Herding the Sheep


Washington’s Blog

Financial insider and commentator Yves Smith wrote an essaylast week entitled “MSM Reporting as Propaganda” arguing that the government has been using propaganda to make people think that things are getting better, no one is angry, and – therefore – no one should get upset:

The message, quite overtly, is: if you are pissed, you are in a minority. The country has moved on. Things are getting better, get with the program…

Per the social psychology research, this “you are in a minority, you are wrong” message DOES dissuade a lot of people. It is remarkably poisonous. And it discourages people from taking concrete action.

Think Positive
Sure, William K. Black – professor of economics and law, and the senior regulator during the S & L crisis – says that thatthe government’s entire strategy now – as during the S&L crisis – is to cover up how bad things are(“the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts”).

7 out of the 8 giant, money center banks went bankrupt cover up

wrote

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations.

said falsely stated not

traditionally tried to dispense happy talk pointed out

There is something in the current DC/NY culture that equates a lack of unthinking boosterism with a lack of patriotism. As if not being drunk on the latest Dow gains is somehow un-American.

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propaganda

The OtherGuy
And the whole wordpropaganda is a Nazi, communist kind of thing which has no place in the same sentence as America. Right?

Granted, famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says the CIA has already bought and paid for many successful journalists.

And sure, the New York Times discussesin a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages.

True, a 4-part BBC documentarycalled the “Century of the Self” shows that an American – Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays – createdthe modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques (but the BBC isn’t American, so it doesn’t count).

I won’t deny that the Independent discussesallegations of American propaganda (but that’s a British paper, doesn’t count).

And (ho hum) one of the premier writers on journalism saysthe U.S. has used widespread propaganda.

And (are we still talking about this?) an expert on propaganda testified under oath during trial that the CIA employs THOUSANDS of reporters and OWNS its own media organizations (the expert has an impressive background).

And (I can’t believe we’re still talking about this) while the U.S. government has repeatedly claimed that it was launching propaganda programs solely at foreignenemies, it has actually used them against American citizens. For example:

  • Raw Story confirmedyesterday the use of propaganda on Americans
  • As revealed by an official Pentagon report signed by Rumsfeld called “Information Operations Roadmap”:

The roadmap [contains an] acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military’s psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

“Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience,” it reads.

“Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” it goes on. ***

“Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system”.

“[engaging] bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are postingincomplete information.”And (who do you think will win the playoffs?) the Air Forceis also engaging bloggers. Indeed, an Air Force spokesman said:

“We obviously have many more concerns regarding cyberspace than a typical Social Media user,” Capt. Faggard says. “I am concerned with how insurgents or potential enemies can use Social Media to their advantage. It’s our role to provide a clear and accurate, completely truthful and transparent picture for any audience.”

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The Bottom Line

Yeah yeah, people say this or that, whatever, I’m too busy to think about it.

Even if true, propagandais too strong a word for attempts to convince people that important issues are boring, that no one else is angry about them, and that everything is normal.

Perhaps “herding the wayward sheep” would be better . . .

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