where armed conflict is concerned, the arguments of today’s “peace party” are basically rooted in the period of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. It was then that the critique of the United States as an imperialist or ‘colonialist’ power, wreaking its evil will on the hapless peoples of the third world, became a kind of slogan on the Left. This same critique would, in due course, find a home in certain precincts of the Democratic party, and in more diluted form, would inform the policy preferences of the Carter and Clinton administrations, and it is with us still. It is especially prevalent in our institutions of higher learning.

If you follow Bennett’s logic, then America as a country worth fighting for must include a fight that is absolutist in language, thought, and action. If you don’t absolutely defend your country, right or wrong, the logical fallacy goes, then you give aid and comfort to the enemy.

p73
“In retrospect and in balance, the remarkable control of American consciousness during and after the war [Gulf War I] must be regarded as a signal achievement of mind management, perhaps even more impressive than the rapid military victory.” Herbert I. Schiller wrote these words in May 1991 for the French newspaper, Le Monde Diplomatique, to explain the first Bush administration’s great success in controlling information about the war and American press acquiescence in withholding information that the public needed in order to make a sound decision about critical issues of war and peace. It wasn’t until after the Persian Gulf War that the http://www.udesen.com press claimed any complicity in its reportage, as when Tom Wicker of the New York Times reported “the real and dangerous point is that the Bush administration and the military were so successful in controlling information about the war [Gulf War I] they were able to tell the public just about what they wanted the public to know. Perhaps worse, press and public, largely acquiesced in the disclosure of only selected information.” That public acquiescence followed from the American people’s habits of media consumption. As Michael Deaver, spin doctor to President Reagan, gloated in the New York Times, “Television is where 80% of the people get their “information, ” and what was done to control that information in the six weeks of war “couldn’t [have] been better.”

A March-April 1991 Columbia Journalism Review (March-April 1991) survey of Gulf War coverage noted how much information about domestic dissent against the war was kept off those television screens. As pointed out by the consumer advocate and subsequent Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in the article, the January 26, 1991, peace march in Washington, D.C. was “probably the biggest citizen demonstration ever…in winter,” but CBS gave it a four-second mention. Similarly, a senior House Democrat, Henry Gonzales of Texas, who chaired the House Banking Committee, sponsored a resolution to impeach President Bush on the war in Iraq, but this action went unreported in the broadcast media. Bob Sipschen, Newsweek correspondent in the Gulf, wrote in the Los Angeles Times March 1991 that “Desert Storm was really two wars: The Allies against the Iraqis and the military against the press. I had more guns pointed at me by Americans and Saudis who were into controlling the press than in all my years of actual combat.”

p75
The United States media were as utterly unconcerned with Iraqi casualties in 1991 as they would later be unconcerned with Afghan citizen casualties in fall 2001 and again with Iraqi casualties in 2003. When asked in March 1991 about the number of Iraqi dead from United States air and land operations, then General Colin Powell stated, “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in.”

p81
In the case of Iraq, slogans and facile statements of freedom over tyranny from the President seem to satisfy the appetite of the press, while opposing thought from the grassroots requires evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Is the lesson of September 11 as simple as this President would have us believe? Why do we as a nation continue to acquiesce in support of an administration that gets away with simplifying very complex situations of life and death? In part, the situation is due to instant bestsellers like Woodward’s Bush at War that promote individual personality over the social context. He could have written America at War, a sort of people’s history of life after 9/11, but that would have required more than a two-hour one-on-one with the President at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. More important, Jacques Ellul writes in Propaganda, there can be no unanimity of thought without the steady propaganda of a political chief, “in whom everyone finds himself, in whom everyone hopes and projects himself, and for whom everything is possible and permissible.”

The President’s pet slogan, “war on terrorism” remains a convenient state tactic to control public opinion, expand the ‘ climate of fear, and shut down opposition to war in Iraq and elsewhere.

p82
Lt. General William Odom (Ret.) U.S. Army said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal

“Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It’s a tactic. It’s about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we’re going to win that war. We’re not going to win the war on terrorism…

p82
The purpose of such propaganda phrases as “war on terrorism” and attacking “those who hate freedom” is to paralyze individual thought as well as to condition people to act as one mass, as when President Bush attempted to end debate on Iraq by claiming that the American people were of one voice. The modern war president removes the individual nature of those who live in it by forcing us into a uniform state where the complexities of those we fight are erased. The enemy-terrorism, Iraq, Bin Laden, Hussein-becomes one threatening category, something to be defeated and destroyed, so that the public response will be one of reaction to fear and threat rather than creatively and independently thinking for oneself. Our best hope for overcoming perpetual thinking about war and perpetual fear about both real and imagined threats is to question our leaders and their use of empty slogans that offer little rationale, explanation or historical context.

