“Don’t judge without having heard both sides. Even persons who think themselves virtuous very easily forget this elementary rule of prudence.” — Josemaría Escrivá
FACT OR FICTION?
TRUTH-DECTECTING TOOLS YOU CAN USE TO DECIPHER THE NEWS!
By Vicki Robison
Part I: Introduction (Questioning the mainstream media)
Part II: Truth Begets Truth (Investigating “official” stories)
Part III: Cui Bono? (Who benefits?)
Part IV: Propaganda (An introduction to Propaganda)
Part V: Recognizing Propaganda (The “top ten” propaganda strategies)
Part VI: Analyzing Propaganda (Using propaganda strategies to analyze the news)
PART I: INTRODUCTION
It seems that in this post-9/11 world, questioning the government or any “official story” ends with much criticism. Our mainstream media dutifully reports one side of the story — the “official” side — and most of us accept that side as truth. Anyone who then questions or doubts what has been reported as the truth, is criticized by friends and family– and if he is a notable figure and doubts publicly, he is also discredited by TV and radio talk show hosts, the media and other notable people, which is how the media convinces the majority of people to believe their version and to discredit all other versions — regardless of the truth.
The most popular ways to deal with those who doubt is to categorize them all as silly, stupid, one-sided, etc. Another way is to attempt to tear them apart by questioning their character. Sarcasm is another popular tactic, but those who want to twist a knife in the back of the doubter will use name-calling as a tactic — using names which we have been trained to associate as both powerful and demeaning, such as un-American, anti-government, anarchist, traitor, and other such words. There are also words and terms which have been created or re-defined (such as “right-wing”, “left-wing”, “neo-con”, “Truther”, “Birther” and “Conspiracy Theorist”, just to name a few) so that most people automatically generalize such people as crack-pots, or even as dangerous individuals. These words and terms are very powerful, and are intended to not only label the doubter, but also to discredit and to put the doubter in his place. The doubter is considered to be misguided and uninformed — or in other words, an idiot.
Even the words “patriot” and “Constitutionalist”, which were once quite honorable titles, are sometimes redefined to mean “trouble-maker” and even “potential terrorist.” Of course, it depends on to whom one is referring, as to which definition applies. If the media uses such titles to refer to President Obama or former President Bush, it’s a good thing! Why? Because the titles don’t fit! They are just glory words to convince a nation of sheep that they are “good guys”. When defined properly, Obama and Bush are nothing like patriots and instead of preserving the Constitution (which they took an oath of office to do) they have raped and ignored it by giving us the “Patriot Act” and by bestowing dictatorial powers upon themselves. But when the words are used to refer to advocates of liberty, who have adopted the patriotic and Constitutional views of the founders — and who believe in small government, the principles of self-ownership, that all men were created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights — the mainstream media presents them as potentially dangerous and misguided individuals, often “spinning” the story by offering examples of dangerous, self-proclaimed patriots who are even rejected by the majority of those within the patriot/freedom movement, or by deleting portions of stories and interviews which causes the viewer to unknowingly take the story out of context.
In other words, when the words “patriot” and “Constitutionalist” are used to describe bad guys, it’s a good thing. When these words are used to describe good guys, it’s a bad thing. (Also known as “doublethink”.)
Often the doubter is accused of being on a “bandwagon.” However, the bandwagon concept is generally defined as those who follow the beliefs of the majority, or a fairly large group, rather than a minority. For instance, if Mike believes that there is a cover-up regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but all of his friends and family believe the official story, who is riding the bandwagon? Mike could be accused of riding the bandwagon if many of those with whom he associates believe similarly, but not when he is in a very small minority, or even alone on the issue. The bandwagon concept is based on conformity, not independent thinking or unpopular opinions. Some might define the bandwagon concept as the “herd instinct” or “group think.”
Part II: Truth Begets Truth
Most doubters who have investigated both sides of a story and reject the official version based on their research, are often ridiculed by their peers. They often become the butt of jokes and are often considered to be somewhat flaky, odd, or just plain crazy. Although there may be some people who enjoy ruffling feathers by voicing their unpopular opinions, I tend to believe that most people do not enjoy being ridiculed by those whom he considers to be his intimates. It’s actually quite a lonely position for the doubter to be in. Nobody wants to feel that he’s alone.
So why would one express such opinions, and expose stories of government corruption, knowing that he will be criticized? It is my belief that most simply want to educate and inform — especially if they have hard evidence to substantiate their claims. Most doubters, or so-called “conspiracy theorists” often have a better understanding of both sides of the story than those who simply rely on mainstream media for their news, because they have heard the mainstream story and have turned elsewhere for further investigation. So who is more informed? The individual who relies on the media source which merely echoes the “official” story, or those who listen to the mainstream, corporate-owned media version and investigate the issue further?
In actuality, those who investigate a story, are often led in a multitude of directions and find themselves receiving an education in many different areas — sometimes requiring them to devote dozens, or even hundreds of hours to painstaking research. For instance, one who investigates the events of the JFK assassination, will often branch out into studying bullet trajectory and the inplausibility of the “magic bullet theory”, the political scene in the late 50s and early 60s, the biographical history of Oswald and Ruby, the enemies of John F. Kennedy, Kennedy’s writings and speeches, what he was attempting to accomplish during his presidency, why the secret service were directed to “stand down” while following Kennedy’s car in Dallas, eyewitness statements that challenge the official story, and so on. All of these things bring up other names, incidents and government organizations which one must research, in order to understand the bigger picture.
