Category "Propaganda & Faux News"

No, North Korea Didn’t Hack Sony: Another American Propaganda Success Story

January 21st, 2015 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

How many times will Americans keep falling for uncorroborated government claims? Propaganda and jingoistic fear mongering is like feeding candy to babies. As I was noting as soon as this meme started spreading, none of this was adding up.

And yet, as if on cue, so many people started using social media to pile on with vituperative rhetoric about “striking back” at Korea, or some such knee jerk reactionary responses. Really, what does it take for people to begin to stop buying face value the claims of the government, particularly after a long, sordid and bloody history of disasters that have resulted from such mindless incredulity? You’d think people would eventually learn. But then, Hitler, Hearst, Lenin, Bernays, Atwater, Rove, Goebbels, Ailes, and all the successful propagandists of their place and time continue to be proven right again and again. Sad. No, not just sad. Pathetic.

Marc Rogers at The Daily Beast was one of the early ones to write critically about the claims being made.

Here, Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author whose been following Korean issues for over 30 years, lays on some insightful critiques on a recent edition of Democracy Now!

Well, first of all, the person she just mentioned, Bruce Bennett, who was a consultant on this film, works for the RAND Corporation, which is a think tank for the U.S. military and has been for decades. And it so happens that the Sony CEO happens to sit on the board of directors of the RAND Corporation. It has—Sony has extensive ties with the U.S. national security system. Its CIO used to work for the secretary of defense, in terms of their—guarding their internal security. That’s one point.

But, you know, second, I think that—you know, that this attack began in late November, early December. At that time, this cyber-attack was run by this group that you mentioned, this GOP, Guardians of Peace. They made no mention whatsoever of the film. It was all about Sony and its internal racism and that kind of thing. I have seen no indication whatsoever that there was any similarity—some real similarity of this attack to anything that North Korea has been accused of before. And, you know, many cyber experts, from Kim Zetter of Wired to Marc Rogers and others, have raised real questions about the FBI evidence.

And so, I think it’s appalling that President Obama goes on a national stage, a global stage, on Friday and basically declares cyberwar, and then, a couple days later, ratchets it back to some kind of like cybernuisance, you know, cybervandalism. And of course North Korea is going to respond to basically a declaration of war by the president of the United States.

And, you know, we have a massive build-up going on in Asia, military build-up. And I think, you know, we need to keep North Korea as the enemy, as the armed enemy that’s going to attack us at any moment, so we can defend these bases in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, which are the focus of a massive public protest. You may have noticed—Americans didn’t notice, but Okinawans and Japanese voted to pull these bases out in recent elections. They want the U.S. forward bases removed.

So, I think there’s a lot of political, you know, situation going on here, a lot of politics going on that’s completely unnoticed. And I think it’s shameful of The New York Times, once again, to be in the leadership of spinning out these claims, dubious claims, and, you know, possibly instigating another war, another confrontation.

There have been a number of other informative pieces on this issue, as well. These include Dan Sanchez at who chronicles how Emails Reveal US State Department Influenced Sony’s “The Interview” so as to Encourage Assassination and Regime Change in North Korea

William Boot Here at The Daily Beast reveals some of the State Department’s involvement with this cinematic project.

The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.

The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.

Gregory Elich provides some diagnosis Here as to who was behind the Sony hack at Counterpunch

The cyberattack on Sony Pictures unleashed a torrent of alarmist media reports, evoking the image of North Korean perfidy. Within a month, the FBI issued a statement declaring the North Korean government “responsible for these actions.”

Amid the media frenzy, several senators and congresspersons called for tough action. Arizona Senator John McCain blustered, “It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.” President Barack Obama announced his administration planned to review the possibility of placing North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a move that would further tighten the already harsh sanctions on North Korea. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama warned darkly. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

In the rush to judgment, few were asking for evidence, and none was provided. Computer security analysts, however, were vocal in their skepticism.

And the regurgitation of uncorroborated government claims by the nation’s elite press is something Glenn Greenwald has amply dismantled and deconstructed over the years, and again does his usual acidlcally thorough job in detailing this whole affair, as well. Worth the read Here

Notice how the issue over the past couple of weeks has been dropped by much of the media, as the government, when confronted with all of this countervailing evidence, has seemed to have become less vocal about its accusations. Whether we’ll really get to the bottom of this nor not remains to be seen. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however, considering the volume of historical events, including wars and assassinations that have gone unaccounted for over this nation’s history.

9/11 Coloring Books: American Propaganda For Kids

December 4th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Wow. Just…wow.

