Category "Propaganda & Faux News"

Will Glenn Beck’s Common NonSense Change Our Nation?

June 7th, 2010 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

A fascinating expose’ by author Alexander Zaitchik on Mr. Beck and some of his rather sordid history. This provides some important background and insight for better understanding the source of some of this demagoguery and how to challenge it.

America has this long tradition of twisted, odd, widely beloved and yet darkly dangerous right-wing cultural impresarios that pop up out of our landscape like cultural tornadoes, leaving huge swaths of derangement and destruction in their wake. Aimee Semple McPherson. Father Coughlin. Joe McCarthy. Once in a while, when the cultural cross-currents intersect just so, they rise on the whirlwind, gather huge followings, and lead their followers on a furious high-velocity turn that blows across the countryside in desperate pursuit of a utopia only they can see. These maunderings are typically mercifully short and usually end in disaster, for both the people who started the storm as well as those who got swept away in it. And all is forgotten—until the next time.


One of the consistent threads running throughout Beck’s career has been this rather vicious mean streak that has changed over the years. It now sort of masquerades under a veneer of political argument, but at its base it’s the same kind of gut spleen that’s constantly looking for new avenues of expression…

Probably the most famous example of this mean streak that I was able to track down is the time he called up a competing DJ’s wife on the air and proceeded to mock her for having a miscarriage the previous week. She had just come back from the hospital. He did this live on the radio, which is of course illegal—he didn’t notify her that she was on the radio—and then there’s the moral question involved. He was the bad boy of an already bad-boy genre. Not many people liked him.


OK, this is a long question, so bear with me. One of the things that’s got progressive right-wing watchers most concerned is Beck’s real skill in co-opting the language and symbols of American patriotism. The right has done this systematically for 40 years—but Beck is a genius at it.

I’m thinking specifically of the way he’s hijacked Tom Paine, who was easily the most progressive of the Founders. Paine was the first one to propose social security and welfare. The 19th century elites found him so threatening that they wrote him right out of history. Most Americans didn’t even know who Tom Paine was until FDR and Eleanor put him back in the pantheon, for reasons of their own.

Another example is how he’s publicized Jonah Goldberg’s revisionist idea that the Nazis were somehow left-wing welfare statists. Can you speak to this?

AZ: What makes that founder appropriation possible is relative ignorance on the part of his fan base. The only books on the subject they read are these religious psuedo-histories that Beck recommends to them. Also: Beck himself has only recently started to learn about this stuff, and he’s really not a scholar on early American history, to put it mildly. So it’s an easy sort of touchstone for him to seem like he’s representing the deepest and most consistent traditions in American history.

Of course, if you went back to exactly what the founders and many of their fellow revolutionaries believed—Paine being perhaps the most glaring example—it’s just absurd that he would claim that mantle. As you mention, Paine was profoundly rationalist—he despised Churches and preachers, especially money-minded charlatans like Beck. But it’s Beck’s use of Ben Franklin, my own favorite Founder, that drives me the most nuts. [Beck] has an enormous picture of Ben Franklin on his TV set a lot, and also in his radio studio. Of course, Ben Franklin was a giant of the Enlightenment: this is not a guy who’d have had any patience for Glenn Beck had they been contemporaries. And Beck himself would not have idealized Ben Franklin. For one, Franklin embodied the scientific spirit, and Beck hates science. While Franklin was making the case for lightning rods, Beck would have been running around arguing in favor of continuing to ring Church bells during storms to appease an Angry Christian God, which is what they did in Colonial Philadelphia before Franklin.

And you can just go down the line. Thomas Jefferson, of course, believed in a pretty radical egalitarian view of society. His belief in limited government wasn’t a belief in limited government for its own sake, but limited government for the sake of a society of equal citizens, in which there weren’t massive concentrations of economic wealth like the kind we see today—which Beck not only glorifies, but openly worships. There’s few things that’ll quiet Glenn Beck faster than a kind word from or the presence of a multi-billionaire industrialist.

As for the argument that the modern welfare state inexorably leads to some kind of Nazi state, or that the two even exist near each other on the same continuum, it’s hard even to know where to begin. The modern welfare states in the U.S. and Europe were built up in large part as a direct response to Nazism, as a way to preempt something like it from happening again. The idea that the welfare state leads inevitably to totalitarianism has been proven wrong. Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom, was a very specific warning against the British welfare state, which turned out just fine. That whole argument, which Beck makes in a clown costume, has been completely discredited by history.

