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Controlling Public Opinion

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Rupert Murdoch, sleaze meister

     I’m trying a different approach to communicating my ideas by including several pertinent videos by authors who intrigued me on the subject of how the American public’s opinion is mostly shaped by a handful of corporate coglomerates. Of course the phony (because they aren’t true conservatives but rather reactionary right-wing extremists) T.V. & radio pundits & preachers of hate, fear, & intolerance, have been spewing the mantra of a “vast left-wing/liberal bias in the media” and FOX News is supposedly “fair & unbiased.” I have to hide my smile whenever someone tries to defend FOX News i.e. Faux News because it is so patently absurd or ridiculous. This essay is my attempt to open your mind a bit by sharing a fraction of what I have read & learned over the past 30 yrs. approximately but don’t take anything I say for the gospel, no, do your own research & think for yourself. In my opinion, Noam Chomsky is the preeminent authority on this subject & that’s why I gave him the opening slot & the final word.

 

     Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media written by Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky is the best book available on the subject. So, if you’re interested/concerned about this issue, I strongly urge you to read it. There is also an excellent documentary available under the title Manufacturing Consent. Here are the rough methods/ways the corporate media (including MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CSPAN, CNN) shape & to a large extent control public opinion: selection of topics; distribution of concerns; emphasis; framing of issues; filtering of information; & bounding of debate. I will attempt to touch briefly on each of these ways in which our opinions are swayed or guided to the agenda of those who own & therefore control the “news” in this country. By the way, it applies to many other countries as well but in so-called democracies, it is very anti-democratic in my opinion and we should be raising Hell with these corporate crocodiles!  

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Professor Michael Parenti

     Before I get to the methods/avenues of manipulating public opinion (consent to go along with what the government & corporate America want us to do), I want to introduce a few more honest scholars on the subject. Michael Parenti is a passionate & very insightful professor who also happens to have a great sense of humor. Check out some of his videos on youtube.com if you’d like to get a chuckle or two & be informed at the same time. Parenti clearly comes from a Marxist perspective but I think far too many people—including liberals & progressives—dismiss him before giving him an honest listen. Here’s a clip of Parenti on The Myth of the Leftist Media which I hope you will take the time to watch/listen to. By the way, doesn’t it defy common sense when you think about it i.e. the media is owned by giant corporations & of course, corporations are all about making money so, would these corporations allow true Leftists to dominate their television & radio airwaves? Wouldn’t true Leftists attack their masters/owners and try to destroy them? Whose voices do you hear on all the mainstream media & cable channels? I’ll tell you, you hear Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, O’Reilly, etc. Are you telling me that these guys are attacking capitalism, George W. Bush, wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, etc.? Hell no they aren’t! These are the major cheerleaders of defending the rich who have screwed us all & brought the world to the brink of economic collapse. These swine sing the praises of war—except when it comes to themselves & their families—in short, these are the true Benedict Arnolds, not those brave souls trying to wake America up & who are rebeling by protesting against the illegal & immoral foreclosing on the homes of millions of Americans, stealing of our pensions, our health insurance, our jobs being outsourced, & the robbing us of our dignity as human beings! 

 

     Unquestionably, television has played a significant, if not the most significant, role in the undermining of democracy & freedom. Unfortunately, most of us have been raised with television being such a pervasive part of our lives that it has almost become as important a part of our lives as the family dog or cat. I came across a book by Jerry Mander called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television probably around 20 years ago & most of the time when I bring up some of the issues he raises, I am dismissed as just another nut case. I bring this up not in the hopes of gaining your sympathy but to highlight just how ingrained the acceptance of television as merely a neutral, source of entertainment & information/facts has become.     watch?v=m3NBEurnIqY

 

     And speaking of entertainment, another brilliant teacher/author I came across years ago was Neil Postman and his book Amusing Ourselves to Death blew my mind with its insights as to why we have gotten to this sad state of affairs. I know that I will probably sound like a grumpy snob or something but it never ceases to amaze me when it comes to what is called entertainment today, especially on television. The worst offender is the so-called reality shows, is it just me or does it seem like an Alice in Wonderland world where everything has gone topsy-turvy? We watch an artificial medium (television) to view reality? I have a perhaps novel idea! Let’s go outside our homes and live/experience true reality? Better yet, let’s get involved in the struggle to save our reality?

