Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Big Lie: "Right" At Home In The 24-Hr News Cycle

Across the bottom of this map, it reads: "Map published in Germany in
1934 to create fear of Czech bombing."

If I were a professional propagandist, adept at the creation and promulgation of the iconic propaganda gambit called the "Big Lie," and the 24-hour news cycle on cabloids dod NOT exist, I would be compelled to invent it.

Because no other mode of infotainment lends itself so seamlessly to the requirements of the media to support the success of the Big Lie.

To briefly review:

The Big Lie is the result of the insight alleged to have been formulated by Adolph Hitler in Mein Kampf (but more likely the fruit of Edouard Bernays' fertile imagination, a decade earlier): that of the willing credulity of most people to the most outlandish tales and fabrications if 1) they are said with/by authority, and 2) they are repeated often enough. Think Christian homelitics, for instance: It's a load of codswallop, but it has been repeated so often, and by so many esteemed figures that a pretty fair portion of the Murkin electorate takes it for literal truth.


By Authority.

Hitler (or Bernays) realized that even the biggest lies could be told to a willing public, because most people usually refrained from telling even minor lies on most occasions, fearing the opprobrium attendant upon being discovered to be liars. Such strictures are not in play when the "State" is the speaker. No government in recent history has been reproved by its citizens for lying to them. No politician since Nixon, perhaps, has paid a public price for his mendacity. (I forgive Clinton because the illegitimacy, the impropriety, and the irrelevance of the questions relative to his functioning as President; I would not feel constrained to answer honestly questions the answers to which were nobody's business than my--and my correspondents'--own).

This is by way of introduction to this piece from FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Media), whereby the relevance of the apparent digression will be explained in the hed:

From Lie to Official History, via 'Simple Repetition'
Consortium News Robert Parry (8/13/09) is citing media-promoted "'deathers' who claim that President Barack Obama's healthcare plan would promote euthanasia," along with how the U.S. "population was persuaded that Iraq was some lethal threat" and "fear-mongering about Iraq somehow sending small remote-controlled airplanes across the Atlantic" as strong arguments against "hopeful slogans that 'the truth will out.'"

To Parry, "truth is a battle" and "the reality is that there are no automatic mechanisms for stopping lies and distortions":
What I have seen during more than three decades in Washington is that many truths remain effectively hidden, even if technically they have been revealed. A rare moment of truth-telling can be easily overwhelmed by a steady barrage of falsehoods and an infusion of well-calibrated doubts.

Before long, it is the oft-repeated faux reality that is remembered. It becomes Washington’s conventional wisdom and then the official history. [See, for instance, Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

In the United States today, there is a massive infrastructure for spreading lies and distortions--a right-wing media machine that reaches from newspapers, magazines and books to cable TV, talk radio and the Internet.

By simple repetition, this machine can transform any crazy theory or bald-faced lie into something that many Americans believe.
Case in point is "when the right-wing media... pushed the lies about Iraq's WMD and intimated that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was connected to the 9/11 attacks." See the FAIR magazine Extra!: "From Speculation to History: 'Saddam's Bluff' Becomes Conventional Wisdom--With No Evidence Presented" (5–6/04) by Seth Ackerman.
Goebbels couldn't have said it better.

Twain, I think it was, who said "the Lie has aready circled the globe before the truth is out of bed." The thing about propaganda is that truth is totally irrelevant. What matters is that what the propagandist wants heard is out there, being heard, and repeated, and repeated.

1 comment:

PENolan said...

Woody, I "shared" the consortium article on my real name facebook page so maybe we won't keep singing to the choir. I have friends from HS who are teabaggers.