Category Archives: Politics

What you need to know about “Astroturfing”, otherwise known as organized lying.

“Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to the totalitarian state”

~ Noam Chomsky

I’m no fan of Noam Chomsky, but he got that right.

I suspect that a good deal of what we see, hear, and read in the public domain is manipulated.  I posted on one aspect of that, the kowtowing of media companies to the wishes of advertisers and sponsors, here: When Truth Doesn’t matter. (Come back to it later?)

Now, deliberate programs of mis-direction, mis-information, obfuscation, and ridicule have a name: “Astroturfing

Here’s Sharyl Attkisson (@SharlAttkisson) on the faking of grassroots movements as campaigns of propaganda in the service of political, corporate, or other special interests.

I dislike the term, but here it’s apt; this is “must see“.

As a take-away, here’s what you need to watch out for when you’re trying to work out whether some position, opinion, or argument is truth or lying propaganda:

Charged language.

The truth usually comes calm and factual.  Liars and spinners use emotive rhetoric to cloak their lack of facts and proof.

Ad Hominem attacks.

If you can’t beat the argument, attack your opponent’s character.  Ridicule, discredit, impugn.  Straight from the Saul Alinsky playbook.

Questioning those who question authority.

Classic misdirection.  If they’re not questioning “authority”, but rather, questioning those that do, you have to wonder about their motivation.

 *   *   *   *   *

And because I fear that there’s serious astroturfing going on at a macro-political level, we’ll give the last word to a master of lying big:

“We have made the Reich by propaganda”

~ Joseph Goebbels

When truth doesn’t matter.

Update ~ 25Feb15

Here’s a point-in-case of news being suppressed out of deference to a large-scale advertiser:

Peter Oborne quits Daily Telegraph over HSBC tax scandal reporting

That we don’t hear more often about journalists quitting over similar issues means either that that too is kept quiet or that most mainstream reporters value their paycheck more than their integrity.

See the original post (below) for the full context.

*   *   *   *   *

I was under the impression that the “mainstream media” – the big TV news channels, metropolitan daily newspapers, national magazines, and their respective online presences – were essentially mouthpieces of the government because they’re mostly owned by the same small clique of vested-interest cronies.

While that may be at least partially true, I always questioned what that meant in terms of changing administrations.  Would not the government of the day seek a different editorial slant depending on which ideological propaganda (left or right) they wish to broadcast?

Listening to Paul Craig Roberts in an interview with Stefan Molyneux, I’ve learned there is another parameter at play.

It seems the major news media are controlled by a handful of companies, run now by executives whose goal is not journalism, but rather, advertising revenue.  They are dependent on the government for their broadcasting licenses, and so are beholden not only to whichever administration is in power, but to an entrenched bureaucracy, the constituents of which, by the nature of their upbringing, their education, and their zeitgeist, are left-leaning progressive liberals with a vested interest in keeping ‘the masses” uninformed, or worse, misinformed.

So, the government wants to operate nefariously with impunity and needs certain “open secrets” to remain unknown (to most).  Mainstream media is happy to “toe the line” because as long as they have “sensation”, they’re happy.  Truth is optional when it comes to attracting readers/viewers, and thereby ratings, and thereby advertising revenue.

How else can one explain the almost complete lack of coverage of the tapped conversation (see below) between US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt, which clearly reveals that the current US administration is conspiring to steer events in the Ukraine?  Those using only legacy news media sources were titillated by the “sensational” revelation that Pyatt expressed rude disdain for the EU, while hearing nothing of the conspiratorial nature of the conversation.

It cannot be that any self-respecting journalist would not be eager to report the far more important essence of the story, so one can only assume that editorial teams were under instruction to misdirect attention to the cussing and to ignore the scheming.

Interested individuals could of course find the truth, but that doesn’t matter.  It never matters that a tiny minority knows the truth in politics, the truth in economics, the truth in philosophy.  When the entrenched politico-economic power has a megaphone blaring its propaganda 24/7, the voice of reason is not heard by enough to make a difference*.

*But that will never stop us from trying.