Likewise, those who investigate 9/11, will often start by reading an article, watching a video or talking to somebody who challenges the official story. Then the individual finds himself researching such topics as physics, architecture, politics, power, psychology of power, the history of false flag (or staged) incidents, science, past examples of skyscraper fires, past examples of planes which have crashed into buildings, organizations such as CFR (the Counsel on Foreign Relations) and PNAC (Project for a New American Century), eye-witness statements, the statements of politicians, architects, scientists, physicists, and other experts, who also disbelieve the official story, etc., etc., etc…..
It’s easy to think that a claim sounds ridiculous when you have only heard one view. When an unwillingness to believe anything but the official story (because the government and the media would never lie to us), or an unwillingness to stand alone, or an unwillingness to investigate the matter in order to become educated on opposing views — are one’s only arguments against an opposing opinion or idea — one really doesn’t have a leg on which to stand. If you know little or nothing about the opposing side of a story, how can you debate or deny the opposition’s view? Simply because it doesn’t seem plausible? Because it sounds far-fetched? Because the mainstream media denounces the opposition and would have told us the truth? Having only one side of the story does not benefit you — not when the other individual is knowledgable of the official story as well as the inconsistencies. Although you may feel that you have won an argument simply because you are able to echo what the mainstream media has told you, or what Popular Mechanics has printed, or what the Warren Commission or the 9/11 Commision concluded — in actuality, you are simply acting as a parrot. The same can be said for those who have simply memorized the arguments of the opposing view (without researching the arguments) as well.
PART III: CUI BONO?
“Cui bono?” Translation: “to whom is it for a benefit?”, or more simply “Who benefits?”
“‘Cui bono?’ is the well-known test of Cassius Longinus (Consul, B.C. 127) for discovering the author of a secret crime…” (Horae Latinae: Studies in Synonyms and Syntax”, by Robert Ogilive & Joseph Ogilive, 1901 – Page 76)
When weighing claims that “smell fishy”, are conspiratorial in nature, or could be conspiratorial in nature, one must ask the question, “Who benefits?” This is an important tool to use when digesting the news and any “official” report. But one cannot come to a conclusion based on this tool alone. When a husband or wife is murdered, for instance, it is standard procedure to first question the surviving spouse. This does not mean that the spouse was guilty of the murder, but they must be considered a suspect until they can be eliminated–especially when there is something to gain by the death, such as an insurance policy pay-off or a large estate. So is the case with much of the crime that happens within big government and big business. (Remember: Power tends to corrupt! Absolute power corrupts absolutely!)
“Doubt is only too often looked upon as an evil, but it is not, and as Tennyson sang, ‘There is more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.’ Doubt to be of use, must be honest, fearless, patient. St. Paul tells us plainly to prove all things. An old Turkish proverb runs “Who questions, learns.” We should fear doubt less than a too-easy faith.” “Cui Bono? or ‘What Shall it Profit?’: A Gentle Philosophy for Those Who Doubt”, by Harwood Hunttington, 1912 (Page 22)
PART IV: PROPAGANDA
Propaganda is not merely a tool used in war, it is an everyday reality used by businesses in advertising, in order to convince the consumer that the product or service is needed or that it would benefit the consumer in some way. It is used by non-profit groups in order to promote safe-sex, healthy eating, tolerance, etc. It’s used by religious sects, schools, employers, and other groups who want to convince you that their way of thinking is the way you should be thinking too. In other words, propaganda isn’t always a bad thing. It’s simply a tool which is used in an attempt to implant ideas, sway opinions, open minds, close minds, buy products, etc. — whether for good, evil or greed. Propaganda is also used by government and media to sway the spectator into a particular way of thinking. The use of propaganda is a reality in our world, but one can easily spot it when one knows what to look for.
However, free thought is a near impossbility when government propaganda abounds and the citizens have been deprived of an education regarding the techniques of propaganda. In his 1922 book, Free Thought and Official Propaganda, Bertrand Russell said, “There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practised. On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious the argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain most publicity, whether through wealth or through power.”
In 1941, a Harvard University professor — Dr. Kirkly Mather — warned: “Mankind today is passing from an age of individualism into an age of collectivism.” He further stated that “education is the method employed by the democracies, while propaganda is the method employed by the totalitarian states.” Dr. Mather explained that one cannot judge a democracy by whether or not it has a constitution, because the soviet union also had a constitution…..nor could one judge a democracy by whether or not elections were held, because Germany had held an election, and Hitler won! “Self discipline,” he said, “is necessary to the operation of a democracy. If self-discipline is not practiced, then totalitarian slavery will succeed it.”
It is my opinion that part of this self-discipline should come in the form of self-education. All of us, regardless of our individual ages, have grown up in a nation of propaganda and deception. This statement may alarm the well-indoctrinated individual, which is the intention of those who perform the indoctrination.
For one to be accused of being “anti-government”, based on their negative views of government isn’t quite fair, because it is the nature of government to lie and deceive in an effort to gain more and more power. Unfortunately, everyone can’t have the power. In order for a government to gain more power, the People must have less. If “We, the People” had the power that was intended by the founders, the government would have very little. They must take ours (or we must forfeit it) in order for the government to grow in power. Our founding fathers were well aware of this fact. This is the reason that three separate branches of government were created — so that there would be a system of checks and balances. This is the reason that our founding fathers wrote a Constitution and founded a Republic, rather than another form of government. In a Republic, the individual has rights that no majority vote can take away. Unfortunately, the founders could not have fathomed that almost every politician in Washington could have been corrupted at the same time, leaving an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality, instead of a system of checks and balances. The founders loathed the thought of a democracy, because a democracy can be defined as “mob rule” — or as described in the Aug. 29, 1992 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
“Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote. Those rights are spelled out in the Bill of Rights and in our California Constitution. Voters and politicians alike would do well to take a look at the rights we each hold, which must never be chipped away by the whim of the majority.”