p83
The triumph of absolutist rhetoric like terror and freedom or good and evil impedes our ability to distinguish real threats, which must be combatted and controlled, from self-serving threats that reinforce state power and control over public freedom. Nevertheless, we cannot blame President Bush or the press for our own lack of initiative in organizing ongoing resistance to such power and control. Democracy demands constant vigilance.

p85
Secretary of State [Colin] Powell promised, “I’m going to be bringing people into the public diplomacy function of the department who are going to change from just selling us in the old USIA way to really branding foreign policy, branding the department, marketing the department, marketing American values to the world and not just putting out pamphlets.”

p95
The question remains of whether it is necessary to rebrand the United States. To many throughout the world, America, already a brand, a multitrillion-dollar brand of mass consumerism, cultural and military dominance, led by such worldwide symbols as Marlboro, McDonald’s, Boeing, CocaCola, and General Electric. The selling of America, even in a new format or packaging, may add to the global perception that continues to plague the United States. America, Inc. is presented in glittering generalities of good freedom and democracy fighting evil tyranny and fanaticism the world over, but our global audience knows that the reality of America is quite different from the rhetoric. Despite all the branding, to many the United States is seen as a violent international aggressor with a military doctrine of open preemptive strike, the world’s leader in arms trafficking and economic globalization, an aggressive opponent of the International Criminal Court and anti-global warming treaties, and a staunch supporter of Israel throughout its brutal military occupation and collective punishment of Palestinians. For these reasons, and as long as United States international interventions favors military solutions over humanitarian assistance, many parts of the world will continue to be receptive to the kind of anti-United States sentiment and rhetoric of groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

p97
… the United States cares most about market share and least about sharing.

p113
Before the start of World War II, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was established in the United States by Edward Filene of Filene’s Basement, who, along with other prominent businesspeople and academics of the day, was frustrated with media manipulations. IPA was founded in October 1937 “to conduct objective, nonpartisan studies in the field of propaganda and public opinion…it seeks to help the intelligent citizen to detect and to analyze propaganda, by revealing the agencies, techniques, and devices used by the propagandist.” IPA disseminated its research through monthly bulletins, special reports, adult-education programs, and curricula for high schools and colleges. IPA disbanded after the United States entered World War II but left behind many publications that continue to inform what we know now about how propaganda influences our thoughts and actions. The organization is most famous for identifying the seven key propaganda devices most commonly practiced: (1) Name Calling: associating an idea with a bad label; (2) Card Stacking: literally “to stack the cards” for or against an idea by selective use of facts or logic; (3) Bandwagon: to give the impression that the idea is supported by everyone; (4) Testimonial: associating a person of some respected authority (doctor) or visibility (celebrity) with the idea; (5) Plain Folks: associating an idea’s merit with its being “of the people”; (6) Transfer: carrying the prestige or disapproval of something over to something else such as displaying the American flag as an emotional transfer device to represent one’s patriotism; (7) Glittering Generality: associating something with a virtue word; opposite of name-calling (freedom, democracy); often used to make us accept a concept without thoroughly examining its application.

END

&&&

The New Communications Cartel

from the

Preface to the Fifth Edition (1997)

of the book

The Media Monopoly

by Ben H. Bagdikian

published by Beacon Press, 1997

     In the last 5 years, a small number of the country’s largest industrial corporations has acquired more public communications power-including ownership of the news-than any private businesses have ever before possessed in world history.

     Nothing in earlier history matches this corporate group’s power to penetrate the social landscape. Using both old and new technology, by owning each other’s shares, engaging in joint ventures as partners, and other forms of cooperation, this handful of giants has created what is, in effect, a new communications cartel within the United States.

     At issue is not just a financial statistic, like production numbers or ordinary industrial products like refrigerators or clothing. At issue is the possession of power to surround almost every man, woman, and child in the country with controlled images and words, to socialize each new generation of Americans, to alter the political agenda of the country. And with that power comes the ability to exert influence that in many ways is greater than that of schools, religion, parents, and even government itself.

     Aided by the digital revolution and the acquisition of subsidiaries that operate at every step in the mass communications process, from the creation of content to its delivery into the home, the communications cartel has exercised stunning influence over national legislation and government agencies, an influence whose scope and power would have been considered scandalous or illegal twenty years ago.