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Noam Chomsky, master intellect & humble spirit

     To return to the methods by which the “news” is shaped in this country as provided by Professors Herman & Chomsky, here is my simplistic overview: 1) selection of topics—quite simply, this means that those who own the media get to choose what topics will be covered & which topics won’t be covered e.g. the tens, if not hundreds of millions, of people around the world (including here in America) who poured out in the streets to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq before it happened, were barely, if at all, shown on the corporate-owned media hence, it was a non-event i.e. it didn’t happen. 2) distribution of concerns—in other words, only the topics that the media owners tell us via their broadcasting of them, are the topics worthy of consideration or are the topics that we are concerned about. So, the fact that perhaps millions of Americans & billions of world-wide citizens are concerned about the safety/danger of nuclear weapons & nuclear energy isn’t important or considered newsworthy. 3) emphasis—closely linked to the “distribution of concerns”—the powers that be tell us what is most important according to their hierarchy of corporate concerns. 4) framing of issues—think about this as akin to the importance of how a pollster frames a question when conducting polls i.e. the framing of the question has a tremendous affect on how people will respond to the questions posed to them on any particular issue. In other words, if those conducting the polls or ruling over the media, frame an issue in a way that makes them look like the victim or the good guy, who do you think is going to win in terms of having more impact/influence on the public’s opinion? 5) filtering of information—this is a more subtle factor/way that has an impact on how we are manipulated, and this is my shallow understanding of it i.e. a real journalist reports the facts no matter where they lead but due to the atmosphere in most newsrooms (they know who writes the paychecks), if they want to advance their careers they don’t bite the hand that feeds them—don’t criticize the boss or his corporate cronies—and this “understanding” that this is just the way things are & you’d better not step outside the accepted norms/boundaries or you are history, is accepted as de facto. Another way of looking at it is that what the “owners” say is reality, is reality! 6) bounding of debate—this is perhaps the simplest/most clear factor. It simply means that those who control i.e. own the television stations, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, etc., tell & hence control, what we are allowed to talk, argue, or debate about. I think of a school yard child who declares, “it’s my ball & you play by my rules or I’m taking my ball & going home.” The important distinction being that we, the working class, don’t have the option of playing i.e. living, anywhere else. 

 

     Perhaps it’s time for a little laugh after all this depressing information? And this is another irony of modern life because more people are informed as to what is truly going on economically, politically, socially, etc. via a comedy program on television than by the official “news” programs  on radio, television, or print.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kohEzmANdk

 

     Nonetheless, we must never forget the forces of greed, selfishness, callous indifference to human suffering are working 24/7 to add to their profit margin. So, I am adding this video clip from FOX News, the stenographers to the corporate elite, as an example of what passes for “news” according to the robber barons who are driving us like lemmings over the cliff to our mutual destruction. I can’t substantiate it right now but I heard that Ann Coulter has admitted to just being in it for the money & purposely stating the most shocking things she can think of in order to attract publicity?    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToJ_56QpaIo

 

yeah, foxy, but a fascist

     In conclusion and as  I said, the last word goes to my intellectual & moral hero, Noam Chomsky, light-years beyond most of us.  I hope I have taught you a few things you may not have already known with this simple blog?

 

 

 

 

 

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     Sorry, I mis-spoke. For the sake of clarity, we should all be very concerned about the manufacturing of our opinions/feelings because the top 1% consider us as little more than toy soldiers, paper dolls, & disposable commodities that they toss away as casually as a tissue they blew their noses in. And speaking of controlling public opinion, the more we reach out to one another and communicate with each other, the stronger we become in the fight to take back our rights, our America, and our world. Please let me know what you think of any of the ideas I have brought up & let’s fight on!

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