Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Category

Astroturf and manipulation of media messages | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDxUniversityofNevada


Posted 01/03/2016 by lacithedog in astroturf, propaganda, Uncategorized

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!

In my desire to pay more than my fair share for BBC service, I came up with this story.

It seems that while the US House of Representatives is defunding US Public Radio, the United States is currently giving a grant of $4.5 million to the BBC World Service Trust!

In fact,  The Guardian reported that the U.S. government was considering an increase in BBC funding, the State Department denied that claim in a letter to the editor.

Go figure!

Well, actually, I can come up with an explanation for this.  The BBC has a much better reputation for accuracy and objectivity than does Voice of America.  On the other hand, depriving US citizens of an objective source of media (sort of since US citizens can access the World Service, sort of) is non-nonsensical.  Of course, control of information is one of the more infamous propaganda techniques.

More media!

For some really strange reason, I have been chosen to receive a trial subscription to China Daily. My first reaction was that it’s for the dog, but she can’t read. I also assume that she is fairly apolitical as well. She’s happy as long as she can chase squirrels in peace.

Anyway, one of the counterpropaganda techniques is to be able to recognise it. Although, it’s not really hard to do that with China Daily. First off, it spends most of its time puffing The PRC. I do have to admit that there were some intersting stories, such as Dagong International Credit Rating Co. has already downgraded the US Credit rating in relation to QE2.  Not that such an action really makes that much difference in the “free market economy”.

I have to admit that I am desperate enough for newspaper delivery that I am willing to take a free subscription to this rag just for the laughs. I do have to admit that daily newspaper delivery WAS one amenity that the US had over the UK. Although, some newpapers have stopped regular delivery (e.g., Detroit’s and Ann Arbor’s).  Of course, Newspaper delivery was never really much of  a fixture here.

Posted 16/07/2011 by lacithedog in China, media, propaganda

Media self-censorship.

Luv News found two excellent articles on corporate media censorship and propaganda this morning that every American should see, to understand a bit about how their mass media work. First, Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece titled “How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.”

One “Conservative” critic likes to say that he doesn’t see very much criticism of Obama as he continues Bush’s policies, but there is good reason for that as Greewald’s article points out. The CIA uses and effectively controls a secret prison in Mogadishu, where foreign nationals who are rendered off the streets of their countries (at the direction of the U.S.) are taken (along with Somali nationals) to be imprisoned with no due process and interrogated (by U.S. agents). Although Somali government agents technically operate the facility, that is an obvious ruse: “US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners” and are “there full-time,” Scahill reported.

This arrangement is consistent with standard Obama administration practice: “they continue even the most controversial Bush terrorism policies by having some other government technically operate it so they can keep their fingerprints off it.” Scahill’s discovery of this secret prison in Mogadishu — this black site — calls into serious doubt the Obama administration’s claims to have ended such practices and establishes a serious human rights violation on its own. As Harper’s Scott Horton put it, the Nation article underscores how the CIA is “maintaining a series of ‘special relationships’ under which cooperating governments maintain proxy prisons for the CIA,” and “raises important questions” about “whether the CIA is using a proxy regime there to skirt Obama’s executive order” banning black sites and torture.

Despite the significance of this revelation — or, more accurately, because of it — the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story. Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. No major television news network — including MSNBC — has even mentioned his story. Generally speaking, Republicans don’t care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush’s CIA black cites) don’t want to hear that it’s true.

In the other piece, Marquette professor of Moral Theology Daniel Maguire pens to Rachel Maddow, “On your show of July 14, you spoke of your complete freedom to say what you want on your show,” and then he goes on to prove that she doesn’t really have that freedom. High-profile U.S. journalists often like to boast that they are free to cover whatever they want, but that is often because they choose not to cross certain lines that would otherwise upset powerful people or interests.

In this case, the Israel lobby.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke of her complete freedom to say what she wants on herr show and Bill Moyers gently demurred, speaking of restricting forces that hover over journalists on her July 14 show. Bill Moyers was correct. I cannot believe she is free to address the political influence of the Israeli lobby (which is far broader than AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on her show.

She is not free to invite John Mearsheimer or Stephen Walt, authors of The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. She is not free to talk of how their first article that preceded this book could not be published by The Atlantic even after the magazine commissioned it. The authors had to go to England to get it published.

AIPAC’s announced goal is to have “no daylight” between Israel’s needs and U.S. policy. Yet Ms. Maddow and other journalists cannot address their ongoing success.

Ms. Maddow is not free to invite Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who was on the Gaza flotilla on “The Audacity of Hope” to hear her side of the Israeli illegal occupation and continuing expansion in Palestine and in Jerusalem. Or Ray McGovern, former CIA policy analyst who used to report in person to George H.W. Bush and other senior White House officials. McGovern was also on that ship.

The Israel lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies in the US, and it works against the US interest. Still it is a sacred cow that one cannot address in USMSM.