And as Bertrand Russell stated in his aforementioned book, “…there are some people who think that a democratic State is scarcely distinguished from the people. This, however, is a delusion. The State is a collection of officials, different for different purposes, drawing comfortable incomes so long as the status quo is preserved. The only alteration they are likely to desire in the status quo is an increase of bureaucracy and the power of bureaucrats. It is, therefore, natural that they should take advantage of such opportunities as war-excitement to acquire inquisitorial powers over their employees, involving the right to inflict starvation upon any subordinate who opposes them.”
The founders considered Americans to be the sovereigns of this nation — “sovereigns without subjects” — and the government to be the servant of the individual sovereigns. The People (or sovereigns) have unalienable rights, as well as civil rights, and the government, by consent of the People, were granted powers in order to protect the rights of the People. But for over 150 years we have been sold a bill of goods called “democracy”, and we have been taught that it is a good thing! Public schools teach us this from the time we enter our first social studies course in elementary school, and between public schools and government, we are taught this for the rest of our lives.
Don’t confuse the form of government called a “democracy” with “democratic elections.” Democratic elections are not a bad thing when the public is informed and willing to investigate the politicians who are running for office, rather than to just believe what they are told by the mainstream media and in campaign ads! An informed public is necessary for democratic elections to attract honorable candidates. However, an uninformed public who vote according to their whims rather than on an understanding of American ideals, and their rights, are only likely to vote for power-hungry and corrupt (or corruptable) people — because those who study the art of propaganda and know how to use it to their advantage, will say almost anything the public wants to hear. On the other hand, when the public is just as knowledgable in the art of propaganda, and knows how to spot the tricks, those tricky politicians aren’t nearly as successful. When accurate history and critical thinking skills are not taught to children (and adults), and when those parts of history that empower the individual and weaken the government are totally removed from government schools, the public becomes ignorant. And unfortunately, almost every public school in the country is a government school…..which is where we are first indoctrinated with propaganda!
Cuesta College offers a scholarly text entitled “Critical Thinking.” One chapter specifically covers the subject of propaganda, in a chapter entitled “Recognizing Propaganda Techniques and Errors of Faulty Logic.” A portion of this chapter points out and defines the most commonly used types of propaganda, explained as follows:
Name calling: “This techniques consists of attaching a negative label to a person or a thing. People engage in this type of behavior when they are trying to avoid supporting their own opinion with facts. Rather than explain what they believe in, they prefer to try to tear their opponent down.”
Anyone who has watched television commentators, or who has listened to talk radio, has heard this technique used time and time again. Bill O’Reilly is famous for calling people “pinheads”, “kooks”, and “loons”, but there are many other commentators who use the same tactic. Anyone who has been bullied in school, or has been a bully, should be familiar with this technique. The bully’s intended purpose is to use name-calling to criticize (thereby taking the credibility of his opponent) or to use as a distraction/interruption technique (thereby taking his opponent’s “air-time” away) — ultimately making the opponent shrink away like a little coward, because the bully portrays power and potential danger. And at the same time, those who are on the side of the bully (a.k.a. the “sheep”) will laugh and cheer, which gives the bully an added sense of power and importance. Those who are not on the side of the bully, don’t want to be considered a kook or a loon, so another intention of name-calling is to force all others who disagree to shrink away and keep their mouths shut.
But even though the name-calling strategy is typical of a bully, and typical of the political commentary shows, if one pays close attention, one can also find this propaganda technique used in mainstream news — which is supposed to be “fair and balanced.” The job of the newscaster/anchor is simply to report the news, not to add an opinion. Adding opinion to the end of a report, regardless of how subtle it is, is definitely not fair and balanced! Even a subtle rolling of the reporter’s eyes, or the shaking of the reporter’s head in disagreement, can be considered an opinion, intended to inform the viewer that the previous story or interview was “hogwash” or “unbelievable” or simply “ridiculous.” In addition, such subtle statements as, “Can you believe that?” or “How outrageous!” are other such examples. Even when the story being reported, is obviously disgraceful, it is not the job of the anchor to share his/her opinion. For instance, when a child dies from being locked in a hot car, it is obviously a tragedy. Does the average viewer (or even the below average viewer) need to hear, “How terrible!” in order to realize how terrible the story is? I think not.
Prior to the 2008 election, I noticed such tactics often being used on the “professional” news shows during and after interviews with Ron Paul. A few times I noticed the news anchor would chuckle, grin or make a sarcastic facial expression at a statement he had made — a statement which was meant to be taken seriously — as a way to inform the viewer that the anchor did not take Ron Paul seriously. Likewise, when one challenges the official U.S. position on the war, economic policy, of other official positions, the individual being interviewed, rather than being judged by the viewer, is often first judged by the interviewer, in an apparent attempt to lead the viewer’s opinion.
Glittering Generalities: “This technique uses important-sounding “glad words” that have little or no real meaning. These words are used in general statements that cannot be proved or disproved. Words like “good,” “honest,” “fair,” and “best” are examples of “glad” words.”
Although I used Obama as an example, the “glittering generality” technique can be applied to almost any campaign in our history — political or otherwise! Barack Obama stood for “Hope and Change”. One of George Bush Jr‘s was “Real Plans for Real People.” Bill Clinton: “Putting People First” and “Building a Bridge to the 21st Century.” Ronald Reagan: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” and “It’s morning again in America.” Gerald Ford: “He’s making us proud again!” Richard Nixon: “For the Future” (And the list goes on and on!)