     The new communications cartel has been made possible by the withdrawal of earlier government intervention that once aspired to protect consumers and move toward the ideal of diversity of content and ownership in the mass media. Government’s passivity has emboldened the new giants to boast openly of monopoly and their ability to project news, commercial messages, and graphic images into the consciousness and subconscious of almost every American.

     Strict control of public information is not new in the world, but historical dictatorships lacked the late twentieth century’s digital multimedia and distribution technology. As the country approaches the millennium, the new cartel exercises a more complex and subtle kind of control.

*****

     Because each of the dominant firms has adopted a strategy of creating its own closed system of control over every step in the national media process, from creation of content to its delivery, no content-news, entertainment, or other public messages-will reach the public unless a handful of corporate decision-makers decide that it will. Smaller independents have always helped provide an alternative and still do, but they have become ever more vulnerable to the power of the supergiants. As the size and financial power of the new dominant firms have escalated, so has their coercive power to offer a bothersome smaller competitor a choice of either selling out at once or slowly facing ruin as the larger firm uses its greater financial resources to undercut the independent competitor on price and motion. In the process, consumers have become less influential than ever.

*****

     Perhaps the most troubling power of the new cartel is its control of the main body of news and public affairs information. The reporting of news has always been a commercial enterprise and this has always created conflicts of interest. But the behavior of the new corporate controllers of public information has produced a higher level of manipulation of news to pursue the owners’ other financial and political goals. In the process, there has been a parallel shrinkage of any sense of obligation to serve the non-commercial information needs of public citizenship.

     The idea of government interceding to protect consumers is contrary to the ideology of most of the media cartel’s leaders, who with few exceptions, pursue the conservative political and economic notion of an uninhibited free market that operates without social or moral obligations.

*****

… earlier, it was possible to describe the dominant firms in each separate medium-daily newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, and movies. With each passing year … the number of controlling firms in all these media has shrunk: from fifty corporations in 1984 to twenty-six in 1987, followed by twenty-three in l990, and then, as the borders between the different media began to blur, to less than twenty in 1993. In 1996 the number of media corporations with dominant power in society is closer to ten. In terms of media possessions and resources, the newest dominant ten are Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation Limited (Murdoch), Sony, Tele-Communications, Inc., Seagram (TV, movies, cable, books, music), Westinghouse, Gannett, and General Electric.

*****

     The magnitude of the new media cartel’s power is reflected m the simple dollar size of recent transactions that produced it.

     At the time of the first edition of this book, in 1983, the biggest media merger in history was a $340-million matter, when the Gannett Company, a newspaper chain, bought Combined Communications Corporation, an owner of billboards, newspapers, and broadcast stations. In 1996, when Disney merged with ABC/Cap Cities, it was a $19-billion deal-fifty-six times larger. This union produced a conglomerate that is powerful in every major mass medium: newspapers, magazines, books, radio, broadcast television, cable systems and programming, movies, recordings, video cassettes, and, through alliances and joint ventures, growing control of the golden wires into the American home-telephone and cable.

     But the quantity of money involved is the least disturbing measure of events. More ominous is how this degree of concentrated control translates into the power to shape the country’s political and economic agendas, to create models of behavior for each generation, and to achieve ever more aggressive, self-serving access to every level of government.

     A prime exhibit of the cartel’s new political power is the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This act was billed as a transformation of sixty-two years of federal communications law for the purpose of “increasing competition.” It was, with some exceptions, largely described as such by most of the major news media. But its most dramatic immediate result has been to reduce competition and open the path to cooperation among the giants.

     The new law opened the media field to new competitors, like the large regional telephone companies, on the theory that cable and telephone companies would compete for customers within the same community. In practice, the power of one company in television was enlarged to permit a single firm to reach 35 percent of all American households. The act made it possible, for the first time, for a single company to own more than one radio station in the same market. A single owner was now permitted to own both TV stations and cable systems in the same market. License periods for broadcasters were expanded.

     The Telecommunications Act of 1996 swept away even the minimal consumer and diversity protections of the 1934 act that preceded it. Though this was an intricate bill of 280 pages that would transform the American media landscape, its preparation and passage did not meet the standards of study and public participation that ordinarily would precede an historic transformation of a major influence on society.