This is the kind of North Korean/East German style propaganda I grew up mocking. Today, we have our own U.S.S.A. version of political and cultural ‘truths.’ The “trading cards” are the most ridiculously disgusting part of this. As SFGate reports

Forget baseball cards. A 9/11 coloring book now comes with a complete set of terrorist trading cards. Would you want your teen trading Osama bin Laden for Yahya al-Libi?

has a PG-13 rating and tells the complete story of 9/11. Kids can color in images of everything from the airplanes knocking down the Twin Towers to the moment before Osama Bin Laden was shot. The new edition comes with several pages of perforated trading cards depicting “the men, women and governments behind terror.”

Included among their trading cards of individuals who are “behind terror,” is none other than Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

This is a hard book,” he adds. “It’s honest. It’s indifferent to political correctness.”

Or to just correctness, period.

The coloring book’s publisher said “it’s a teaching and learning tool that’s rated PG-13.”

But as Meredith Carroll of Strollerderby asked here, are coloring books featuring terrorist trading cards really the best way to educate kids about that tragic day?

Nationalistic jingoism made fun for children!

Read the complete SFGate article.

Lies, Dirty Tricks, and $45 Million Kill GMO Labeling in California

November 9th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Michelle Simon provides This detailed and disturbing report of how the biotech industry, Monsanto in particular, engaged in an informational dirty war to defeat California’s Proposition 37. This is the state referendum which would have required foods containing GMO’s (genetically-modified organisms) to be labelled as such. In fact, some of their tactics crossed legal boundaries, including their lying in the California voter guide, the misuse of a federal seal and the misquoting of the Food and Drug Administration, misrepresenting academic affiliations, and more. I hope they are taken to court for these transgressions.

Another interesting point which has been raised (though not living in California, I can’t verify at the moment), is that there were no exit polls done on the issue at all, and that some people who have emailed and blogged on the issue have reported their surprise at the results, as there is no they know of who actually voted against it. Considering the serious issues surrounding unverifiable electronic voting, it seems to be a question which deserves closer investigative scrutiny.

Read The Report

Hollywood and the War Machine

October 13th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

This is an engaging and informative video report on how the Pentagon has helped shape what we see and hear regarding the military in popular culture.

War is hell, but for Hollywood it has been a Godsend, providing the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the movie going public.

The Pentagon recognises the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history to suit its own strategy and as a recruiting tool to provide a steady flow of willing young patriots for its wars.

What does Hollywood get out of this ‘deal with the devil’? Access to billions of dollars worth of military kit, from helicopters to aircraft carriers, enabling filmmakers to make bigger and more spectacular battle scenes, which in turn generate more box office revenue. Providing they accept the Pentagon’s advice, even toe the party line and show the US military in a positive light.

The rationalizing of this influence by the head of the Department of Defense Film Liaison Unit, Philip Strub, provides some interesting perspective to this debate. He claims that the Pentagon is simply looking for a “reasonably realistic portrayal of military people.” If that “translates” into a requirement for a “positive portrayal” of the military, Strub mitigates his answer with a diluting ’somewhat’.”

It is claimed that the only thing that the Pentagon finds taboo within these cinematic depictions, is if the military is shown to tolerate “bad behavior,” such as shooting a civilian, or torture. Julian Barnes, a Pentagon reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals that the DOD believes you cannot show that on screen, unless you also show that that person was punished. “That’s all that we ask for,” it is claimed.

But is it? Is it simply “accuracy” and “truth” that the Pentagon requires for its cooperation in such Hollywood portrayals? There is ample evidence that the Pentagon has made extensive demands for changes within the scripts, regardless of the proven veracity of the content represented within them.

Now, the argument can be (and is) made, that the Pentagon is under no obligation to support filmmaking, that it is not their mission. That is certainly true. However, a Supreme Court ruling in 1995 said that the government cannot favor speech that it likes, and not give the same benefits to speech that it doesn’t like. By giving material and financial support to films that reflect a political message that favors its interests, and denying that support to other films that might reflect a perspective that they feel doesn’t, is inherently unconstitutional. This is because it places a set of financial burdens upon one party, and not that of another, based simply on the content of their expression.

The interest that the Pentagon declares it has in simply making sure that the portrayal of the U.S. military in cinema is that it is “fair” and “accurate” becomes suspect when one compares how films such as Platoon or Full Metal Jacket are denied any support, while Top Gun is lavished with not only extensive material support, but are actively used as a recruiting tool, even to the point of setting up recruiting booths in movie theaters where the film was running.

Particularly revealing within this report is the when it talks about the popular film Charlie Wilson’s War, and how the government had insisted on the removal of a specific scene, on which pointed out the very real, direct links between the CIA’s arming of the Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and their later connection to the attacks of 9/11. It also talks about how the film Redacted, was forced by the studios to cut out shots of actual scenes of civilian casualties in Iraq. I guess the Pentagon didn’t think the actual shots of reality were accurate enough.

