Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Free Press Is Now a Propaganda Organ

In some cases logical thinking does not require empirical verification. That’s why ideologues love it. If you say that it will either rain or not rain tomorrow, the weather cannot verify or falsify your statement. The same is true of the statement, when referring to the current pandemic: it might have been better. This should be coupled with the statement: it might have been worse. Empirical evidence can neither prove nor disprove either statement. 

This means, when deciding how to judge leadership in a time of crisis, it serves no useful purpose to say that things might have been better. Because they might also have been worse.

Neither statement requires that we dispense with all considerations about fact. You can certainly find facts to demonstrate the truth of either statement. 

You know and I know that if our president was a Democrat in a time of pandemic, and if he had done exactly the same things that President Trump had done, the media would be rising up with hosannas, to praise his brilliant leadership. Same leadership, same results, different judgment.

If Bill de Blasio and Nancy Pelosi were telling people to go out and have a good time a few weeks ago, this has had no impact on the number of virus cases in New York City. The media tells us that the fault lies entirely with President Trump. 

For media intellectuals and politicians, everything is politics. Everything is about getting a few shots in at the president. This becomes more urgent when your own doddering fool of a candidate cannot utter a sentence without sounding demented.

You know and I know that if Obama were the president, the media would be blaming everything on Fox News. As of today, they are still doing so, because they blame everything on Fox News. The same is true of President Trump. We can only hope that the general public, having tired of the folks who cried wolf, would have seen through the fraud. One hopes, but one still retains some doubt.

Anyway, the media is hard at work spinning the virus as a condemnation of the Trump administration. It began its work explaining that the virus in China was a clear sign that the government of Xi Jinping had lost the mandate of heaven. The media said the same thing in 1989, did that work out. Now that China seems to be on the path to returning to normalcy, the current media narrative is that the coronavirus is an indictment of the Trump administration.

Writing on Real Clear Politics, Richard Benedetto collects some Washington Post headlines, to give us the flavor of propaganda. (via Maggie’s Farm) I would note in passing that we often denounce countries in Asia for not having a free press, for exercising dictatorial control over the media, but have we also measured the extent to which our own mainstream media, guaranteed first amendment freedoms, has been abusing that freedom to be the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party?

The Page One banner headline, splashed across the full six-column width in bold type, read: “Death toll surges past 2,000 in the U.S.” To dramatically illustrate that point, the paper carried a photo of face-masked military police carrying a coffin.  But the caption tells us the coffin was not in the U.S., but in Italy where the death toll has surpassed 10,000.

Other apocalyptic March 29 headlines on the Post front page:

  • “The U.S. economy’s downturn has exposed preexisting flaws”
  • “Inside Trump’s risky push to reopen the country”
  • “World’s poor face grave new hardships while in isolation”
  • “States’ needs overwhelm unprepared stockpile”

At the least, they are spinning as fast as they can. They no longer even pretend to be doing objective reporting.

Benedetto turns over the pages and discovers these headlines:

Turning inside the A section, a reader seeking solace would have found, well, none. The headlines included the following:

  • “Underfunding, command changes hamper allocation of supplies from stockpile”
  • “Major New York City hospital system is at a tipping point”
  • “Lack of water is stumbling block for many Americans amid pandemic”
  • “Loneliness, poverty grow in isolation”
  • “Trump sows confusion as he invokes wide-reaching presidential powers”
  • “Battle to reopen U.S. pits Trump against multiple governors”
  • “Urban centers across the nation brace for devastating outbreaks”
  • “Latest sign recession is intensifying: White-collar workers are being laid off”

Let’s gin up the anxiety. Let’s induce panic. Let’s manipulate emotion to turn the nation against the president in a time of crisis. 

Have any of these crack journalists and editors considered the damage they are doing by undermining Americans faith in their institutions? I doubt that they have. 

But, the Post has found leaders to love: those would be Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The fact that Pelosi larded the latest stimulus bill with a raft of leftist projects, thus delaying passage, was not noted. The fact that Schumer has been doing everything in his power to prevent the Trump administration from governing effectively-- by holding up confirmations of government officials-- was surely not noted.

