Is the Media Propping Up the Propaganda?

Debater Sully makes an excellent point. Sully agrees that the focus on gay marriage is just a successful bit of propaganda designed to distract us from what really matters. But he* rightly points out that media outlets are only serving to disseminate the propaganda "saying that they HAVE to cover it in detail since Congress is discussing it."

Granted, that's a silly justification. Congress talks about incredibly important things all the time, and plenty of it gets overlooked. In some cases, that's probably because the lawmakers manage to keep it in the shadows, but most because it seems impossible to explain it in a way that would be comprehensive yet not stupifyingly long and dull.

(I tend to think blogs -- and the Internet in general -- offer a key outlet for this sort of reporting and analysis.)

"I find it simply astonishing that with the very limited time we have remaining in this congressional session this Senate finds itself failing to spend its time debating education, affordable healthcare, veterans, gas and energy prices, job creation, or the exploding federal budget deficit," said Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota earlier this week. He called the marriage amendment "an extraordinarily cynical political charade."

In the media's defense, it does make sense for the media to report that congressional Republicans are trying every trick in the book to turn attention away from the issues that are hurting them with voters. The fact that they're wasting time is important for the citizenry to know.

One commenter at the Donklephant blog suggests perhaps we should count our blessings: "Consider what mischief they might get up to if they weren't wasting time on this."

*Forgive me, Sully, if you are of the female persuasion.

By Emily Messner |  June 9, 2006; 11:40 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Whew! Was wondering if there was any meat for the weekend! Emily delivered a rump roast...

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In the media's defense, it does make sense for the media to report that congressional Republicans are trying every trick in the book to turn attention away from the issues that are hurting them with voters. The fact that they're wasting time is important for the citizenry to know.
===========================================

Oh, like the timing of al-Zarqwi's killing on the election of key Iraqi government posts, and not adding that main nugget that he was alive minutes to hours after being taken from a 1000lb high explosive bombing raid -- intact.

All this BEFORE the Haditha report coming out soon, too.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 9, 2006 01:01 PM

It would appear the public would rather watch American Idol than think about the Constitution. Brangelina and Tomkitten seem more important than civil rights.

But you have to wonder - I read at least one paper every day and watch a variety of newscasts. So how is it that only yesterday I learned that the US passed up at least 2 or 3 chances to take out Zarquawi in 2002 and 2003?

Why is it that servicemen posted to Afghanistan have been telling me for well over a year that they don't have enough troops to accomplish their mission there, and that the Taliban and their friends al Qaeda are back in spades, and that its slowly but steadily going to the devil in a handbasket there, and that the seemingly individual attacks we've seen are just testing the water... yet, one day soon the place is going to catch on fire and catch the nation by surprise. And the BA will get away with saying "we couldn't have predicted that the Taliban was hiding in caves......"

I had hoped that when Iraq settled down one way or another that OBL would transfer his mayhem to Afghanistan rather than Palestine, as in Afghanistan at least we had most of the world behind us, but now it appears he may have the strength to do both.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | June 9, 2006 01:53 PM

is the media propping up the propaganda

duh!

The question is, what's in it for them to do so?

Posted by: | June 9, 2006 02:57 PM

Posted by: patriot 1957

"Why is it that servicemen posted to Afghanistan have been telling me for well over a year that they don't have enough troops to accomplish their mission there, and that the Taliban and their friends al Qaeda are back in spades, and that its slowly but steadily going to the devil in a handbasket there, and that the seemingly individual attacks we've seen are just testing the water... yet, one day soon the place is going to catch on fire and catch the nation by surprise. And the BA will get away with saying "we couldn't have predicted that the Taliban was hiding in caves......""

So, are you predicting that if we pull our troops out of Iraq, it's just to re-deply them in Afghanistan? Other words speaking, Iraq or not, Afghan's are going to have us where they had the Soviets.

