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IN FOCUS – Propaganda


Had the United States implemented Operation Ortsac – its plan to invade Cuba in 1962 – it doubtless would have put priority on seizing  television and radio stations in order to assume control over communications throughout the island nation.  Regulation of the flow of information, especially in a time of turmoil, is essential to subjugating a people.  It is a basic tool of statecraft.  

Propaganda can be classified as “white,” “gray,” or “black,” depending on the transparency of the source: 

  • “White propaganda” clearly identifies the source, enabling the recipient, at least to some extent, to evaluate the potential motives and perspectives of the creator.  Official government pronouncements are white propaganda, as were the World War II radio broadcasts of “Tokyo Rose.”
  • “Black propaganda” is produced by one entity, but attributed to another.  Warring parties will often craft and publish inflammatory messages, attributing them to their enemy.  A political campaign could invent a racist campaign strategy, make it look like it came from an opposing candidate, and then release it to friends in the press in an effort to embarrass an innocent opponent.
  • “Gray propaganda” simply doesn’t reveal its source.  Not knowing where such information comes from makes it difficult to know how to assess its veracity.  The old way to evaluate information — “consider the source” — does not work for Gray propaganda.

The press was once called the “fourth estate” or the “fourth branch of government,” since it served the vital role of telling the truth about what government was doing and attempting to conceal.  And there was a time that the media was so trusted that anything that the national news anchors reported on the evening news was believed to be true.  After all, why would they lie?  

The intelligence community took full advantage of the faith of the American people in the press.  The Deep State developed close relationships with key members of the press and have so-called journalists report their “propaganda” as if it were straight news.  An October 1977 report by former Washington Post Reporter Carl Bernstein entitled “The CIA and the Media,” revealed details of the cooperation between the CIA and the press.  Among its most shocking revelations was the number of so-called journalists simultaneously working for the CIA.

The days during which moderates and conservatives believed whatever the media reported are long gone.  During his 2016 campaign and ensuing presidency, Donald Trump referred to “fake news” so frequently that Collins Online Dictionary awarded that phrase “word of the year” honors, in 2017.  Breaking the illusion that the media speaks truth is one of the great favors that President Trump did for the nation.  However, Leftists who are fed a constant diet of establishment propaganda are only reinforced in what they believe and thus exhibit little skepticism.  

Propaganda can convince a nation of the moral rightness of their cause, leading them to sacrifice and fight and die in war that benefits no one but arms merchants, the politicians, and the nation’s elites.  Or, propaganda can undermine the morale of a people, persuading them that the victory of the enemy is inevitable no matter what they may do.  

During the American Revolution, “London newspapers reported the battles of Trenton and Princeton, both decisive American victories, in a fashion that would suggest the British won….  British papers described John Paul Jones as a pirate and how they thought victory was close at hand until the very end.”

Napoleon “discovered the power of the press early on in his military career.  His first successful attempts to use propaganda were his regular battle bulletins” which were originally distributed to the troops for morale purposes.  But soon they “started to be included in more general newspapers so they would reach a wider audience” among the general public.  Realizing the power of the entertainment media in molding public opinion, he also began to censor the theater industry.  “New works had to first be read by the minister for justice.  Anything that appeared to criticize the state or Napoleon himself would be either changed or banned outright.”   Carrying on this tradition, in America, Hollywood and the military have long been linked.

In 1917, Woodrow Wilson established the first official U.S. propaganda agency, the “Committee on Public Information” (CPI).  Wilson needed to control the press, as he had just been reelected on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” and he now was pushing the country to enter World War I.  The iconic poster of “Uncle Sam” saying, “I want YOU for U.S. Army” was a creation of Wilson’s propaganda effort:

In their effort to unify the country, Wilson and [CPI head George] Creel deployed their own versions of fake news.  While the worst that can be said of the sunny fake news flowing out of the CPI was that it was incomplete, the dark fake news, which painted the enemy as subhuman, let loose a riptide of hatred and emboldened thousands to use patriotism as an excuse for violence.

To motivate people to go to war, and to motivate soldiers to kill, it is helpful if they have a visceral hatred of the enemy.   And it is easier to hate someone who is subhuman than someone who is human.  All we need to hear is that another country has raped women or killed children, and emotions take over as we are ready to seek revenge.  In Iraq, lies about babies being thrown out of incubators in Kuwait City by Iraqi soldiers turned out to be lies.  It is often said, “The first casualty of war is the truth.”  Hearing of such claims should cause us to remember:  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”  Romans12:19.

In World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt followed Wilson’s lead, creating a new propaganda agency.  “The United States was about six months into World War II when it founded the Office of War Information (OWI).  Its mission:  to disseminate political propaganda.  The office spread its messages through print, radio, and film,” as well as more iconic posters such as the famous “Rosie the Riveter” poster, encouraging women to work in factories as military-age men were deployed to war.

During the Cold War, the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks distributed pro-American sentiments to people across the Iron Curtain and in the Middle East.  Since 1985, it has been illegal to use such U.S. government programming “to influence public opinion in the United States,” and the programs were only available overseas.  However, most do not realize that under the Obama administration, in 2013, the ban on domestic propaganda was lifted, and now $700 million a year in government propaganda can be aimed directly at influencing domestic public opinion.

Often, the media does not need to wait for instructions from government handlers, as it is primarily committed Leftists who rise to the top in media companies.  Former CBS News reporter Lara Logan has stated that “85 percent of journalists are registered Democrats.”  According to one report, 62 percent of stories in the major media about President Trump’s first 100 days in office were negative and only five percent positive.  President Obama, by contrast, received only 20 percent negative and 42 percent positive.  By February of this year, according to the Media Research Center (MRC), fully 89 percent of stories about Trump were negative.  The MRC also reported that in the leadup to the 2020 election, stories about Trump were 92 percent negative, with only 34 percent of stories about Biden being negative.

In April 2024, former National Public Radio (NPR) executive Uiri Berliner wrote a devastating critique of his former employer.  “An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” Berliner said.  “Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace.  Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity.”  NPR no longer seeks truth in any sense, but only victory for its Leftist ideology.  In response, many have called for defunding of NPR, but the most recent Omnibus spending bill pushed by the Uniparty in Congress fully funded NPR.

Futurist Herman Kahn once is reported to have said in a lecture:  “You can gauge the health of a society by the truth of its rumors.  In a healthy society, most rumors are true.”  Considering the current state of the world and the nation, suspicion should be the order of the day.  Perhaps we need to shift from “consider the source” to the oldest tool for evaluating new information — Cui Bono?  Who benefits?  Who stands to gain?  Focusing on that ancient question often provides real insights into the truthfulness of claims we hear and keeps us from following the crowd over the cliff.

Editor’s Note: To read the articles in this series, please click here.

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