|January 21st, 2008||#1|
Media Work Hand in Hand with Government
[Government pays private media to disseminate propaganda]
Racial harmony on TV gets subsidies
Dutch program blasted as 'propaganda' worthy of Soviets
"Can't we just all get along?"
Those famous words spoken by Rodney King were evidently taken to heart by the Dutch government.
The Hague spent more than 11.8 million euros subsidizing public and commercial TV programming in the last two years for, among other things, showing black and white people getting along with one another.
The justice ministry program was discovered by the newspaper De Volkskrant.
It distributed 610,500 euros to commercial broadcaster SBS6 for programs in which immigrants were shown in a positive context. A weather program on the same channel got 12,500 euros because it was filmed at a tennis club "where there is good integration between people of different cultures."
In 2006, the government subsidized a total of 75 co-productions with a total of 5,180,208 euros. In 2007, the government accepted 43 applications, for 4,350,419 euros. Additionally, 793,295 euros was spent in 2006 and 1,496,335 euros in 2007 from the foreign ministry's Europa fund on TV programs in praise of the environment, development aid and European cooperation.
Two members of parliament are demanding an explanation of the program. Said one: "This is propaganda, the neutrality of the state is put in doubt." Another said: "These are Soviet practices. Broadcasters serving as state television. Absolutely revolting."
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 29th, 2008 at 04:21 PM.
|January 23rd, 2008||#2|
Agitator Of Muds
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Allenbrown PA Where crime is a way of life
All that money squandered on lies, what a shame. With all things considered it's a drop in the bucket compared to the massive amounts spent in this country to propagate the same misleading and dishonest portrayals of multicultural society. Unlike the U.S. though there is a slim hope for them as it seems they have a few politicians blessed with testicals.
|February 19th, 2008||#3|
Join Date: May 2007
|February 19th, 2008||#4|
Join Date: May 2007
I think the Hollywood propaganda is worse than anything the Soviet Union ever had, because at least in the Soviet Union, people knew it was propaganda.
|February 22nd, 2008||#5|
Also, the government forces advertisers to incorporate 92% minorities into practically every ad on television. So there's plenty of direct governmental involvement in American media too.
|February 22nd, 2008||#6|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Thank Gawd for the Internet!
From the Jew Edward Bernays (S. Freud's nephew) to Vance Packard, back to Gustav LeBon, forward to Jacques Ellul -- all these authors teach us about mass psychology and the formation of public attitudes. I had only read Packard until Dr. Pierce introduced me to the other authors and drummed into my head the monolithic power of Jewry -- not so much their "purse power," today -- but their power to shape mass opinion; say, their power to have normal, healthy, heterosexual White people accepting breeding with apes and men having sex with little boys (NAMBLA) as "mainstream." That's the power today, but challenged by new alternative media as we more inquisitive, resourceful goyim have available to us here.
Igor, your concise explanation of Hollywood's attitude toward us hapless goy critics (read: "violent neo-nazi white supremacist haters" in the Jew's book) would make a good sig file. I'd only add that the Hollywood : closed shop movie industry also tells us, "If you don't like the thin soup we serve up to you, make your own movies." The Screen Actors Guild and other industry unions; the theater system, film distribution; movie reviews, movie rating, media marketing for films, etc., etc., are all part of the monolithic movie industry -- the closed shop cartel.
|February 29th, 2008||#7|
[Media agree to keep secrets for government. What else aren't they telling you?]
For Harry, 10 Weeks As `one of the Lads'
By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry wanted to be "one of the lads," an ordinary soldier sharing risk and hardship with his men. For 10 weeks, he got his wish — and that may be enough to advance his career in the military.
British defense chiefs announced Friday they were withdrawing him immediately from the combat zone in Afghanistan after his deployment, once a closely guarded secret, became public.
Still, Harry's hopes of a long-term military career should still be boosted by his time at war — and by the assessment of his commander, Brig. Andrew Mackey, that the prince "acquitted himself with distinction."
Harry, third in line to the throne, has spoken of his desire to be an ordinary soldier. Unlike his older brother, William, who is also in the army but whose future military role will be largely ceremonial, Harry, 23, sees the military as a career.
In a 2006 interview, he said he would not have gone through the rigors of officer training at Sandhurst military academy only to "sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country."
Although Harry's deployment ended prematurely, military analysts said it would nonetheless help his army career by allowing him to hold his head high among his comrades.
"It will set him apart from the people who haven't been on active service," said Charles Heyman, author of guidebooks to the British military. "That's the most important thing for a soldier."
The prince's deployment had gone undisclosed under an agreement between the Ministry of Defense and major news organizations designed to protect Harry and his fellow soldiers.
An Australian women's magazine reported on Harry's deployment last month, but that report received little attention. When the news was posted on the Drudge Report Web site on Thursday, the dam burst.
The Ministry of Defense said Friday that worldwide media coverage of Harry's posting could have risked his and his colleagues' safety had the prince been allowed to stay in Afghanistan. It said Harry had been due to return "in a matter of weeks" before the news broke.
Media outlets were granted a series of interviews and allowed to take photos and video images of the prince, all to be distributed on a pool basis and used on his return. That material was released after the story leaked out.
Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell, who helped broker the media deal, said the arrangement should not be looked at as precedent-setting.
"But on the other hand, you should never say never," he said. "It worked for a significant time, and it allowed Prince Harry to be deployed."
Harry's work in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province involved calling in airstrikes on Taliban positions, as well as foot patrols. He spent part of his deployment at a base 500 yards from Taliban positions.
Conditions were primitive and dangerous, but Harry said the posting offered him a rare sort of freedom.
"I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get," Harry said while serving at a dusty outpost called Forward Operating Base Delhi.
"It's bizarre," he reflected. "I'm out here now, haven't really had a shower for four days, haven't washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal. It's nice just to be here with all the guys and just mucking in as one of the lads."
Harry joked in Afghanistan that he was a "bullet magnet," a prized target for insurgents. A plan to send him to Iraq last year was canceled after British intelligence learned of threats by militants to kill him. The head of the army, Gen. Richard Dannatt, said at the time that intense media coverage of the planned deployment had made the situation worse.
He is expected back in Britain in the coming days.
Many of Harry's royal forebears have also seen combat — most recently his uncle, Prince Andrew, who flew Royal Navy helicopters during the 1982 Falklands War. Harry's grandfather Prince Philip served on Royal Navy battleships during World War II.
In those days, a combination of press deference, military censorship and slower-moving technology helped keep details of military operations under wraps. Times have changed — as Harry himself knows well.
Back home in Britain, the prince is stalked by the press. His frequent boozy trips to London nightclubs and his occasional gaffes — like wearing an armband with a a Nazi emblem to a costume party — are captured by paparazzi and beamed around the world.
Analysts say the combination of Harry's celebrity status, an insatiable media and an age of instant communication makes it unlikely the prince — or anyone else with a similar profile — will serve on the front lines again.
"We live in a crazed celebrity-reporting world," said Adam Holloway, a Conservative Party lawmaker who sits on the British parliament's defense committee. "It's pretty miraculous that he managed 10 weeks."
|March 21st, 2008||#8|
The Golden Age of the Military-Entertainment Complex
by Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
Recently, photographic portraits of nine World War I vets (all 105 or older when taken) were unveiled at a Pentagon ceremony. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates then noted that, when it comes to their war, "There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades."
If true, that is little short of a miracle – as Nick Turse indicates below. Hollywood hasn't been able to keep its gaze off either war or the Pentagon since "the war to end all wars" began in 1914 (and the favor has long been returned). In fact, Hollywood and the Pentagon have been in an intricate dance of support and cross-promotion for almost a century, from a time when the Department of Defense was still quaintly – if more accurately – known as the War Department. Today, however, without leaving Hollywood behind, the Pentagon has branched out into the larger universe of entertainment. Video games, TV, NASCAR racing, social networking, professional bull riding, toys, professional wrestling, you name it and the military-entertainment complex has a hand in it – and don't forget about the Pentagon's links to Starbucks, Apple Computer, Oakley sunglasses, and well, gosh… in one way or another, directly or indirectly, just about everything that looks civilian in (or out of) your house.
