I grew up thinking that the media in a free society was supposed to present a neutral picture of politics, news, and the world at large.
Of course, I knew that in totalitarian regimes, that control of the media was essential for control of the society, so a free, unbiased press was right out of the question.
It wasn’t until I was about 13,
when I realized that was completely wrong…..
That media in any country is subject to control by one or more cabals of interest,
and that they use it to manipulate the public perception…..
…. whether those special interests be politically, religiously, or commercially motivated.
It is, for better or worse, endemic to institutional media.
In totalitarian regimes, news items may be totally fabricated, exaggerated or expunged.
Usually, the cabal of interest in a totalitarian regime is the regime itself…
…. and it uses it’s control of state media to promote itself and prop up it’s own agenda.
We call this kind of thing “Propaganda” ,
and Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine was an obvious example of this.
World events were reported in the German media in such a way as to manipulate public opinion at home,
and to camoflage the truth overseas.
Some of this propaganda was overt and relatively easy to interpret.
In 1939, the Polish army was large, but badly under-equipped, with low morale and in a completely defensive posture — the Nazis rigged up a border incident at a radio station that, in it’s propaganda, made it sound as if the Poles were starting a war, and that Germany would have no choice but to defend itself.
It was obvious to everyone that this was not the case, even to most Germans.
Still, the big-shouted-lie won out over the little-whispered-truth.
How much of this can be credited to the effectiveness of Nazi propaganda is still being debated, but one thing is certainly true……..
That a system of lies, running from 1933 on, gradually wore down the average German’s credulity and expectation of being told the truth — until he would swallow, or choke down at the very least, any pap the regime wanted to feed him.
One part of the Nazi methodology toward this mind-set was the technique of the big lie…. telling a whopper of an untruth and simply repeating it over and over until it is adopted by rote in the subject people’s memory.
This was particularly effective in generating a kind of collective paranoia that would prove useful in preparing the people for war.
Studies have shown the very negative psychological and physiological effects of forced belief… when a subject is convinced to accept something as fact that he himself doubts actually is.
A more subtle approach involves the careful selection of words to create a desired emotional response….
Over time, these responses become part of a person’s belief system and effect the way he perceives his environment.
Sounds a bit like brainwashing, doesn’t it?
Well, in a way, it is.
Let me show you how this works.
I’m going to use several examples from a government publication on the subject.
I will give you some words that all have the same general definition.
Take the list of words, and rank them in terms of your positive perception of the concept –
……….. the most favorable first, and the least favorable last.
How would you rank them ?
Actually, most people rank them the way you probably did.
The reason I know this is because the U.S. has done many studies on the subject.
Let’s look at another set:
How would rank these ?
Or this set —
One more —-
temporary detention center
I think you’re starting to see the idea, and how it could (and IS) put to practical use.
And it’s easy enough to spot the more negative words when they’re grouped altogether like that.
Not so easy when it’s used in a news item, government release, or editorial.
Now, you may be saying that these words are different, in terms-
not so much of their definition –
as in their meaning .
Yes… the definition of a word is called it’s “denotation” —
— while the ‘reactive meaning’ —-
……. your emotional response to the word, is called it’s “connotation”.
We all use it in our day to day lives …
Once you start paying attention,
the very choice of a word like ” ginger “,
instead of a word like ” redhead ” —
or ” egghead ” over ” intelligent ” —
………… will tell you something about the speakers’ point of view.
one cannot help but observe the same techniques being utilized by special interests in the Western media today…..
much more tactfully to be sure, but the same general techniques.
When an administration official says ” professional interrogation technique ” , instead of ” water board torture ” , it would certainly be helpful for us, as a progressive society, to know exactly to what he refers, namely – something straight from the Spanish Inquisition.
After all- what a free society will allow, or not allow its government to do – speaks volumes about what kind of citizens belong to it, don’t you think?
When a conservative media pundit refers to labor unions as “declining” — does this reflect a simple trend of membership, or the larger corporate sales pitch that the need for unions is also declining?
This is part big lie, and part creative connotations —
Before any working person buys into them, they would be well to remember in what economic condition the average American worker was in, before the unions came into play.
When a black sports commentator (Robert Parker) on national TV (ESPN) makes a remark about a black sports figure (Robert Griffin III) like: ” He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really … ” , exactly what was he saying?
Who is US? and how is making that distinction helpful to understanding football ?
Or– maybe it wasn’t about football at all?
Is it that black Americans should be expected to act a certain way?
Who determines what that way is?
Isn’t that the same crap racists have been saying for two hundred years — that black Americans are ‘different’- and as such deserve different treatment ?
Are we two countries- one black, and one white?
When a politician chooses a term like ” entitlement program ” instead of ” social benefit ” ,
…. you can be sure it’s for a reason.
Unfortunately, most people take what they hear and see in the media at face value…
So, the fact that people who have paid into a system all their working lives are still implied to be taking ‘handout’ money from Social Security is lost in the morass of the negative connotations of ” entitlements “.
It’s those damned 47%’ers again.
What does it say about a society, I wonder, to be more concerned with the profitability of it’s corporations than about the well being of citizens who have contributed their sweat and blood to building the society in the first place?