Monday, July 30, 2007

Into the liberal breach

[Update, Update II, Update III below]

Textbook examples of government propaganda have recently appeared in what many would normally consider mainstream or, even more effectively, "liberal" media outlets. There are many examples of this everyday, of course, but the two under discussion here will serve as illustration of just how the White House coerces public opinion through the pages of our corporate media. Manufacturing consent has never gone out of style, indeed, it is the modus operandi of the media, even as it has been described for decades.

First up is a rather blatant example, offered in the op-ed pages of the New York Times today. In A War We Just Might Win, Brookings Institute collegues Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollock offer readers a brief glimpse of their eight day tear through Iraq, meeting with "American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel," to bring back a portrait of the country that is meant to deliver a message of hope that General Petreaus' "surge" strategy is actually working albeit on a small, local scale.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.
Readers are to be convinced of the veracity of this report because, despite their being handled by the US military the entire time, O'Hanlon and Pollock have "harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq." Which is not to say they haven't been humping for the war since day one and have repeatedly and incorrectly offered up cheery assessments of the counterinsurgency for years, just as has Gen. Petreaus. Notably, O'Hanlon and Pollock appear not to have been offered a visit to the Interior Ministry, described as a "federation of oligarchs," wherein, right now, the seventh floor of the building is the scene of a "struggle for control" between "the Badr Organization and armed Kurdish groups." But in O'Hanlon-land, things are looking up!

Everyone is atwitter over this report of meager yet definitive signs of success. Naturally, the discussion is bifurcated without intersection, as lefties point out exactly the fact that the authors have been engaged in pro-war, pro-success nonsense for years. In his verbose and often painfully overbearing fashion, Glenn Greenwald offers up the most comphrensive assemblage of O'Hanlon and Pollock's cheerleading -- a staggering litany of incorrectness -- which continues to grow with each new update. On the right, the usual suspects are strutting and clucking about what a great thing it is that the treasonous rag has finally allowed the Truth to be exposed on its very own pages.

Yes, this is a victorious day for the truth-seekers at Powerline and Captain's Quarters. Michele Malkin is moist. For not only has the truth about Iraq won out, it has done so by the fey hand of "liberals," from the "liberal" Brookings Institute, and been doled out on the pages of the "liberal" New York Times, sure to be sopped up with gusto by those northeast, latte-slurping liberals. This is good, you see, because liberals run everything, which is why the US is fighting two failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, agitating and arming for a third with Iran, sending missile defenses to Europe to piss off the Russians in the hopes of ramping up a new cold war, sending arms to Saudi Arabia, backing the brutal actions of Ethiopian government troops in Ethiopia and Somolia, and arming rebels in Darfur. If liberals weren't in charge, why, imagine the bliss. But I digress.

The larger issue at hand, and which almost everyone seems to be either avoiding or failing to recognize, is the purpose of the Brookings agitprop, which is only one of a steady stream of articles and opinion pieces that have been flushed through the media channels -- sure to continue -- all in an effort to loosen up that puckered American sphincter, so reticent as it is now at the thought of staying in Iraq for a very long time.

As has been pointed out earlier, the propaganda agitating, rationalizing and justifying the continued presence of US troops in Iraq, has come directly from the White House and the Pentagon, of course. But it is also moving into articles that a reader might nominally consider separated from those sources. I don't consider a trip, and the tale of it, conducted under the auspices of the US military, as is O'Hanlon's and Pollock's gumdrop, to be such a story. But it will be treated as such by other outlets and I expect we can all count on seeing more of these self-professed "critics" making the talking head rounds very soon, getting the word out. A word that, frankly, the American public would probably like to hear.