I must admit that my favorite campaign slogans date back to 1884 — Grover Cleveland vs. James Blaine. Blaine’s slogan was: ” Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha” Cleveland’s comeback? “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine” (Do you smell the propaganda?)
Transfer: “In this technique, an attempt is made to transfer the prestige of a positive symbol to a person or an idea. For example, using the American flag as a backdrop for a political event makes the implication that the event is patriotic in the best interest of the U.S.”
Although our modern era of “political correctness” has trained us not to talk about God too much, not to pray in school, not to have Bibles in the court room, to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, etc., the fact is that most Americans consider themselves to be Christians. So although it may be politically incorrect to discuss the subject of religion — especially in politics — the capturing on film of a politician (especially a president) attending church, or sitting in front of a mural of Jesus, is an ideal photo-op which uses the “Transfer” technique to promote the idea that the politician is “a good Christian.”
False Analogy (a.k.a. “Imperfect analogy): “In this technique, two things that may or may not really be similar are portrayed as being similar. When examining the comparison, you must ask yourself how similar the items are. In most false analogies, there is simply not enough evidence available to support the comparison.”
I used this example (right) simply because it’s so easy to pick apart. Although President Roosevelt stated a fact by using the old cliché “blood is thicker than water,” the fact is that the circumstances (the presentation of a $240,000 check for the infantile paralysis fund) did not prove the expression to be true. It was not incorrect or improper for Roosevelt to have used this expression, as we all use such expressions to make a point, but often such expressions are not actual proof — and are deceptive when used in actual/intentional propaganda. Such advertising slogans as “It’ll make you feel younger too” and “It’s like a breath of fresh air” are other such examples where the product has little or nothing to do with the cliché being used, along with the “Could switching to Geico save you 15% or more” commercials that use such examples as the piggy who cried “Wee, wee, wee” all the way home, the buck stops here, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck, etc.
Testimonial: “This technique is easy to understand. It is when ‘big name’ personalities are used to endorse a product. Whenever you see someone famous endorsing a product, ask yourself how much that person knows about the product, and what he or she stands to gain by promoting it.”
Many people believe that Obama would not have won the 2008 election if it had not been for Oprah. Before appearing on Oprah for the first time, few Americans had ever heard of Barack Obama. After the last of his pre-election Oprah appearances, everybody knew who he was. So whether you’re selling a pair of shoes, the latest & greatest widget ever invented, or a president, the “testimonial” technique of propaganda is a big seller! Another example would be to parade celebrities around on the talk-show circuit and have them publicly endorse the war — because if they are for the war, so should you be! Or to have a celebrity appear in a pro-vaccination PSA, is yet another example. Not much can be said for the individual’s ability to think for himself when he is so easily sold on a product or idea simply because it was endorsed by a well-known person, but it works! This is why celebrities are given multi-million dollar contracts to sell chips, soda, shoes, perfume and clothing lines. It’s also why “product placement” works so well. The candy, Reeces Pieces, increased its sales by 65% after the movie “E.T.” came out in 1982. (Source: Time Magazine) Texaco and Pepsi were both featured in “Back to the Future”, although Shell Oil and Coca-Cola had also made bids. (Source: Wikia) And modern television shows are packed with product placements, because if your favorite characters drink Dubbly-Bubbly Cola or eat Crunchy Cardboard Crinkles, you’re going to want them too!!!
Plain Folks: “This technique uses a folksy approach to convince us to support someone or something. These ads depict people with ordinary looks doing ordinary activities.”
Anybody who remembers the 2008 presidential election should remember good ‘ol “Joe the Plumber.” After meeting and questioning Obama about his tax plan, both Obama and McCain jumped on the Joe the Plumber bandwagon, both of them doing their best to work his name into their rhetoric. Joe the Plumber is your “average Joe”, a perfect representation of the “Plain Folks” type of propaganda. It wasn’t coincidence that both candidates used him to their advantage, because every professional politician is well-versed in the art (and power) of propaganda.
Card Stacking: “This term comes from stacking a deck of cards in your favor. Card stacking is used to slant a message. Key words or unfavorable statistics may be omitted in an ad or commercial, leading to a series of half-truths. Keep in mind that an advertiser is under no obligation ‘to give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.'”
This 1996 Clinton/Gore campaign ad (left) is an example of card stacking — but not to directly benefit the Clinton/Gore campaign. Instead the cards that were stacked were meant to discredit Bob Dole by listing some of the programs he had voted against in the past, which implied that Clinton was for all of the programs that Dole was against. It also implied that Dole didn’t care about the American people, whereas Clinton must. This is a classic case of “black propaganda”, which is usually used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy or opposing side.
Bandwagon: “The “bandwagon” approach encourages you to think that because everyone else is doing something, you should do it too, or you’ll be left out. The technique embodies a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ philosophy.”
This headline, from the The Sunday Morning Star (December 3, 1933) implies that if one wants to be a good American, one must support Roosevelt….and those who don’t support Roosevelt, must not be good Americans. So jump on the Roosevelt bandwagon if you’re a good American, otherwise, we’ll know that you are a traitor!
The bandwagon technique usually will appeal to the majority — or the majority within certain groups — by appealing to “good Americans”, “good mothers”, or “good Christians”, by pressuring one to join “the in-crowd”, or by proclaiming that “most intelligent people” use a certain product or subscribe to certain ideas. Other techniques which use the bandwagon strategy in combination with the “glittering generalities” technique, would be, “If you care about the environment, you will adopt this new mindset” or “If you care about your child’s education, you will buy our products”, etc.
