John Pilger - Zdenuk Urbanek - Claud Cockburn - Edward Bernays - Larry Tye - Upton Sinclair - Declassified: Secrets of World War I TV - Adolf Hitler - Joseph Goebbels - Hermann Goering - Jacques Ellul - Chalmers Johnson - George W Bush - Aldous Huxley - Hannah Arendt - John Berger - Noam Chomsky - Chris Hedges - Joss Whedon - Frank Miller - Lord Beaverbrook - Harold Pinter - Paul Foot - Adam Curtis TV - Pat Jackson - Stuart Ewan - Conspiracies: Nazi Invasion TV - George Orwell - Christopher Hitchens - Plato - Hunter S Thompson - Eric Hoffer - Bertrand Russell - Walter Lippmann - Thomas Sowell - Brian Eno - Kate Adie - Crispin Glover - Garry Kasparov - Gore Vidal - Saul Bellow - Joseph Conrad - George W Bush - Margaret Singer - Michael Moore - Charles Juntikka - Robert Pardun - Vance Packard - Alisa Solomon - Peace Propaganda & the Promised Land TV - George Orwell - Propaganda 2012 - The Corbett Report - Abby Martin & Chris Hedges - Abby Martin v John Oliver 2018 - Timeshift: Battle for the Himalayas TV - Secrets of War TV - Document: Radio 4 - Truth Rising 2017 - Ian Hislop's Fake News TV - After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News TV - Agents of Chaos 2020 -
866. Propaganda in liberal democracies like America and Britain is much more thorough than in dictatorships and totalitarian states. No imprisonment is required, no loss of fingernails called for. There is another far more effective way: unlike totalitarian states, the conformity of information and opinion is insidious. Its sameness implicit, engrained and even celebrated ... Technology seems to have almost anything seem possible except Truth ... Truth is always subversive, otherwise why should governments and their bureaucracies fear it so much and go to such lengths to suppress it. (Truth & Propaganda & Totalitarianism & Media & Technology) John Pilger, lecture July 1996 'The Hidden Power of the Media'
50,236. There is as much historically and certainly these days as goes into propaganda as goes into fighting wars themselves ... There’s no lacking of propaganda. There’s no lacking of resources for propaganda. John Pilger, In Conversation
50,237. During the Cold War a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. ‘I have to tell you,’ said their spokesman, ‘that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don’t have that. What’s the secret? How do you do it?’ (Propaganda & Newspapers) John Pilger, address Columbia University 14th April 2006
50,290. In 1974 more than $26 billion was spent on advertising in America – that was an all-time record ... But isn’t there meant to be a recession, a crisis of confidence in the great supermarket of the West, with great cities devastated by unemployment? Yes of course, but the heart of America is the hard sell. (Advertising & Propaganda) John Pilger, Streets of Joy
50,291. In most countries the media have the power to con people. The power might rest in one TV image, one headline, one piece of slick copy writing. In America, the land of the media, that power is now so refined and so pervasive that a politician like Jimmy Carter – the image-maker’s dream – can be a serious candidate for president without anybody really knowing what he stands for, who he is, why he is so popular. But that’s the game. The £26 billion Madison Avenue game. It would take just one billion of those dollars to put all the poor farmers in the world on their feet. (Advertising & Propaganda) ibid.
50,292. It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The ‘Obama brand’ has been named ‘Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008’, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as ‘an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force’. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez – ‘Sí, se puede!’ or ‘Yes, we can’ – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.
No-one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous ‘Change you can believe in’, it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. ‘We will be the most powerful’, he often declared.
Perhaps the Obama brand’s most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as ‘adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion ...’ (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: ‘Many spiritually advanced people I know ... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who ... can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet’ ...
Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s ‘grand design’, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a ‘brand collapse’ whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well. (Advertising & Propaganda & Obama & United States & Empire US) John Pilger, article New Statesman 'Obama’s 100 Days – The Mad Men Did Well'
98,985. Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?
Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?
These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.
The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an ‘invisible government’s. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.
The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions. (Propaganda & Journalism & Media & Government Invisible) John Pilger, article December 2014 ‘War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda’
98,988. As an inveterate film fan, I turn to the listings every week and try not to lose hope. I search the guff that often passes for previews, and I queue for a ticket with that flicker of excitement reminiscent of matinees in art deco splendour. Once inside, lights down, beer in hand, hope recedes as the minutes pass. How many times have I done a runner? There is a cinema I go to that refunds your money if you’re out the door within 20 minutes of the opening titles. The people there have knowing looks. My personal best is less than five minutes of the awful Moulin Rouge.
The other day, I saw Blue Jasmine, written and directed by Woody Allen. The critics applause was thunderous. ‘A work of brilliance’ ... ‘Pure movie-going pleasure’ ... ‘Smart, sophisticated and hugely enjoyable’ ... ‘Brilliantly funny’. One journalist called it a ‘miracle’. So I queued for a ticket, even conjuring the wonderful scene from Annie Hall (1975) when Woody Allen, standing in a movie queue, meets his hero, Marshall Mcluhan: he of ‘the medium is the message’.
Today, he might as well call up Hans Christian Anderson’s parable about a naked emperor, which applies to his latest ‘work of brilliance’. By any fair and reasonable measure, it is crap. Every character is cardboard. The schematic ‘plot’ is crude. Two adopted sisters are thrown together, implausibly. There is a wannabee politican whose name should be Congressman Stereotype. The script is lazy, dated and patronising. Clearly, Allen wrote it during a night sweat. ‘If Cate Blanchett doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination’, wrote The Times critic, ‘then I will eat a Chanel hat.’ Actually, Blanchett deserves a Lifeboat medal. By sheer dint of her acting, she tries and ails to rescue this wreck.