I’m certainly no big fan of the filmmaker Oliver Stone, but the discussion in the later part of the program with him, filmmaker Michael Moore, and journalist Chris Hedges is quite good. The analysis of The Hurt Locker as a form of ‘war porn’ resonated with me. That film never settled well with me, and exactly why is something I’ve been trying to articulate for some time, but couldn’t quite put my finger on (besides the dreadfully cliche’d and annoying cinematography). Michael Moore nails it, though, by describing not only the cheap techniques that director Kathryn Bigelow utilizes for creating suspense, but the fact that its a film that exploits the war for a dramatic cinematic high, but has nothing to say about the actual war itself. Okay, a guy is trying to diffuse a bomb. Easy dramatics. Cheap, even. But why is the bomb there? Why is the guy there trying to diffuse it? Who are the people putting these bombs all around their own country? It makes no effort at answering those questions, which may be one reason it was as accepted as it was among the critics and establishment press. It could use the war for cinematic purposes, without actually addressing the reality underlying it.

The concluding comments in the show by the program’s host provided one final example of irony and even contradiction (considering that the show’s panel was so critical of exploiting war for audience exhilaration and entertainment; ‘war porn’). During the preparation for the show he requested footage of real wars in order to underline its true horrors. His request was rejected, as he was told that real wars are badly filmed, and are therefore hardly effective, and that manufactured images are far more convincing. So where does that leave us?

Watch the Program

The Subconscious War Taking Place on Television Every Day

October 9th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

Aldous Huxley’s vision of a mediated environment creating a population of servitude and “amusing ourselves to death” is brought into perspective with This provocative and engaging piece on the power and influence of media in our technological society today. It is interesting in its contrast to Orwell’s dystopian vision of a society of external control and coercion, as opposed to the one we seem to be increasingly emersed in today, the one of Huxley’s.

Neil Postman’s prescient observations on cyberculture, and living in a world of information glut, is particularly telling (and somewhat chilling).

Today’s America - Entertainment Über Alles!

Educational Film on Propaganda

March 13th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

Here’s an interesting - and rather accurate, I might add - educational film from half a century ago on propaganda; what it is, how it works, and how to try to inoculate oneself from being negatively swayed by it. The fact that we don’t have much more current and ongoing educational products such as this to teach students about this diseased communication process is one of the major reasons our society (and world) is in the state its in. There are some groups doing media literacy training, such as the Media Literacy Project in New Mexico and ACME (Action Coalition for Media Education), which are really good, and probably the closest thing going in this regard.

Flying The Flag and Faking The News: The Role and Power of Modern Propaganda

March 8th, 2012 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

Excellent piece from John Pilger on the role and power of propaganda in our current political environment. Particularly good for bringing to light one of the primary inventors of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, the man who redefined it as “public relations.”

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:

Read The Rest of the Article Here.

At least Pilger leaves us with some optimistic news (optimistic, that is, if one believes in living in a truly democratically accountable society).

Of course, the good news is that false realities often fail when the public trusts its own critical intelligence, not the media. Two classified documents recently released by WikiLeaks express the CIA’s concern that the populations of European countries, which oppose their governments’ war policies, are not succumbing to the usual propaganda spun through the media. For the rulers of the world, this is a conundrum, because their unaccountable power rests on the false reality that no popular resistance works. And it does.

Here is some more insight on the legacy of Edward Bernays which we all live:
How Media Breeds Americans to Be Eternally Childlike Consumers

‘Cognitive Infiltration’: Undermining Critical Investigation & Analysis

September 19th, 2010 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

This story first broke on the Rag Blog. Then it got picked up in the mainstream blogosphere on by Glenn Greenwald, whence it found its way to Paul Krugman’s blog and then back to Greenwald’s Blog.

So now we’ve got Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all wrapped up in a “conspiracy theory.” Guess what? The conspiracy is real.

Trust me on this; I’ve been there. I was in the Harvard class of 1969, one of only three Harvard classes ever to be opposed to killing poor people in order to make a buck (1968, 1969, and 1970). After those three classes Harvard changed its admissions policies to no longer actively recruit poor students. Faced with threats to tax its endowments, it made a big show two years ago of again making its admissions policy “wealth neutral”. But then, six months later, Larry Summers’ economic policies decimated the Harvard endowment. So it will be interesting to see how much longer Harvard sticks to its “wealth neutral” admissions policy.

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The American Pravda

September 1st, 2010 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News

An interesting blurb recently reported by The New York Times: News Corp. Donates $1 Million to GOP Governors

As John Fund, former Bush speechwriter recently stated:

“…While we thought that Fox News worked for the Republican party, it appears that the Republican party actually works for Fox News.”

Read The Report (and reader comments)

The Power & Danger of Iconography

June 16th, 2010 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

Interesting perspective on the branding of Obama and the cult of personality.

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