Either/or fallacy: “This technique is also called ‘black-and-white thinking’ because only two choices are given. You are either for something or against it; there is no middle ground or shades of gray. It is used to polarize issues, and negates all attempts to find a common ground.”
The video on the left is an excellent example of the Either / Or Fallacy. George Bush gave Americans the ultimatum: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists!” And nobody wants to be with the terrorists! This piece of propaganda was meant to quiet anyone who doubted the official story of what happened on 9/11. It was also meant to quiet those who are anti-war and those who think that all of our wars should be declared in a Constitutional manner. Additionally, it was meant to build a false sense of patriotism which would give the majority of Americans the empowerment they needed to stand up to and ridicule anyone who spoke out against the war, and against America’s decision to go to war — because if you didn’t support the war, George Bush says you’re a terrorist! Slogans, such as this one, also become catch-phrases…and as Americans, we seem to love catch-phrases. Catch-phrases (or jingles, when set to music) can sell a hamburger, a TV show, a toy, a car, a president, and even a war!
Speaking of “catch phrases”, a 1959 article by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, entitled, “Visiting Red China #5 – ‘Persuasion’ and Propaganda”, has this to say on the issue of catch phrases used in psychological warfare: “The system of propaganda is equally effective as it is pervasive. …they were able to develop their techniques of propaganda to a high and most effective art. This includes posters, displays and exhibits which anyone who sees can understand. It includes the coining of catch phrases, slogans and elementary statistics which convey the meaning of government aims and policies and which can be passed on by word of mouth with a rapidity that is almost unbelievable. These slogans, statistics and catch phrases are repeated constantly in the newspapers and in private conversation. They have become a ritual and they are believed in implicitly. A Western visitor to China may become slightly irritated at times by the endless repetition, particularly if he tends to question the truth of some of the assertations.” -Walter L. Gordon, Chairman of the Recent Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prospects, 1959
Faulty Cause and Effect: “This technique suggests that because B follows A, A must cause B. Remember, just because two events or two sets of data are related does not necessarily mean that one caused the other to happen. It is important to evaluate data carefully before jumping to a wrong conclusion.”
In all fairness, the conclusion shown on the right was not made by most Americans. It was immediately made by the government, and announced by anchors and government “officials” and experts on the mainstream media — and spoon-fed to the American public. There was no proof on 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks. There was no proof a month after 9/11 that bin Laden was behind the attacks. Video and audio tapes, received by the U.S., were authenticated by the U.S. Government and the information was passed on to the media, who passed it on to us, while making their news certifiably official by interviewing “experts” who had ties to the U.S. government. (By the use of experts, the mainstream media simply reaffirms to the American people that what they are reporting is true. When reporting a story in the field of medicine, often a doctor will be interviewed to verify the report. When reporting The War on Terror, terrorism experts and analysts are used. Rarely does the media employ the services of an independent expert who opposes the news they are reporting — and on the rare occasions they do, he is usually presented as a mockery, to prove that he’s “full of hot air.”)
However, when one reads newspapers from September 11, 2001, and the days and years following 9/11, one will find that even with the “hard evidence” of video and audio tapes, many of the official terrorism experts still wouldn’t commit to saying “Osama bin Laden was definitely the one!” Instead, such words as “believe”, “think”, “firmly believe” and “quite certain” were used regarding bin Laden’s connection to 9/11. Likewise, even after the government “authenticated” the video and audio tapes of bin Laden, the official experts, CIA officials, etc., would use similar words when being interviewed. They thought the tapes were the real thing. They were quite certain that they were the real thing…but very few would say they are definitely the real thing, other than to give credit to the government for authenticating the tapes, which must prove that they are the real thing.
One would assume that the doubt, or the refusal to take a definite stand, stemmed from the fact that from 1998 to 2001, reports of bin Laden’s kidney disease and worsening health were in newspapers all over the world. In addition, reports of his death due to kidney failure and possibly Marfan’s syndrome, were in almost every American (and foreign) newspaper worth it’s salt, during late 2001 and in 2002. Many have believed for years that bin Laden died in late 2001, after the 9/11 attacks — which is why many (including “official” sources) have doubted the dates of the tapes, the authenticity of the tapes, or even that bin Laden was alive. A former assistant secretary of state under Nixon, Ford and Carter — Dr. Steve Pieczenik — has publicly announced that Osama bin Laden died in late 2001 of Marfan’s syndrome. So there’s no wonder why people doubt the official story of both 9/11 and the death of bin Laden — and there’s no wonder as to why most “experts” would not take a definite stand, one way or the other, regarding bin Laden’s poor health, the 2001 death of bin Laden, or the authenticity of the tapes.
In addition to the above propaganda techniques, Cuesta College offers additional techniques which are used. They include:
Errors of Faulty Logic: Contradiction, Accident, False Cause, Begging the Question, Evading the Issue, Arguing from Ignorance and Composition and Division.
Errors of Attack: Poisoning the Well, Ad Hominem and Appealing to Force
Errors of Weak Reference: Appeal to Authority, Appeal to the People and Appeal to Emotion
Another good tool to use for deciphering news is the article entitled “25 Rules of Disinformation.” In this article, the author describes the tactics used by news reporters, interviewers and commentators. It’s quite a valuable tool for those who are interested in understanding how our news is manipulated.
Although the following three propaganda techniques are covered in the above text, I would like to go over them more specifically now, as they are commonly used in the media today.
Repetition: A popular propaganda technique is the repetitive use of certain phrases or images, meant to enrage, horrify, or to otherwise appeal to one’s emotions — whether negatively or positively.
