Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Propagandizing For Fun And Profit: Where And How

Our series on Propaganda continues today with two articles on propaganda, "Propaganda Mediums" and "Know Your Propaganda Techniques."

"Propaganda Mediums" is a segment of "How Propaganda Works" at;

"Propaganda is communicated through a variety of outlets, including television, film, radio, the Internet and print communications (which include brochures, posters and newspapers). According to Professor M. Lane Bruner, broadcast propaganda -- communicated through television, radio and film -- is the most dangerous kind. These messages are developed and broadcast by producers, directors, writers and news anchors or disc jockeys whose personal beliefs creep into ideas that are viewed and heard by a massive audience. Since the audience has little or no opportunity to respond or provide feedback to these messages, they become fact in the minds of many. 'Furthermore,' Bruner says, 'given the wide range of choice of programs, people oftentimes only tune in to the programs that reinforce their own beliefs' [source: Bruner interview].

"There are some propaganda and media critics who claim that all broadcast media contains propaganda in some form or another. Bruner points to reality television shows, which emphasize social values such as greed or winner-take-all attitudes, thus influencing the audience that these attitudes are the norm. Even television shows such as 'The West Wing' and 'The Daily Show' can blur the lines between fictional scenarios, comedy and serious politics. 'The more serious news becomes a joke, the more comedy news becomes serious,' Bruner hypothesizes.

"Print propaganda is often communicated in the form of newspapers, magazines and posters -- especially through political cartoons and caricatures. While cartoons and caricatures stir up conversation about a given topic, they can also be misappropriated to escalate tension between opposing groups. For example, a caricature in 'The New Yorker' of 2008 presidential hopeful Barack Obama and his wife Michelle reinforced persistent African-American stereotypes. And when a Danish newspaper published political cartoons with images of Mohammed in 2006, tensions were ignited between Muslims, who considered the images sacrilegious, and members of the European press. The cartoon raised the question of whether or not propaganda is permissible by free speech. Bruner says yes, it is: 'Basically, most propaganda, as long as it does not transgress the current legal limitations on speech, is protected speech' [source: Bruner interview].

(Note: this is one of the more difficult hurdles to overcome in the process of criminalizing Conservativism, as we see here, --> -- Joyce, Jnr.)

"Another medium for propaganda is the Internet. The Internet disperses broadcast and print propaganda on a worldwide scale; however, it's a medium that provides audiences the chance to exchange ideas, discuss information and research the topic at hand. On the flip side, the Internet enables the widespread dissemination of unchecked information, which can lead to the formation of uninformed opinions.

(Which brings us back to a brief background for the Limbaugh phenomenon. Joyce, Jnr.)

"Of all these propaganda mediums, one of the most recognizable is radio. Radio relies more on repetition of the message simply because it doesn't have the powerful visual tools at its disposal that print and other forms of media do, according to Vanderbilt University professor Mark Wollaeger, Ph.D. Propaganda typically uses music and images to elicit an emotional response, but it's designed in such a way that audiences don't realize they're being manipulated by experts like 'speech writers, marketers, spin doctors and spokespeople' [source: Bruner interview]. Because of this, it can be very difficult for the untrained eye to spot propaganda. And that's the hallmark of propaganda: persuasive messages that win over unwitting people."

The second article is a "how to" piece, "Know Your Propaganda Techniques," at

"It is not a secret that the US government uses aggressive propaganda techniques. Furthermore, even when the US government is not directly manipulating the major news organizations, the media tends to support the official position. If the news organizations and the government are sometimes misleading the public, what can we do?

"The first step to fight the propaganda is to know when we are being mislead. A recent article provides an excellent example of blatant propaganda: Post 9/11 dragnet turns up surprises - Washington Post-

"The article is about the US government's efforts to fingerprint thousands (millions?) of people outside the US even if they are not suspected of a crime. This article masterfully demonstrates a number of effective techniques. I recommend reading the article first, then coming back to this blog post to study the techniques.

"Propaganda technique 1: use ingroup/outgroup bias

"Ingroup/outgroup bias is the natural, psychological bias we all have that favors people we perceive as part of our group: the 'ingroup.' Similarly, we all disfavor people that we perceive as being in the 'outgroup.' The article sets the stage by invoking this strong bias: '[T]he U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa . . .' The readers of the article are not from Afghanistan, Iraq, or Africa, so the people fingerprinted are part of the outgroup. Notice that the very first sentence admits that 'ordinary people' are being fingerprinted, but by placing those 'ordinary people' in the outgroup, the reader is less concerned by the obvious violation of their rights.

"Propaganda technique 2: vilify
"As readers, we are more likely to support fingerprinting bad guys than fingerprinting good guys or 'ordinary people.' To make it easier for us to accept violating the rights of others, the article builds on the outgroup bias and explicitly turns the outgroup into villains. Those that are fingerprinted are 'insurgents' and 'detainees' and '[t]hey have criminal arrest records in the United States.' It is easy to support fingerprinting these terrible people. Notice that the government did not know that they were criminals until after they were fingerprinted. If the article described these people as 'mothers, fathers, and workers', would you support the fingerprinting program as much?

"Propaganda technique 3: use pejorative words, even if they are unnecessary or conclusory

"All of the propaganda techniques are enhanced by the proper use of inflammatory words. Instead of saying that someone has an 'arrest record', the article tells us it is a 'criminal arrest record', as if they could have a 'civil arrest record' or a 'bake-sale arrest record.' Adding the word 'criminal' vilifies the outgroup more effectively.

