Tag Archives: propaganda

The Reality Conversation from My Dinner With Andre

A clip from “My Dinner With Andre”, a film I’ve been meaning to see for years, if for no other reason than it stars the wonderful Wallace Shawn.

Tagged ,

Brilliant New Pilger Documentary Highlights The Lies We Are Told

John Pilger has a great new documentary called “The War You Don’t See” and it’s up on YouTube in its entirety. I highly recommend it, as a lot of the subject matter is what I’m covering in my new book “You Are Blind”. Pilger interviews a wide range of people, including Dan Rather and a plethora of journalists, about how the western media were accomplices in spreading lies and misinformation in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. He also explains how this isn’t a new meme – the media have been spinning lies to justify war during the entire 20th century. We tend to think this happened back the “olden days” and doesn’t happen today but the opposite is actually true. It happens more now than ever – in the era of 24-hour news and media organisations with incredible wealth and concentrated power, the wool is pulled over our eyes more than ever. Of course, the lies don’t stop with the reasons we go to war – it’s much more widespread than that. We are fed corporate propaganda all day, every day, about every aspect of living in our so-called democracies. The propaganda isn’t just the stories we are told, it’s also about the absence of the stories we are NOT told. We may think we have a free media but when your media is owned by corporations with their own agenda – maintaining their own wealth and power – the stories we are told will always reflect the version of the truth that they want us to think.

Instead of watching more crap reality TV tonight, I suggest you watch this instead.

Tagged ,

Chomsky: America’s Rank Hypocrisy — Why Is it Only an “Atrocity” When Other Countries Do It?

I’m about 20% of the way into my new writing project “You Are Blind” – a look at how propaganda works in a corporatocracy – and it’s going very well.

Meanwhile, OpEdNews has this excellent new article by Noam Chomsky.

He starts by quoting  international affairs scholar James Peck who states:

“In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us” — whoever “us” is.

Chomsky then presents a few recent examples of how the western media loves to focus on atrocities by “the bad guys”, such as Syria, while ignoring (or justifying) similar or worse atrocities committed by “our side”. Or they highlight China’s treatment of dissidents like Chen Guangcheng while ignoring 0r justifying American treatment of dissidents like Bradley Manning.

It’s all part of what I’m writing about in my book. We are programmed from birth by our governments, corporate media, corporate PR departments, the education system (co-financed by the government and the wealthy elite) and religions to believe that a certain set of truths are self-evident – and that this programming is so pervasive that we don’t even notice it.

don't ask, don't tell

don’t ask, don’t tell

Tagged , , ,

The Propaganda Model

 

The propaganda model is a theory advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that alleges systemic biases in the mass media and seeks to explain them in terms of structural economic causes.

The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, the propaganda model views the private media as businesses selling a product — readers and audiences (rather than news) — to other businesses (advertisers) and relying primarily on government and corporate information and propaganda. The theory postulates five general classes of “filters” that determine the type of news that is presented in news media: Ownership of the medium, the medium’s Funding, Sourcing of the news, Flak, and Anti-communist ideology.

The first three (ownership, funding, and sourcing) are generally regarded by the authors as being the most important. Although the model was based mainly on the characterization of United States media, Chomsky and Herman believe the theory is equally applicable to any country that shares the basic economic structure and organizing principles the model postulates as the cause of media biases. After the Soviet Union disintegrated, Chomsky said terrorism and Islam would be the new filter replacing communism.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Tagged , , ,

Know Which Fight You’re In

We just got back from the first Brisbane meetup around #nocleanfeed. It was a pretty huge turnout, I’d guess 100 people. Well done to @nicholasperkins and everyone else involved in pulling it together.

I gave a short talk, mostly trying to convey the idea that this isn’t a campaign that we will win by trying to be RIGHT. This isn’t about FACTS. This is a propaganda war about ideology, the ideology of the Christian Right, a group that Conroy, Rudd, Abbott and Fielding are all card-carrying members of. And you can’t fight a propaganda war by trying to be RIGHT. The only way to fight a propaganda war is to counter it with your own propaganda and by knowing how propaganda campaigns actually work. There’s no use taking a knife to a gun fight.