Posted by: Jamal | June 9, 2006 03:16 PM

I work for a news/information service and we talk (gripe) about this a lot. Not just WHAT many news reporting organs cover but how. Words like shallow, re-hashed and gloss come to mind. Note: I'm talking about print news, TV news is another creature all together. (CNN? Don't get me started.)
HOWEVER:
There are market pressures at work and using this example, the cold truth is Gay [fill in the blank] makes a more eye-catching headline than Budget [fill in the blank].
Those same market pressures make it harder for reporters to do in-depth analytical reporting, which take a long time to write and, more importantly, a long time to read. Not compatible with a society that is increasingly geared to sound-bites and reading the news off a pda. Editors want shorter, easy to read stories NOW, a constant stream of them so they can keep updating the webpage to compete with a paper half way across the country. The poor reporter does the darn shorter story and moves on to the next one and that juicy three-page piece on corruption never gets done.
Finally, in-depth reporting on many government issues has become a lot harder (if not impossible) to do because NO ONE wants to talk unless they are pushing some agenda. I am not saying this just to bash the Bush but getting a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request completed became a LOT harder after he came into office the first time and it has been all down hill from there. This is a fact, not a libby throwing a tantrum.
No reporter worth a half crystal of salt likes to use anonymous sources but that's often the only kind you can get these days. And THAT'S assuming the poor reporter can get a source to return his or her calls. I am still shocked at the number of stories that make it to print without a SINGLE named source. A decade ago that story would never make it to print unless the reporter who handed it in did a LOT of explaining. Now it is the norm and it really makes me uncomfortable.
For a number of reasons (economic, social, political), I'm afraid that if the media is spreading propaganda to a certain extent, its because that's what the general public will pay for and that's all a reporter can GET.

Posted by: Anonymous Source | June 9, 2006 05:47 PM

Jamal, sadly I am concerned that your remarks may be prophetic.

We never "took out" the Taliban nor "basically disassembled" al Qaeda, even though both were used as 2004 campagn slogans. In August 2004, the Taliban ordered Doctors without Borders out of the country (long story involving the US govt trying to get NGO's to spy for it). DWB said NO to both the Taliban and George Bush, 5 DWB staff were killed in retaliation, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. When the head of the group was asked why they left Afghanistan altoghether and didn't stay in the US patrolled "safe" areas, he replied that there wasn't anywhere in Afghanistan the Taliban couldn't operate freely. And that was 2004. Two years later, there have been no arrests even though the locals all have to know who did it, just like the locals knew Zarquawi's whereabouts for the last 3 years.

I strongly suggest you find some guys posted there who are willing to speak freely. I see them when they're home on leave. There is a consistent story - we pulled our troops out for Iraq and only left enough to control the major cities. The Taliban is moving back in, and this time they're holed up in the mujahadeen's caves and armed to the teeth. We have a real problem brewing there. And the press is actually reporting it - in spotty little columns ansd op-eds on the days bad bombings happen. There has as yet been no concerted effort to report the entirety of the growing disaster there.

Iraq has in some ways been a safety valve that has kept the foreign fighters out of Afghanistan. Zarquawi's death may change that.

The Taliban has a lot of sympathizers in Pakistan. We really can't let them have Afghanistan again. Musharraf's govt isn't really that strong, and whoever is in charge has the ultimate toys - Pakistan's nukes.

It will be like Iraq - we can't afford to lose it and we can't afford (literally) to let it go on forever.

Here's the rub. It may well be my kids and neices/nephews who get sacrificed on the altar of neocon arrogance to fix this mess. There is nothing patriotic about sending kids in to a guerilla war that you caused to turn into such by your own incompetence. Afghanistan WAS a just war and we damn well should have finished it the first time.

I'm off line this weekend but I'll read your reply in a few days

Posted by: patriot1957 | June 9, 2006 06:00 PM

Anonymous Source wrote:
===========================================
"For a number of reasons (economic, social, political), I'm afraid that if the media is spreading propaganda to a certain extent, its because that's what the general public will pay for and that's all a reporter can GET."
===========================================

Actually I'd pay for content, not fluffy soundbites, IF it was available.

Almost every morning I'll listen to Washington Report on C-SPAN over breakfast to hear real commentary from folks, not the think tank talking points. Then I search online for more content to add breath to, yes the 10 minute exposes on TV.

BUT, I have to go through 5 minutes of commercials; "holy grail" webpages loaded with 400+KB flash ads and navigation bars on the LEFT side of the page making a l-o-n-g scroll over on larger monitors (ever heard of accessibility??!!); magazines with 1/4 ads on both sides of the page that squeeze a narrow column through them @ $6 a piece.

