Thursday, February 10, 2005

White Noise Media: Then and Now 

Turn on the bubble machine! Propaganda and "perception management"; the Mighty Wurlitzer tune mill keeps on cranking on...

Robert Parry connects the dots.
Money, Media & the Mess in America, By Robert Parry; January 28, 2005

Sometime after 2009, when historians pick through the wreckage left behind by George W. Bush’s administration, they will have to come to grips with the role played by the professional conservative media infrastructure.

Indeed, it will be hard to comprehend how Bush got two terms as President of the United States, ran up a massive debt, and misled the country into at least one disastrous war – without taking into account the extraordinary influence of the conservative media, from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, from the Washington Times to the Weekly Standard.

Recently, it’s been revealed, too, that the Bush administration paid conservative pundits Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher while they promoted White House policies. Even fellow conservatives have criticized those payments, but the truth is that the ethical line separating conservative “journalism” from government propaganda has long since been wiped away.

For years now, there’s been little meaningful distinction between the Republican Party and the conservative media machine.

In 1982, for instance, South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon established the Washington Times as little more than a propaganda organ for the Reagan-Bush administration. In 1994, radio talk show host Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the new Republican House majority.

The blurring of any ethical distinctions also can be found in documents from the 1980s when the Reagan-Bush administration began collaborating secretly with conservative media tycoons to promote propaganda strategies aimed at the American people.

In 1983, a plan, hatched by CIA Director William J. Casey, called for raising private money to sell the administration’s Central American policies to the American public through an outreach program designed to look independent but which was secretly managed by Reagan-Bush officials.

The project was implemented by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who had been moved to the National Security Council staff and put in charge of a "perception management" campaign that had both international and domestic objectives.

In one initiative, Raymond arranged to have Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch chip in money for ostensibly private groups that would back Reagan-Bush policies. According to a memo dated Aug. 9, 1983, Raymond reported that “via Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds.” [For details, see Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Besides avoiding congressional oversight, privately funded activities gave the impression that an independent group was embracing the administration’s policies on their merits. Without knowing that the money had been arranged by the government, the public would be more inclined to believe these assessments than the word of a government spokesman.

"The work done within the administration has to, by definition, be at arms length," Raymond wrote in an Aug. 29, 1983, memo.

In foreign countries, the CIA often uses similar techniques to create what intelligence operatives call "the Mighty Wurlitzer," a propaganda organ playing the desired notes in a carefully scripted harmony. Only this time, the target audience was the American people.


But these ad hoc propaganda tactics of the 1980s didn’t go away.

With the investment of billions of dollars over the next two decades, the strategy grew into the permanent conservative media machine that we know today, a vast echo chamber to amplify conservative messages on TV, in newspapers, through magazines, over talk radio, with book publishing and via the Internet.

This media machine gives conservatives and Republicans a huge political advantage both during elections and between elections. It has even changed how Americans perceive the world and what information they rely on to make decisions.

The clout of this conservative media machine explains why millions of viewers to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News believe "facts" that aren't facts, such as their stubborn beliefs that the Bush administration did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was collaborating with al-Qaeda in the Sept. 11 attacks.

These days, a large number of Americans are fed a steady diet of conservative propaganda disguised as information – and millions more are influenced by the conservative messages that pervade TV, radio and print.

There's much more. Go read the whole thing. Money, Media & the Mess in America

And, speaking of "perception management", CNN puddle muddler Wolf Blitzer teams up with Howie fuddle-scut Kurtz for a little CNN whorehouse glee club benefit performance on behalf of Jeff Porn-Cannon Gannon, or Guckert, or whatever the hell his name is. Digby has the transcript up in case you missed their act earlier in the evening.


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