*****

… Of the 1,500 daily newspapers in the country, 99 percent are the only daily in their cities. Of the 11,800 cable systems, all but a handful are monopolies in their cities. Of the 11,000 commercial radio stations, six or eight formats (all-talk, all-news, variations of rock music, rap, adult contemporary, etc.), with an all but uniform content within each format, dominate programming in every city. The four commercial television networks and their local affiliates carry programs of essentially the same type, with only the meagerly financed public stations offering a genuine alternative. Thus, most of the media meet the tongue-twisting argot of Wall Street in J being oligopolies that are collections of local monopolies. This means few choices for citizens looking for genuine differences.

*****

     Almost all of the media leaders, possibly excepting Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting, are political conservatives, a factor in the drastic shift in the entire spectrum of national politics to a brand of conservatism once thought of as “extreme.”

*****

… most conservatives consider news bias to be any news that departs from the promotion of conservatism and corporate values.

*****

     Domination of corporate values lies behind another profound imbalance in the news. Almost every metropolitan paper in the country has a whole section devoted to “Business,” which, with rare exceptions, combines service to financiers and investors with presentation of corporate leaders as heroes or exciting combatants. There is no such systematic section for consumers, though most of the country’s readers are not investors but consumers. When Time Warner and Turner merged, the New York Times devoted a full page to the story, but not one sentence was devoted to what the merger might mean to the national audience of viewers and listeners. “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” broadcasting’s centerpiece of non-commercial news, also ran a major segment on the merger with no mention of its probable impact on the audience.

     The daily, even hourly, pursuit of corporate and stock market information by the standard news outlets is in stark contrast to their faint concern with the finances and economics of the majority of American families. From 1987 to 1994, the purchasing power of the minimum wage dropped 35 percent. Only years later when a political battle erupted over a move to increase the minimum wage was there any reporting in the standard news that noted the hardship this represented for the most needful American workers. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 35 percent in seven years it would have been an ongoing and urgent issue in newscasts and on page one in newspapers, with insistence that official action be taken.

     Another zone of near silence has led to ominous signs in the economy and a threat to social peace. In the United States, maldistribution of income-the growing gap between rich and non-rich-is among the worst among developed countries. Years of systematic silence on the matter in the news media has permitted an accumulation of public distrust, anger, and frustration.

     Economist Lester Thurow has said of the widening gap, “Probably no country has ever had as large a shift in the distribution of wealth without having gone through a revolution or losing a major war.” But the minimal appearance in the news during the years when this maldistribution was clearly developing has kept both its cause and possible solutions largely invisible – and therefore out of the political arena. As always, the public’s lack of good information during a time of duress has led to finding scapegoats, and to increasing domestic right-wing terrorism of a sort once thought limited to the Third World.

     In an era of headlines on cutting welfare to the poor, there has been no counterpoint emphasis on the $86 billion a year in taxpayers’ subsidies (welfare) to American corporations, some of which help support the relocation of their operations to other countries, resulting in massive employee layoffs within the United States.

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     Commercial television broadcasting’s treatment of children and their needs continues to be a national disgrace. In 1951, when far fewer television channels existed, there were twenty-seven hours a week of children’s programming. By the l990s, with far more channels, there were only three or four hours a week on all networks.

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     The role of children in modern commercial television is that of targets-targets for commercials that sell snacks, soft drinks, fashionable clothes, and toys. The idea of the child as future responsible citizen seems not to exist on commercial TV. That role seems to be left to public television, whose appropriations conservatives and commercial interests have done their best to kill, and which in response has itself become dependent upon corporate advertising.

     In the reign of the new media cartel, the integrity of much of the country’s professional news has become more ambiguous than ever. The role of journalists within news companies has always been an inherent dilemma for reporters and editors. Reporters are expected by the public and by reportorial standards to act like independent, fair-minded professionals. But reporters are also employees of corporations that control their hiring, firing, and daily management- what stories they will cover and what part of their coverage will be used or discarded. It is a harsh newsroom reality that never seems to cause conservative critics to speculate why their corporate colleagues who own the news and have total control over both their reporters’ careers and the news that gets into their papers would somehow delight in producing “liberal bias.”

     The new media conglomerates have exacerbated the traditional problems of professional news. The cartel includes some industries that have never before owned important news outlets. Some of the new owners find it bizarre that anyone would question the propriety of ordering their employee-journalists to produce news coverage designed to promote the owner’s corporation.

Seeing their journalists as obedient workers on an assembly

     line has produced a growing incidence of news corporations | demanding unethical acts. There are more instances than ever of management contempt and cruelty toward their journalists.

