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Wade Frazier

My Edward S. Herman biography project

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Hi:

I have been busy on Ed’s bio, and just read his last published writing while he was alive, on the propaganda model at 30, in Project Censored’s 2018 edition.  I have watched about all of Ed’s interviews that I could, and several happened in his home.  It looks like Ed’s office was likely not far different from Noam’s, on the messy scale.  During my studies over the years, I regularly encountered accounts of meeting renowned scientists and scholars, and their offices could be a maze of stacks of books and other materials, such as fossils.  Well, mine is not as bad!  :) I am attaching a picture that I just took of my home office.  Those stacks in front of and on my desk are related to Ed’s bio.  You can see one stack at the end of my desk. It is one of two (the other is behind it), which are for when I tackle my essay update.  I also attached what the floor next my bed regularly looks like.  Around every couple of months, I clean it up and reduce the stack to only a few items, but then it immediately begins growing again.  I have never injured myself tripping on a stack, etc., so my “system” seems to work.  :)  

When I wrote my big essay, the process was spending a week or two on a chapter, and I would have a huge stack next to my desk, and I would clear it away for the next chapter.  I particularly remember that process when I was working on the journey of life on Earth.  To a degree, it is just the nature of the beast.  The constant fight against entropy!  :)  

Best,

Wade

 

 

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Before I take a little hike, I want to comment on Ed and Noam’s propaganda model.  They never denied that there are “corporate abuses and scandals” (from Ed’s last essay that was published in his lifetime), but that did not invalidate the framework of the propaganda model.  The propaganda model works without much elite coordination at the top.  But that does not mean that there is not any.  

I found the same thing in my adventures and in my medical racket studies.  Most of the organized suppression is structural, which means that people just pursuing their narrow self-interest do the vast majority of the damage.  Doctors and drug company employees who only care about getting rich, prosecutors who don’t care if their targets are innocent or not and will lie their asses off to gain those coveted convictions, are part of the dynamic.  Sheriff’s deputies who rob their targets in raids, as standard operating procedure, are also part of the scene.  Local energy interests protecting their turf, as they wipe out innovations that can disrupt their markets, including hiring hit men, without any direction or encouragement from the global cartel, is also part of the dynamic.  In our adventures, we suffered organized suppression from the local, state, national, and global interests.

So, the structural approach does not have to deny elite control, although structuralists are often ideologically opposed to the idea of it.  A purely structural, or a purely conspiratorial, view of the issue is going to be lopsided.  Both dynamics play their part.  That is what comprehensive thinking means.  If people understand the primary lesson of my journey, then a lot becomes clearer.  People such as Ed, Noam, Ralph, Howard, Mr. Professor, Dennis, Brian, etc., are beacons in the darkness, and why I know that I seek needles in haystacks.  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

Here is a rough draft of Ed and Noam’s fourth propaganda model filter

Flak and the enforcers

The propaganda model’s first three filters act as powerful coercive controls over what news is published, but sometimes news that does not conform to the dictates of power is produced.  Herman and Chomsky wrote about “flak” as a negative reaction directed at media organizations.  It can simply be a letter to the editor or phone call to a TV station, but the most influential flak comes from highly organized operations or the powerful, such as a call from the White House to a TV news anchor.  The authors emphasized right-wing think tank flak and cited Accuracy in Media (AIM) in particular.  AIM is a media watch-dog organization founded by Reed Irvine, whose diatribes were frequently published in the media, as he and AIM were given easy access to the media.  AIM was one of many corporate-funded organizations that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, whose general purpose was to produce flak to police an already right-leaning media while using the Orwellian “liberal” epithet to describe the media.  

Freedom House has had close relations with AIM, and Herman and Chomsky provided an example of Freedom House’s kind of flak when they wrote:


“In 1982, when the Reagan administration was having trouble containing media reporting of the systematic killing of civilians by the Salvadoran army, Freedom House came through with a denunciation of the ‘imbalance’ in media reporting from El Salvador.”  


Herman and Chomsky analyzed one of Freedom House’s most notable publications, Peter Braestrup’s Big Story, which contended that the media helped lose the Vietnam War.  The authors wrote that the premise of Big Story was that the media’s function was supposed to be as cheerleaders for all American wars, no matter the merits of American interventions and invasions.  