PR has subverted much of our lives, making unconscious acolytes of those who once might have operated outside the pack. The drumbeat of crap movies with big promotional budgets, mostly from the US, is incessant. The US market share of cinema box-office takings in Britain is more than 70 per cent; the small UK share is mainly for US co-productions. Films from Europe and the rest of the world account for a tiny fraction. Ironically, in the US, quality film-making has absconded to television.
The hype of public relations – Edward Bernays’ euphemism for propaganda – is now regarded as truth. The medium has become the message. (Film & Propaganda & Criticism) John Pilger, article October 2013 Why Bad Movies Keep Coming Out and What to Do About It
99,013. Edward Bernays, the American nephew of Sigmund Freud, is said to have invented modern propaganda. During the first world war, he was one of a group of influential liberals who mounted a secret government campaign to persuade reluctant Americans to send an army to the bloodbath in Europe. In his book, Propaganda, published in 1928, Bernays wrote that ‘the intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society’ and that the manipulators ‘constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country’. Instead of propaganda, he coined the euphemism ‘public relations’.
The American tobacco industry hired Bernays to convince women they should smoke in public. By associating smoking with women’s liberation, he made cigarettes ‘torches of freedom’. In 1954, he conjured a communist menace in Guatemala as an excuse for overthrowing the democratically-elected government, whose social reforms were threatening the United Fruit company’s monopoly of the banana trade. He called it a ‘liberation’.
Bernays was no rabid right-winger. He was an elitist liberal who believed that ‘engineering public consent’ was for the greater good. This was achieved by the creation of ‘false realities’ which then became ‘news events’. Here are examples of how it is done these days:
False reality: The last US combat troops have left Iraq ‘as promised, on schedule’, according to President Barack Obama. TV screens have filled with cinematic images of the ‘last US soldiers’ silhouetted against the dawn light, crossing the border into Kuwait.
Fact: They are still there. At least 50,000 troops will continue to operate from 94 bases. American air assaults are unchanged, as are special forces’ assassinations. The number of ‘military contractors’ is currently 100,000 and rising. Most Iraqi oil is now under direct foreign control.
False reality: BBC presenters and reporters have described the departing US troops as a ‘sort of victorious army’ that has achieved ‘a remarkable change in [Iraq’s] fortunes’. Their commander, General David Petraeus, is a ‘celebrity’, ‘charming’, ‘savvy’ and ‘remarkable’.
Fact: There is no victory of any sort. There is a catastrophic disaster; and attempts to present it as otherwise are a model of Bernays’ campaign to ‘re-brand’ the slaughter of the first world war as ‘necessary’ and ‘noble’. In 1980, Ronald Reagan, running for president, re-branded the invasion of Vietnam, in which up to three million people died, as a ‘noble cause’, a theme taken up enthusiastically by Hollywood. Today’s Iraq war movies have a similar purging theme: the invader as both idealist and victim.
False reality: It is not known how many Iraqis have died. They are ‘countless’ or maybe ‘in the tens of thousands’.
Fact: As a direct consequence of the Anglo-American led invasion, a million Iraqis have died. This figure from Opinion Research Business is based on peer-reviewed research led by Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, whose methods were secretly affirmed as ‘best practice’ and ‘robust’ by the Blair government’s chief scientific adviser, as revealed in a Freedom of Information search. This figure is rarely reported or presented to ‘charming’ and ‘savvy’ American generals. Neither is the dispossession of four million Iraqis, the malnourishment of most Iraqi children, the epidemic of mental illness and the poisoning of the environment.
False reality: The British economy has a deficit of billions which must be reduced with cuts in public services and regressive taxation, in a spirit of ‘we’re all in this together’.
Fact: We are not in this together. What is remarkable about this public relations triumph is that only 18 months ago the diametric opposite filled TV screens and front pages. Then, in a state of shock, truth was unavoidable, if briefly. The Wall Street and City of London financiers’ trough was on full view for the first time, along with the venality of once celebrated snouts. Billions in public money went to inept and crooked organisations known as banks, which were spared debt liability by their Labour government sponsors.
Within a year, record profits and personal bonuses were posted, and state and media propaganda had recovered its equilibrium. Suddenly, the ‘black hole’ was no longer the responsibility of the banks, whose debt is to be paid by those not in any way responsible: the public. The received media wisdom of this ‘necessity’ is now a chorus, from the BBC to the Sun. A masterstroke, Bernays would surely say.
False reality: The former government minister Ed Miliband offers a ‘genuine alternative’ as leader of the British Labour Party.
Fact: Miliband, like his brother David, the former foreign secretary, and almost all those standing for the Labour leadership, is immersed in the effluent of New Labour. As a New Labour MP and minister, he did not refuse to serve under Blair or speak out against Labour’s persistent warmongering. He now calls the invasion of Iraq a ‘profound mistake’. Calling it a mistake insults the memory and the dead. It was a crime, of which the evidence is voluminous. He has nothing new to say about the other colonial wars, none of them mistakes. Neither has he demanded basic social justice: that those who caused the recession clear up the mess and that Britain’s fabulously rich corporate minority be seriously taxed, starting with Rupert Murdoch.