One of the tricks of proagandising the population is the ability to control the message. US Media consolidation and power over the allegedly “public media” prevents some very serious messages being heard by the US public. The US media is owned by for-profit corporations and are funded by corporate advertising (read “underwriting” on “Public” Broadcasting), it is not surprising that they seldom provide a full range of debate. The right edge of discussion is usually represented by a committed supporter of right-wing causes, someone who calls for significantly changing the status quo in a conservative direction. The left edge, by contrast, is often represented by an establishment-oriented centrist who supports maintaining the status quo; very rarely is a critic of corporate power who identifies with progressive causes and movements with the same passion as their conservative counterparts allowed to take part in mass media debates.

While the right would have us worry about government censorship. And I will be the first to say that official censorship is something that must be constantly guarded against. In our society, however, large corporations are a more common source of censorship than governments: Media outlets killing stories because they undermine corporate interests; advertisers using their financial clout to squelch negative reports; powerful businesses using the threat of expensive lawsuits to discourage legitimate investigations. The most frequent form of censorship is self-censorship: Journalists deciding not to pursue certain stories that they know will be unpopular with the boss.

That is what is going on in these stories, self-censorship. Profit-driven news organizations are under great pressure to boost ratings by sensationalizing the news: focusing attention on lurid, highly emotional stories, often featuring a bizarre cast of characters and a gripping plot but devoid of significance to most people’s lives. But that isn’t the only reason for using sensational news stories, they also provide diversion from the real issues that are not being properly addressed.

It is a shame that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression is being stifled by non-governmental forces over which there are no controls. This limits the debate and creates a poorly informed public that believes itself to be much better informed than it really is.

FAIR’s What’s Wrong With the News?

Posted 16/07/2011 by lacithedog in media, propaganda, US Media, US Media Control

Propaganda at work

It doesn’t look very convincing.

And while we’re at it, take a look at the Fed’s announcement about the quanititative easing translated into plain english by NPR’s Planet Money.  A sample:

Fed: Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September confirms that the pace of recovery in output and employment continues to be slow.

Translation:  The economy still sucks.

This is the entire translation:

The economy still sucks. People are spending a little bit more, but they’re stretched thin: One in 10 workers can’t find a job, wages are basically flat, home prices are way down and nobody can get a loan. Companies are buying more stuff, for now, but they’re not building new factories or offices. Nobody’s hiring. Nobody’s building. Inflation has gone from low to super low.

The Fed has two main jobs: Keep unemployment low and prices stable. At the moment, as you may have heard, unemployment is really high. And inflation is so low that it’s making us nervous. We keep saying that unemployment’s going to fall. And it keeps not falling.

So to give the economy a kick in the ass—and to pump up inflation a little bit—we decided to go on a shopping spree. First of all, we’re going to keep buying new stuff when our old investments pay off. Second—and this is the big news for today—we’re going to create $600 billion out of thin air and use it over the next eight months to buy bonds from the federal government. We hope this will make interest rates go so low that people will borrow and spend more money, and companies will start hiring. By the way, this is an experiment, and we don’t really know how it’s going to work out. We reserve the right to change our plans at any time.

Of course, we’ll continue our policy of letting banks borrow money for free. If you’re worried this is going increase inflation and destroy the dollar, please reread everything we’ve said to this point. We plan to keep rates near zero for as long as it takes, but we won’t tell you how long that is. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on things.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Elizabeth A. Duke; Sandra Pianalto; Eric S. Rosengren; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Kevin M. Warsh. Voting against the policy was Thomas M. Hoenig. He’s the president of the Kansas City Fed, and he’s voted against Fed policy at every one of our meetings this year. He thinks this whole creating-$600-billion-out-of-thin-air thing is going to do more harm than good.He also thinks that all this money we’ve pumped into the economy could inflate another bubble and create widespread worries about inflation. That could lead us right into another crisis.


Posted 05/11/2010 by lacithedog in economics, economy, propaganda

Reason, Change, and the progressive mind

In my post: Why People Don’t Believe Scientists Even When There Is ‘Consensus’ (via A Thinking Person) I mentioned that he explained:

the phenomenon of where people accept studies that are poorly supported over those with oodles of support, peer review, etcetera. That is people are more inclined to believe things that fit their worldview. Change requires effort and is uncomfortable, thus people prefer inactivity and status quo.

In the ideal world, people would be logical rather than susceptible to their emotions. Unfortunately, people are more inclined to let their emotions sway them, no matter how irrational that may be.

I am not alone in wondering this as other progressives, such as George Monbiot recently wrote an article in the Guardian, which was posted to his blog about this phenomenon.

We see someone who is Jewish allying herself with neo-nazis or a person who feels free because he can work 62 hours and not have any vacation which are totally irrational positions. George Monbiot points out that:

[we are] forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of a course of action which run contrary to perceived interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. But most Progressives use the enlightenment model of thinking which holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. Psychological experiments are showing that it doesn’t work the way we would expect. Instead of performing a rational analysis, people accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with those values. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden resistance to the conflicting idea.

The US Tea Party crowd angrily demands that they be left without healthcare, while insisting that millionaires should pay less tax. People in the US insanely demand their “gun rights” and are easily manipulated with wedge issues. Not that they are the only victims of this irrationality as other countries seem set to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest.

Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs which transcend their self-interest.