In the years before and after Manufacturing Consent was first published, spectacular instances of flak were seen.  In 1982, The New York Times's reporter Ray Bonner accurately reported on the El Mozote massacre, committed by American-trained El Salvadoran forces.  About one thousand people were murdered, mainly women and children.  That mass murder was committed by Reagan's "fledgling democracy," reporting the truth cost Bonner his job, and AIM led the attack.  The alternative media covered the El Mozote and Bonner story extensively in the 1980s, and Bonner was vindicated when the mass grave was discovered.  

In 1998, a joint project by Time and Cable News Network (CNN) produced a report on Operation Tailwind, which was a secret American operation in Laos in 1970.  CNN reporters April Oliver and Jack Smith published their story on the alleged use of Sarin nerve gas by the American military in Operation Tailwind, which was partly mounted to find and kill deserting American soldiers.  CNN's Peter Arnett also helped report the story.  It was broadcasted on June 7 and June 14, 1998, and Time ran it in its June 15, 1998 edition.

The reporters worked on the story for several months and interviewed people involved in the operation, as well as Major General John Singlaub and Admiral Thomas Moorer, who were aware of operations such as Tailwind.  CNN was prepared to support its reporters, but did not anticipate the level of flak.  AIM went on the attack, but the biggest flak came from the Pentagon and Henry Kissinger.  In the flak’s wake, CNN hired two attorneys to critique Oliver and Smith's report, CNN retracted the story, and Oliver and Smith were fired.  The establishment press accounts of the Tailwind controversy made it appear as if CNN responsibly retracted a story that its loose cannon reporters snuck through.

Whatever inaccuracies there may have been in their story, Oliver and Smith were fired because of whom they offended.  Peter Arnett's career with CNN ended in April 1999 because of the issue.  He was one of America's finest mainstream reporters, but his continual reporting of the "wrong" story, such as his uncensored reports from Baghdad in 1991, won him the enmity of many powerful people.

Reed Irvine publicly called for the firing of those responsible for the Tailwind story and got his wish.  Oliver and her colleagues were eventually vindicated.  Singlaub sued Oliver to clear his name, sullied in the Tailwind flap.  On January 17, 2000, Thomas Moorer, in the presence of Oliver and Singlaub, was deposed as part of the lawsuit.  The transcript of that deposition was posted to the Internet, and Moorer confirmed all the essentials of Oliver’s reporting, including:

  • Sarin gas (also known as "BG" and "CBU-15") was stockpiled at the Nakhorn Phanom base in Thailand, where the Tailwind mission was launched;  
  • The mission sought American "defectors," and that killing them would have been a mission option;
  • Sarin was regularly used on the secret missions, the pilots knew they carried it and knew how, when, and why to deploy it; Moorer justified its deployment if it would save American lives, and admitted that the Montagnards had gas masks that were too large to fit properly, which allowed the nerve gas to kill them and prompted the USA to begin making smaller gas masks;
  • He believed that Sarin was used on the mission and that it was successful.

In essence, Oliver's reporting was accurate.  Although the Tailwind flap was huge news when it happened, the revelations of Moorer's testimony failed to receive any mainstream media coverage.  Singlaub's lawsuit was quietly settled and Oliver received a substantial settlement, reputed to be about $1 million, although the nature of such settlements is that Oliver cannot publicly say that she was vindicated, but the silence of Singlaub and others spoke volumes, and Oliver always stood by her story.  The careers of Oliver and others were ruined, but not a hint of "sorry" could be heard from Irvine or the others who attacked Oliver and her colleagues for reporting the truth.  They merely moved on to their next flak targets.

Similarly, reporter Gary Webb ran a series of reports in the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 regarding the issue of Contra complicity in the drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere.  The same stories came out during the Iran-Contra scandal, and it put the powerful in a bad light.  There was no substantive objection to Webb's powerfully supported story, and the CIA and Justice Department confirmed key elements of it, but nevertheless, Webb’s career ended.  Webb committed suicide in 2004, largely because of the financial pressures of his career’s termination.  

Immediately after Oliver and Smith's public professional execution came the story of Mike Gallagher of the Cincinnati Inquirer, who published a series of articles about Chiquita Brand International in May 1998.  Chiquita used to be known as United Fruit.  The USA overthrew the Guatemalan government in 1954 so that United Fruit could continue to "own" the country.  Gallagher reported that what went on in Central America was merely more of the same, and he found himself legally attacked by Chiquita, accusing him of illegally accessing their voicemail system.