As a long-time student of people like Chomsky and Pilger, I have some understanding about how modern propaganda works. I quote tonight from 20th century French philosopher and Christian theologian (not often you’ll catch me using a Christian theologian to make a positive point) Jacques Ellul who explained that modern propaganda isn’t telling lies, it’s about telling half truths, limited truths and truths out of context. That’s what Conroy et al are master of. They don’t lie when they talk about the feed, they just limit their use of the truth.

So we need to fight a propaganda war. Fortunately, we are all very-savvy little new media / social media types, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do, as long as know what kind of fight we’re getting into.

The one idea that I didn’t have time to get across tonight was that I don’t think we can win this if we just focus on the mandatory filter. It’s too thorny an issue and too easy for Conroy to deflect criticism . I believe we need to make this a battle against the ALP. I believe we need to focus on weakening their credibility in the upcoming election by getting in their faces on a range of issue where they have either under-performed, such as the environment, indigenous welfare, immigration, etc, or where they have just flat-out turned out to be as bad or worse than Howard (the internet filter, bailing out the banks, failing to rein in corporate executive salaries, etc).

We need a campaign that attacks the ALP’s credibility and performance across the board. We need put pressure on then across multiple fronts, not just on the filter. It’s pretty clear that the mainstream media will give them an easy ride in the upcoming election. So it’ll be up to social media to put the heat on them.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Go see CHE

Tonight I finally had a chance (thanks to Jason Nelson) to see Part 1 & 2 of Steven Soderbergh’s amazing film CHE, depicting the life of Che Guevara, starring (and produced by) Benicio Del Toro.

It’s an amazing film that, predictably, did very poorly at the US box office. I believe it opened in cinemas in Australia just recently so go see it if you can. If you can’t, try to pick it up when it comes out on DVD. The depiction of Che in these films is the most honest ever put into a major movie. It puts lie to the propaganda and lies told about Che by Americans for the last 50 years.

Jean-Paul Satre called Che "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age" and the "era’s most perfect man."

Listen to the full 1964 radio interview with Che which appears, in part, in the first film.

Tagged , , ,

Terrorist, Guerilla or Freedom Fighter?

Last night I went to the cinema to see "The Baader Meinhof Complex", an excellent film about the rise and fall of The Red Army Faction (RAF), an urban guerilla movement started by disaffected students in West Germany in the 60s who carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and robberies in an attempt to bring awareness to the corruption in the West German government which, they felt, was being run by former Nazis with the support of large American corporations. Were they terrorists, guerillas or freedom fighters? It all depends on who is telling the story.

I totally recommend this film although it’s not for the faint of heart and you won’t come out of the cinema feeling uplifted or positive about the state of the world. The issues that the RAF were protesting in the 60s are still around – and in a worse state – today. American imperialism runs rampant across the globe, using the ‘free media’ as its propaganda tool and manipulating the minds of the populace with suggestion that an Obama is really more than a couple of degrees different from a Bush.

The film stars a couple of familiar faces –

Horst Herold, who played Hitler in the brilliant DOWNFALL (which has served for unlimited parodies on YouTube) and here plays the president of the Federal Police, and warns the politicians that the guerillas won’t stop until their issues are actually addressed, something none of the politicians wants to hear.

Moritz Bleibtreu who I remember as the lead role in DAS EXPERIMENT, another brilliant film, and here plays Andreas Baader, the flawed but fearless leader of the RAF. As his girlfriend says at one point "Andreas has more revolution in him than the rest of us put together."

Anyway, go see the movie.

With the question of "terrorist or freedom fighter" fresh in my mind, I was reading from Robert Fisk’s excellent book "The Great War For Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East" today and the following lines jumped out at me. He’s writing about Afghanistan in the late 70s:

For "terrorists", read "guerillas" or – as President Ronald Reagan would call them in the years to come – "freedom fighters." Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists. In the Middle East, in the entire Muslim world, this word would become a plague, a meaningless punctuation mark in all our lives, a full stop erected to finish all discussion of injustice, constructed as a wall by Russian, Americans, Israelis, British, Pakistanis, Saudis, Turks, to shut us up. Who would ever say a word in favour of terrorists? What cause could justify terror? So our enemies are always "terrorists." In the seventeenth century, governments used "heretic" in much the same way, to end all dialogue, to prescribe obedience. Karmal’s policy (CR Note: Karmal was the President of Afghanistan who was in support of the Russian invasion) was simple: you are either with us or against us. For decades, I have listened to this dangerous equation, uttered by capitalist and communist, presidents and prime ministers, generals and intelligence officers and, of course, newspaper editors.