But a far more subtle case of American media pushing the White House agenda was to be found in the pages of the Time magazine last week with Michael Duffy's How to Leave Iraq, which is not so much about leaving as it is about staying.
What's needed is not the sloganeering of certain politicians but a clear-eyed, multifaceted policy. That would involve making plain to the Iraqi government our intention to pull back, followed by an orderly withdrawal of about half the 160,000 troops currently in Iraq by the middle of 2008. A force of 50,000 to 100,000 troops would dig in for a longer stay to protect America's most vital interests
This is exactly what the White House, the Pentagon and every supporter of Iraq misadventure now tells us is the only way forward. If one doesn't agree with this strategy, one cannot possibly be clear-eyed.

Unlike the New York Times, which is always being ravaged by morons for being oh, so liberal, Time magazine has the cred as one of the nation's preeminent serious news journals. It is no such thing, of course and, like most US corporate media, this is a generally specious attribution, one that has been scrupulously manufactured by the media engine itself. Which is why "catapulting the propaganda" onto the pages of a magazine like Time is crucial when so much of the country is dead set against clearly stated White House plans. While not many in the country read Time magazine anymore, it is only one of many outlets that are now being used to prepare Americans for the new reality: the long term occupation of Iraq.

There are certain keywords or concepts that, when they appear in an article with an attributed "clear-eyed" vision of the way things are, surely give away the not-so-impartial nature of said article and, indeed, of the venue itself. Duffey's piece offers up the goods with one small hint that either Duffey is a fool or he is as much a part of the agenda as any in the White House.
Washington would have more leverage with Iran, which has continued its march toward nuclear weapons while the U.S. has been bogged down in Iraq.
For readers of Time magazine, such an unequivocal yet notably understated "fact," seeps into the skull like hemlock into the ear. Such flatly stated claims, while wholly without merit, act subtly upon those who don't happen to keep up with the debate and the actual fact that no one knows this to be the case. But for the readers of Time and other of its sisterhood, it has seeded the uninformed skull with all that is necessary to believe what the White House wants believed.

The spectrum of American media outlets is now rife with White House propaganda. It is a slow, simmering program designed to gently persuade a resistant public that long term occupation of Iraq is a necessity, for both us and the Iraqis. The real goals of this long term engagement are never stated in gracious Washington company and they never will be, just as the reasons for the invasion were never and likely never will be publicly acknowledged or stated either. But the agenda must still be served, however unpleasant the reality of it execution appears.

If the Iraq war has shown Americans anything about themselves, it is that we don't mind doing dreadful, horrific, murderous things, as long as we can be made to believe that the reason we're doing them is good or necessary. This has been the necessary feature of the myth of America. Fear plays its vital role here, of course. It is also what propaganda is for.

I expect we can all count on seeing more of these self-professed "critics" making the talking head rounds very soon...
Oh my, well that didn't take very long at all. For there was a dutiful Duffy on Hardball with Chris Mathews: Maybe We Shouldn’t Leave Iraq

Update II:

I expect we can all count on seeing more of these self-professed "critics" making the talking head rounds very soon...

Don't say I didn't warn ya. O'Hanlon and Pollock are making the rounds.

via Think Progress:

Pollack and O’Hanlon have lept into the open arms of the mainstream media and have been given a forum to present their views largely without opposition. Together, they appeared on at least nine major mainstream media outlets in the past 24 hours.

A list of media appearances:

Network Program

Pollack CBS Evening News
CNN Newsroom
CNN Situation Room
MSNBC Tucker
NPR Talk of the Nation

O'Hanlon CBS Early Show
CBS Evening News
Fox News Special Report
MSNBC Hardball
Update III: Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money utterly destroys O'Hanlon and Pollock. Destroys them. I doubt he'll be on Talk of the Nation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They`re worse than the Borg, ya know, in their quest for assimilating the masses, and just as dangerous. What these charlatans are doing is insidious. Unfortunately, too many people still rely on corporate-controlled media for their news sources, and the echo chamber is very effective. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Steve in Austin

12:55 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Thanks Steve. See the latest update. O'Hanlon and Pollock are now all over the place spitting up the pablum.

12:58 PM  

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