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Herding the Sheep

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Financial insider and commentator Yves Smith wrote an essay last 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.

Is Smith right? And even if she is, isn't "propaganda" too strong a word?

Think Positive

Sure, William K. Black - professor of economics and law, and the senior regulator during the S & L crisis - says that that the 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").

Admittedly, 7 out of the 8 giant, money center banks went bankrupt in the 1980's during the "Latin American Crisis", and the government's response was to cover up their insolvency.

It's true that Business Week wrote on May 23, 2006:
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.
I can't deny that the Tarp Inspector General said that Paulson and Bernanke falsely stated that the big banks receiving Tarp money were healthy, when they were not.

Okay, the government and Wall Street have traditionally tried to dispense happy talk when there is an economic crash, and Arianna Huffington recently 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.

And I'll give you that a recent Pew Research Center study on the coverage of the crisis found that the media has largely parroted what the White House and Wall Street were saying.

But that's not propaganda . . . its just positive thinking, right?

The Other Guy

And the whole word propaganda 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 discusses in a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages.

True, a 4-part BBC documentary called the "Century of the Self" shows that an American - Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays - created the 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 discusses allegations of American propaganda (but that's a British paper, doesn't count).

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George Washington


As a political activist for decades, I have rejoiced in victories for the people and mourned in defeats. I chose the pen name "George Washington" because - as Washington's biographies show - he wasn't a (more...)
 

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The fascist oligarchs running & ruining what's... by liecatcher on Friday, Oct 23, 2009 at 7:49:47 PM