Read The Complete Interview

On Corporate Propaganda & The American Constitution

January 23rd, 2010 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

Propaganda: Yesterday and Today

June 2nd, 2009 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

UnCommon Sense TV - “Propaganda: Yesterday and Today” A look at the use of propaganda by political regimes and the ongoing recycling of similar rationales used in justifying their actions, particularly those employed to initiate plans of war and conquest. Historical comparisons are highlighted through the featuring of the 1940 Nazi propaganda film “Campaign In Poland”, which presented to the world the argument for the German invasion of Poland as a preventive strike in self-defense against “Polish aggression.” Discussion is focused on employing techniques of effective propaganda through the use of the “Big Lie” and how those techniques continue to be applied successfully today. Focus is also given to the principles for which America fought for in the Second World War, and the argument for how those are being subverted today through actions of the U.S. government as defined by the so-called “Bush Doctrine.”

Willie Horton Ad Creator Back In Action

July 7th, 2008 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Like a bad check, these clowns keep bouncing back, with the persistence of a nasty cold that just won’t ever seem to quite go away.

Guess we can’t be too surprised, though. Hopefully people won’t be nearly as prone to swallow the BS from them the way they have done in the past. I really like how the guy phrases it at the end that they just want to raise the focus on violent crime.

On a website he calls, Floyd G. Brown, the producer of the “Willie Horton” ad that helped defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988, is preparing an encore.

Brown is raising money for a series of ads that he says will show Barack Obama to be out of touch on an issue of fundamental concern to voters: violent crime.

By “violent crime” does he mean the war in Iraq? Come to think of it, Floyd, I’m glad you’ve brought that up, since it does seem to be disappearing as an issue from the media landscape.

Brown and GOP strategists say such ads stimulate a debate on crime and punishment and may provide a window into the morality of a candidate.

As well as providing a window into the morality of those who willfully distort these subjects for partisan political gain. Hopefully this will indeed stimulate a debate on crime and punishment. How about a debate on the massive crimes of fraud and theft being waged against the American taxpayer by privileged ruling elites governing from Wall Street who use their position to bilk taxpayers of billions in their money raking pursuit of endless cash through the policy of perpetual war? That’s one debate I think we may be overdue in having, particularly via the platform of the corporate media.

Read The Full Report

The Lies They Tell: How The Propaganda Machine Works

March 11th, 2007 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Don Hazen authors one of the better pieces I’ve come across as of late on just how the propaganda machine functions. There is a good reason they call it an ‘echo chamber.’

“Sliming” is the rabid, rapid, media barrage of persistently repeated lies and innuendo mastered by the right-wing media machine, which aims to tar candidates with negative associations before their campaigns get rolling. Or alternatively, to bruise them enough so that they will suffer under the burden of damaged goods as they try to gain footing.

The conservative roots usually puts out a speculative story through Fox News or Matt Drudge (of the Drudge Report), a powerful mouthpiece for the Bush White House. Then the right-wing echo reverberates as the lies make their way to talk radio and the right-wing blogosphere. Eventually, it gets picked up and carried by the mainstream media, with few understanding where the story originated.

In fact, disinformation conjured by the conservatives often has its most profound impact with the steady cooperation of the corporate press in repeating their lies. How many people still think that Al Gore said he invented the Internet?…

Fox’s ability to be blatantly partisan, yet be treated like serious news journalists, is an unprecedented and thus far successful, juggling act. Furthermore, Fox critics are perpetually frustrated with the counter-productive collusion of Democrats and some activists to cooperate with Fox by appearing on its shows, aiding Fox’s claims of the legitimacy of its new organization.


Lots of people tend to dismiss Fox’s influence, saying that they have been discredited among those who matter, and its audience is mainly conservatives who are beyond reason. But that notion misses the point, as Fox’s audience is larger than CNN and MSNBC combined, and many watch it for its perceived entertainment value.

More importantly, Fox, as one part of the right-wing echo chamber, is a key component in the feeder system into the mainstream media. Many journalists and editors revel in the right-wing disinformation machine as something akin to watching a car wreck and seem obliged to report accusations by right-wing media, even if made up.

And in the big picture, mainstream media does not seem to comprehend that in being unable or unwilling to find the truth before they report misinformation, they are contributing to their own demise. As the media system is increasingly transformed into polarized voices, mainstream media has already lost a good deal of its credibility and its audience.

As Paul Waldman of Media Matters and the Gadfly notes here

In their repugnant book “The Way to Win,” ABC News political director Mark Halperin and John Harris of The Politico (and formerly of the Washington Post) explain that, as journalists, “Matt Drudge rules our world.” In other words, when Drudge — a right-wing operative who closely coordinates his activities with the Republican National Committee — puts up a sensational story on his website, Halperin, Harris and the rest of their cohorts simply have no choice but to run off and cover it, whether it is true or not.

Read The Complete Article from AlterNet

Veterans Day Messages From Troops In Iraq Feature Twin Towers Replica

November 16th, 2006 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

This is pretty sick.