In fact, there's a remarkable new book that looks into all of this, while doing the best job around of updating the old military-industrial complex, a term whose hard-edged simplicity an ever-expanding Pentagon long ago left in the dust. Whatever you do, don't miss Nick Turse's The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives. It's an eye-opener on the degree to which we are, without realizing it, a militarized society; it is, as well, the latest spin-off book from Tomdispatch.com, where some of its parts were initially tested out. But let me just quote Chalmers Johnson on The Complex: "Americans who still think they can free themselves from the clutches of the military-industrial complex need to read this book. The gimmicks the Pentagon uses to deceive, entrap, and enlist gullible 18 to 24 year olds make signing up anything but voluntary. Nick Turse has produced a brilliant exposé of the Pentagon's pervasive influence in our lives."
In honor of its publication, I'm posting an adaptation of one small section of The Complex, its only Pentagon-themed "game." Amid all the weaponry, military bases, and contractors, it's certainly one of the book's lighter moments. In it, Turse shows that just about every actor to appear on screen from Charlie Chaplin's brother Syd to Dakota Fanning and Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow can be linked to the Pentagon in one way or another.
Oh, and by the way, you can even check out a brief Tomdispatch video interview I did with Turse (with, as you'll notice, a silent "Sigmund Freud" looking on) by clicking here. It was produced by freelance documentary filmmaker Brett Story, a new staff addition to Tomdispatch. Expect more Turse in the near future. ~ Tom
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Pentagon-Style
By Nick Turse
In the late 1990s, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – a game in which the goal was to connect the actor Kevin Bacon to any other actor, living or dead, through films or television shows in no more than six steps – became something of a phenomenon. Spread via the Internet (before becoming a board game and a book), Six Degrees has taken its place in America's pop culture pantheon among favorite late-night drunken pursuits.
Here is a new variant of the game: The goal is to connect Kevin Bacon to the Pentagon. A commonsense approach would be to consider Bacon's military roles – the ROTC cadet in his first feature film, the 1978 comedy classic Animal House, for example, or the Marine Corps prosecutor, Captain Jack Ross, in the 1992 film A Few Good Men. But the game isn't as easy as it looks. Animal House was hardly a pro-military project and the Department of Defense actually denied A Few Good Men access to its facilities. The script, the Pentagon claimed, reinforced "the conclusion that not only is criminal harassment a commonplace and accepted practice within the Marine Corps, but that it requires a sister military service to uncover the wrongdoings..." A spokesman for the film understood why: "It is certainly not a recruiting film," he commented.
So does that mean game over? Perish the thought. In reality, there are no degrees of separation between Bacon and the Pentagon because the actor began his career in a "recruiting film" – a real one. As Bacon recalled: "After the [Vietnam] war was over in 75, I was already thinking about becoming an actor and I got sent out on this Army recruiting film. It was a soft-sell kind of thing. I was a guy getting out of high school who didn't know what he wanted to do with his life, so I took the gig. It was my very first paying acting job."
As it happens, however, the military puts Bacon to shame when it comes to connections in Tinseltown. The Pentagon might, in fact, be thought of as the ultimate Hollywood insider – a direct result of the ever-expanding military-corporate complex or "The Complex" as I call it in my new book, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives.
So let's play a new version of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the military standing in for Bacon. The object is to follow a few of the thousands of linkages and connections between Hollywood and the military that have made the Department of Defense a genuine legend of the silver screen, from the Silent Era to the ramped-up military-movie complex of today, ending with – who else? – Kevin Bacon. Just sit back with a big bucket of popcorn and enjoy the show...
Thirty Seconds Over Hollywood
Let's go back to 1915, when, in response to a request for assistance, U.S. Secretary of War John Weeks ordered the army to provide every reasonable courtesy to D. W. Griffith's pro–Ku Klux Klan epic Birth of a Nation. The Army came through with more than 1,000 cavalry troops and a military band. The film featured George Beranger, who would go on to star with Humphrey Bogart and Glen Cavender in San Quentin (1937) – in which a former Army officer is hired to impose military discipline on the infamous prison. Cavender had also appeared alongside actor/director Syd Chaplin, Charlie's brother, in A Submarine Pirate (1915), for which the Navy provided a submarine, a gunboat, and the use of the San Diego Navy Yard. (The film was even approved to be shown in Navy recruiting stations.)
Syd Chaplin later starred in the non-military A Little Bit of Fluff (1928) with Edmund Breon, who appeared in the 1930 World War I aviation epic The Dawn Patrol. That film was written by John Monk Saunders, who penned another World War I drama, Wings (1927), featuring Gary Cooper. Wings received major support from the War Department (back in the days before it was called the Defense Department) and won the first Academy Award for Best Picture.
Gary Cooper provides the link to Sergeant York, a 1941 film directed by World War I Army Air Corps veteran (and The Dawn Patrol director) Howard Hawks that was denounced by many as war-mongering propaganda. Hawks went on to direct actor Ray Montgomery in Air Force (1943), a Warner Brothers' film about a bomber crew serving in the Pacific, which received assistance from the Army Air Corps. In fact, the War Department even fast-tracked a review of the script because the film was deemed "a special Air Corps recruiting job."
That same year, Montgomery also played a bit part, alongside Humphrey Bogart, in Warner Brothers' Action in the North Atlantic (assistance from the Navy). Bogart additionally starred with Lloyd Bridges in Columbia Pictures' 1943 Sahara, a World War II epic made with the full cooperation of the U.S. Army. Bridges would go on to appear with both Van Johnson and Spencer Tracy in the non-military Plymouth Adventures (1952). But long before that, both Johnson and Tracy took off in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a film celebrating the 1942 "Doolittle Raid" – a U.S. terror-bombing effort that decimated civilian sites including factories, schools and even a hospital in Japan – made, of course, with the assistance of the War Department.
Van Johnson fought his way through another MGM production, Battleground (1949), which not only featured tanks and trucks loaned by the Army, but, as extras, twenty members of the 101st Airborne Division. Battleground co-starred John Hodiak, who, that same year, played alongside Jimmy Stewart in the World War II adventure film Malaya. Stewart actually enlisted in the Air Force in World War II, then served in the Air Force Reserve, and retired as a brigadier general. While in the Reserves, he flew high in Strategic Air Command (1955), a film conceived at the urging of Curtis LeMay, the actual commander of the Air Force's actual Strategic Air Command (SAC). Even with Cold War–era demands on its equipment, SAC provided Paramount with B-36 bombers, B-47 jet bombers and a full colonel as a technical adviser.
But that was just one of SAC's (and LeMay's) connections to Hollywood. The 1963 film A Gathering of Eagles, for example, received SAC's wholehearted support. Written by Battleground screenwriter Robert Pirosh and featuring matinee idol Rock Hudson, it was praised for its realism by none other than LeMay.
Rock Hudson later starred with John Wayne in The Undefeated (1969), but not before "the Duke" made his military-entertainment masterpiece The Green Berets (1968), which enjoyed the full backing of the Vietnam-embattled Department of Defense. With loads of military input, The Green Berets proved to be, said Variety, a "whammo" and "boffo" box-office success. Critics, however, almost universally panned it. One New York Times film reviewer went so far as to call it "so unspeakable, so stupid, so rotten and false in every detail… vile and insane."
Wayne's Green Berets costar, George Takei (better known as Mr. Sulu on TV's Star Trek), was no stranger to the military-entertainment complex, having appeared in the 1960 Marines Corps-assisted Hell to Eternity and the 1963 film version of John F. Kennedy's PT 109. (For which the Navy provided a destroyer, six other ships, and a few sailors.) Takei, who would be "beamed up" in the Navy-supported 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, also once starred with Grant Williams, an actor who later showed up in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), a then-unbelievably big-budget (at least $25 million) Twentieth Century Fox film. For that movie, the Department of Defense provided research assistance, stock footage, a technical adviser, an old airplane hangar (which the film blew up), and the use of Navy ships at Pearl Harbor. Demonstrating a new willingness to go above and beyond for Hollywood, the Navy even loaded thirty "Japanese" airplanes onto the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown for the attack.
In Rehab Mode, the Military Goes Civilian
Military-Tinseltown cooperation obviously goes back a long way. But in the 1970s, a new, amped-up relationship was launched, largely in response to a growing negative impression of the U.S. military brought on by the Vietnam War – and by the daunting prospect of having to field an all-volunteer military. The Pentagon was hungry for help in rehabilitating its image – even lending support to "civilian" flicks – and the film industry was happy to oblige.