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     the daily newspaper business … remains one of the most profitable in the country. Profit level of daily newspapers is two to three times higher than average profits of the Fortune 500 top corporations, according to John Morton of Morton Research, an authoritative source on newspaper economics. According to Standard and Poor’s Media Industry Survey, in 1994, not a banner year in the news industry, the average profit for publicly traded news companies was 20 percent.

*****

     Letting advertisers influence the news is no novelty in less respected papers, but in the past it was usually done by innuendo, or quiet editing, reassignment, or firing. It has seldom before been so boldly stated and practiced in ways that typify the new contempt that some news companies feel for the professional independence of their journalists-and for the news audience. The trend typifies a growing attitude that reporting the news is just another business.

     Local alternative news weeklies have always been publications that monitor their local dailies and broadcast stations and provide alternative information and opinion. They still do. But even this field has seen the growth of chains, the franchising of weekly papers, and the creeping influence of impersonal corporate management.

*****

     Only fifteen years ago, it was possible to cite specific corporations dominant in one communications medium, with only a minority of those corporations similarly dominant in a second medium. Today, as noted, the largest media firms have an aggressive strategy of acquiring dominant positions across every medium of any current or expected future consequence. Known and admired on Wall Street as “synergy,” the policy calls for one company subsidiary to be used to complement and promote another. The process has helped produce a quantum leap in the power of a dominant media corporation to create and manipulate popular culture and models of behavior (or misbehavior) – and to use this power for narrow commercial and political purposes.

*****

     In 1987, cancellation of the Fairness Doctrine made another new antidemocratic phenomenon almost predictable. Talk radio has become an overwhelming ultraconservative political propaganda – machine. The most influential propagandist, Rush Limbaugh, has nineteen million listeners, and there is no right of reply to his extra- I ordinary record of lies, libels, and damaging fantasies.

*****

     Almost from the start, national communications law has been based on the concept that the public owns the airwaves. For their part, broadcasters insist on government policing and penalties to prevent unlicensed operators from willingly or unwillingly jamming the frequencies of established stations; otherwise there would be a chaos of static on radio and screens full of “snow” on television. But federal law also mandates that those who hold licenses must maintain local studios and operate “in the public interest ‘ which, given the local nature of studios, has meant significant access to the airwaves by community groups. Holders of broadcast licenses have no right to licenses beyond their term limits and presumably may renew them only if they have fulfilled their community obligations.

     Despite the law, in recent years both the major media operators and the Congress have acted as though its “public ownership” phrases are not there or can be safely ignored. The Congress, the White House, and the Federal Communications Commission have steadily relaxed standards to permit the growing exclusion of community voices on the country’s 11,000 local commercial radio stations, I 1,500 television stations, and 11,800 local cable systems.

*****

     There are basic measures to be taken if the public is to regain \ access to its own media and guarantee choices that have some relationship to the varying needs and tastes of the population. Many of these will require mandatory actions: the broadcast industry has an almost unrelieved history of cynicism and evasion in its promises of self-reform.

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[Proposals]

     * It is time for a new, nonpartisan, nongovernmental commission I to study the present and desired future status of the country’s media. In 1947, Henry Luce donated the money for the influential Commission on Freedom of the Press, headed by Robert Maynard Hutchins. It dealt with the printed press and gave the country a fresh look at modern needs of news and public information in a democracy. It was important following, as it did, the catastrophes of pre-war dictatorships’ controlled media. These were still live memories at a time when most of American news was still strikingly narrow and parochial.

     We need a modern commission to examine the more complex and compelling contemporary need-to remind the American public and the media industry itself of the new power of modern media technology and is obligations to democratic life. Such a commission must avoid the flaws of other important study commissions in which industry influence resulted in a final report that was either vague generalities or a watery support of the status quo.

     * The National News Council that existed from 1973 to 1984 is needed today more than ever. Supported by foundations, the Council heard serious complaints about specific cases of national news media performance, studied the known facts with all parties free to be heard, and issued a report in each case. While none of is recommendations were mandatory, it provided the public with a voice and the news media with a forum for the recognition, admitted or not, of existing weaknesses. But when the foundations, after having created the Council and proved is feasibility and need, said it was time for the industry itself to support the idea, as is done in some other democracies, no major media organizations came forward to support the effort, and the Council died. It is worth trying again, now that the public is more aware of problems in the media than it was twenty years ago.

     * The Telecommunications Act of 1996 needs to be replaced by a new law that can begin to break up the most egregious conglomerates, reinstate mandatory local community access, and put teeth in the requirement that stations demonstrate their record of public interest programming when they apply for renewal of their licenses. License challenge procedures have to be made more accessible to civic groups dissatisfied with their local radio and TV broadcast stations. (Networks are not regulated, but their local affiliates are.)

