Tag Archives: Propaganda

Mainstream Media: The Buggy Whip of the 21st Century, by Hardscrabble Farmer

A scathing indictment and  well-written obituary for the mainstream media, by Hardscrabble Farmer at theburningplatform.com:

Well, you have certainly had one heck of year, haven’t you? I can’t imagine how it must feel to be you right now. This time last year you were yucking it up with your buddies in the White House about how Obama was going to ram through as many executive actions as he could to push the immigration debate into the ‘win’ category. How’d that work out for you? From there you went right into a National Lampoon-style daily snark against the guy you said didn’t stand a chance of winning and that went even better, right up until November 8th.

The looks on your faces that night were almost worth the past fifty years of your constant obfuscation and perfidy. It was a real-time version of the folks riding First Class on the Titanic realizing that their tuxedoes weren’t buying them a whole lot of sympathy down at the lifeboat boarding station. Stricken is the word that comes to mind. To call what the public delivered to you an ass-whooping would be an understatement. You guys looked like a collectivist version of Ronda Rousey after Holly Holm got done with her. Beaten, down for the count and weepy in the morning.

So why bother trying to keep up with the pretenses? In the grocery business, they’d say you were past your sell by date. There was a time when you had not only a purpose, but a mandate and those must have been heady days indeed, the gravitas and respect measured out in equal parts from every quarter of America. I remember well the way my own Grandparents would hang on every word uttered by the distinguished clergy of the time; Huntley, Brinkley and Cronkite.

To continue reading: Mainstream Media: The Buggy Whip of the 21st Century

 

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Karl Rove’s Prophecy, by Karel Van Wolferen

A retired mainstream journalist, now a professor at a prestigious university, excoriates the mainstream media and has good words for the alternative media. He even says that conspiracy theories can be worthy of investigation, and not just dismissed as, well, conspiracy theories. There has to be a catch, you say. There is, the writer is not American, he’s from Holland, and he’s written a fine article. From Karel Van Wolferen at unz.com:

In a famous exchange between a high official at the court of George W. Bush and journalist Ron Suskind, the official – later acknowledged to have been Karl Rove – takes the journalist to task for working in “the reality-based community.” He defined that as believing “that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Rove then asserted that this was no longer the way in which the world worked:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (Ron Suskind, NYTimes Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004).

This declaration became popular as an illustration of the hubris of the Bush-Cheney government. But we could also see it as fulfilled prophecy. Fulfilled in a manner that no journalist at that time would have deemed possible. Yes, the neoconservatives brought disrepute upon themselves because of the disaster in Iraq. Sure, opposition to the reality Rove had helped create in that devastated country became a first rung on the ladder that could lead to the presidency, as it did for Barack Obama. But the neocons stayed put in the State Department and other positions closely linked to the Obama White House, where they became allies with the liberal hawks in continuing ‘spreading democracy’ by overthrowing regimes. America’s mainstream news and opinion purveyors, without demurring, accommodated the architects of reality production overseen by Dick Cheney.

This did not end when Obama became president, but in fact with seemingly ever greater eagerness they gradually made the CIA/neocon-neoliberal created reality appear unshakably substantial in the minds of most newspaper readers and among TV audiences in the Atlantic basin. This was most obvious when attention moved to an imagined existential threat posed by Russia supposedly aimed at the political and ‘Enlightenment’ achievements of the West. Neoconservatives and liberal hawks bent America’s foreign-policy entirely to their ultimate purpose of eliminating a Vladimir Putin who had decided not to dance to Washington’s tune so that he might save the Russian state, which had been disintegrating under his predecessor and Wall Street’s robber barons.

To continue reading: Karl Rove’s Prophecy

Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works, by CJ Hopkins

Official propaganda doesn’t just gull stupid outsiders. More importantly for those doing the propagandizing, it serves as important way to measure the obeisance, or boot-licking, of insiders. From CJ Hopkins at counterpunch.org:

For students of official propaganda, manipulation of public opinion, psychological conditioning, and emotional coercion, it doesn’t get much better than this. As Trump and his army of Goldman Sachs guys, corporate CEOs, and Christian zealots slouch toward inauguration day, we are being treated to a master class in coordinated media manipulation that is making Goebbels look like an amateur. This may not be immediately apparent, given the seemingly risible nature of most of the garbage we are being barraged with, but once one understands the actual purpose of such official propaganda, everything starts to make more sense.

Chief among the common misconceptions about the way official propaganda works is the notion that its goal is to deceive the public into believing things that are not “the truth” (that Trump is a Russian agent, for example, or that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, et cetera). However, while official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is not their primary aim.

The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.

To continue reading: Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works

The War Against Alternative Information, by Rick Sterling

The US government is seeking total domination of the news, especially news about its foreign policy and practices. That’s called totalitarianism, and that should frighten a lot more people than those of us at alternative websites. From Rick Sterling at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on Syria, Sept. 25, 2016. Power has been an advocate for escalating U.S. military involvement in Syria. (UN Photo)

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on Syria, Sept. 25, 2016. Power has been an advocate for escalating U.S. military involvement in Syria. (UN Photo)

The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with allied nations.”