After the assassination of JFK, there was hardly a soul in America who didn’t know who Lee Harvey Oswald was, and almost every American could have identified Oswald if they had seen him walking down the street. His photo was in every newspaper across the country, as well as in foreign countries, and video images of Oswald flickered on almost every American TV set. Although the assassination of JFK was most definitely news-worthy, Oswald was also used as a boogeyman to incite rage and horror. I’m sure that in the few days following the assassination, most people were probably in so much shock to believe anything other than the “official story” which was constantly being reported, but it didn’t take long for public opinion to shift (Source #1 – Source #2)
Likewise, after the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, every newspaper and radio station covered the story religiously. Newsreels of the attack appeared in movie theaters shortly thereafter. Although many now believe that the President had foreknowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and used the attack as a way to sway public opinion that entering the war was necessary, it would take a number of years until the evidence of foreknowledge was presented. But the propaganda machine was definitely on its toes, as every American was quickly taught to hate “Japs” and Nazis, by the use of radio, the “big screen”, print media, word of mouth and posters — lots and lots of posters! Posters which would often depict Germans as monstrous ogres and Japanese as squinty-eyed buffoons, in order to “poke fun” and give the impression that Germans and Japanese were somehow less human than Americans…..which was the same tactic used by white people for hundreds of years, to justify the
mistreatment of black people. The fact is, dehumanizing human beings of other races is effective propaganda — whether in pictures, in the spoken word, or in print — but in actuality, most people of any race are comparable to most people in this country. They simply want to be happy and prosperous and to live peaceful lives. It’s the governments — the people in power — who become corrupt and wage war in order to expand land mass and power. The people are simply used as pawns. Or as Robert Quillen said in a 1935 editorial column in the San Jose News:
“Ordinary men ask nothing but peace and security and a living. Ambitious men lust for power and glory and use ordinary men as tools to win them. The ordinary men serve willingly, in peace and in war, for they are hero-worshipers, easily fooled by propaganda, and they believe their leaders great and unselfish men. Through all the ages they have been like dumb sheep led to the slaughter. And still today they are the blind, unthinking tools of every merciless Mussolini who fills them with hokum and cries: ‘Sic ’em.’ Warfare continues only because the little man is foolish enough to let himself be used to play the big man’s game.” -Robert Quillen, “No Man Could Be Master If No Man Would Be a Slave”, 1935
More recently, the constant images of the twin towers erupting into dust on and after 9/11 enraged and horrified the nation. The constant images of the alleged hijackers and Osama bin Laden did likewise. Every newspaper’s headlines screamed of “TERROR!”, “TERRORISM!” and “TERRORISTS!” Interviews and survivor’s accounts made us all become empathetic with those who were injured, who lost their lives, and who lost their loved ones — realizing that it could have been any of us, at the wrong place and at the wrong time, who could also be going through the same thing. The constant sound bytes of George Bush and news reporters quoting Todd Beamer’s “Let’s Roll” (from UA Flight 93) caused America to find a renewed “take action” form of patriotism which had been thought to be lost — and the repetitious display of George Bush, standing in front of an American flag, with his arm wrapped around a near-retirement-aged fire fighter at ground zero, also caused America to rally.
Avoidance: Also known as a “media blackout“, when the media fails to cover a particular story, for whatever the reason. A media blackout is a form of censorship which can be self-imposed by the media, or “may in some countries be enforced by the government or state.” (Wikipedia) This total evasion of the topic prevents us from knowing about the issue, or at the very least, to believe that the issue is is minor, non-threatening or untrue — otherwise the media would be covering it.
A prime example of a media blackout would be the failure of the media to cover the numerous war protests that took place across the country before and after the U.S. invaded Iraq to seize their weapons of mass destruction….which didn’t exist. These anti-Iraq-war protests were springing up everywhere across the U.S. and in other countries…but unless you happened to live where one of them took place or were lucky enough to have a local media outlet that gave the protest a minute or two of attention, chances are, you didn’t know about it…..unless you came across it on YouTube. At the time of this writing, a quick search of YouTube, using the term “Iraq war protest” (with quotation marks) brings up 536 results. Without the quotation marks, 9,950 results are found.
Another example would be the recent media blackout of the severity of the damage to the nuclear plant in Fukushima. Although the alternative media is covering it, with recent stories such as Total information blackout on Fukushima Unit 4 reactor raises serious questions about truth of situation, Soil contamination from Fukushima crisis comparable to Chernobyl, TEPCO: Fukushima nuclear meltdown actually occurred just 16 hours after earthquake, more meltdowns on the way, and Typhoon Songda May Hit Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the mainstream media is virtually ignoring these stories. One has to ask “Why?” Fukushima is being reported as a worse disaster than Chernobyl. This is most definitely “news”, and it is most definitely “news-worthy.” Do they not want us to panic? Are they protecting their political and business interests in the field of nuclear energy?
Yet another example is that the many 9/11 Truth Movement protests are not being covered by the mainstream media. These protests have been taking place all over the country for the better part of a decade. And when they do make the news, the protests are not covered as “news”, but rather, as crazy groups of trouble-makers who seemingly spring up out of nowhere — because nobody really questions the official story, do they?