After months of studied ambiguity, President Bush finally admitted that Iraq had ” nothing ” to do with the attack on the World Trade Center. The Defense Department, however, appears determined to perpetuate the myth.

Today, the administration released veterans day messages from troops in Iraq. These “taped messages from the U.S. Defense Department” featured a replica of the twin towers in the background.

Whether it is listing US serviceperson’s gravestones with the political propaganda name applied to the conflict they died in (such as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” rather than, say “Korean War” or “Vietnam War”), to putting shards of Saddam’s statue in the WTC memorial, to this (and many, many more), this administration rivals anything the Soviets, Maoist China or most any other authoritarian state has attempted to pull off in the propaganda department.

Watch the videos as cablecast from CNN Here take from The Carpetbagger Report

The Yes Men - At It Again

September 21st, 2006 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

These guys are doing some great work.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin each thanked the man — identified as a federal housing representative — who followed them to the lectern Monday to announce a major reversal in policy.

But the well-dressed, well-spoken man calling himself Rene Oswin, assistant deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, turned out to be an impostor who was part of a weeks-long hoax.

“Everything is going to change about the way we work, and the change is going to start here today in New Orleans,” the man said during his speech.

Jackson, he said, had had to cancel his appearance at the meeting of 1,000 builders and contractors at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner because he had to stay in Washington to meet with President Bush.

William Loiry, president of meeting sponsor Equity International, said he was duped.

“We were contacted about a week ago or so by someone who we believed to be [public relations firm] Hill & Knowlton [saying] that they were representing the HUD secretary and that he wanted to make a major announcement at this summit.

“Of course, we know Hill and Knowlton and know they’re a reputable firm. We agreed to that.”

The reference to Hill and Knowlton being a ‘reputable firm’ is particularly rich. Uh, yeah, if reputable means shilling lies for war crimes for cash. Hill & Knowlton are to information what Heidi Fleiss is to romance.

Read the Full CNN Report

Who are The Yes Men? Read more Here.

‘Teledemocratic’ Dictatorship

May 7th, 2006 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

This article from Le Nouvel Observateur goes to the heart of a theme we often discuss on USTV, that of the role of television as a main tool for ‘manufacturing consent’ in self-proclaimed democracies. In this case, its essential use in the rise of power of Italy’s neo-fascist coroporatist Silvio Berlusconi.

We know that television does not function like other media that have to differentiate themselves, to exalt their differences to sell. Commercial television must level, must promote equality - not of rights, but of behavior and consumption. After the introduction of commercial channels, television transformed itself into a mechanism for the production of desires. And those are desires for material consumption, since advertising is geared to that. But the mechanism instigated by the reading of the audience has quickly taken on wider and more worrying aspects, to the point of subjecting politics itself to its logic.

News broadcasts, by introducing the use of polls to comment on and evaluate problems of social importance, have rooted an equation in the public mind between majority and truth. The most worrying aspect is the tendency to give the poll the value of truth. For the first time, truth and power are expressed in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. Terms like “teledemocracy” and “videocracy,” apparently opposed to one another, express a single concept. The dictatorship of the majority is realized in the video era.

Read The Full Article Here

The US Propaganda Machine: Oh, What a Lovely War

April 28th, 2006 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

This is an interesting side by side comparison of events from the DOD’s information stylists, The Lincoln Group, and a different version of the same events/timeline.

As if we didn’t already know the general gist, but here’s some detail.

A week after the US Defence Secretary criticised the media for “exaggerating” reports of violence in Iraq, The Independent has obtained examples of newspaper reports the Bush administration want Iraqis to read.

They were prepared by specially trained American “psy-ops” troops who paid thousands of dollars to Iraqi newspaper editors to run these unattributed reports in their publications. In order to hide its involvement, the Pentagon hired the Lincoln Group to act as a liaison between troops and journalists. The Lincoln Group was at the centre of controversy last year when it was revealed the company was being paid more than $100m (£58m) for various contracts, including the planting of such stories.

Read The Full Article Here

Propaganda Video Reports Shown as News

April 16th, 2006 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Shocking! Shocking, I say!

Old news to some of the more observant citizens, but glad to see outfits like The New York Times start to pay attention to this stuff.

Many television news stations, including some from the nation’s largest markets, are continuing to broadcast reports as news without disclosing that the segments were produced by corporations pitching new products, according to a report to be released today by a group that monitors the news media.

Television news directors have said that the segments, known as video news releases, are almost never broadcast, but the group assembled television videotape from 69 stations that it said had broadcast fake news segments in the past 10 months.

Democracy Now! did a good feature on this report prepared by the Center for Media and Democracy, as well, including a good interview with one of America’s finest public servants today, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. The fact he is not a majority member on the commission is yet another one of those sad indictments of the ‘victory’ of George W. Bush in the 2004 auction, uh, er, I mean election.

Read the full report Here

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