John Furie Zacharias
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Thunderstorms Anywhere

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Tuesday, March 02, 2004
P isn't for Politix


P is for Propaganda
You have probably heard me rant on occasion about the media.  I'm not talking about the popular complaint that media is too liberal.  The neo-cons have Fox News now, and in my humble opinion, it balances out the scales of the liberal versus conservative bias with a thud like a flying cow patty hitting the windshield of a speeding SUV.  The problem is the same as it's always been with american media -- no matter what the popular slant or shade of politics it's whoring around with this year -- manufacturing consent.


What is manufacturing consent?

Back when Kel was going to the University of Michigan (UofM) studying linguistics, she was introduced to some of the works of reknown Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) linguistics professor, Noam Chomsky.  Reading some of his work is probably why I can be so annoyingly cynical.  Besides being a scholar of the technical aspects of linguistic theory, Chomsky is also the pre-eminent scholar on the planet for the philosophy of language. 

Chomsky has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs and U.S. foreign policy.  A quick glance at the titles of some of his works on the MIT bio page will give you a small idea about what he writes and there is a very nice ZNet online Chomsky archive available now.

Noam Chomsky wrote a book entitled Manufacturing Consent. It's even available as a documentary on DVD.  If you have a few spare minutes, read "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream" and you'll get a glimpse of the instutition of our media striving to win over the hearts and minds of Iraqis ... I mean, Americans.  Same re-run, different audience.  Chomsky starts:

"Part of the reason why I write about the media is because I am interested in the whole intellectual culture, and the part of it that is easiest to study is the media. It comes out every day. You can do a systematic investigation. You can compare yesterday's version to today's version. There is a lot of evidence about what's played up and what isn't and the way things are structured."

While I was considering blogging something about Chomsky after I saw him talk about various issues and receive an award from the United Nations Correspondents Association on C-Span, Plastic popped this article up Monday, " We Report, You Decide Based Only On What We Report, Of Course".
"While stumping for the Democratic Party nomination in Ohio, Senator John Kerry criticized the Bush administration's plan to increase jobs and went on for about three minutes citing various statistics in support that his plan was superior. The CBS News producer covering the event was disappointed that there was no convenient soundbite to make the evening news and asked Senator Kerry to try again."

The reason I like Plastic is obviously reading some of the comments from the other users about the given news topic.  Timnet, who interned at a news station, wrote "this is how the game works" and is very informative.

I've avoided using the P-word until now.  Propaganda.  There, I said it.  When you watch your evening news be mindful of the psychological fast food you're stuffing into brain.

Posted at 11:30 pm by John Furie Zacharias

 

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