The legislation was initiated in March 2016, as the demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia was already underway and was enacted amid the allegations of “Russian hacking” around the U.S. presidential election and the mainstream media’s furor over supposedly “fake news.” Defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton voiced strong support for the bill: “It’s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy, and innocent lives.”

To continue reading: The War Against Alternative Information

Obama Quietly Signs The “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” Into Law, by Tyler Durden

He’s got less than a month in office, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, for one, which our departing president just signed. Like most truly awful legislation, it is bipartisan, has an innocuous name, and reached the president’s desk without a lot of fanfare. The implications, however, are ominous. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Late on Friday, with the US population embracing the upcoming holidays and oblivious of most news emerging from the administration, Obama quietly signed into law the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $611 billion for the military in 2017.

In a statement, Obama said that:

Today, I have signed into law S. 2943, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This Act authorizes fiscal year 2017 appropriations principally for the Department of Defense and for Department of Energy national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe. It continues many critical authorizations necessary to ensure that we are able to sustain our momentum in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to reassure our European allies, as well as many new authorizations that, among other things, provide the Departments of Defense and Energy more flexibility in countering cyber-attacks and our adversaries’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Much of the balance of Obama’s statement blamed the GOP for Guantanamo’s continued operation and warned that “unless the Congress changes course, it will be judged harshly by history,” Obama said. Obama also said Congress failed to use the bill to reduce wasteful overhead (like perhaps massive F-35 cost overruns?) or modernize military health care, which he said would exacerbate budget pressures facing the military in the years ahead.

To continue reading: Obama Quietly Signs The “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” Into Law

 

House Quietly Passes Bill Targeting “Russian Propaganda” Websites, by Tyler Durden

The American government had a virtual monopoly on propaganda for so long, it can’t tolerate any competition from the Russians. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

On November 30, one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against “Russian propaganda fake news”, with 390 votes for, the House quietly passed “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017”, sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes (whose third largest donor in 2016 is Google parent Alphabet, Inc), a bill which deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda, and hints at a potential crackdown on “offenders.”

A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”, whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:

Establishment or funding of a front group.
Covert broadcasting.
Media manipulation.
Disinformation and forgeries.
Funding agents of influence.
Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
Assassinations.
Terrorist acts.

As ActivistPost correctly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration.

Curiously, the bill which was passed on November 30, was introduced on November 22, two days before the Washington Post published its Nov. 24 article citing “experts” who claim Russian propaganda helped Donald Trump get elected.

To continue reading: House Quietly Passes Bill Targeting “Russian Propaganda” Websites

The Great Fear, by The Zman

We’re rapidly reaching the point where nobody trusts anybody. From The Zman on a guest post at theburningplatform:

Imagine if tomorrow, a space ship descends to earth, hovering over some part of the United States. At some point, when the eyes of the world are fixed on the event, the ship lands and out pops a bunch of aliens. These aliens are able to speak to the people of earth in a way that everyone can understand them. They explain where they are from and that earth is just one of many planets with sentient life. Further, most of the people in charge of earth are aliens sent to run things while the talking monkeys get up to speed.

For a fuller presentation of this concept, you can watch the John Carpenter movie, They Live. One thing I liked about that movie, is that when people realized the truth, they were stunned and confused. Paranoia immediately set in as they tried to reorient themselves to the new reality. That’s what would happen in the above scenario. Suddenly confronted by the truth, everyone would know most of what they have been told was a lie. That would lead to questioning of everything else, then mass paranoia and fear.

Something like this happened in revolutionary France. Instead of space aliens, they got a collapse of the old order. Feudalism had been under great strain due to the new economics of the age. Trade and the beginning of the industrial age challenged the old economic system. There was also the rampant corruption in the French economic system that was slowing bankrupting the government. The King was not just broke. Massive borrowing to keep the system running had made the system insolvent.

The French Revolution was not just a money issue. Within one year, the King went from being god-like to merely a citizen. That was not a small thing. Symbolism is an important part of the normal rhythms of human society. The social order of France was built upon the King having a divine right to rule. Once the king became just another guy, the whole system stopped making sense. It was a short trip from there to conspiracies about the aristocrats plotting against the people. The result was the Great Fear.

That has been coming to mind often of late. My twitter feed is full of posts that can be charitably described as batshit crazy. Scan through the news and you see “reports” that range from the ridiculous to the deranged. I don’t have a Faceberg account, but I’m told that all sorts of crackpot stories are popping up there too. I’ve had to reconfigure my news reading in order to filter out the crazy rumors and made up nonsense. It feels like the wheels have come off the cart and we live in a world of nonsense.

The reason, I suspect, is the growing awareness that much of what we have taken for granted is, at the minimum, not what it appears to be. The open hostility of so-called conservatives toward the people they claim to represent, for example, has been quite an eye-opener for a lot of people. You don’t have to be a red-pilled conspiracy monger to think the whole conservative movement was just a money scam all along.

To continue reading: The Great Fear