Take Twentieth Century Fox's 1974 collaboration with the Navy on the non-military The Towering Inferno (1974). The Navy lent helicopters, and the studio said thanks in the form of an acknowledgment in the credits. The film featured longtime military-entertainment stalwart William Holden, who had already appeared in I Wanted Wings (an army-aided 1941 propaganda flick) and The Bridges at Toko-Ri (made with Navy assistance in 1955). He had also co-starred in 1948's Man From Colorado with Glenn Ford, who acted alongside Charlton Heston in Midway (1976), a production that was allowed to use the USS Lexington aircraft carrier for two weeks of filming. Heston, in turn, went on to star in Gray Lady Down – a 1978 submarine thriller that benefited from the use of a real submarine, ships, and sailors, all courtesy of the Navy.
Gray Lady Down featured actor Stacey Keach, who starred in 1980's TV movie-adaptation of Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War. The Marine Corps provided an adviser (who tempered some of the more disturbing portions of Caputo's memoir), the use of military facilities, and 30 marines. Brian Dennehy, who also starred in A Rumor of War, would act alongside Scott Glenn in the 1985 western Silverado. But before he became a cowboy, Glenn played the part of Navy test pilot and NASA spaceman Alan B. Shepard in The Right Stuff (1983). That film was partially shot at Edwards Air Force Base and used various types of aircraft and equipment as well as Air Force personnel as extras.
Ed Harris, who blasted into orbit as astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff moved from the space capsule to the NASA control room in the 1995 blockbuster drama Apollo 13 (Air Force extras and equipment loaned by Vandenberg Air Force Base). Beside him in the co-pilot seat was none other than… Kevin Bacon. Apollo 13 also featured Bill Paxton, who, a year earlier, had been in the Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster, True Lies, which benefited from Marine Corps assistance. Paxton had also acted in 1990's Navy Seals (helped by the Navy) and, in 2000, would dive below the surface in the Navy-supported submarine action-drama U-571.
True Lies was but another link in the military-entertainment matrix. The film's co-star, Tom Arnold, shared billing in Exit Wounds (2001) with Steven Seagal (whose 1992 film Under Siege and 1996 film Executive Decision received, respectively, Navy and Army cooperation) and Bruce McGill, who would appear with Morgan Freeman in 2002's The Sum of All Fears. Shot on location at Whiteman Air Force Base and Offutt Air Force Base, The Sum of All Fears featured numerous USAF aircraft and enjoyed the input of multiple Air Force technical advisers.
Freeman's costar in The Sum of All Fears, Ben Affleck, had a lead role in the 2001 historical drama Pearl Harbor. Produced with the backing of the Navy, the film had its premiere on the deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Affleck was joined in Pearl Harbor by Cuba Gooding Jr. (who also starred in 2000's Navy-aided Men of Honor), Tom Sizemore (from 1991's Navy-aided Flight of the Intruder) and Josh Hartnett. That same year, Hartnett and Sizemore appeared in Ridley Scott's blockbuster Black Hawk Down, made with the full cooperation of the Army. The Pentagon sent the film eight helicopters and 100 soldiers, including members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Pearl Harbor co-star Tom Everett appeared in Air Force One (1997), starring Harrison Ford, which used USAF aircraft, Air Force personnel as extras, and was filmed at both the Rickenbacker and Channel Islands Air National Guard bases. Its director, Wolfgang Petersen, also directed the George Clooney/Mark Wahlberg Air Force-aided weather drama The Perfect Storm (partially filmed at the Channel Islands base as well).
Wahlberg had a bit part in the 1994 Danny DeVito comedy Renaissance Man (made with Army involvement). In fact, the Oscar-winning, military-themed Forrest Gump received only limited help from the Army, in part because Renaissance Man and another 1994 comedy, In the Army Now, starring Pauly Shore and David Alan Grier, sucked up so much military attention that year. Grier went on to appear in the non-military The Woodsman (2004) with Benjamin Bratt, who had previously been cast in the 1994 Army-aided thriller Clear and Present Danger and would star in the ABC TV series E-Ring, a self-proclaimed "pulsating drama set inside the nation's ultimate fortress: the Pentagon." Its producer and co-creator Ken Robinson had worked in the actual Pentagon over "a couple decades." At Bratt's side in the non-military The Woodsman was not only Grier but – you guessed it – Kevin Bacon.
The Pentagon, the Sequel
In fact, one could take many (if not all) of Bacon's non-military roles and quickly find connections that lead directly to the Pentagon. For instance, have a look at Bacon's distinctly unmilitary Wild Things (1998) and you'll find movie veteran Robert Wagner, who was featured not only in such Navy-supported fare as The Frogmen (1951) and Midway (1976), but also in the Marine Corps–aided Halls of Montezuma (1950), Stars and Stripes Forever (1952), and In Love and War (1958); the Army-assisted Between Heaven and Hell (1956); the Air Force-supported The Hunters (1958); and finally The Longest Day (1962), an epic about World War II's D-Day landings made with the cooperation of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.
When it comes to military-entertainment connections, the point is: Bacon isn't special. Almost any current actor – from Academy Award-winner Gwyneth Paltrow (in 2008's upcoming Air Force-aided Iron Man) to young actress Dakota Fanning (at the side of top-gunner Tom Cruise in the Army-aided, Steven Spielberg-directed 2005 remake of War of the Worlds) – could be linked to the military. The reasons are simple. As David Robb, the author of Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies, observed:
"Hollywood and the Pentagon have… a collaboration that works well for both sides. Hollywood producers get what they want – access to billions of dollars worth of military hardware and equipment – tanks, jet fighters, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers – and the military gets what it wants – films that portray the military in a positive light; films that help the services in their recruiting efforts."
But recruiting is just part of the equation, and the phrase "a positive light" is even a little soft. At the movies, the military gets sold – at least in those legions of Pentagon-aided films – as heroic, admirable, and morally correct. Often, it can literally do no wrong. This, of course, is no accident. Something must be exchanged for the millions of dollars in otherwise unavailable high-tech weapons systems and equipment, not to speak of personnel and military advisors, necessary to make the sort of "realistic," eye-catching war, action, and sci-fi movies that Hollywood (and assumedly its audiences) demand.
Speaking about the big-budget, live-action blockbuster Transformers (2007), Ian Bryce, one of its producers, characterized the relationship this way, "Without the superb military support we've gotten… it would be an entirely different-looking film… Once you get Pentagon approval, you've created a win-win situation. We want to cooperate with the Pentagon to show them off in the most positive light, and the Pentagon likewise wants to give us the resources to be able to do that."
On the military side, Air Force master sergeant Larry Belen spoke of similar motivations for aiding the production of Iron Man: "I want people to walk away from this movie with a really good impression of the Air Force, like they got about the Navy seeing Top Gun." But Air Force captain Christian Hodge, the Defense Department's project officer for Iron Man, may have said it best when he unabashedly predicted, "The Air Force is going to come off looking like rock stars."
On the Silver Screen, you can be sure of three things: the Complex is forever; the Pentagon has no equal (sorry Kevin!), and there will, most definitely, be a sequel…
March 21, 2008
Tom Engelhardt [send him mail] who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com, is the co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of several books, including The Last Days of Publishing: A Novel, The End of Victory Culture, and most recently, Mission Unaccomplished (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews. His blog is The Notion. Nick Turse is the associate editor and research director of Tomdispatch.com. He has written for Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Adbusters, The Nation, the Village Voice and regularly for Tomdispatch. His first book, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, has just been published in Metropolitan Books's American Empire Project series.
|July 9th, 2009||#9|
Not Just WaPo: Atlantic's Corporate-Sponsored "Salons" Tout "Private Conversations" With Top Journos, Lawmakers
By Zachary Roth - July 6, 2009, 1:13PM
Last week, Politico reported that the Washington Post had planned to put on an exclusive off-the-record "salon" at the home of its publisher, where corporate lobbyists would pay as much as $250,000 to gain access to Post reporters and editors, as well as Obama administration officials and members of Congress. The news provoked an outcry in DC journalism circles -- the Post's own ombudsman called it "pretty close to a public relations disaster" -- and the the event was quickly canceled.
But the notion that the Post's gambit represents some sort of new and uniquely outrageous collapsing of the wall between the editorial and business sides of a news publication is badly off the mark. In fact, it would be closer to the truth to say that the paper got caught pushing the envelope on a money-making and influence-building strategy that other outlets had been quietly deploying for years.
Check out this undated flier, obtained by TPMmuckraker. Sent out by Atlantic Media, which publishes The Atlantic, the flier advertises the magazine's "Salon Dinners," which it describes as "private conversations among thought leaders."
These aren't one-off events, by a long shot. The Atlantic has held approximately 100 of them since 2003, according to Zachary Hooper, a spokesman for the magazine.
