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
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,
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
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
From Disinfopedia, the encyclopedia of propaganda.
Welcome to Disinfopedia, a collaborative project to produce a directory of
public relations firms,
industry-funded organizations and
industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public
policy on behalf of
“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
- 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
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