How the US Media do Propaganda
Posted by Charles II on December 2, 2014
We often talk about how major media disseminate propaganda. But it has taken media researchers a good deal of effort to piece together exactly how it works. One way, of course, is by direct production of government propaganda, as in this piece from DemocracyNow:
Lawmakers are urging the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the Pentagon’s propaganda program to determine if the major TV networks or the Pentagon-backed analysts violated federal law. In April, the New York Times revealed the Pentagon recruited more than seventy-five retired military officers to appear on TV outlets as so-called military analysts ahead of the Iraq War. The so-called analysts were given classified Pentagon briefings, provided with Pentagon-approved talking points, given free trips to Iraq and other sites paid for by the Pentagon.
We spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing this in foreign countries, calling it something like democracy promotion . In other words, “clandestine and covert” operations, not subject to congressional oversight, to destabilize foreign governments. At least the CIA has some degree of oversight.
And we’re all familiar with how a rogue journalist like Judith Miller, operating within a system that rewards writing from a certain slant, can further the objectives of the government, as this editorial from the NYT concedes:
Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.
The unanswered question, of course, being why the views of the editors so nicely aligned with those of the government. Now Robert Parry has done another step in the process of demonstrating how the system works by dissecting the elaborate, multi-layered system of hypocrisy that the New York Times employs in justifying US actions while calling for aggressive actions against other countries for the same things:
Outrage is the only appropriate response when an adversary breaks a rule but a shrug is okay when it’s “our side.” Plus, there must be perfect evidence to accuse “our side” of an offense but anything goes when it’s an adversary.
* U.S. destabilization of the Yanukovych government of Ukraine is democracy promotion while Russian complaints about the destabilization and the encirclement of Russia by NATA are unsubstantiated “conspiracy theories.”
* And speaking of conspiracy theories, rumors of Russian promotion of anti-fracking groups in Romania deserves a full article, even though the Times admits that “this belief that Russia is fueling the protests… has not yet been backed up by any clear proof.”
* Russian intervention in Crimea is an intolerable violation of international law (true), but American intervention to overthrow the Assad government is justifiable under international law (false).
Parry shows that hypocrisy is essential to propaganda. Cite one principle to justify one’s own actions and another to demonize the actions of the adversary. International law is just the Golden Rule writ large. Know your history and apply the Golden Rule to every situation in international dealings, and what constitutes propaganda will instantly be obvious.
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