And they're by and large initiated by the corporation that pays for them, according to Hooper. "The corporate sponsor" -- with whom the magazine generally has a longstanding business relationship -- "comes to us and says, 'We're interested in having a discussion on a certain topic.'" The magazine's business staff, said Hooper, takes things from there.
The events, as described in the flier, appear strikingly similar to the dinner planned by the Post -- right down to the use of the word "salon" to create an aura of intellectual inquiry. Just as the Post reportedly sought to have health-care lobbyists pay for an event on health-care reform, the Atlantic flier makes clear that the "salons" are paid for by corporations and focused on a public-policy issue in which the corporate sponsor has a major stake. It offers the following "sampling of salon dinner sponsors and topics":
• AstraZeneca on "Healthcare Access and Education"
• Microsoft on "Global Trade,"
• GE on "Energy Sustainability and the Future of Nuclear Power"
• Allstate on "The Future of the American City"
• Citi on "The Challenge of Global Markets"
Hooper declined to say how much these corporations put up to sponsor the events.
And just as with the Post, the Atlantic dinners are strictly off-the-record, and not open to the public. The flier describes them as:
Private, custom, off-the-record conversations of 20-30 key influential individuals, moderated by an Atlantic editor, designed to bring a thoughtful group together for unbounded conversation on key issues of the day.
And -- again like the Post's planned dinner -- the draw for corporations is access not just to the hosting publication's reporters and editors, but to other big-name journalists, not to mention members of Congress and other Washington heavy-weights. Among the "sampling of attendees" listed on the flier are Chris Matthews, George Stephanopoulos, David Brooks, Fred Hiatt, Maureen Dowd, Andrea Mitchell, James Carville, John Kerry, John Sununu, Gary Hart, Norm Coleman, Chris Dodd, Mitt Romney, and Rahm Emanuel (listed as a congressman, a position he held from January 2003 until the start of 2009).
Since last week, at least two separate posts on the Atlantic's website have drawn attention to the Post's misadventure. Both note in passing that the Atlantic itself organizes corporate-sponsored events, without elaborating.
There do appear to be differences between the Atlantic's events and what the Post had in mind. Hooper, the Atlantic spokesman, stressed that the magazine makes an effort to put together a guest list that will allow journalists and politicians in attendance to hear a range of viewpoints. For instance, said Hooper, the Astra Zeneca-sponsored dinner on health care included representatives from the National Business Coalition on Health, and Leapfrog, both of which are advocacy groups that support efforts to lower health-care costs, as well as from the National Alliance on Hispanic Health, and the American Lung Association. And the GE-sponsored event on nuclear power involved the Natural Resources Defense Council and the non-partisan research group Resources for the Future, among others.
"At the end of the day, it's something that helps our journalism," said Hooper. "It gives [our journalists] more perspectives for their journalism." He added that the money from the dinners "helps underwrite the broader journalism we do."
The salons aren't the only high-fallutin' corporate-sponsored events put together by The Atlantic. Last week, the magazine hosted its yearly "Aspen Ideas Festival," which brings together a similar roster of media, political and business elites, and is paid for in part by corporations. But those confabs are on the record and open to the media. Nor does there appear to be quite as close a link as with the salons between the discussion topics and the interests of the corporate sponsors.
It's not just the Atlantic, of course. As the Post helpfully pointed out in its effort to do damage control on the scandal, the Wall Street Journal earlier this year "brought together global finance leaders -- including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd -- for a two-day conference sponsored by Nasdaq and hosted by Robert Thomson, the Journal's top editor, and other editors and reporters." But that too was on-the-record, and was web-cast by the Journal.
The Post added:
The Journal also holds conferences with its All Things Digital unit. A session in May, described as offering "unmatched access to the technology industry's elite," was sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm, among others, and featured the CEOs of Microsoft, Yahoo, NBC Universal, AT&T and Twitter, as well as Weymouth.
And of course The New Yorker holds an annual corporate-sponsored festival, featuring its editors and writers, as well as other big-name cultural figures. The one planned for this fall is paid for American Airlines, Delta, Westin Hotels and Banana Republic, reports the Post.
What to make of all this? Clearly, there are degrees of egregiousness here. A corporate-sponsored event that's off the record and closed to the media and the public seems more objectionable than one that's open and on the record. Equally, an event that's focused on a public-policy issue that's of particular interest to the event's corporate sponsor seems more objectionable than, say, having a clothing company or an airline put up money for a festival that treats everything from the global economy to indie rock, as in the case of The New Yorker. An event whose advertising seeks to lure corporate lobbyists by promising the ability to directly influence elected officials or journalists seems, perhaps, more objectionable than one where the potential for influence-peddling is at least less explicit. It's also worth noting that when a daily newspaper risks compromising its coverage of a key policy issue, it probably does more damage than when a monthly ideas magazine appears to do the same.
So it's fair to say that the Post's plans, as described, seem to rank highest on the egregiousness scale than any arrangement that's yet surfaced -- with the Atlantic's own long string of corporate-sponsored "salons" perhaps coming in second. But the key point is that, even before this latest occasion for outrage, there was hardly the kind of clear and distinct line between the news and business sections of many major media outlets that the reaction to last week's news would suggest.
Late Update: Atlantic Media publisher David Bradley responds. Our take is here.
|August 10th, 2012||#10|
Disinformation: How It Works
by Brandon Smith
There was a time, not too long ago (relatively speaking), that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them did not find it necessary to conscript themselves into wars of disinformation.
Propaganda was relatively straightforward. The lies were much simpler. The control of information flow was easily directed. Rules were enforced with the threat of property confiscation and execution for anyone who strayed from the rigid socio-political structure. Those who had theological, metaphysical or scientific information outside of the conventional and scripted collective world view were tortured and slaughtered. The elites kept the information to themselves, and removed its remnants from mainstream recognition, sometimes for centuries before it was rediscovered.
With the advent of anti-feudalism, and most importantly the success of the American Revolution, elitists were no longer able to dominate information with the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. The establishment of Republics, with their philosophy of open government and rule by the people, compelled Aristocratic minorities to plot more subtle ways of obstructing the truth and thus maintaining their hold over the world without exposing themselves to retribution from the masses. Thus, the complex art of disinformation was born.
The technique, the “magic” of the lie, was refined and perfected. The mechanics of the human mind and the human soul became an endless obsession for the establishment.
The goal was malicious, but socially radical; instead of expending the impossible energy needed to dictate the very form and existence of the truth, they would allow it to drift, obscured in a fog of contrived data. They would wrap the truth in a Gordian Knot of misdirection and fabrication so elaborate that they felt certain the majority of people would surrender, giving up long before they ever finished unraveling the deceit. The goal was not to destroy the truth, but to hide it in plain sight.
In modern times, and with carefully engineered methods, this goal has for the most part been accomplished. However, these methods also have inherent weaknesses. Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly.
In this article, we will examine the methods used to fertilize and promote the growth of disinformation, as well as how to identify the roots of disinformation and effectively cut them, starving out the entire system of fallacies once and for all.
Media Disinformation Methods
The mainstream media, once tasked with the job of investigating government corruption and keeping elitists in line, has now become nothing more than a public relations firm for corrupt officials and their Globalist handlers. The days of the legitimate “investigative reporter” are long gone (if they ever existed at all), and journalism itself has deteriorated into a rancid pool of so called “TV Editorialists” who treat their own baseless opinions as supported fact.
The elitist co-opting of news has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the printing press. However, the first methods of media disinformation truly came to fruition under the supervision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who believed the truth was “subjective” and open to his personal interpretation.
Some of the main tactics used by the mainstream media to mislead the masses are as follows:
Lie Big, Retract Quietly: Mainstream media sources (especially newspapers) are notorious for reporting flagrantly dishonest and unsupported news stories on the front page, then quietly retracting those stories on the very back page when they are caught. In this case, the point is to railroad the lie into the collective consciousness. Once the lie is finally exposed, it is already too late, and a large portion of the population will not notice or care when the truth comes out.
Unconfirmed Or Controlled Sources As Fact: Cable news venues often cite information from “unnamed” sources, government sources that have an obvious bias or agenda, or “expert” sources without providing an alternative “expert” view. The information provided by these sources is usually backed by nothing more than blind faith.
Calculated Omission: Otherwise known as “cherry picking” data. One simple piece of information or root item of truth can derail an entire disinfo news story, so instead of trying to gloss over it, they simply pretend as if it doesn’t exist. When the fact is omitted, the lie can appear entirely rational. This tactic is also used extensively when disinformation agents and crooked journalists engage in open debate.
