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The US Propaganda machine--alive and well?(6 posts)

The US Propaganda machine--alive and well?ColnagoFE
Aug 21, 2002 12:42 PM
Just something I've been kicking around last few days. How much do you think the US media influences popular opinion or is influenced by the current government worldview? I mean looking at CNN the other day and seeing the "bad" AlQueda people gassing that little white dog. How could they! Anyone knows the unwritten movie rule that anyone who kills an animal--especially a cute dog--is not long to live. Videos showing them rushing into fake homes and blasting machine guns. It's like the media is trying to paint them into the total bad guy role--no grey areas here. Anyone who may have sympathized with them now thinks of them as dog-hating lunatics that must be killed at all costs. Did the videos shown really do anything to help us understand our enemy or did they just serve to heighten irrational fears? Are the racist posters of cartoon-featured AlQueda members (like they had during WW2 for the Japanese) very far behind? I guess the ptoblem I have with this is that the US military undoubtedly does similar training. Also I've read that the US used dogs and other animals (apes I think) in early nuke testing in the Nevada deserts. Probably even taped it. Maybe they still use animals for weapon testing. I'm guessing it's a good possibility.
re: The US Propaganda machine--alive and well?Fr Ted Crilly
Aug 21, 2002 1:58 PM
I'm of the opinion that the media is hugely influential in forming public opinion when it comes to U.S. interests around the world. No disrespect intended, but most Americans I've met don't really have a clue about what goes on in the rest of the world, other than what they see and hear on their TV news. I wasn't in the U.S. for very long before Sept 11th last year, so I can't really comment on how the media reported U.S. foreign policy then, but I can't help feeling that the main U.S. TV news networks, (CNN & MSNBC), play the role of government propaganda distributors when it comes to U.S. interests in the rest of the world since that tragic day. Is it an unwritten rule that they avoid, as best as possible, criticising the military role in Afghanistan? Any debate that I have heard that involves criticising the U.S. government foreign policy and military is usually brief and quickly eclipsed by all the feel good stories about the positives of the war, or a human interest story about someone in the military. Is this really objective journalism? Is it not the duty of the media to ask the tough questions, to present both sides of the story, to thoroughly question those in power as to why so many innocents were killed? A good example of unbalanced reporting was the recent friendly fire incident where several Canadian troops were accidentally killed by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Although there was lots of regret expressed I don't think I heard anyone use this incident as a way to question how the war was being fought. If it was British troops killing Americans I can't help but feel that there would have been a lot of tough questions asked about why and how to avoid such incidents in future.
And I've yet to hear any sensible debate that recognises that there may be legitimate reasons why the U.S. is hated by so many around the world. Do CNN & MSNBC consider it unpatriotic to even allow a question like this to be asked?
re: The US Propaganda machine--alive and well?Jon Billheimer
Aug 21, 2002 2:31 PM
Although I don't think we have an overtly controlled press as in totalitarian regimes it's certainly no secret that governments use the press as a propaganda tool, both with respect to the selection of stories and their bias. I can't back this opinion up with objective data, but I personally believe that direct pressure is brought to bear by high ranking government officials on media executives and editors with respect to editorial policy and content.
re: The US Propaganda machine--alive and well?King Henry
Aug 21, 2002 2:35 PM
I respectfully suggest that you expect too much from the media and perhaps view them in too honorable a light. The "duty" of the U.S. media, and the vast majority of other widely broadcast/published media in the world, is to sell their product. Yes, journalism students dream of and are taught about hard hitting stories that unearth corruption and evil. And in many instances, they do so. The U.S. press routinely second-guesses the President, Congress and the Pentagon on a vast number of issues, and they take every chance they can to dig up dirt. Add to that the neverending quest of every reporter to uncover the next Watergate story, and there is no love lost between the press and the people they cover.

However, when you get down to it, there are certain lines that seldom are crossed. The U.S. public loves to read or hear about corrupt politicians, bungled military projects, wasteful spending, and so on, but they do not want to read or hear the other side's perspective when it comes to Al Qaida or similar issues. Things like 9/11 do that to people. So, when you get down to it, if people won't watch or read about such issues, they won't get published in mainstream media.

That said, I do not believe that the U.S. media is really any different than the media in other countries. British media tend to favor their government in times of crisis, and the same goes for mainstream French, Japanese, Italian, German, Mexican and other media sources. Given the economics the underlie the business (yes, it is a business), I don't think we should really expect anything else.
I guess it comes down to personal responsibilityColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2002 6:23 AM
For me that means looking at the issue from many angles and sources--not just the maintream media. I'm guessing many people don't do that though and just blindly believe whatever the media feeds them without debating it. As the saying goes 'there is always more than one side to each story' and I'm pretty confident that Al Queda didn't just pick the U.S. as a random target of hatred--they have a real beef with us and that side of the story is largely glossed over/ignored by our media. Suppose it's hard to blame them as whoever reported on it from the enemy's point of view would likely be labeled a traitor or unpatriotic at best.

For what it's worth, I once heard of a lady that referred to the Weekly World Wews (Hitlers ghost Returns, Bat Boy Discovered, etc) as "The News". Scary.
I guess it comes down to personal responsibilityKing Henry
Aug 22, 2002 8:32 AM
I agree that it comes down to personal responsibility, as do most things in life. I have my biases, but as I advance in age, I recognize that there always is another side no matter how solid or brilliant I think my position may be, and I try to listen to and understand the other side on most issues. Unfortunately, recognition and understanding is often viewed by the masses as evidencing weakness, acceptance or (gasp) a lack of patriotism. Moreover, it takes work and challenges people in ways that make them uncomfortable. But, of course, how could you expect anything else from human nature? Most people want life spoon fed to them, whether it is no-work weight loss routines or their occasional diet of news.