It's turning out that I get 1/2 worth of ads, and less than 1/2 of content.

So it's not just soundbites, lack of named sources, it's that content is being drowned by sheer commercialism -- even when paying for it!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 9, 2006 07:40 PM

Actually I'd pay for content, not fluffy soundbites, IF it was available.

Same here. And this raises another important point. People who have been at this much longer than I have say the owners of news outlets have decided that they need to aim for a younger market (early 20's) so there is a a LOT more fluffiness. (Which is a bit insulting to the early 20's folks.) The whole CNN lay-out with the scroll bars at the bottom and stuff happening all over the screen (Ah! My eyes!) was aimed specifically at a younger generation that can cope with split screen mayhem. Of course, the people in the know (old school reporters) agree this is rather silly because no one stopped to ask if younger people watch or read the news. Not enough to make a difference in sales or advertising revenue apparently and people who DO want content (because that's what one expects from the news) get annoyed and they stop reading or watching. So for the owners it is really a matter of causing what you fear. However, hope is (possibly) on the horizon because a lot of people think this is an over-reaction to a non-existent trend and will go away once people calm down a bit.

BUT, I have to go through 5 minutes of commercials; "holy grail" webpages loaded with 400+KB flash ads

This is a huge pet peeve of mine also. The giant pop-up ads that take over the whole screen with the cleverly concealed close button the size of a period have driven me away more than once. Thank goodness for the pop-up zapper but it can't catch everything.

So it's not just soundbites, lack of named sources, it's that content is being drowned by sheer commercialism -- even when paying for it!

Good point. Heh, I wonder if it is all a way to drive readers to the print version.

Posted by: Anon Source | June 9, 2006 09:41 PM

I listen to NPR and BBC...


but I also worked in Washington DC for 20 years, and some of that was with the military, and a lot of my friends were "in the business,"


it's not too hard to see the media manipulation for what it is...


people that don't know the difference, and good people that can't believe that Americans would knowingly create situations that hurt other people...


Because they were never taught that.


I ask you to remember one thing:

What kind of people seperate married couples and children as a way of preventing an uprising, or keep people who speak the same language from being sold together, or keep people from learning to read and write....


I'm talking slave owners, but I'm also talking class of people, and caste system...


these people actually existed less than 200 years ago, and had families and taught them to manipulate....some of them might even be in the military or have access to controlling it...


that kind of inhumanity is inherited from Royalty, and families that are inherited wealthy....

.

not saying _all_ people are like that, but if it's not in your family history, you're not going to recognize it for what it is, and you'll believe the (tinfoil helmets, koolaide, conspiracy theory) comments that say


"don't look here," "I'm busy raping your sister,"


when I first started posting here some time back I compared the administration and people working with them to child molestors...


that still holds true,


you want to stop them, point at them, identify them....


it's not an event based activity it's a way of life

you need to see the way of life and indentify the perpatrators for what they are...


forget about the single events,

"I was just sitting down,"

"I didn't mean any harm,"

and so on...

patterns of actions...consistent lying, persistent giving of the countries assests to certain individuals....


you could take the Republican investment in the California election to replace dicklyss cunning ham....


recoreded phone messages from the President and Vice President, to certain households and an unprecedented amount of cash spent to make sure that a Republican got elected to cunning ham's seat....

what was that about?


people feeling like they were on a roll, wanting to take the steam off of people feeling like they could get the country back....


did they advertise about how they did it?

no, it was on NPR....not as an exposure, just as an aside...

2 + 2 ='s 4


front page the next day, "Republicans Win in California, Democrats Can't Deliver,"


I'm not partisan, but the Republicans, president and vice president were deeeeeeeply invested in that single election....

because it damped spirits...

deception is a well used tool, and WHO OWNS the media?

corporations do....

evil is not a single thing, it's the intent behind the movement...


the only way to stalk a predator is to be one...

.

Posted by: actually, If I want the truth... | June 9, 2006 11:40 PM

I find it amusing that the media has to come up with so many inventive ways of keeping this story going. It is almost as if in concert the MSM decided that this was a big victory for Bush and they did not want to rain on his little parade at the risk of incurring the wrath of the conservative or "alternative" media.