Distraction, And The Manufacture Of Relevance: Sometimes the truth wells up into the public awareness regardless of what the media does to bury it. When this occurs their only recourse is to attempt to change the public’s focus and thereby distract them from the truth they were so close to grasping. The media accomplishes this by “over-reporting” on a subject that has nothing to do with the more important issues at hand. Ironically, the media can take an unimportant story, and by reporting on it ad nauseum, cause many Americans to assume that because the media won’t shut-up about it, it must be important!
Dishonest Debate Tactics: Sometimes, men who actually are concerned with the average American’s pursuit of honesty and legitimate fact-driven information break through and appear on T.V. However, rarely are they allowed to share their views or insights without having to fight through a wall of carefully crafted deceit and propaganda. Because the media know they will lose credibility if they do not allow guests with opposing viewpoints every once in a while, they set up and choreograph specialized T.V. debates in highly restrictive environments which put the guest on the defensive, and make it difficult for them to clearly convey their ideas or facts.
TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good”; essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His Rules for Radicals were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics? In reality, his strategies are the perfect format for corrupt institutions and governments to dissuade dissent from the masses. Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition.
Alinsky’s Strategy: Win At Any Cost, Even If You Have To Lie
Alinsky’s tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:
1) Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
We see this tactic in many forms. For example, projecting your own movement as mainstream, and your opponent’s as fringe. Convincing your opponent that his fight is a futile one. Your opposition may act differently, or even hesitate to act at all, based on their perception of your power. How often have we heard this line: “The government has predator drones. There is nothing the people can do now…” This is a projection of exaggerated invincibility designed to elicit apathy from the masses.
2) Never go outside the experience of your people, and whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
Don’t get drawn into a debate about a subject you do not know as well as or better than your opposition. If possible, draw them into such a situation instead. Go off on tangents. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty in your opposition. This is commonly used against unwitting interviewees on cable news shows whose positions are set up to be skewered. The target is blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address. In television and radio, this also serves to waste broadcast time to prevent the target from expressing his own position.
3) Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
The objective is to target the opponent’s credibility and reputation by accusations of hypocrisy. If the tactician can catch his opponent in even the smallest misstep, it creates an opening for further attacks, and distracts away from the broader moral question.
4) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
“Ron Paul is a crackpot.” “Gold bugs are crazy.” “Constitutionalists are fringe extremists.” Baseless ridicule is almost impossible to counter because it is meant to be irrational. It infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. It also works as a pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
5) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
The popularization of the term “Teabaggers” is a classic example; it caught on by itself because people seem to think it’s clever, and enjoy saying it. Keeping your talking points simple and fun helps your side stay motivated, and helps your tactics spread autonomously, without instruction or encouragement.
6) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
See rule No. 5. Don’t become old news. If you keep your tactics fresh, it’s easier to keep your people active. Not all disinformation agents are paid. The “useful idiots” have to be motivated by other means. Mainstream disinformation often changes gear from one method to the next and then back again.
7) Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. Never give the target a chance to rest, regroup, recover or re-strategize. Take advantage of current events and twist their implications to support your position. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
8) The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
This goes hand in hand with Rule No. 1. Perception is reality. Allow your opposition to expend all of its energy in expectation of an insurmountable scenario. The dire possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.
9) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
The objective of this pressure is to force the opposition to react and make the mistakes that are necessary for the ultimate success of the campaign.
10) If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
As grassroots activism tools, Alinsky tactics have historically been used (for example, by labor movements or covert operations specialists) to force the opposition to react with violence against activists, which leads to popular sympathy for the activists’ cause. Today, false (or co-opted) grassroots movements and revolutions use this technique in debate as well as in planned street actions and rebellions (look at Syria for a recent example).
11) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. Today, this is often used offensively against legitimate activists, such as the opponents of the Federal Reserve. Complain that your opponent is merely “pointing out the problems.” Demand that they offer not just “a solution”, but THE solution. Obviously, no one person has “the” solution. When he fails to produce the miracle you requested, dismiss his entire argument and all the facts he has presented as pointless.
12) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.
Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. The target’s supporters will expose themselves. Go after individual people, not organizations or institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.
The next time you view an MSM debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of the strategies above used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.
Internet Disinformation Methods
Internet trolls, also known as “paid posters” or “paid bloggers,” are increasingly and openly being employed by private corporations as well governments, often for marketing purposes and for “public relations” (Obama is notorious for this practice). Internet “trolling” is indeed a fast growing industry.
Trolls use a wide variety of strategies, some of which are unique to the internet, here are just a few:
1. Make outrageous comments designed to distract or frustrate: An Alinsky tactic used to make people emotional, although less effective because of the impersonal nature of the Web.
2. Pose as a supporter of the truth, then make comments that discredit the movement: We have seen this even on our own forums – trolls pose as supporters of the Liberty Movement, then post long, incoherent diatribes so as to appear either racist or insane. The key to this tactic is to make references to common Liberty Movement arguments while at the same time babbling nonsense, so as to make those otherwise valid arguments seem ludicrous by association. In extreme cases, these “Trojan Horse Trolls” have been known to make posts which incite violence – a technique obviously intended to solidify the false assertions of the think tank propagandists like the SPLC, which purports that Constitutionalists should be feared as potential domestic terrorists.
3. Dominate Discussions: Trolls often interject themselves into productive Web discussions in order to throw them off course and frustrate the people involved.
4. Prewritten Responses: Many trolls are supplied with a list or database with pre-planned talking points designed as generalized and deceptive responses to honest arguments. When they post, their words feel strangely plastic and well rehearsed.
5. False Association: This works hand in hand with item No. 2, by invoking the stereotypes established by the “Trojan Horse Troll.” For example: calling those against the Federal Reserve “conspiracy theorists” or “lunatics”; deliberately associating anti-globalist movements with racists and homegrown terrorists, because of the inherent negative connotations; and using false associations to provoke biases and dissuade people from examining the evidence objectively.
6. False Moderation: Pretending to be the “voice of reason” in an argument with obvious and defined sides in an attempt to move people away from what is clearly true into a “grey area” where the truth becomes “relative.”
7. Straw Man Arguments: A very common technique. The troll will accuse his opposition of subscribing to a certain point of view, even if he does not, and then attacks that point of view. Or, the troll will put words in the mouth of his opposition, and then rebut those specific words.
Sometimes, these strategies are used by average people with serious personality issues. However, if you see someone using these tactics often, or using many of them at the same time, you may be dealing with a paid internet troll.
The best way to disarm disinformation agents is to know their methods inside and out. This gives us the ability to point out exactly what they are doing in detail the moment they try to do it. Immediately exposing a disinformation tactic as it is being used is highly destructive to the person utilizing it. It makes them look foolish, dishonest and weak for even making the attempt. Internet trolls most especially do not know how to handle their methods being deconstructed right in front of their eyes and usually fold and run from debate when it occurs.
The truth is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society who have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process.
The human psyche breathes on the air of truth. Without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance.
Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt: all things that lead to destruction. It can drive good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves. Without a concerted and organized effort to diffuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.
August 10, 2012
Brandon Smith [send him mail] is founder of the Alternative Market Project (www.alt-market.com) as well as the head writer and co-founder of Neithercorp Press. He specializes in macroeconomic analysis as well as studies in mainstream media disinformation, and is now focusing on the creation of a national network of barter markets designed to insulate and protect local economies from the inevitable collapse of the current unsustainable fiat system.
|April 28th, 2013||#11|
The Propaganda System That Has Helped Create a Permanent Overclass Is Over a Century in the Making
Posted by Andrew Gavin Marshall ⋅ April 14, 2013 ⋅ 5 Comments
Pulling back the curtain on how intent the wealthiest Americans have been on establishing a propaganda tool to subvert democracy.
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Where there is the possibility of democracy, there is the inevitability of elite insecurity. All through its history, democracy has been under a sustained attack by elite interests, political, economic, and cultural. There is a simple reason for this: democracy – as in true democracy – places power with people. In such circumstances, the few who hold power become threatened. With technological changes in modern history, with literacy and education, mass communication, organization and activism, elites have had to react to the changing nature of society – locally and globally.