During American invasions, the flak could become deadly.  During the American invasion of Panama, American troops murdered Spanish photojournalist Juantxu Rodríguez for the crime of taking pictures of the invasion.  Several Reuters reporters, for instance, were murdered by the American military, with the first coming during the conquest of Baghdad, when the invading Americans shelled the Palestine Hotel, which was well known to host foreign journalists.  It was later revealed to be a potential target before the invasion.  Later that year, before the Abu Ghraib prison became a household word in the West, for its tortures and murders of prisoners, a Reuters cameraman was killed by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib as he stood outside of its gates, filming.  Another Reuters photographer was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib.  In 2007, a Reuters photographer and his driver were murdered by a American helicopter crew.  The official story of those murders was suppressed until footage of the murders was leaked by Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and Wikileaks.  The murders received no reprimands while Manning went to prison and Wikileaks’s founder, Julian Assange, lives in asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London.  

Between 2002 and 2017, the United States sank from 17th to 43rd in press freedom, in the annual report by Reporters without Borders.  Herman and Chomsky wrote, “News management itself is designed to produce flak.” 

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Here is the final filter of Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model, followed by their famous paired example of media coverage of murders, depending on who was performing the murders.

Anticommunism (or “fear ideology”) as a control mechanism (partly replaced by the “war on terror” after the fall of the Soviet Union)

The final news filter presented by Herman and Chomsky was ideological, and when Manufacturing Consent was first published, that ideology in the United States was anticommunism.  The authors wrote:


“Communism as the ultimate evil has always been the specter haunting property owners, as it threatens the very root of their class positions and superior status.”  


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Chomsky said that he thought that the final news filter should have been more generalized, to portray a malevolent external power to scare the populace into huddling under the “protection” of the state, as a primary strategy of elite rule is through “induced fear,” and especially in democratic societies.  Chomsky and Herman wrote that since the demise of the Soviet Union, the “‘war on terror’ has provided a useful substitute for the Soviet Menace.”  Herman stated near his life’s end that in the first edition of Manufacturing Consent, they should have probably included market ideology as a filter, as the market economy has long been promoted in the American media as an “ideal arrangement of the economic order.”

Herman and Chomsky stated that their hypothesis was no “conspiracy theory,” but that market and structural principles were a better explanation of the media’s behavior.  A Canadian documentary of Chomsky’s life and work was released in 1992, titled Manufacturing Consent, which briefly featured Herman.  It was the most popular documentary in Canadian history to that time, yet it never played on American mainstream television or had a mass theatrical release in the United States, but played at American colleges.

After presenting the propaganda model, Herman and Chomsky presented case studies of the propaganda model in action.  In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky coined the terms “worthy and unworthy victims” (which Chomsky later stated was Herman’s invention).  Worthy victims are victims of official enemies, and unworthy victims are victims of us or our allies and clients.  Herman and Chomsky often used pairing analysis, which Herman thought that, with the propaganda model, was his chief contribution to the field of scholarship.  Not that Herman invented paired analysis, but he believed that he and his coauthors’ efforts may have “given them more weight and salience” in subsequent studies.

Their paired analysis of worthy and unworthy victims in Manufacturing Consent also became their most famous, in which they compared the media’s coverage of the murder of Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko by the Polish police to the murders of one hundred church workers in Latin America, who were killed by American client regimes.  Herman and Chomsky studied the coverage in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and CBS News, which in 2017 are still the most respected media productions in the United States.  For the murders of Popieluszko and the Latin American church workers, including Archbishop Romero and four American church-women, the authors adduced the number of articles, their length, whether they were on the front page and in editorials, and in the case of CBS news, how many news segments were on the evening news.  The coverage afforded Popieluszko’s murder was far more than the collective coverage of the hundred murders of church workers in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were American client states when the murders occurred.  