To the Post, it does not matter:

Yet, the Post’s  editorial page staff figured their readers could use a pick-me-up after wading through all that woe, so they furnished an oasis – at least for readers who are partisan Democrats -- in the form of  three full pages of opinion extolling the leadership skills of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

 It opened with a nearly full-page color portrait of the speaker, the likes of which are rarely seen in print newspapers these days, let alone the Post, except maybe on inauguration days of new presidents.  (This followed a news section puff piece on Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. Its headline reads, “After years as partisan brawler, Schumer takes leading role to help his country.”)

The Post would have done well to read my post of March 24, wherein I demonstrated that the Democrats had become stupid and malicious. The initial Democratic proposals were so awful that they had to beat a quick retreat and voted for the stimulus bill. 

Of course, the Post editorial pages are rife with suggestions that Trump resign, or, if not resign, get out of the way. People who extol democracy while violating the first rule of democratic decorum-- that would be, to respect the result of fair elections-- are still consumed by their impeachment mania.

But wait, we haven’t come to the editorials and opinion columns yet.  They were uniformly dripping with negativism and criticism of President Trump’s handing of the coronavirus crisis. The Post’s lead editorial bears the headline “We need wartime leaders.” The editors don’t mean an elected chief executive. “The president should hand over the task to others,” they assert. “Then he should get out of the way.”

The editorial does not name who those “others” should be. All the writers seem to be sure of is that Trump should not be in command.  The editorial cartoon by Tom Toles, never a friend of Trump’s, shows a corpulent, pig-like president (his usual depiction by Toles) wearing bunny ears and rolling dice instead of eggs at the 2020 Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

“His plan is to roll a fourteen,” Toles writes in the cartoon. I guess Toles assumes savvy Post readers all know you can’t roll dice higher than 12. How clever. It’s a joke on Trump’s candlepower. Get it?

Benedetto concludes:

This is not to say that the media should be painting rosy pictures of a very dangerous situation. At the same time, they should not be using the crisis to frighten people and further their own political agenda.The American public, which is anxious enough in these perilous times, doesn’t need its trusted news sources to be playing political games.

For my part, I would make a small suggestion. The media is not playing political games. It has become a full-on full-throated propaganda machine. It has given up on reporting the news and has definitively broken down the wall between reporting and opinion. 

Just think, we want other countries to adopt our liberal values, when we cannot even practice them ourselves.


Sam L. said...

"If Bill de Blasio and Nancy Pelosi were telling people to go out and have a good time a few weeks ago, this has had no impact on the number of virus cases in New York City. The media tells us that the fault lies entirely with President Trump."

THIS is why I despise, detest, and distrust the media (especially the NYT, the WaPoo, and CNN).

"We can only hope that the general public, having tired of the folks who cried wolf, would have seen through the fraud. One hopes, but one still retains some doubt." I expect most of the US which is not comprised of the coastal states, does. I live in one of those coastal states, having moved from another coastal state, but not in the big cities of those states, so... out of the plague zones.


"Have any of these crack journalists and editors considered the damage they are doing by undermining Americans faith in their institutions? I doubt that they have." Yes, they're all ON that CRACK. I'll tell you that the "institution" that I absolutely despise, detest, and distrust is the Democrat Party.

UbuMaccabee said...

The power behind our media has an agenda to push, and they are pushing it. The power behind the Chinese media has an agenda to push, and they are pushing it. Variations and varieties of lies. You are correct: our media is nothing except manipulative propaganda. All-day, every day, in every medium.

The only question is: what's their endgame and why?

David Foster said...

The hysterical propaganda networks, CNN and MSNBC, have corporate owners---AT&T in the case of CNN, Comcast in the case of MSNBC.

An interesting and important question is: the degree to which these editorial policies reflect conscious political decisions on the part of corporate top management, versus just leaving these minor subsidiaries pretty much alone as long as they don't lose *too* much money.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

What I have always found the most interesting and humorous part of Rush Limbaugh’s show is the “Media Montage” he employs in how the top anchors, newsreaders, personalities and pundits communicate their thoughts.