From the late 19th century on, the “threats” to elite interests from the possibility of true democracy mobilized institutions, ideologies, and individuals in support of power. What began was a massive social engineering project with one objective: control. Through educational institutions, the social sciences, philanthropic foundations, public relations and advertising agencies, corporations, banks, and states, powerful interests sought to reform and protect their power from the potential of popular democracy.
Yet for all the efforts, organization, indoctrination and reformation of power interests, the threat of democracy has remained a constant, seemingly embedded in the human consciousness, persistent and pervasive.
In his highly influential work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, French social psychologist Gustav Le Bon suggested that middle class politics were transforming into popular democracy, where “the opinion of the masses” was the most important opinion in society. He wrote: “The destinies of nations are elaborated at present in the heart of the masses, and no longer in the councils of princes.” This was, of course, a deplorable change for elites, suggesting that, “[t]he divine right of the masses is about to replace the divine right of kings.” Le Bon suggested, however, that the “crowd” was not rational, but rather was driven by emotion and passion.
An associate and friend of Le Bon’s, Gabriel Tarde, expanded upon this concept, and articulated the idea that “the crowd” was a social group of the past, and that “the public” was “the social group of the future.” The public, argued Tarde, was a “spiritual collectivity, a dispersion of individuals who are physically separated and whose cohesion is entirely mental.” Thus, Tarde identified in the growth of the printing press and mass communications a powerful medium through which “the public” was shaped, and that, if managed appropriately, could bring a sense of order to a situation increasingly chaotic. The newspaper, Tarde explained, facilitated “the fusion of personal opinions into local opinions, and this into national and world opinion, the grandiose unification of the public mind.”
The development of psychology, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines increasingly portrayed the “public” and the population as irrational beings incapable of making their own decisions. The premise was simple: if the population was driven by dangerous, irrational emotions, they needed to be kept out of power and ruled over by those who were driven by reason and rationality, naturally, those who were already in power.
The Princeton Radio Project, which began in the 1930s with Rockefeller Foundation funding, brought together many psychologists, social scientists, and “experts” armed with an interest in social control, mass communication, and propaganda. The Princeton Radio Project had a profound influence upon the development of a modern “democratic propaganda” in the United States and elsewhere in the industrialized world. It helped in establishing and nurturing the ideas, institutions, and individuals who would come to shape America’s “democratic propaganda” throughout the Cold War, a program fostered between the private corporations which own the media, advertising, marketing, and public relations industries, and the state itself.
‘A Genuinely Democratic Propaganda’
World War I popularized the term “propaganda” and gave it negative connotations, as all major nations involved in the war effort employed new techniques of modern propaganda to mobilize their populations for war. In the United States, the effort was led by President Woodrow Wilson in the establishment of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) as a “vast propaganda ministry.” The central theme of the CPI was to promote U.S. entry into the war on the basis of seeking “to make a world that is safe for democracy.” This point was specifically developed by the leading intellectual of the era, Walter Lippmann [a jew], who by the age of 25 was referred to by President Theodore Roosevelt as “the most brilliant man of his age.” Lippmann was concerned primarily with the maintenance of the state-capitalist system in the face of increased unrest, resistance, and ideological opposition, feeling that the “discipline of science” would need to be applied to democracy, where social engineers and social scientists “would provide the modern state with a foundation upon which a new stability might be realized.” For this, Lippmann suggested the necessity of “intelligence and information control” in what he termed the “manufacture of consent.”
Important intellectuals of the era then became principally concerned with the issue of propaganda during peacetime, having witnessed its success in times of war. Propaganda, wrote Lippmann, “has a legitimate and desirable part to play in our democratic system.” A leading political scientist of the era, Harold Lasswell, noted: “Propaganda is surely here to stay.” In his 1925 book, The Phantom Public, Lippmann wrote that the public was a “bewildered herd” of “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” who should be maintained as “interested spectators of action,” and distinct from the actors themselves, the powerful. Edward Bernays [a jew], the ‘father of public relations’ and nephew of Sigmund Freud got his start with Wilson’s CPI during World War I, and had since become a leading voice in the fields of propaganda and public relations. In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” Modern society was dominated by a “relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses,” and this was, in Bernays’ thinking, “a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” Bernays referred to this – “borrowing” from Walter Lippmann – as the “engineering of consent.”
For the leading intellectuals and social engineers of the era, “propaganda” was presented as distinctly “democratic” and as a necessity to the proper functioning of society. John Marshall of the Rockefeller Foundation focused on what he called the “problem of propaganda” and sought to create, as he wrote in 1938, a “genuinely democratic propaganda.” Marshall pursued this objective through the Rockefeller Foundation, and specifically with the Princeton Radio Project in the late 1930s under the direction of Hadley Cantril and Frank Stanton, though including other intellectuals such as Paul Lazarsfeld and Harold Lasswell.
In 1936, Marshall wrote that the best way to expand the use of radio and film was for the Rockefeller Foundation to give “a few younger men with talent for these mediums an opportunity for relatively free experimentation… men interested primarily in education, literature, criticism, or in disseminating the findings of the social or natural sciences.”
In 1939, with the war in Europe under way, the Rockefeller Foundation had organized several conferences and published several papers on the issue of mass communication, directed by what was called the Communications Group, headed by Marshall and other Foundation officials, and with the participation of Lasswell, Lazarzfeld, Cantril, and several others. Early on, the Communications Group noted that with “an increasing degree of [government] control… in regard to all phases of communication, such as in the schools, the radio, the films, the press, and even eventually in all public discussion,” it was necessary to arrive at a consensus – among the “experts” – as to what role they should play as the state expands its authority over communication. Sociologist Robert Lynd took a page from Lippmann and wrote that a “goal” of experts in communication should “be that of persuading the people that there are many issues too complicated for them to decide, which should be left to experts.” One other participant commented on Lynd’s suggestion: “Mr. Lynd feels we need a restructuring of democratic action in terms of the capacity of different groups of the population and an abandonment of the American idea of the responsibility and capacity of the man on the street.” In 1940, John Marshall wrote:
In a period of emergency such as I believe we now face, the manipulation of public opinion to meet emergency needs has to be taken for granted. In such a period, those in control must shape public opinion to support courses of action which the emergency necessitates… No one, I think, can blame them for that impulse.
In a 1940 memo for the Communications Group, Marshall wrote that, “We believe… that for leadership to secure that consent will require unprecedented knowledge of the public mind and of the means by which leadership can secure consent… We believe… that we gave available today methods of research which can reliably inform us about the public mind and how it is being, or can be, influenced in relation to public affairs.” The memo concerned some officials at the Rockefeller Foundation, noting that it could be misinterpreted and that such research should be careful about becoming a mere tool of the state, with one official noting: “Public opinion and vested interests are… violently opposed to such a development which would be labeled as fascist or authoritarian.” Another official suggested that the memo “looks to me like something that [Nazi propaganda chief] Herr Goebbels could put out with complete sincerity.” While one Foundation official referred to the memo as resembling “the methods by which democracy has been destroyed,” he added that, “finding out regularly and completely what the mass of the people feel and believe and think about things and policies is a necessary part of the modern democratic process.” Marshall and the Communications Group refined their approach from a more overt authoritarianism of “one-way” communication between the state and the population, to a more Lippmann-centered concept of “manufacturing consent” and what has been referred to as “democratic elitism.” In the final report of the Communications Group in 1940, it was noted that two-way communication between the government and population was essential, as without it, “democracy is endangered,” and that it was required for the population to give “consent.”
Frank Stanton [not a jew], along with Hadley Cantril, was one of the co-directors of the Princeton Project since its inception. As Michael J. Socolow wrote in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Frank Stanton had “devoted much of his life to understanding the cultural, social, and psychological effects of the mass media.” Stanton was the president of CBS from 1946 until 1973, during which he “proved to be an effective corporate strategist” and “a skillful political operator,” not least of all because he “collaborated closely with the U.S. government, performing propaganda tasks during the Second World War and the ensuing Cold War.”
Stanton’s first job was in the advertising industry, beginning in 1929 and cut short by the market crash, though Stanton maintained that advertising “was the greatest thing since sliced bread.” In school, Stanton studied business administration and psychology, being particularly influenced by John B. Watson, the developer of behaviorism, who himself went to go work for an advertising agency. Throughout his own life and career, Stanton viewed himself as “a behaviorist, a social scientist valuing the application of psychological technique across a variety of human endeavors.”