We are not born with our values. They are shaped by the social environment. By changing our perception of what is normal and acceptable, politics alters our minds as much as our circumstances. In addition, advertising and the media are used to persuade people by obsessive promotion of celebrity, fashion, fast cars, expensive holidays: all of which inculcate extrinsic values. They also suppress intrinsic goals by generating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy – which means reducing self-acceptance.

George Monbiot
suggests that:

People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them (those who encourage selfishness). We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.

I have to admit a dilema in dealing with the severely brainwashed since I am not sure than anything short of a religious experience would convert them from their positions. It will take quite a bit to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work. We must stand up for those who believe there is more to life than the bottom line.

Perhaps the most important point that George makes is that we shouldn’t rely upon politicians to bring about this change as “their ambition must supplant peace of mind, family life, friendship – even brotherly love.” We must assert the values that we believe in and become the change that we seek.

See this report for more on the concept of reenforcing beliefs:

The Liberal Media are as Liberal as the large corporations that control them.

This rant was caused by a comment made elsewhere about my So much to be pissed at post as well as a shitload of other things.

” I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. ”
Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 – 1859, French political thinker and author of Democracy in America

I am curious about why the founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution in light of the de Tocqueville quote above:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It pisses me off that the first time I came to Philadelphia in 1980 and went to Independence Hall to see the US version of “speaker’s Corner” that (a) no one was speaking, and even more disappointing, (b) a young lady made a comment that “if anyone said anything bad about the US she would punch them in the nose”.

Compare that to Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park which has a vibrant history of oratory, discussion, debate, humour and madness. Rarely do people make comments about punching others in the nose no matter how much they may disagree in London. Of course the remark about London’s Speakers’ Corner that “the older generation of Socialists who have battled for their ideas here many for more than half a century” might go a long way to explain why the US version of Speakers’ Corner is silent.

While looking up material on Media Control and Propaganda I came upon the Third World Traveler’s Media Control and Censorship page. THIRD WORLD TRAVELER

is an archive of articles and book excerpts that seek to tell the truth about American democracy, media, and foreign policy, and about the impact of the actions of the United States government, transnational corporations, global trade and financial institutions, and the corporate media, on democracy, social and economic justice, human rights, and war and peace, in the Third World, and in the developed world.

My interest is the point that the US media are controlled by a very small group of people. Five companies control 80% of what you see on TV, and 10 companies control two-thirds of what you hear on the radio in the United States! We can get into how this affect the accuracy of US Commercial media, but you can find that in very fine detail at this site.

“As long as people are marginalized and distracted [they] have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments. People assume that they are the only people with a crazy idea in their heads. They never hear it from anywhere else. Nobody’s supposed to think that. … Since there’s no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball. So you just stay on the side and you don’t pay any attention to what’s going on. You look at something else, like the Superbowl.”
Noam Chomsky, American linguist and US media and foreign policy critic

The concept of freedom of speech is to get out ideas which normally wouldn’t be heard. Unfortunately, the US media tends to play up and dwell on stories that are sensational – murders, car crashes, kidnappings, sex scandals, and so on. This is why the idiot preacher in Florida was able to get a vastly disproportionate amount of attention. Likewise, the Media chooses who it wants to support. As I mentioned in my Feeling “Left” out post:

the Tea Party Convention this February received more coverage than the U.S. Social Forum convention held last June, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism inspired by the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Social Forum, in Detroit, drew an estimated 15,000–20,000 progressive activists from around the country, while the Tea Party Convention in Nashville hosted a meager 600 attendees. Compare the two “activist” gatherings striving for political and social change, one at least 25 times larger than the other—but the smaller one received the larger share of the media coverage. Across 10 major national outlets in the two weeks surrounding each event, the Tea Party got 177 mentions to the Social Forum’s three. Per participant, the Tea Party got 1,500 times as many mentions!

The Internet, in some ways, is just as bad since googling “gun control” nets you more pro-gun sites than ones that address the issue of gun control. The amazing thing is that the “gun rights” message is heard vastly out of proportion to its level of support.

“You have presented to stations around the world a model for freedom of speech and the unhindered availability of information… You have shown that despite media monopolies and manipulations it is possible to preserve a spirit of tolerance, freedom and truth and to allow dissenting voices to be heard… Your struggle to preserve your autonomy… has revealed an unexpected similarity between the media in the US and Serbia today, the freedom of speech is being stifled in a similar manner, journalists are being .. intimidated and progressive radio stations are prevented from operating. The character of media repression is virtually the same under openly totalitarian dictatorships as it is under democratic systems which are increasingly influenced by conservative structures.”

A message of solidarity from banned independent radio station B92 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to Pacifica Radio Stations in the US, expressing support in their struggle to preserve progressive community radio in the United States – July 1999

The problem is that with media control in the hands of a few and no outlet for opposing viewpoints, the First Amendment guarantees are basically shit blotter. It’s roughly like the Second and Third Amendment guarantees against a standing army being trampled by an out of control military machine. One wonders in retrospect why did the founders bother to write all this down if it would become meaningless in a few years?

There’s quite a lot to be angry about here, but I am not sure of where to direct all this anger.

I will add a couple of links here for non MSM news: