Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Power of Propaganda to Quiet the Storm

Too Late for Empire:
"All over the world, autocratic-minded rulers, from Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, have learned that de facto control of the political content of television is perhaps the most important lever of power in our day. They have learned that it does not matter politically if 15 or even 25 percent of the public is well informed as long the majority remains in the dark. The problem has not been censorship but something very nearly censorship's opposite: the deafening noise of the official megaphone and its echoes--not the suppression of truth, still spoken and heard in a narrow circle, but a profusion of lies and half lies; not too little speech but too much. If you whisper something to your friend in the front row of a rock concert, you have not been censored, but neither will you be heard."

hat tip to Ezra Klein, who adds this:
"The problem isn't a lack of information, or the obvious censorship of a police state, but the projection and absorption of misinformation and spin. I always come back to, as example, the polls showing that Americans knew more about Clinton's health care plan directly after his first speech than after nine months of round-the-clock media coverage. By tuning into the press coverage, they felt informed on the plans outlines. They were not. But it's infinitely harder to convince someone that what they 'know' is wrong rather than that what they don't know is important."

Media consolidation has resulted in an homogenous corporate right-wing media, which is practically a propaganda machine for the extreme Right-Wing. PBS/NPR, which was created as a non-advertising supported alternative institutional media has been completely co-opted by right-wing foundations and corporate "identity" sponsorship, which looks like advertising.

In this "news media ecology", the netroots are an alternative channel for creating and propagating critical narratives. They are not a political movement. They are an injection of antibiotics into a body politic about to succumb to the equivalent of a systemic staph infection. The antibiotics make the body politic feel worse, because killing off some of the multiplying staph triggers the release by the staph of toxins, in the form of slime campaigns and desperate attempts to suppress the vote. But, the antibiotics are all that prevent the body from slipping into a coma.

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