While covering a story on location, Geraldo Rivera stumbled upon some 9/11 Truth protestors a few years ago. (or perhaps they stumbled upon him.) Geraldo’s reaction to the protestors was to tell them to “get a life”. Before a commercial break, Geraldo announced that when they returned, they would report the story “the secret world of restroom gay sex” — which gave Geraldo the perfect opportunity to use some name-calling propaganda by saying, “I think these demonstrators are all into restroom gay sex.” (What a segue!) After the commercial, Geraldo stated, “We’ve been surrounded by [an] activist, radical, communist group….I don’t know who the hell they are!” Later in the program, Geraldo said, “As this group of misfits behind me continue their chanting…” then he raised and shook his fist and said “I wish I could…,” insinuating that he would like to punch them. After the next commercial break, the police had
been called and Geraldo announced that “all hell is breaking loose on 6th Avenue.” He then referred to the demonstrators as an “anarchist group” and said that “they are one of the least attractive groups of demonstrators I’ve ever seen.” After this comment, he stopped himself (temporarily) from commenting further about the protestors because, he said, he didn’t want to use any foul language, but he did take one last opportunity to say that he thought that every nut-job in New York happened to be at his location that night. (Watch the Geraldo video here.)
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the official story of 9/11, these protests are definitely “news.” One might argue that the media is simply not giving the 9/11 Truth Movement any recognition because they are all crazy and are simply looking for attention to propagandize their movement. If one were to argue such a thing, then tell me why Harold Camping was given so much mainstream media attention when he was announcing that the world would end on May 22nd! Not to mention all the “fluff” stories which are presented! One of today’s top CBS stories is Clever cat plays the shell game and wins. Is that news? Sounds like a story for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Is it more news-worthy than a war protest or a protest for 9/11 truth? The worsening disaster at Fukushima? Why the government no longer respects the rights of Americans? Why the president now has dictatorial powers?
The truth is, the mainstream media generally does not report stories that would cause Americans to realize how they are having the last bits of their birthright stolen from them. They don’t want us to think or to ask questions, which could ultimately empower us and cause us to take action. They would rather report that Pippa made a big splash in Paris or Reece Witherspoon to receive MTV Generation Award. This satisfies our craving for “bread and circuses“, so that we’ll let the politicians play their games and sit idly by watching the show. (We mustn’t upset and empower the American people! They outnumber us!)
“Doublethink”: The term “doublethink”, as defined in George Orwell’s book “1984” “‘is the ability of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them. It is the faculty to know that deliberate lies are being told while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.” Modern examples of doublethink would be: “fighting for peace”, “peace-keeping forces”, “ministry of defence”, “Holy War”, “giving up our rights in the name of freedom”, the IRS policy of “voluntary compliance”, or the notion that Obama, Bush, Cheney or Clinton could be defined as “patriots” or “Constitutionalists.” (Article: “Doublethink – 1984 Today“)
PART V: ANALYZING PROPAGANDA
So now that we understand the basics of propaganda, let’s use this tool to analyze a recent event — the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1st, 2011.
Report: Bin Laden was armed and fought back.
Propaganda message: Bin Laden was armed and dangerous, so the killing of bin Laden was justified.
Reality: Bin Laden was not armed and did not fight back. (Reuters: “Bin Laden Not Armed During Assault”)
Report: Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield.
Propaganda message: Bin Laden is a coward — so cowardly that he would put a woman in danger to save his skin! He deserved to be shot!
Reality: Osama bin Laden did not use his wife as a human shield. (The Telegraph: “Osama bin Laden ‘was not armed and did not use wife as human shield'”)
Report: Bin Laden was asked to surrender, but refused, so the Navy Seals shot him in the head.
Propaganda message: Bin Laden resisted “arrest”, so the Seals had no choice but to shoot him, because honorable people give themselves up to the officials, whether guilty or not. Resistance must prove guilt!
Reality: An unarmed bin Laden could have been taken by armed Navy Seals, questioned and given a fair trial. Plus, according to bin Laden’s daughter, her father surrendered and was later shot dead. (Fox: “bin Laden Refused to Surrender Before He Was Killed”)
Report: President Obama and staff watched bin Laden die via live video footage.
Propaganda message: This was a highly technical mission, using state-of-the-art technology, and our president was personally involved in the matter — proving that he’s no wimp and that he had the courage to watch this dangerous and gruesome mission, which would be held against him if anything had gone wrong and American lives were lost.
Reality: The head of the CIA admitted after the announcement of the live video feed, that there was no live video footage of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound — proving that several days of news reports were lies. (Economic Times: “Obama didn’t see bin Laden die – CIA Director Panetta”)
Report: Bin Laden was quickly buried at sea. Time Magazine reported: “The reason is bound up within Islamic practice and tradition. And that practice calls for the body of the deceased to be buried within 24 hours, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.” It was also reported, by many sources, that the reason for the sea-burial was to prevent bin Laden’s followers from gathering at his martyr’s grave.
Propaganda message: Since bin Laden killed so many Americans on 9/11, and has put us through ten years of war, he doesn’t deserve a martyr’s grave as a resting place! BUT, we Americans are such sensitive souls who respect the beliefs of other religions, that we buried him within 24 hours as Muslim beliefs require.
Reality: It is not Islamic practice to bury a body at sea, unless the Muslim has died aboard ship and needs to be disposed of for the health of the remaining crew. (It is Muslim tradition to bury a body within 24 hours, with the head of the deceased pointing toward Mecca.) For this reason, we were given the “martyr” story, but the absence of a body, is an absence of proof.
If I were to brag that I had made a brilliant discovery that would change life as we know it for the better, but was unwilling to present my discovery to the public, few would have much faith in my claims. If I were to later claim that I had buried my discovery at sea, so that nobody else could find it or use it, even fewer would believe that I had possession of it in the first place. If I were to present pictures of the discovery hidden within a box and tied up with ropes, while I buried it at sea, most would wonder what was in the box and might presume that it was nothing more than a dead cat. Most people would doubt that it was a miraculous discovery, otherwise, I would have shared it with the world for the benefit of humanity or sold it for personal gain. (The U.S. Government could have escaped a lot of criticism if they had just claimed to have buried the weapons of mass destruction at sea, because as proved by the case of Osama bin Laden, most Americans would have believed them.) (CBS News: “Osama bin Laden’s Body Buried at Sea”)
Report: BUT, we have his DNA!
