Posts Tagged ‘Sunstein’

Common Spin, or Pure Propaganda? – 01

May 14, 2010

Fire is hot, ice is cold, water is wet, and all politicians spin. In this age of 24/7 cable news outlets, the internet and the blogosphere, it’s not nearly as easy to do as it was when there were only the Big 3 Networks. Back then, you could have a spokesman read a prepared statement a couple of times a week, and be done with it. Now, there is an issue or two a day to deal with. And depending on your political philosophy, you either have the majority of TV networks and print media defending you and one cable news network and the majority of talk radio slamming you, or vice-versa.

Politicians have always had complaints about treatment in the media, even when the media consisted entirely of a weekly newspaper, and that available only in larger cities. And they complained bitterly. Often, their refutations and rebuttals were published, as well. That was how the free press operated. If you owned a newspaper, you were free to publish such rebuttals, or not, but your credibility was at stake. I would call this “free-market journalism”. The success or failure of your paper depended upon the confidence of your readers in your relative “fairness”.

Between World War II, and the turn of the century, there have been a few attempts by administrations to stifle criticism by the press. None were taken kindly by the American people. In fact, the backlash was usually worse than the bad press that inspired it. Since the advent of satellite communications, cable news networks, and the internet, now folks have so much choice in their sources of information, they don’t seem so concerned with sources taking sides. One can get their information from multiple sources¬† of varying points of view. Most people don’t see that as a bad thing. A bit confusing, perhaps, but in a free society, choice is generally a good thing.

It is also nothing new in politics, particularly in campaigns, to try to “control the message”. But at what point does common “spin” and “controlling the message” become propaganda?

The first definition of “propaganda” I present is from The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48;

Propaganda Prop`a*gan”da, n. [Abbrev. fr. L. de propaganda
fide: cf. F. propagande. See Propagate.]
[1913 Webster]
1. (R. C. Ch.)
(a) A congregation of cardinals, established in 1622,
charged with the management of missions.
(b) The college of the Propaganda, instituted by Urban
VIII. (1623-1644) to educate priests for missions in
all parts of the world.
[1913 Webster]

2. Hence, any organization or plan for spreading a particular
doctrine or a system of principles.
[1913 Webster]

In the context of the consistency of message among missionaries, that sounds fairly reasonable. Note, however, that this definition is from 1913. Here is a more updated version from the Brittanica Concise Encyclopedia;

Manipulation of information to influence public opinion. The term comes from Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), a missionary organization established by the pope in 1622. Propagandists emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasize or exclude those that do not. Misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired effect in the public audience. Lobbying, advertising, and missionary activity are all forms of propaganda, but the term is most commonly used in the political arena. Prior to the 20th century, pictures and the written media were the principal instruments of propaganda; radio, television, motion pictures, and the Internet later joined their ranks. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes use propaganda to win and keep the support of the populace. In wartime, propaganda directed by a country at its own civilian population and military forces can boost morale; propaganda aimed at the enemy is an element of psychological warfare.” (Emphasis mine)

Let’s examine what’s going on currently in the political struggle to “control the message”, beginning with the Presidential campaign of 2008.

In a nutshell, the Republican campaign struggled to try to keep up with the Democrats media campaign. With the support of the majority of Hollywood, where fantasies come to life, the Democrats put on a masterful display of a Grand Illusion. The Republicans, lacking an exciting candidate, as well as the theatrical mastery of Hollywood, were at a huge disadvantage. Obama became a messianic figure, with vague promises of “hope and change”, but without much detail. Their timing and organization, thanks to ACORN and SEIU, managed to register hundreds of thousands of new voters (some actually real, live people), and mobilize the guilt-ridden Liberals and African-American voters who desperately wanted to see the first Black President in their lifetime. It didn’t hurt that the overwhelming majority of the media was swooning over the first ever African-American candidate for President. Obama’s campaign took advantage of the situation brilliantly, as any campaign would have hoped to have done.

The Obama campaign also used the new communications technology to spread their message, solicit contributions, and to mobilize his base of voters very effectively, where the McCain camp was not able to. All fair play, so far.

What has happened in the information world since January 21, 2009 is where things start to get dicey.

As the Obama administration came into office with a healthy majority in both houses of Congress, Mr. Obama apparently assumed that he had a mandate from the people for his agenda. Not willing to accept the fact that the 47% of voters voted against him,  he proceeded to try to take advantage of that perceived mandate to push a radical progressive agenda.

What he didn’t count on, was the pushback he would receive from that other 47%. That is totally unacceptable for a messiah with a mandate. Worse yet, he didn’t have a total lock on the news outlets, with that one pesky TV news channel and most of talk radio questioning his appointees, his policies, and his motives. I can just imagine him thinking “I had ’em eating out of my hand, and now these spoilers are exposing things I don’t want exposed, and asking questions I don’t want to have to answer. I had the wool pulled completely over their eyes, and it was clear sailing ahead, but these a*****es are wrecking the illusion we have so carefully built”.

Yep, those damned dissenters. So what do we do about that? We certainly can’t have the opposition going around dispelling our BS figures we feed them in order to keep them from insurrection if they knew the truth. That would also wreck the illusion that I am indeed the messiah, the savior they have been waiting for. We haven’t yet put into place the mechanisms for putting dissenters in FEMA camps. The logical solution is to take “controlling the message” to the next level. Enter Cass Sunstein.

Another radical from Chicago, Sunstein was tapped to be the president’s “Information and Regulatory” chief. Radical from Chicago, you say? I’m sooooo glad you asked.

I see that I am nearing 1200 words, so to keep from losing your interest, I’ll have to continue with a part 2. Sorry, I didn’t intend this, but I’ve learned that I must carefully explain my points, or I’ll be responding to minutia for days, if I don’t. I guess it goes with the territory.

The story of Cass Sunstein, Propaganda Minister of the Obama Regime, coming soon…

Advertisements