Herman and Chomsky noted that the coverage of Popieluszko’s murder was “somewhat inflated” because of the coverage of the trial and convictions of the Polish policemen who murdered Popieluszko, while virtually no murders of the hundred church-workers in Latin America were prosecuted at all.  The quantitative aspect of Herman and Chomsky’s analysis was complemented by a qualitative one.  The media’s treatment of worthy victims stress their humanity and even saintly qualities, while the media’s treatment of unworthy victims’ suffering is perfunctory if at all, and in the case of the American women, American Secretary of State Alexander Haig and American ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, went so far as to say that the women deserved it, as they lied about the circumstances of their deaths and their relationship with the “rebels” in El Salvador (those women had none).

The media’s reaction to Popieluszko’s murder was to provide great detail on the manner of his death, demands for justice, and the search for responsibility at the top, as the media strongly hinted at Soviet involvement.  For Archbishop Romero’s and the 99 other church-worker victims’ murders, including the American women, the coverage was muted, if any, and only rarely was there even an attempt to investigate or prosecute, or any interest shown by the media in knowing who might have been responsible for the murders.  When four El Salvadoran National Guardsmen were eventually prosecuted for the murders of the American women, years later and only under intense American pressure, the trial officials and American media never even hinted at whose orders they might have been carrying out.  


Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Oh my, I was on a roll today, as I had the day off from work.  To expand on what I have previously written, my original draft of Ed’s bio was intended as more of an introduction of my bio work to Ed, which I hoped would lead to a close collaboration with him on his bio.  

There was already a decent Wikipedia bio on the propaganda model, so I skimped on the Manufacturing Consent chapter, as I planned to go fairly light on it in Ed’s bio.  With Ed’s death, I decided that my Ed bio needs to stand on its own.  I’ll still make an edited bio for Wikipedia, but Ed thought that Manufacturing Consent was his most important work, so I needed to do justice to it in my bio, so it is now the largest chapter of Ed’s bio, and I am reproducing the chapter draft in full below.  

I plan it publish Ed’s bio on my site, as well as Wikipedia, by year-end, and we will see how that ambitious timeframe goes.  If I can’t get it done by then, then in January, but I really want to get it done this year.
Best,

Wade


Manufacturing Consent and the propaganda model

Herman’s framework of analysis in Corporate Control, Corporate Power, in which competing interests would still unite on the mutually beneficial goal of maximizing corporate profit and power, was a precursor to his and Chomsky’s propaganda model (PM), of which Herman was the primary author.  The PM formed the central framework of his next effort with Chomsky, published in 1988 and titled Manufacturing Consent, which is arguably their most famous work, both jointly and individually.  The book’s title came from Walter Lippmann’s writings, which noted the “manufacture of [the public’s] consent” for elite activities.

Herman and Chomsky’s PM has the following “news filters” that determine the mass media’s news content in the United States.

Size, ownership, and profit orientation of the mass media

Herman and Chomsky cited the work of James Curran and Jean Seaton on the British working-class press in the first half of the 19th century.  British elites tried to destroy the working-class press through punitive laws, which proved ineffective.  After the punitive laws were repealed, there was a brief renaissance of the working-class press, but the last half of the 19th century saw the “industrialization of the press,” and the working-class press could not survive in an environment of capitalist industrial practices.  In 1837, the cost of establishing a profitable national weekly newspaper was less than a thousand pounds and breakeven sales were a circulation of 6,200.  By 1867, the cost of establishing a new London daily was 50,000 pounds, and in the early 20th century, the Sunday Express invested two million pounds to reach a breakeven circulation of 250,000.  By the end of the 19th century, the British working-class press was effectively defunct.  The authors noted that similar dynamics were at work in the United States in the 19th century, and by 1945, even small-town newspaper publishing was considered big business, with huge capital investment required to start-up a newspaper.

Herman and Chomsky analyzed the American media in the late-20th century, particularly 24 of the largest media companies.  The authors cited Ben Bagdikian’s statistics that showed that the 29 largest media systems dispensed more than half of the newspapers, books, broadcasting, magazines, and movies in the United States.  Herman and Chomsky argued that of great importance was also how those large media organizations provided the national and global news for local media organizations, which usually only provided original news on local events.  

Herman and Chomsky made the case that those large media conglomerates were all profit-seeking corporations that were owned and controlled by wealthy interests, and that any reporting contrary to the interests of the owners would be distorted by that conflict of interest.  In addition, large industrial corporations such as General Electric, which was also a huge military contractor at the time, diversified into owning media companies, which further concentrated the ownership of the media into a few rich hands and created greater conflicts of interest.