The fact that conservatives have taken to using that term to describe their various media is instructive. It suggests that they see the world in an alternative way. The "alternative" of course is for the media to stop reporting on the reality of what happens in Iraq--the bombings and beheadings, the troops being attrited every week with IEDs, the failures of policy on both the part of the Iraqi government and the Coalition, and the growing influence of militias--and concentrate instead on smiling children attending school, construction efforts, the blissful state of affairs inside the bubble of the Red Zone, you know--kinda like the same thing Bush does when he speaks to the American people about what a glittering success his administration has been.

Posted by: Jaxas | June 10, 2006 09:28 AM

congress spend much time on many issues. Its pretty ridiculous to say the marriage amendment took valuable time away from other issues. Basically any bush hater will look at anything they disagree with and claim the sky is falling, i.e "I just got sunburn , must be that bush who didnt get the kyoto treaty going". We are very capable of chewing gum and breathing at the same time. This constant "the sky is falling " thinking is epidemic of bush haters, its like good news coudnt happen without some big "but" i.e the unemployement rate in the US is below 5%
yet the bush haters will moan all day about no jobs. Even regular Dems know this economy is nothing to sneeze at but ask the Bush haters and the sky is falling again

Posted by: drew | June 11, 2006 05:26 PM

yo actually

You dont need to rich to manipulate people, you dont need money to be greedy. Power, greed , manipulation isnt the province of any "one class" or "one race" of people.

Posted by: drew | June 11, 2006 06:00 PM

Posted by: patriot1957

"I'm off line this weekend but I'll read your reply in a few days."

I agree with you. The only things keeping most of the public pressure off getting out of Iraq ASAP is an all volunteer military. I have a friend and her son has been trying to enter the military for years, but was denied for multiple reasons. He was accepted about nine months ago. To keep the volunteer military quotas filled, recruitment standards are being dropped. My cousin, a conservative and former bush supporter, states he will move to Canada, before his son goes. Short of starting a draft for the military, we are stretched thin, and bush made a conscious decision to pull most of the effective military out of Afghanistan. Osama has stated he wants Iraqis to carry on the insurgency in Iraq and not foreign fighters. Now where does Osama want the foreign fighters to go? Afghanistan? Bush and the republicans can not afford a draft for an unjustified war. It will bring landslide numbers of democrats into office in 2006 and 2008. Politically bush and the republicans are trapped.
1. Start a draft and his party is voted out of office by landslide numbers.
2. Stay in Iraq and lose Afghanistan.
3. Put most of the military back in Afghanistan and lose Iraq.
4. Continue escalated spending for these military ventures and it may begin to rival entitlement spending.

Posted by: Jamal | June 11, 2006 11:15 PM

"Politically bush and the republicans are trapped."

I'd add one option (the one I think they'll take) because it works for people who treat accountability like a four letter word:
a. Sit tight until 2008. Once out of office, blame all of the problems THEY created on the new president.
b. During the next election cycle pretend they had nothing to do with the old mess. (Iraq? Never heard of the place.)
c. If a Shrub-type president gets into office in 2012 (Jeb?) blame any remaining problems on the previous president. (Hey, troops are still in Iraq, the deficit is bigger than its ever been and it's all his fault!)

Posted by: NII | June 12, 2006 11:51 AM

"Is the Media Propping Up the Propaganda?"

The simple answer is yes.

Posted by: Emilio | June 12, 2006 03:22 PM

If they aren't propping it they sure ain't questioning it. Since the three prisoners in Guantanamo committed suicide I've been reading Rear Adm. Harry Harris (this man's rank and title just cry out for infantile jokes) is calling it an act of Asymetrical Warfare. I had to look AW up to see if this were some term he pulled out of his rear (sorry). Well I now know it is not but from my reading AW requires an enemy and an attempt to do something TO the enemy. So, if the prisoners had thrown themselves off a high building onto their guards in an attempt to kill themselves AND the guards that MIGHT be AW.
Killing yourself and just yourself? That's suicide.
I've also seen it refered to by the Admin. as "Great PR."
No wonder we don't have any friends.

What I have NOT read is that any reporter, ANY WHERE has asked any questions:
"Can you explain what you mean by that?" or
"If troops in Iraq catch a man gobbling sleeping pills should they shoot him as an insurgent?" or even
"Are you high?"