     * Public broadcasting must be financed through a new, nonpolitical system, as is done for the best systems in other democracies. Today, non-commercial broadcasting depends on appropriations by federal and state legislatures that themselves are heavily beholden to corporate interests. A small surtax on all consumer electronic equipment-computers, VCRs, TV and radio sets, and the like-is minuscule at the individual retail level but could provide funding for a full-fledged multi-channel radio and TV non-commercial system, and for a substantial national broadcast news and documentary operation.

      Ignored for so long that they now sound radical and remote are earlier proposals for funding public, non-commercial broadcasting. In 1967, a Carnegie Commission proposed a tax on television sets to finance non-commercial television. That year the Ford Foundation financed the Public Broadcasting Laboratory, which paid for an historic and popular one-hour program every Sunday that awakened for many Americans the possibilities that commercial broadcasting lacked.

      * The Federal Communications Commission has succumbed to what seems to be the natural history of too many consumer protection agencies, which over time has been to shift from their original purpose of protecting consumers against unfair or dangerous industry behavior to an opposite role of protecting industries from their consumers. The agency needs to be reconstituted to include specified representatives from nonpartisan groups like the Parent Teachers Association, as well as presidential appointees. It has been a generation since 1961 when the new chairman of the FCC, Newton Minow, startled the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters with the statement that they operated “a vast wasteland” and were “squandering the public airwaves,” and warned, “There’s nothing permanent or sacred in a broadcast license.”

     * The Fairness Doctrine and equal time provisions desperately need to be restored. In 1987 broadcasters promised that their repeal would increase serious public affairs programming. In fact, that kind of programming has been largely abandoned in favor of more advertising and violence. The answer to the Rush Limbaughs is not censorship but a restoration of the public right of timely reply on the stations and at the times the Limbaughs and others now broadcast.

     From the inception of commercially licensed broadcasting in 1927, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to discussion of controversial issues of public importance, and to permit reasonable opportunities for opposing views to be heard. It included special provisions to oblige stations to provide reasonable time for response by those attacked in discussions. Beginning in 1979 and continuing through the deregulation campaign of President Reagan in the early 1980s, broadcasters pushed for repeal of these regulations, and for all practical purposes the broadcasters won. An equal time provision in essence said that in the forty-five days before an election, stations must make time available to opposing candidates on roughly the same basis, whether for paid time or public service campaign discussions.

     * End auctioning of broadcast frequencies to stations. The process implies license ownership. The public still owns the airwaves and frequencies should be granted as in the past-on credible promises made and kept of public service. Restore local voting on monopoly cable franchises instead of the present backroom deals. Let the FCC or its replacement do what basic public ownership of the airwaves implies-give stations licenses for a limited time, conditional on their general performance as good citizens in their communities.

     Make it routine to notify all citizens of local market broadcast license renewals-all stations in a state have their renewal come up in the same year. As that date approaches, existing holders of licenses asking for renewal should be required to show public evidence of what they have done in the past.

     * The country needs easy, inexpensive licensing of low-power, city- and neighborhood-range radio and TV stations. Japan has them and so can the United States. As it is, local communities and ordinary local businesses have been effectively excluded from the air by national broadcasters and advertisers.

     * Paid political advertising should be banned from American broadcasting, as it is in most democracies. In the two months before elections, every station should be required to provide prime time hours for local and national candidates, with fifteen-minute minimums for presentations to avoid the slick sound biter without content that now dominate broadcast election campaigns.

    * Teach serious media literacy in the schools, using independently created curricula. Some already are available and others are being developed. The average American child will spend more time in front of a TV set than in front of a teacher. The young are targets for slick materialism. They need to know how this important element in their lives operates and how it can be analyzed.

     * More citizens need to join and contribute to the various media reform groups like the Cultural Environment Movement, the Center for Media Education, FAIR, and the Institute for Alternative Journalism. There are other groups, but these can lead interested citizens to specific action and to other action groups.

     The domination of private money in public politics, which has subverted so much public policy, also prevents legal solutions to problems in the mass media. Most media proprietors show little or no evidence in their programming of any sense of obligation to treat the American audience as citizens of a democracy. Campaign finance reform and media reform are directed at the same societal sickness- the influence of private money that improperly negates civic need and public choice. Linked to the same problem, they have become linked in the ultimate remedy. At stake is the-accountability of politics and with it the media’s socialization of American children and the nation’s culture.