Decoding Media Propaganda

An Introduction

By Cheryl Seal

11 June 2003

To keep the public from ever being able to get a firm handle on what is really going on, the White House colludes with the media to manipulate headlines, story slant, and even story content, which ranges from blatant omissions to outright lies. The tactics used are classic CIA, and can be divided into a few general categories:

Distract and Redirect: When a damaging story looms on the horizon, you distract the public's attention by creating an alternative "big story" focused as far away from the real story as possible. A classic example is the Jessica Lynch rescue, which actually turned out to have been stage-managed. The damaging, real story was the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, by US troops. The Lynch story distracted attention away from this story and redirected it to 'heroic Americans' and evil nasty Iraqis holding poor little blond white princesses hostage.

Rewrite and Confuse: When an irrefutable story comes out, you create a parallel, but bogus story -parallel but different enough to confuse the public who then is no longer sure which story is which, or which is for real, unless they have read it very attentively. The most successful example of this, perhaps, was how Bush and the media manipulated America into war against Iraq. The real story, of course, was that al-Qaeda was dominated by Saudi fundamentalist Muslims and that Saddam, a 'secular' Muslim, did not like fundamentalist groups, including Iraq's Shiites, and had never harbored al-Qaeda members (according to all real FBI and CIA reports -not the later fudged reports). By the time the media and Bush had paired the name Saddam and Osama bin Laden often enough, and covered stories of dubious evidence lingeringly enough, nearly 70 per cent of the American public believed that Saddam and al-Qaeda were closely linked.

Historic Rewrite: When your first line to the public doesn't fly or an unfavorable story makes it to the public eye, just issue a 'rewrite' that changes the story history. Example: When Bush first pushed for war, his story was that he only wanted to disarm Saddam, and had no interest in a regime change. When Saddam began to cooperate with weapons inspectors, who found no evidence of WMDs, Bush rewrote the story. According to the rewrite, picked up without any questions or qualification by the mainstream media, he had always felt that what was most important for the US to achieve in Iraq was a regime change.

Black Hole: That's where the biggest, most damaging stories go, at least temporarily, if the Bush folks get tipped off ahead of time. When Newt Gingrich made his big reentry into Washington some weeks back, the story of his disgrace (he used a fund intended to help inner city poor kids as a front for laundering donations to himself) has been notably absent from the news. If this had been "the reentry of Bill Clinton," you can rest assured that every story about the issue would include at least five or six paragraphs devoted to Gennifer Flowers, Monica or Paula 'Professional Mudslinger' Jones.

Here is just a sampling of how the media is being used to screen the Bush administration from the public, and to deceive the public on key issues of paramount importance to their well-being.

The Real Story: 5/19: Story breaks that war crimes charges are being filed this week in Belgium against the Bush administration, with Tommy Franks as the most accessible and appropriate first target. US human rights offenses against Iraqi civilians are detailed in the complaint.

Distract and Redirect: 5/20: The story dominating the news: Homeland security terror alert rose to orange! Can't possibly worry about war crimes charges at a time like this, right? In fact, rumor has it that to make sure the public didn't dismiss the 'danger', Bush operatives arranged to have bomb threats called into several major cities. Here in Baltimore, we had two bomb threats that week: one the day before the code orange and on the day code orange was declared. Only thing a bit fishy, as several people caught in traffic on a bus with me pointed out: real terrorists don't call in to warn you.

Rewrite and Confuse: 5/20 Media focuses on story of Bush meeting with Cuban dissidents and officials from Zimbabwe to talk about human rights offenses by brutal regimes telling their stories. The message: Tommy Franks and human rights abuses? Nah -ya heard it wrong. They meant Castro and those Africans!

The Real Story: Week of 5/5: Some Iraqis formerly in management positions in the Iraq oil industry expressed extreme frustration to western journalists (one story appeared in the Washington Post) that they were being forcibly closed out of their offices by Halliburton people. Unable to work or even enter their own offices, the managers were angry, worried (none have any income now) and suspicious of US intentions

Historic Rewrite: One week later, the Washington Post runs a story on Page One about how Iraqi oil managers are "afraid" to come to work despite constant "coaxing" by the US occupiers!

The Real Story: May: the story was circulated widely through independent media sources and questions were being asked of the military about the heavy use of violent computer games to train soldiers. The bloody game Doom for example, was developed with Pentagon funding as a training tool. The question raised: has the use of these two-dimensional fantasy games contributed to the extreme violence observed among US troops against civilians -a violence now observed (to the same degree) in Aussie or British troops?

Rewrite and Confuse: In mid-May, a story began circulating throughout the mainstream media about the movie The Matrix raising the question that some people's obsession with the movie may have led them to commit murder. So, the superficial scanner of news (let's face it -most Americans!) will scratch their heads and wonder if the Matrix story was what he vaguely remembered hearing about computer games and violence.

The Real Story: May 20: The anti-environmental right-wingers, the charge led by Bush, push to allow the logging industry into the national parks and forests to 'thin' the woods (read 'steal trees from the American public'). I'm from Maine, so believe me, there's no such thing as environmental 'thinning' of the woods. You go in with an army of skidders and you are left with a horrendous mess -the ground trashed, trees gouged, half-uprooted, and broken, and 'slash' (trunk and branch tree litter) left everywhere (which is responsible for many broken deer and moose legs), gas and oil pollution left behind, along with the inevitable logger trash.

Distract and Redirect: May 20: Bush makes a speech about how great his Healthy Forests Restoration plan is and focuses entirely on the plan to clear out the underbrush that fuels fires. Of course, he never mentions the 'thinning' plan -leaving the public to assume that clearing underbrush and 'thinning' are the same thing.

The Real Story: The BBC and other non-US media outlets broke the story last weekend that the Jessica Lynch 'rescue' was a staged Hollywood-director-managed phony event designed to distract attention from the stories of civilian deaths at the hands of US soldiers.

Black Hole: Do you remember seeing this in the Washington Post, on FOX News or NBC, etc.? No? Didn't think so.

Copyright 2003 by the News Insider and Cheryl Seal


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