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A little commentary

"The major networks should lose licenses immediately. Fight back Americans, simply quit watching/listening to their propaganda."
- post from Yahoo message board

    No, instead of not watching/listening to the views of people you may disagree with may I suggest instead that you watch/listen and ‘understand’ what they are saying. Everyone has a bias, an agenda of some sort. Even the claim or goal of being ‘objective’ constitutes a bias as it predisposes one to report only what officials and experts (established power) have to say.

    I learned in college, mostly from two courses how to approach media. The first course was Critical Thinking and the second was a course in ‘understanding’ Public Relations and Advertising. When I did research for reports in that class I began to see the significance of the billions of dollars spent annually in the US alone to shape the public's mind. Ask a PR representative of the major media interests if what they are doing shapes the public’s views and opinions and s/he will probably respond with a feel good comment like, “the public is too smart for that”, then ask someone in the advertising industry if they are trying to do the same and you may get, “well I certainly hope so!”  If they are not successful then why do corporations spend billions on it every year?

"The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them."
— Albert Einstein, letter to Sigmund Freud, July 30, 1932

"The federal government contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations, and individual members of the media to provide, among other things, messages about its programs and services. As we have reported, there is a lack of accurate government wide information on these contracts. ...The departments reported a total of 343 media contracts, for which they incurred obligations of $1.62 billion during the period of GAO's review. Specifically, the departments reported 137 contracts (40 percent of the total contracts) with advertising agencies, 131 contracts (38 percent) with media organizations, 54 contracts (16 percent) with public relations firms, and 8 contracts (2 percent) with individual members of the media. For 13 contracts (4 percent), departments did not report on type of media firm."
- GAO, "Media Contracts: Activities and Financial Obligations for Seven Federal Departments", GAO-06-305, January 13, 2006, Highlights-PDF   PDF   Accessible Text

public relations (PR): The Britannica Concise
“Aspect of communications that involves promoting a desirable image for a person or group seeking public attention. It originated in the U.S. in the early 20th cent. with pioneers such as E. Bernays, who first developed the idea of the professional publicist, and I. L. Lee. Government agencies in Britain and the U.S. soon began hiring publicists to engineer support for their policies and programs, and the public-relations business boomed after World War II. Clients may include individuals such as politicians, performers, and authors, and groups such as business corporations, government agencies, charities, and religious bodies. …It consists largely of optimizing good news and forestalling bad news; if disaster strikes, the publicist must assess the situation, organize the client's response so as to minimize damage, and marshal and present information to the media”

propaganda: The Britannica Concise
“Manipulation of information to influence public opinion. The term comes from Congregatio de propaganda fide ("Congregation for Propagation of the Faith"), a missionary organization established by the pope in 1622. Propagandists emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasize or exclude those that do not. Misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired effect in the public audience.”

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. ...The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. ...We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
- John Swinton toast to NY Press Club

Study Finds Widespread Misperceptions on Iraq Highly Related to Support for War
Misperceptions Vary Widely Depending on News Source
Fox Viewers More Likely to Misperceive, PBS-NPR Less Likely
For release: 12 Noon, October 2, 2003
College Park, MD: A new study based on a series of seven nationwide polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq.

The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals’ primary source of news. Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.

An in-depth analysis of a series of polls conducted June through September found 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found, 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq. Overall 60% had at least one of these three misperceptions.

The Times and Iraq
FROM THE EDITORS, New York Times
Published: May 26, 2004
Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq's weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

...we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations — in particular, this one.

The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story
Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page A01
Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17.

"We did our job but we didn't do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder," Woodward said in an interview. "We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier" than widely believed. "Those are exactly the kind of statements that should be published on the front page."

As violence continues in postwar Iraq and U.S. forces have yet to discover any WMDs, some critics say the media, including The Washington Post, failed the country by not reporting more skeptically on President Bush's contentions during the run-up to war.

 

    So again I ask you not to close your eyes and put your hands over your ears but instead open your eyes wide and listen like you’ve never listened before. Don’t consume less information but more. Don’t limit yourself to mainstream news outlets but try consuming a broad range of sources.  Take a look at what are called extreme views and those you currently disagree with. But don’t accept their claims complacently, question them, challenge them, distinguish between opinion and facts that can be independently corroborated.  Don’t dismiss a fact because you ‘hate’ or mistrust the messenger.  Demand that they support their factual claims with evidence regardless of whether they are a public official or a political radical.  Take all of it in, think for yourself and draw your own conclusions.  To do anything less is to subvert your will to the opinions of others.

Disinfopedia Main Page
From Disinfopedia, the encyclopedia of propaganda.
Welcome to Disinfopedia, a collaborative project to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests.

“An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion.”
- Alfred North Whitehead

“What are the facts? Again and again and again--what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history"--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!"
- From the character Lazarus Long by Robert A. Heinlein in Time Enough For Love

“Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.”
— Ayn Rand, "Introducing Objectivism" The Objectivist Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 8 August, 1962 p. 35

“We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."- Anais Nin

 

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