I'm not asking for a three column story on this, the latest evidence of crassness from the powers that be, but would a little follow up (or attempt to do so) hurt?

Posted by: NII | June 12, 2006 10:31 PM

Nll

this is assym warfare: the 3 detainees commit suicide(the weapon of choice) the effect is clear, the anti war movement is beside themselves with anger. For the price of 3 suicides, the anti war movement gains more press and more righteous about pulling out of Iraq. Three insurgents killed in Iraq dont mean much but 3 commiting suicide while under American control means indignation galore for the anti war movement.Gaining for your cause outside the
use of conventional warfare. That is classic assym warefare.

Posted by: drew | June 12, 2006 11:46 PM

That is classic assym warefare.

No. I DID look it up. A man strapping a bunch of dynamite to his body getting on a crowded bus and blowing himself up (thereby killing a bunch of other people) is AW. Shooting at soldiers, dropping the gun and walking off into a crowd is AW. Dumping poison in a water supply is AW. Hanging yourself is not AW.

"the anti war movement is beside themselves with anger. For the price of 3 suicides, the anti war movement gains more press and more righteous about pulling out of Iraq."

Ooh er, the anti-war movement gets angry. As if the daily reports from Iraq aren't enough. Your own hypothesis shows the idea of calling the suicides AW is flawed beyond repair. Who is the intended victim? Bush's rating in the polls? Dear me.
That would also mean any one posting a blog from Iraq who talks about how horrible conditions are is engaging in a little AW. So might people protesting the war in Iraq (especially if they are dispersed by force) because THAT also fuels (or MIGHT fuel) the anger of the anti-war movement.
It would be hard for people who are already angry about the war to GET any angrier and Bush has so far been impervious to that anger. However, most people who are against the war realize we CAN'T just pack up and leave and that makes them even ANGRIER. If it makes you feel better call them Anti-Lying and Bungling movement.
Or you could say that Bush, Rumsfeld etc are engaging in AW because their lies, lack of foresight, stupid comments and inability to form a game plan does far more to fuel the anger of people who are against this war.
Shall we send them to Gitmo?

Posted by: NII | June 13, 2006 11:49 AM

like it or not, the anti war movement and the insurgments have one big thing in common...withdrawl of american troops. Now, knowing that the insurgents are queda types or sunnis from sadams regime, why would the anti war movement allow these types to
push there agenda. These insurgents stand for everything that is bad for republicans , democrats and liberals. Bush may be baffeling but I dont get how the anti war movement backs up there goals. If death and destruction is not good, what do you think happens if the americans pull out ?

Posted by: drew | June 13, 2006 10:03 PM

"like it or not, the anti war movement and the insurgments have one big thing in common...withdrawl of american troops."

Wow. Wrong again. The sensible people who are against this war realize that we CANNOT LEAVE NOW because they KNOW Iraq will dissolve into complete chaos that might well spread all over the world. I'm against this war and I'll tell you what I want, more than anything right now: That cretin Rumsfeld and his lackeys out of the Pentagon and people who know how wars (real wars, not Hollywood wars) are fought in their place. I'm not too picky. Anyone with combat experience will do. THEN, once the soliders have a mission other than "Try to get them before they get you," we can start working towards the day when they can leave Iraq.
I know there are SOME people who are for the war, or anything President Bush does, who make catch-all statments about people who are against the war because thinking is too painful. They are just as detached from reality as the people shouting "We need to leave right now!"

Definition check: If an insurgent is someone who wants the US out, does that mean any one in Iraq who wants the troops to go away is an insurgent?
If so we'd better start building some bloody big prisons over there because a LOT of people, nice, non-violent people, want them OUT. Maybe with all of this democracy we've been spreading they'll put it to a vote in the future.

Posted by: NII | June 14, 2006 11:24 AM

The answer to Emily's question is 'yes'. Welcome to the age of Mouthpiece Media.

Posted by: ErrinF | June 15, 2006 03:38 PM

Some of the most important stories since Bush has taken office have been silenced or ignored. I would like to see some good coverage of the Downing Street Memo. It is so hard to find hard truth among all the disinformation and propaganda but it appears it is up to the people to find the truth as the media does not show much interest in putting their neck out. Life has become far too comfortable with all those stories that have to be selenced.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | June 20, 2006 10:28 AM

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