When Ben Bagdikian first published The Media Monopoly in 1983, he noted that 50 media organizations controlled more than half of the United States’s media content (which shrank to 29 companies in The Media Monopoly’s 1987 edition, which was cited in Manufacturing Consent).  Bagdikian observed that each edition of The Media Monopoly was dismissed by media figures as “alarmist,” but that by 2004, the number of media organizations controlling more than half of its output had shrunk to just five companies.  Bagdikian contended that such a huge concentration of media companies “constitute a new Private Ministry of Truth and Culture” that Herman and Chomsky wrote: “can set the national agenda.”

A few years after Manufacturing Consent was published, the influence of media ownership became starkly evident during the first Gulf War.  General Electric (GE), through its subsidiary GE Aerospace, was one of the world’s largest military contractors in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and GE had acquired NBC in 1986.  Before 1991, GE had been involved in several instances of censoring NBC’s reporting, such as removing a reference to GE in a Today Show segment on substandard products.

During the United States’s Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991, GE’s technologies were part of nearly every weapons system deployed in that war.  NBC regularly dispensed with journalism in favor of cheerleading, such as calling Iraq’s Scud missile an “evil weapon” while describing an American missile as “accurate within a few feet” soon after admitting that such an “accurate” missile had just hit Iraqi homes.  

When the United States invaded Panama in 1989, the Pentagon’s spokesman was Pete Williams, whose prevarications on behalf of the Pentagon became legendary (such as his announcing 457 Iraqi deaths during Operation Desert Storm, when the real number was more like 100,000), and his performance during Operation Desert Storm earned him the appellation as commander of “Operation Desert Muzzle.”  Williams’s and the Pentagon’s lies were so influential to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw that he announced that the Patriot anti-missile system “put the Scud in its place.”  NBC’s glowing commentary failed to mention that the weapons it praised were built by its owner.  In 1993, NBC hired Williams as a news correspondent, a position that he still held in 2017.  

GE’s influence contributed to a spectacular instance of censorship during 1991’s Gulf War.  Jon Alpert has won 15 Emmy awards and has twice been nominated for Academy Awards for his documentary efforts.  He was the first American journalist to bring back uncensored footage from Iraq in 1991, which depicted heavy civilization casualties.  The footage was presented to NBC, which had commissioned the effort, and although even Tom Brokaw wanted it aired, NBC’s president Michael Gartner not only killed the story but fired Alpert and ensured that he never worked for NBC again.  Alpert then took the footage to CBS, where CBS Evening News Executive Director Tom Bettag told Alpert that he and his footage would be on the air with CBS Evening News’s anchor Dan Rather the next evening.  However, Bettag was fired that night and Alpert’s footage never aired on an American news show.

It was not until 1997 that the American public learned the truth of those highly praised weapons systems, when a report by the General Accounting Office was declassified, which detailed the exaggerations of effectiveness made by the Pentagon and weapons manufacturers regarding the American weapons used in Operation Desert Storm.


The advertising license to do business


Herman and Chomsky wrote that the Liberal chancellor of the British Exchequer, Sir George Lewis, in the mid-19th century observed that market forces would marginalize dissident opinion by promoting those newspapers “enjoying the preference of the advertising public.”  The authors noted that, indeed, the pressure of advertising weakened the working-class press, and that the subsidy of advertising and the affluent audiences that they target, as well as the “downscale” audience that is also attracted, gives media that cater to affluent audiences an economic edge that marginalizes and drives out media that don’t attract or rely on such advertising revenue.

Herman and Chomsky cited Curran’s work on the subject, which noted that in its last year of publication, the Daily Herald had nearly twice the circulation of The Times, Financial Times, and the Guardian combined, and was held in higher regard by its readers than the readers of any other newspaper, but because it was not integrated into establishment systems with their generous advertising revenue, it failed, along with other social-democratic newspapers in the 1960s, which contributed to the Labor party’s decline.  The authors wrote: “A mass movement without any major media support, and subject to a great deal of active press hostility, suffers a serious disability, and struggles against grave odds.”