Behaviorism was a brand of psychology which emerged in response to the development of the field by social scientists seeking to make “scientific” what was previously the realm of philosophy and spirituality, drawing in political scientists, economists, sociologists, and others. The field of psychology had become more prominent following World War I, after having proved its worth to power interests in mobilizing, manipulating, and studying populations and their perceptions. In 1929, the president of Yale, James Agnell, announced the creation of the Yale Institute of Human Relations (IHR), with a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Agnell explained that the IHR was “directly concerned with the problems of man’s individual and group conduct,” out of which the purpose was “to correlate knowledge and coordinate technique in related fields that greater progress may be made in the understanding of human life.”
The IHR helped facilitate the rise of behaviorism in psychology, as in the 1920s and 30s, social unrest was a growing problem, and so psychologists attempted to promote themselves and their field as a possible solution to these problems, as a “scientific psychology” – or “social psychology” – could “be instrumental for attaining democratic social order and control.” Such a theory was based upon the view that the individual was not well “adjusted” to a rapidly changing environment, and therefore, with the help of psychology, the individual could be “adjusted” successfully. Of course, the notion that there is something inherently problematic with society and the social order (and the hierarchy upon which it was built) went unquestioned. In other words, it was not society which needed to “adjust” to individuals and the population, but rather the opposite. Psychologists and Yale’s Institute of Human Relations would promote themselves as the solution to this complex problem. Behaviorism was thus concerned with environmental and behavior control in human relations. This influenced not only Frank Stanton, but other key officials who were involved in the Princeton Radio Project, including Paul Lazarsfeld.
Frank Stanton eventually got a job at CBS following some research he had done on radio audiences and had sent to CBS headquarters. In 1935, Stanton was the third employee hired by CBS for the research division, concerned largely with the ability of advertisers to sell to radio listeners. As Stanton explained in 1936, the contribution of psychology to radio research “should be largely one of technique,” adding: “It isn’t enough to know what programs are heard and preferred. We want to know why they are listened to and liked, and furthermore, we want to quantify influence.” Weeks later, Stanton – with the suggestion of Hadley Cantril – wrote a draft memo of a research proposal for the Rockefeller Foundation, out of which would come to Office of Radio Research at Princeton.
The Princeton Radio Project, established with Rockefeller funding and directed by Paul Lazarsfeld, Cantril, and Stanton, focused on studying the uses and effects of radio communications upon the population, and almost exclusively led to the field of mass communications research. Theodor Adorno, a critical theorist whom Lazarsfeld invited to join the Princeton Radio Project ran into several problems during his research with his associates. Lazarsfeld brought Adorno into the project hoping that he could bridge the gap between American and European approaches to research. Adorno, however, sought to understand not simply the effects of radio in mass communications, but the role played by the “researcher” – or “expert” – in the social order itself. This put him in direct conflict with the project and its philosophy. For Adorno, wrote Slack and Allor, “not only the processes of communication but the practice of communication research itself had to be viewed critically.” Reflecting upon his experience some decades later, Adorno wrote that, “there appeared to be little room for such social research in the framework of the Princeton Project.” He noted: “Its charter, which came from the Rockefeller Foundation, expressly stipulated that the investigations must be performed within the limits of the commercial radio system prevailing in the United States.” Thus, “the system itself, its cultural and sociological consequences and its social and economic presuppositions were not to be analyzed… I was disturbed.”
Shortly after World War II and into the 1950s, the U.S. State Department became increasingly interested in the subject of propaganda, or what was termed “information management” and “public diplomacy.” Television was of particular interest in promoting American state interests, specifically those defined by the Cold War. Francis Russell, the director of the State Department’s Public Affairs (PA) division from 1945 to 1953, noted that “propaganda abroad is indispensable” in the Cold War, but that the State Department had “diligently cultivated the concept of PA as a service to the American people, a place where the public can come to obtain information.” He explained his worry that, “if the American people ever get the idea that the same high-powered propaganda machine” used abroad was “also at work on them, the result will be disaster fir both the domestic and overseas programs.” The role of the PA was not in a censorship bureau, but as a dispenser of “information,” to which the media – largely privately owned – would use as a consistent source for reporting, re-printing press releases, and seeking official sources for comment. Edward Barrett, another top official in the PA division, later noted: “We really tried to stick to the truth and tell nothing but the truth, but we didn’t always tell the whole truth.”
Nancy Bernhard, writing in the journal Diplomatic History, explained this contradiction aptly: “While Americans defended commercial broadcasting because it was free from Communistic government control, commercial broadcasters voluntarily collaborated with the government information services in the name of anticommunism. “Free” broadcasters volunteered as a virtually official information agency.” It was no surprise, then, that government “information programs” used the specific talents of corporate tycoons in the media world, bringing in talent from networks, advertising agencies, public relations agencies, and marketing bureaus. The State Department established a number of “advisory boards” to monitor its “public affairs” operations, largely made up of industry and corporate officials. Among the influential board members was Frank Stanton.
When Eisenhower came to power, a new agency was created to handle information and cultural programs previously undertaken by the State Department, the US Information Agency (USIA), established in 1953. In attempting to create a terminology to describe the activities of the USIA and its relationship to foreign policy goals – without using the obvious term “propaganda” – the term “public diplomacy” was commonly used. Frank Stanton, who left CBS in 1973, subsequently chaired a research report by the prominent American think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 1975, entitled, International Information Education and Cultural Relations – Recommendations for the Future. The report recommended “that the international information and cultural programs [of the U.S. government] deserve all possible support in the years ahead, that they have demonstrated their success and are therefore an exceptional investment of government energy and the taxpayer’s dollar.”
While head of CBS, Stanton developed relationships with American presidents, whose Cold War strategies he would help promote through his network. When Kennedy became president, he offered Frank Stanton the job as head of the United States Information Agency (USIA), which Stanton declined (though recommended the appointment of Edward R. Murrow, a prominent journalist with CBS, whom Stanton had no lack of problems with). In fact, in 1958, Edward R. Murrow delivered a speech before the Radio-Television News Directors Association in which he “implicitly indicted Stanton” for the way in which he managed CBS, stating: “The top management of the networks… has been trained in advertising, research, or show business… by the nature of the corporate structure, [these managers] also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this.”
Stanton developed a reputation as a trustworthy propagandist for the Cold War, but was not unwilling to flex his own power when confronted with state power, such as when President Lyndon Johnson, angry at specific coverage of Vietnam on CBS, called up Stanton and stated, “Frank, are you trying to fuck your country?” Stanton refused to budge on his coverage under pressure from the president. Yet still, he remained a propagandist, and even participated in the CIA’s program to infiltrate the domestic media, with general knowledge of the Agency’s program with CBS, though according to one CIA agent involved in the matter, he didn’t “want to know the fine points.”
Stanton, however, was ultimately a corporation man. Not only did he help in the development of the government’s official propaganda systems, but he was a key figure in the promotion of the “corporatization” of news and information. Thus, for Stanton, “information management” was not simply to be done in the interests of the state, but also – and arguably primarily – in the interests of corporations. In Stanton’s own words, “since we are advertiser supported we must take into account the general objectives and desires of advertisers as a whole.” Stanton was not the only executive to voice such views, as one executive at NBC as early as 1940, declared, “we should make money on our news.”
The ‘Social Control’ Society: A Background to ‘Democratic Propaganda’
One of the primary institutions of social control is the educational system. For primary and secondary educational institutions, the original objective was to foster a strong sense of national identity, bringing a cohesive world view to the development of a national citizenry, and thus, to establish a system of social control. For university education, the original and evolving intend had been to develop an elite capable of managing society, and thus, to produce the controllers and technicians of society, itself. As the modern university underwent a major transformation in late 19th century America, it sought to apply the potential of the “sciences” to the social world, and thus, in a society undergoing rapid industrialization, urbanization, poverty, immigration, labour unrest, and new forms of communication, the “social sciences” were developed with an objective of producing social engineers and technicians for a new society of “social control.”
The major industrial and financial elites had a direct role to play in the transformation of this educational system, and a substantial interest in the ideologies which would emerge from them. As Andrew Carnegie wrote in 1889, at the top of the list of “charitable deeds” to undertake was “the founding of a university by men enormously rich, such men as must necessarily be few in any country.” It was in this context, of robber barons seeking to remake education, that we see the founding of several of America’s top universities, many of which were named after their robber baron founders, such as Stanford (after Leland Stanford), Cornell (after Ezra Cornell), and Johns Hopkins, who owned the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
This new class of industrialists, who emerged out of the Civil War in America, “challenged the position of the old propertied, pre-industrial elite. This struggle crystallized in particular around the reform of the educational system that had legitimated the old elite’s domination.” The modern university was born out of this struggle between elites, with the old educational system based upon religious and moral values, “and the making of gentlemen,” while the “new education” focused on “the importance of management or administration” as well as “public service, [and] the advancement of knowledge through original investigation.”