Propaganda message: We have bin Laden’s DNA, so the government can’t possibly be lying! DNA is proof!
Reality: How many Americans know what bin Laden’s DNA looks like? How many Americans even know how to read DNA results?
If John Doe presented two samples of DNA, from two different crime scenes, and claimed that both samples belonged to Mugsy Malone, there is still no proof. Mugsy Malone (or his dead body) would need to be present to know whether the two samples matched or not. Without Mugsy Malone’s body, all we know is that the two samples came from the same person, but we don’t know whether or not they came from Mugsy Malone. (MSNBC: “DNA Confirms bin Laden Death”)
Before the reader accuses me of being a conspiracy theorist, keep in mind that I have not presented any sort of theory. A report of inconsistencies and lies is not a theory. A theory needs to offer an alternative solution. The only information I have regarding Osama bin Laden consists of what every TV-owning, newspaper-reading, radio-listening or wired-to-the-web American also has access to — namely, news reports, testimonies and lies. Of the six above-mentioned reports, three were later found to be lies. The other three are impossible to confirm. The three which are impossible to confirm can either be taken as faith (because the government would never lie to us for political gain) or they must remain unproven.
In addition, bin Laden was never considered more than a prime suspect for the 9/11 attacks. Even Dick Cheney said, on March 29, 2006, “We’ve never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming.” (“Interview of the Vice President by Tony Snow”) Cheney’s statement, along with the thousands of newspaper reports, going back to 1998 — of bin Laden’s illness, kidney failure, Marfan’s syndrome, death, Osama look-alikes running about Afghanistan and Pakistan, possible sightings, unconvincing tapes authenticated by the U.S. Government, etc., and ending with the Navy Seal story which is built on lies and unconfirmable claims — cannot be considered proof that any of the Government’s claims are true. Not to mention the fact that Steve Pieczenik, the former assistant secretary of state under three separate administrations, who also provided his services for two additional administrations (Reagan and Bush Sr.), publicly stated on May 3rd, 2011, and on several dates since, that bin Laden died in 2001.
My purpose in writing this article was not to expose a conspiracy, but rather, to offer tools for the news viewer/reader and to share examples to the reader which show that both sides of the news are not being reported by the mainstream media.
There was once a time when news reporters would stumble over each other to get the other side of the story. This was called “investigative journalism.” Now, the other side of an official government story virtually goes unreported…and when it is reported, it’s often presented as a mockery…which is simply another form of propaganda, meant to discredit the alternative story. Imagine if Watergate had been treated the same way as 9/11, the War on Terror, the killing of bin Laden, etc. It would have gone something like this:
Bob Woodard & Carl Bernstein (Washington Post reporters): Thank you for meeting with us Mr. President. We asked for this meeting because we’ve heard some rumors that you might have something to do with the Watergate break-in. Care to comment on that?
President Richard Nixon: How dare you! I am not a crook! I’m the President of the United States, for Pete’s sake!
Woodard & Bernstein: How silly of us! You’re right! You are the President, so you couldn’t possibly do anything corrupt! Well, I guess that’s it. No story here! Oh, by the way, have you ever heard of anyone who goes by the code name of “Deep Throat?”
President Nixon: Get out of my Oval Office with your outrageous conspiracy theories! You are the most unpatriotic, kookiest, looniest pair of crack-pots I’ve ever seen!
Perhaps we would have even had a group of Americans who disbelieved the official story. Had the media in the 70s been like the media is today, these Watergate Truthers would have been criticized by the mainstream media. People would consider them unpatriotic — unAmerican — for even suggesting that our president could be a crook!
But we all know, it just didn’t happen that way. The investigative journalism of Woodard & Bernstein ultimately uncovered what some people called the story of the century.
We, as Americans, need to get out of the mindset that the words (and acronyms) “official”, “government”, “expert” “FOX”, “ABC”, “NBC”, “CBS”, “CNN”, and others, mean “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!” Anyone who knows even a fraction of U.S. history, knows this is not the case.
The mainstream media is no longer in the business of reporting the truth, unless the truth benefits them (or their political and business interests) in some way, or at the very least, doesn’t hurt them or their business and political interests. When a story which is related to either big government or big business (or both, as is often the case) is reported by the media, the story is hand delivered in most cases, already written by government employees or official sources. The only job for the reporter to do, is to switch a few words around so that their version of the story is not identical to the stories being reported by other networks/newspapers/websites, and then to report the story, either over the airwaves or in print.
Refer to the video at the top of this page, entitled “Mass Media Corruption” to learn more about this phenomenon. There are also many good books available that cover the topic of the downfall of mainstream media. Most importantly, don’t rely on only mainstream sources for your news, and once you have heard/read more than one side of a story, use the above tools to analyze it…..that is, if you want to know the truth. And if the truth does matter to you, I offer some additional food for thought…..
“The freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by a despotic government.” -Thomas Jefferson
“American people are today, the best entertained and the least informed people on the face of the earth. And that has profound implications for a democracy, because a democracy cannot function long without an informed public.” -Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” -John F. Kennedy
“Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.” -George Bernard Shaw, 1911
–Truth, Propaganda and Media Manipulation (Global Research)
–War, Propaganda and the Media (Global Issues)
–VIDEO: “Propaganda Behind Big Media” (Google Video – Length: 58 minutes)