Click on the book cover to order the book from BookDepository in the UK – free worldwide shipping!

As Fisk points out – every time you read or hear the word "terrorist", be aware that it’s being used to shut you up. It’s a manipulative word, a weasel word, and the use of it by politicians or the media should tell you something about their true agenda.

Tagged , , ,

SHOCK REPORT: America Respects International Law

In the comments section to my post on the Pentagon’s propaganda, Marcelo pointed me to this post in ConsortiumNews.com about how Bush and the American media are screaming about Russia’s invasion of Georgia is pretty interesting.

Apparently, context is everything. So, the United States attacking Grenada or Nicaragua or Panama or Iraq or Serbia is justified even if the reasons sometimes don’t hold water or don’t hold up before the United Nations, The Hague or other institutions of international law.

However, when Russia attacks Georgia in a border dispute over Georgia’s determination to throttle secession movements in two semi-autonomous regions, everyone must agree that Georgia’s sovereignty is sacrosanct and Russia must be condemned.

U.S. newspapers, such as the New York Times, see nothing risible about publishing a statement from President George W. Bush declaring that “Georgia is a sovereign nation and its territorial integrity must be respected.”

No one points out that Bush should have zero standing enunciating such a principle. Iraq also was a sovereign nation, but Bush invaded it under false pretenses, demolished its army, overthrew its government and then conducted a lengthy military occupation resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

I wasn’t aware of all of the background to the South Ossetia War but this Wikipedia article contains some interesting information.

Tagged ,

The Pentagon’s Propaganda Game Busted

From the Center for Media and Democracy:

Today, we struck a blow against propaganda, and for transparency and accountability.

In early 2002, the Pentagon began cultivating retired military officers who frequently serve as media commentators to help make the case for invading Iraq. The pundit program continued — promoting the Bush administration’s stance on the Guantanamo Bay detention center, warrantless wiretapping and other controversial issues — until New York Times reporter David Barstow exposed its existence in April 2008.

Thanks to Blake Hall of our IT staff and senior researcher Diane Farsetta, now you and anyone with web access can search the massive cache of military documents detailing the Pentagon’s illegal attempts to shape U.S. public opinion. The New York Times first obtained the documents. After the Times reported on the covert pundit program, the Pentagon posted the documents online in a desperate attempt at damage control. But the documents weren’t text searchable, making systematic analysis of this important information nearly impossible.

But we’ve now cracked the Pentagon’s code and made the 8,000 pages of Pentagon documents fully text searchable, posting them all on our SourceWatch website, for journalists, researchers and concerned citizens.

What’s great about this is that it is a further demonstration that the media has been compromised. We all need to understand that EVERY time we see a so-called “expert commentator” on mainstream media, the chances are they are a front for one organisation or another and CANNOT BE TRUSTED as an impartial source. This, by the way, goes for leftist commentators as well as those from the right. The system is played the same way by both camps. Our initial position on anything you see on the news or any current affairs show is “TRUST NO1″ unless you are really sure of their credentials as an independent commentator.

Tagged ,

The Lies About Hiroshima

John Pilger has written a terrific article to commemorate the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (6 August, 1945).

I was talking about Hiroshima with American friends while in France. They gave me the usual answer “it was horrible but it stopped the war and saved lives”. These friends are Democrats – anti-war, anti-American Imperialism. And yet they still believe that old line about it saving lives. I asked them why America couldn’t have just shown the Japanese video footage of the bombs being dropped in the desert and used it as a threat. They replied that the Japanese were too arrogant and wouldn’t have stopped their war for anything. This is what even the good Americans want to believe. They have bought the propaganda.

To this, Pilger writes:

The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. “Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US air force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. He later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb”. His foreign policy colleagues were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.” The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

Tagged , ,