Media Manipulation and the Drums of War

How Media is used to Whip the Nation into Wartime Frenzy Faking It, How the Media Manipulates the World into War - Published on Global Research.ca, by James Corbett, January 3, 2012.

… Remarkably, the public at large has seemingly learned nothing from all of these documented historical manipulations. If anything, the media has become even bolder in its attempts to manipulate the public’s perceptions, perhaps emboldened by the fact that so few in the audience seem willing to question the picture that is being painted for them on the evening news. 

Later that year, CNN aired footage of a bombed out Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, falsely labeling it as footage of Gori, which they said had been attacked by the Russians.

In 2009, the BBC showed a cropped image of a rally in Iran which they claimed was a crowd of protesters who assembled to show their opposition to the Iranian government. An uncropped version of the same photograph displayed on the LA Times’ website, however, revealed that the photo in fact came from a rally in support of Ahmedinejad.

In August of 2011, the BBC ran footage of what they claimed was a celebration in Tripoli’s Green Square. When sharp-eyed viewers noticed that the flags in the footage were in fact Indian flags, the BBC was forced to admit that they had “accidentally” broadcast footage from India instead of Tripoli.

Also that month, CNN reported on a story from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that eight infants in incubators had died in a hospital in Hama when Syrian authorities cut off power in the area. Some news sites even carried pictures of the infants. The images were later admitted to have been taken in Egypt and no evidence has ever emerged to back up the accusations.

As breathtaking as all of these lies, manipulations and so-called “mistakes” are, they in and of themselves don’t represent the only functions of the media for the war machine. Now, the US government is taking the lead in becoming more and more directly involved with the shaping of the media message on war propaganda, and the general public is becoming even more ensnared in a false picture of the world through the Pentagon’s own lens.

In 2005, the Bush White House admitted to producing videos that were designed to look like news reports from legitimate independent journalists, and then feeding those reports to media outlets as prepackaged material ready to air on the evening news. When the Government Accountability Office ruled that these fake news reports in fact constituted illegal covert propaganda, the White House simply issued a memo declaring the practice to be legal.

In April 2008, the New York Times revealed a secret US Department of Defense program that was launched in 2002 and involved using retired military officers to implant Pentagon talking points in the media. The officers were presented as “independent analysts” on talk shows and news programs, although they had been specially briefed beforehand by the Pentagon. In December of 2011, the DoD’s own Inspector General released a report concluding that the program was in perfect compliance with government policies and regulations.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the the US government had contracted with HBGary Federal to develop software that create fake social media accounts in order to steer public opinion and promote propaganda on popular websites. The federal contract for the software sourced back to the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

As the vehicle through which information from the outside world is captured, sorted, edited and transmitted into our homes, the mass media has the huge responsibility of shaping and informing our understanding of events to which we don’t have first-hand access. This is an awesome responsibility in even the most ideal conditions, with diligent reporters guided by trustworthy editors doing their level best to report the most important news in the most straightforward way.

But in a media landscape where a handful of companies own virtually all of the print, radio and television media in each nation, the only recourse the public has is to turn away from the mainstream media altogether. And that is precisely what is happening.

As study after study and report after report has shown, the death of the old media has accelerated in recent years, with more and more people abandoning newspapers and now even television as their main source of news. Instead, the public is increasingly turning toward online sources for their news and information, something that is necessarily worrying for the war machine itself, a system that can only truly flourish when the propaganda arm is held under monopolistic control.

But as citizens turn away from the New York Times and toward independent websites, many run and maintained by citizen journalists and amateur editors, the system that has consolidated its control over the minds of the public for generations seems to finally be showing signs that it may not be invincible.

Surely this is not to say that online media is impervious to the defects that have made the traditional media so unreliable. Quite the contrary. But the difference is that online, there is still for the time being relative freedom of choice at the individual level. While internet freedom exists, individual readers and viewers don’t have to take the word of any website or pundit or commentator on any issue. They can check the source documentation themselves, except, perhaps not coincidentally, on the websites of the traditional media bastions, which tend not to link source material and documentation in their articles.

Hence the SOPA Act, Protect IP, the US government’s attempts to seize websites at the domain name level, and all of the other concerted attacks we have seen on internet freedoms in recent years.

Because ultimately, an informed and engaged public is far less likely to go along with wars waged for power and profit. And as the public becomes better informed about the very issues that the media has tried to lie to them about for so long, they realize that the answer to all of the mainstream media’s war cheerleading and blatant manipulation is perhaps simpler than we ever suspected: All we have to do is turn them off. (full long text).

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