Propaganda in the “Free and Impartial” Media

The power of media has been discussed here oftentimes before, but every now and then a story appears which warrants a revisit. The ability to shape public opinion has been harnessed by the establishment to create a climate in which the most ridiculous notions  the  so-called “Big Lie” — and disinformation are repeated so often that they eventually become accepted by the population as fact.  The Big Lie, often associated with supposedly totalitarian regimes such as the German National Socialists, essentially posits that certain lies can be so big that the masses at large will believe that such a thing cannot be made up; such a lie, however absurd is told often enough and repeated so that it was accepted and ingrained into public conscious even if it was completely fabricated.  In fact, the idea that the “Big Lie” originates with Hitler is itself such a lie.  This was not, as is often thought, an idea Hitler advocated himself (he always maintained that when fighting one’s enemy, the truth would be damaging enough) but rather one that he condemned as part of a general criticism of the British wartime propaganda of the First and Second World Wars.

Today, the United States and Western media have proven how effective the perception of “impartiality” is.  The American media in particular often repeats opinion (if not outright falsehoods) ad nauseam; with no other reference point, the American public is goaded into believing that a certain stance is the only appropriate stance.  The mainstream media may allow several different stances on the “hot button issues” but most of these are smokes screens or irrelevant to the core of problems. For example, the Chick-fil-A controversy that was stirred up nearly a year ago, and the recent suspension by A&E networks of Phil Robertson of the Duck Dynasty reality series serve to shape the public’s opinion of certain issues. While the suspension of Robertson for his tame comments made on homosexuals and the Jim Crow south warrant condemnation, they direct public attention away from the fact that this sort of thing happens all the time to people who don’t have the pull or influence that Robertson may have. That Robertson was reinstated may seem like a triumph for common sense, but the reality is, its a bone, a piece of scrap tossed in our direction so we still feel we have a stake in the country.

Another example of “impartiality” is allowing the reporting of stories which are unverified, and patently false, but disseminating them widely enough that even if the truth is revealed later on, the damage was done and only then offering a muted apology so as not to disturb the previous misconceptions. It is no accident that the recent story about the DPRK’s Kim Jong Un having his uncle executed by having him fed to 120 starving dogs gained so much traction, despite coming from “unverified reports” which were proven false.  The mistranslated speech given by Dr. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran about “wiping Israel off the map” was another example of the same story.  Indeed, this latter story has become so ingrained that this is still brought up when United States-Iran relations come up on Western news programs and papers.  The absurd stories spread about pro-Qaddafi forces being given Viagra in order to rape and pillage during the suppression of the Western-backed color revolution in Libya certainly show that no story is too ridiculous to be printed by even the most “reputable” sources in Associated Press. The Nayirah testimony is perhaps the most infamous example of this in recent times, where a supposed nurse at a Kuwaiti hospital (who was later revealed to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States) testified to seeing Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators and throwing them on the floor to die. This was later revealed to be a hoax but by that time, the United States had already intervened and theit had already served its purpose.  The list of stories in this category is endless, especially in the area of international news.  “Unconfirmed” stories from supposed “dissidents” are taken at their word solely for the damaging effect they might have on a certain country or organization!

Another technique that is used by the Western media is to lie by omission.  Most, or all of what they say might be true, but by leaving out details, they change the context of the story.  A good example of this were the reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman was sentenced by the Iranian government to be “stoned for adultery”.  Of course, it turned out that while Ashtiani had indeed committed adultery, she had also been a murder suspect, and was being charged for numerous other crimes.  Another example would be that of the Pussy Riot incident: a large portion of the American media went to a great length to accuse the Russian government of suppressing a “peaceful protest” – when in reality the group was convicted of trespassing and hooliganism.

Two examples of how the media can edit photos to influence the reader’s perspective. The upper left picture was uncovered by Chinese netizens in 2008; it shows people who appear to be running away from a truck; a wider angle shows that the truck is in fact being attacked by an angry mob. The lower picture shows how cropping a picture can create entirely different perspectives of the same situation.

Such techniques are used inside the US for the same purpose. The Matthew Sheppard case for instance, was a rallying cry for the gay lobby to push through hate crime laws. It was portrayed as a vicious murder by two rednecks of a homosexual only because he was a homosexual. Sources since then have reported that his being a homosexual was not a prime factor, but rather drugs and money were. This of course, doesn’t sit well with the narrative sought by the gay lobby so the story repeated again and again was that of an innocent man murdered brutally for his disposition.

While much of what we read and consume is propaganda, this is not to say that we should completely disregard news media, but rather, that we should learn to read between the lines. Whenever one reads an article or sees a news story, one should first figure out what the purpose of the story is. Trying to scan a variety of sources, especially internationally, is another safe bet. RT and Press TVs have their own biases to be sure, but one can tell quite easily what they are and approach their information accordingly. Discount “public opinion” as most of what is called “public opinion” is a creation of the mainstream media. The mainstream media portrays certain stances and ideas as triumphant and unassailable, or those who question them as backwards, “not with the times” or bigoted. It drums up loaded polls to back up whatever viewpoint it means to push by simply polling amidst the population that would most likely support that particular viewpoint, regardless of whether or not it actually represents the views of the public at large.  It reports unverified stories freely so long as they slander or harm those deemed problematic or antagonistic, while simply not reporting or downplaying those stories which conflict with the official story.

About Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson resides in New York City. He holds a degree in history and studies philosophy, theology and entomology in his free time.
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