"Instead of proving something true, good propaganda will simply state the conclusion that it wants the reader to have. According to the article, the government fingerprinted a 'suspected militant fleeing Somalia.' He was 'fleeing'? How do we know that? 'And the man stopped at a checkpoint in Tikrit who claimed to be a dirt farmer but had 11 felony charges in the United States, including assault with a deadly weapon.' (Emphasis added.) According to this sentence, if the US government charges you with a crime (but does not convict you), then you cannot possibly be a farmer. Notice how subtle it is to use conclusory words.

(See Newt Gingrich's list of words and phrases, below. Joyce, Jnr.)

"Propaganda technique 4: draw on highly emotional events

"The point of propaganda is to influence what people think without using reasoning. It is obvious then to use highly emotional events to influence people. 'The fingerprinting of detainees overseas began as ad-hoc FBI and U.S. military efforts shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.' This directly connects the fingerprinting of the evil outgroup terrorists with the 9/11 attacks. The natural emotional response will be to support the fingerprinting because the evil terrorists caused the program to happen.

"Propaganda technique 5: acknowledge counter-arguments but minimize them

"If the propagandist ignores counter-arguments, then some readers will have lingering doubts. The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the counter-argument, but to defeat it. The straw-man argument is very effective: state the counter-argument in a weekend form (a straw man) and then knock it down. In this article, 'civil libertarians' (an outgroup) 'raise concerns', but those concerns are vague. But do not worry about civil liberties, fingerprinting 'is a boon for the government and the bane of privacy advocates.' (Emphasis added.) Notice that fingerprinting is not the bane of 'ordinary people' or law-abiding citizens or your family: it is the bane of the 'privacy advocates' (an outgroup--are you a 'privacy advocate'?). Therefore, any privacy problem here is minimal.

"Propaganda technique 6: avoid providing evidence

"Even if a claim can be substantiated with hard, easy to find data, avoid using it. A claim backed by data is a claim backed by reason. Propaganda is an appeal to emotion. Consider this amazing paragraph from the article:

"'The bottom line is we're locking people up,' said Thomas E. Bush III, FBI assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services division. 'Stopping people coming into this country. Identifying IED-makers in a way never done before. That's the beauty of this whole data-sharing effort. We're pushing our borders back.'

"How many people were locked up? Where? By whom? What were they charged with? Were they convicted? How many people did we stop from entering the US? This is simple data to provide--if the program is actually working.

"Propaganda technique 7: create improper connections between claims and evidence

"If two ideas are close together in an article, then the readers will naturally connect the two ideas--even if the connection is nonexistent. The article has the following two paragraphs:
"'Already, fingerprints lifted off a bomb fragment have been linked to people trying to enter the United States, they said.'
"'In a separate data-sharing program, 365 Iraqis who have applied to the Department of Homeland Security for refugee status have been denied because their fingerprints turned up in the Defense Department's database of known or suspected terrorists, Richardson said.'
"The first paragraph says that we rejected entry to bombers. The second paragraph implies that the total number of rejected bombers is 365. But that is not the truth. We have rejected a 365 applications from 'known or suspected terrorists', and the article previously admitted that this list is not very accurate. These two paragraphs, however, convey to the reader that we rejected 365 applications based on irrefutable fingerprint evidence from bombs.

"For each technique listed above, the article contains many more examples. As far as I can tell, every single sentence uses one or more of the techniques: it is a tour de force of propaganda.

"Coda: this fingerprinting program is a disgrace

"As described in the article, this fingerprinting program is a disgrace to the US. We are allegedly using war to spread freedom to the Middle East. Consider this passage from the article: 'For example, a roadside bomb may explode and a patrol may fingerprint bystanders because insurgents have been known to remain at the scene to observe the results of their work.' (Emphasis added.) Under this program, if you witness an attack on soldiers, then you can be fingerprinted. Said differently, if someone else with brown skin commits a crime, then you might be fingerprinted because you have brown skin and were in the area. Horrible.

In "Propaganda technique 3: use pejorative words, even if they are unnecessary or conclusory," we complete the theme of today's post with Newt Gingrich's infamous list of words and phrases from the Information Clearing House at :

"Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

"Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo

"As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that 'language matters.' In the video 'We are a Majority,' Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: 'I wish I could speak like Newt.'

"That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

"This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.

"While the list could be the size of the latest 'College Edition' dictionary, we have attempted to keep it small enough to be readily useful yet large enough to be broadly functional. The list is divided into two sections: Optimistic Positive Governing words and phrases to help describe your vision for the future of your community (your message) and Contrasting words to help you clearly define the policies and record of your opponent and the Democratic party.

"Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or additions. We would also like to know how you use the list. Call us at GOPAC or write with your suggestions and comments. We may include them in the next tape mailing so that others can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

"Optimistic Positive Governing Words Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!

common sense
eliminate good-time in prison
hard work
pro- (issue): flag, children, environment, reform

"Contrasting Words Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
"compassion" is not enough
criminal rights
failure (fail)
permissive attitude
punish (poor ...)
red tape
status quo
urgent (cy)

The masters of propaganda in America have nothing to fear from the reputation of the German propaganda machine.  Gingrich, Rove and Bush's people, Limbaugh, and Fox News have mastered all of the intricacies of propaganda and made it work as the Nation is more polarized since any time since the Viet Nam War.

Propaganda as a political tool is too powerful to be left in the hands of the Conservative criminals, the vast right-wing criminal cartel that has let our country to ruin.

Next: Charismatic Oratory - How To Be A Great Demagogue.


"In my house, we have a rule I once suggested to my children. The rule goes like
this: You can disagree with a man's position as much as you want--after you
have been able to state it, to his satisfaction."

Leo Ros ten, "Cheer For Great Men."


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