They all say the same things.

Same words, phrases, euphemisms, even the exact same language. This is across networks, newspapers, radio, interviews, etc. It is humorous at first, hearing it all pieces together. Then it is startling...

Who is it that gives out these talking points? There must be a Rosetta Stone, Q document, something. A blog, a listserv account somewhere. And this person — or these people — must be demonstrably powerful to command this conformation in messaging. Someone owns someone else. There is no other way to explain it. It’s been going on for too long, in the same way. It’s a pattern.

Someone or some few people are orchestrating all of this. This is not a conspiracy theory. The conspiracy is real. The English language is legendary in its voluminous vocabulary and endless flexibility. To have everyone sound so much the same is just not possible, given the odds of vocabulary and syntax.

The Big Enemedia is a pawn. But of whom?

Whoever it is, their messaging and endgame seems uniquely similar to that of the Chinese Communist Party. Newspapers used to be a high-margin business coveted by business magnates who would pass it through their families (the Grahams, Bancrofts, etc.) because it was the crown jewel — the goose that laid the golden egg. Not anymore, not without the complete vanishing of classified advertising revenue. Yet these people at the top of these news organs — the editorial staff — have paid their dues, and certainly need the money. Perhaps they can be assured that if they believe and say all the right things, they will have done their part serving the empire. Whose empire? Who is now funding and maintaining their lifestyles?

Could it be that Chinese espionage, infiltration, propaganda and CASH has infiltrated our news media at the highest levels? Strikes me that it would come at a cheap price these days...

And Russia is a very convenient scapegoat these days, isn’t it?

Follow the money. There are TRILLIONS at stake.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

My take/hypothesis is that international labor arbitrage has been enormously lucrative the last 30 years, and aggregate returns have accelerated with each passing year. All in Asia, with the lion’s share going to China.

Ginormous profits. Bazillions of dollars.

Until Trump took office.

The teat doesn’t have to totally dry up for Westerners to be expensive — just that the milk isn’t so sweet. Lifestyles must be maintained. The urban environments liberals inhabit are notoriously expensive, and I am confident insider trading enforcement has been lax. That includes leaking from political offices/entities. After all, if you believe in citizen legislators and their staffs, no one can be that economically fortunate though luck alone. And they tell their families and friends. And now D.C. has the five wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Well, well... how’d that happen?

Come to the Industrial Midwest, and I’ll show you the cost. “Free market economics” doesn’t work in a rigged system. Sorry, it just doesn’t. It’s a nifty notion, but not in a macro-geopolitical game run by a kleptocrat club.

But what is important for elites is to keep up the appearance that it is an open, fee enterprise system. That’s the apple cart Trump turned over. Always remember: Trump built his fortune on real assets, navigating the maze of human relationships and roadblocks along the way. Do you seriously believe Chuck Schumer is a new figure in his reality? How about Andrew Cuomo? My God, Trump was probably invited to Andrew Como’s 1990 wedding to Kerry Kennedy (spoiler alert: divorced). And Freddo? Yeesh.

The response from all elite circles has been relentless, like a cat in the corner. No?

Hmmm... in what way has this “cat” been “cornered”? Do you believe politics is a game? I do. Who is winning?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

“China lied, people died.”

Think we’ll see that one?

Didn’t think so. Case closed.

UbuMaccabee said...

Something I thought about today: has it always been this slanted, dishonest or did we just really notice it around 2010 or so, with 2016 being the eruption? Has the media drifted into pure propaganda or did they just become more obvious at it? Was the news more detached, disinterested or did we just give them a pass because their message wasn't that far out of line with our own beliefs? HL Mencken, for example, an old newspaperman, seemed to think the media was nothing but rot in his time. Many journalists thought so, but they were outliers.

I tend to think the corruption of the ruling class came unglued around 2000 or so, and as the boomers took power, and the WW2 died off, the institutions began a sudden shift leftward. I saw it at the university at that time as the old guard, the professors who taught literature and history straight, retired and were all being replaced by raceclassgender lunatics.