John D. Rockefeller founded the University of Chicago in 1891, and the President of the University, “initiated a new disciplinary system, which was enormously influential.” Ultimately, it “led to the formation of the department structure of the American university, which was internationally unique,” and was later exported around the world “with the help of American foundations.” This disciplinary system consisted of separating politics from economics (rejecting the notion of “political economy” and its “ideologies”), as ideology was “deemed unscientific and inappropriate in social sciences and political scientists have increasingly seen their function as service to the powerful, rather than providing leadership to populist or socialist movements.”
Nicolas Guilhot wrote in the journal Critical Sociology that since “social reform was inevitable,” these industrialists “chose to invest in the definition and scientific treatment of the ‘social questions’ of their time,” and subsequently, they “promoted reformist solutions that did not threaten the capitalistic nature of the social order,” and instead constructed a “private alternative to socialism.” Social control was not simply seen as the means through which a society – as it exists – could be maintained, but more often sought to preserve elements of that society (such as its hierarchical structure, the position of the elites) through periods of profound social change. In this sense, the question was “whether the processes of social control are able to maintain the social order [hierarchy] while transformation and social change take place.”
The United States was viewed “as the laboratory for the study of transitional society in the framework of a rapidly changing social structure,” and therefore, at a time when sociology was being established as an intellectual and academic discipline, “the United States could be viewed as a microcosm of social change and disorder.” The sociologist Edward A. Ross was the first to popularize the concept of social control in the American Journal of Sociology in 1896 and 1898, and later in his 1901 book, Social Control. Ross “viewed individuals as objects of society’s domination,” and suggested that society had to establish order “by channeling the behavior of its members into orderly relations.” Ross, largely influenced by Gabriel Tarde, did not believe that individuals were rational, but rather, that they would need to be “controlled” in one fashion or another. As some sociologists lamented in the 1920s, “all social problems turn out finally to be problems of social control,” and “the study of society was the study of social control.”
Sociology largely emerged from the University of Chicago (founded by John D. Rockefeller), with the world’s first department of sociology founded in 1892. The sociologists who rose within and out of the University of Chicago made up what was known as the “Chicago School of Sociology.” The school developed the most influential sociologists in the nation, including George Herbert Mead and W.I. Thomas, two scholars who had profound influence on the development of the concept of “social control,” and sociologists became “reform-oriented liberals, not radical revolutionaries or conservative cynics.”
The American Journal of Sociology was founded out of the University of Chicago by Albion Small, who was the head professor of the department of sociology, and became the editor of the journal for thirty years from 1895-1925. Between 1915 and 1940, the University of Chicago was the dominant force in sociology in the United States, and “the dominance of the Sociology Department was representative of the social sciences at Chicago during that period.” The school was largely made the center of not only sociology, but many areas of the social sciences, due to funding from outside sources, namely the major philanthropic foundations created by the Robber Baron industrialists in the early 20th century. The foundations became, in effect, engines of social engineering and perhaps the most effective institutions in the application of social control in modern society.
The Foundations of Social Control
The new industrial elite accumulated millions and even hundreds of millions by the end of the 19th century: Andrew Carnegie was worth roughly $300 million after he sold Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan in 1901, and by 1913, John D. Rockefeller was estimated to have a personal worth of $900 million. In the late 1880s, Rockefeller met Frederick T. Gates, a minister, educator, and administrator in the Baptist Church when they were negotiating the founding of a new university, which resulted with a pledge of $600,000 from Rockefeller to found the University of Chicago in 1889. At this time, Rockefeller hired Gates as his associate in charge of Rockefeller’s philanthropic ventures. Gates became central in inculcating the notion of “scientific benevolence” within Rockefeller’s philanthropies. As Gates wrote in his autobiography, “I gradually developed and introduced in all his charities the principle of scientific giving.” Gates advised Rockefeller to form a series of “self-perpetuating” philanthropies.
The circumstances in which the Rockefeller Foundation emerged are notable. In 1913, a coal strike began at a Colorado mine owned by the Rockefellers in the small mining town of Ludlow, where roughly 11,000 workers (mostly Greek, Italian, and Serbian immigrants) went on strike against the “feudal domination of their lives in towns completely controlled by the mining companies.” Repression quickly followed, culminating in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre in 1914, with the Rockefellers hiring the National Guard to attack the strikers and destroy their tent city, machine gunning the crowd and setting fire to tents, one of which was discovered to have housed eleven children and two women, all of whom were killed by the fire.
The Congressional Walsh Commission was founded to investigate the activities which led to violent labour repression at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company in Ludlow, though the scope of the Commission was expanded to study philanthropic foundations themselves. The Commission’s founder, Frank P. Walsh, explained:
…the creation of the Rockefeller and other foundations was the beginning of an effort to perpetuate the present position of predatory wealth through the corruption of sources of public information… [and] that if not checked by legislation, these foundations will be used as instruments to change to form of government of the U.S. at a future date, and there is even a hint that there is a fear of a monarchy.
In 1916, the Walsh Commission produced its final report, the Manly Report (after the research director, Basil M. Manly), which concluded that the foundations were so “grave a menace” to society, that “it would be desirable to recommend their abolition.” Frank Walsh referred to foundations as “a menace to the welfare of society.”
As the Walsh Commission began their work, the Rockefeller Foundation sought to join forces with other major corporate leaders to advance their formation of ideology, and attended a conference “held between representatives of some of the largest financial interests” in the United States. This conference resulted in two approaches being pushed forward in terms of seeking to “educate the citizenry in procapitalistic ideology and thus relieve unrest.” One view was the interpretation that the public was provided with “poor quality of facts and interpretation available on social and economic issues.” Thus, they felt there was a need for a “publicity bureau” to provide a “constant stream of correct information” targeted at the lower and middle classes. The Rockefeller Foundation agreed that a publicity bureau was a good strategy, but added that what was also needed was “a permanent research organization to manufacture knowledge on these subjects.” A publicity bureau would “correct popular misinformation,” while a research organization would study the “causes of social and economic evils,” though of course avoiding problematic considerations of institutional analysis or radical critiques. They were instead to focus on “disinterested” and “detached” studies of social problems, portraying themselves as scientists and technicians for society, focused on reform and social control.
Rockefeller interests quickly undertook both strategies. While the Foundation was engaged in the manufacture of ideology (which specifically states that it is “non-ideological,” meaning that it supports power), the corporate arm of the Rockefeller empire hired the first public relations man, Ivy Lee, a Progressive era journalist. The Foundation hired the Canadian labour expert, William Lyon Mackenzie King (who would later become Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister) to manage “labour relations,” promoting “company unions” over “autonomous unions,” thus undermining the freedom of labour to organize and oppose the social order as a whole, bringing them firmly within the corporate-state ideology and institutions.
Ivy Lee, for his part, attempted to undertake “damage control” for the Rockefellers, who were widely despised at the time, acting as a PR man, disseminating communiqués to media and educators attempting “to cultivate middle-class allies.” His efforts at stemming animosity toward the Rockefellers following Ludlow failed, but for years he continued to present “the human side of the Rockefellers,” earning him the rather unfavourable nickname “Poison Ivy.”
While Lee’s specific efforts were unsuccessful, the ideas behind them continued to grow and evolve. Two major social engineering projects were underway: one, the manufacture of ideology, largely the initiative of philanthropic foundations (and the social sciences), and the other, public relations as a modern form of propaganda. Both of these social engineering projects were designed to ensure social control through social engineering, and both were to have a profound impact upon both the definition and function of modern “democracies.”
Through the educational system, the social sciences, philanthropic foundations, public relations, advertising, marketing, and the media, America and the industrialized states of the world developed a unique and complex system of social control and propaganda for the 20th century and into the 21st. It is imperative to recognize and understand this complex system if we are to challenge and change it.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, with a focus on studying the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power and resistance across a wide spectrum of social, political, economic, and historical spheres. He has been published in AlterNet, CounterPunch, Occupy.com, Truth-Out, RoarMag, and a number of other alternative media groups, and regularly does radio, Internet, and television interviews with both alternative and mainstream news outlets. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, Research Director of Occupy.com’s Global Power Project, and has a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
Last edited by Alex Linder; April 28th, 2013 at 11:05 PM.