Herman and Chomsky wrote about how CBS took pride in informing its shareholders how it used a sophisticated approach to attract and retain affluent audiences.  Just as the 19th century British press did, CBS was not seeking a wide-audience, but an affluent one that, in the 21st century parlance of the Internet, can be “monetized.”  A 21st century Internet adage is that if you use anything for free, the product being sold is you.  The authors noted that advertisers, seeking those affluent audiences, exert great influence on media content.  Advertisers do not want to help fund unsettling media content, but prefer content that puts viewers in the “buying mood.”

Herman and Chomsky provided an example of advertiser clout when, in 1985, public-television station WNET lost its corporate funding from Gulf + Western when it broadcasted a documentary titled “Hungry for Profit,” which depicted predatory corporate practices in the Third World.  Even before the documentary aired, WNET’s executives, who anticipated the negative corporate reaction, did their best to “sanitize” the show, but that effort did not prevent Gulf + Western’s pulling its funding while its CEO stated that the show was “virulently anti-business if not anti-American.”  The London Economist remarked on the situation: “Most people believe that WNET would not make the same mistake again.”

Advertisers can also gang up on publications that step out of line, an example of which was when Mother Jones ran a series of articles in 1980 that discussed the medical findings that smoking was a major cause of cancer and heart disease.  The tobacco companies pulled their ads en masse from Mother Jones, and that event helps explain that while Reader’s Digest had been campaigning for generations on the health hazards of smoking, no other mainstream publication dared to, including Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report.  Eight years after the Mother Jones incident, the world’s largest ad agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, lost its huge RJR Nabisco account when it produced an ad that announced Northwest Airline’s strict no-smoking rule on its flights.  RJR Nabisco sold the Winston and Camels cigarette brands.  Saatchi and Saatchi learned its lesson, and when it subsequently bought an ad agency that was preparing anti-smoking messages for the Minnesota Department of Health, Saatchi and Saatchi cancelled the deal with the health authorities rather than risk its $35 million fee for promoting Kool cigarettes.

The next year, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop angrily denounced magazines and newspapers that were full of ads for cigarettes and refused to publish anything on the dangers of smoking.  The media collectively yawned and quickly consigned Koop’s diatribe to media oblivion.  Andrew Mills, TV Guide’s assistant managing editor, stated in an interview for Unreliable Sources, “I think it would be naïve to expect publications that take a lot of revenue from the tobacco industry to go after them vigorously.”  When Mills made that statement, every issue of TV Guide was filled with cigarette ads, and Mills never heard that TV Guide ever thought of publishing anything critical of cigarettes.

Some tobacco-ad-carrying publications went even further, as Playboy magazine ran an essay authored by an attorney that attacked proposals to limit cigarette ads, defended the rights of cigarette companies to promote cigarettes, and the essay specifically defended a Camels ad aimed at teenagers.  In that issue of Playboy was a two-page color Camels ad.

The conflicts of interest with advertisers could reach extreme levels.  For a generation, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) ran tobacco ads.  It only stopped running them in 1954 when drug companies that advertised in JAMA, as well as physicians, complained.  Drug ads appeared next to cigarette ads in JAMA’s pages, those cigarette ads featured doctors promoting various brands, and the ads often made health claims that made cigarettes appear to be wonder drugs.

The event that finally spurred JAMA to cease running cigarette ads was the final ad campaign for cigarettes in its pages, which began when JAMA’s former editor, Morris Fishbein, the face of American medicine for a generation, entered into a lucrative consulting arrangement with Lorillard, the maker of Kent cigarettes, to structure research that “proved” the superior properties of Kent’s new Micronite filter, which was made of asbestos.  The ad blitz that followed the Micronite filter “research” finally inspired the AMA to stop running cigarette ads and declare that its scientific meetings would ban cigarette exhibits (although the AMA’s headquarters had cigarette vending machines in its lobby until the 1980s).  Fishbein worked with Phillip Morris on a similar “research” campaign in the 1930s, for the diethylene glycol “moistener” in its cigarettes, which Phillip Morris’s representatives used for a publicity campaign that it took directly into doctor’s offices and onto JAMA’s pages.  It was not until 1950, the year after Fishbein was finally ousted as JAMA’s editor, in the aftermath of a scandal relating to his wiping out an alternative cancer treatment practitioner (after the practitioner refused to sell out to Fishbein and his associates, as they refused to treat the indigent for free, as that practitioner did), that the first study of lung disease and smoking appeared in JAMA’s pages.  That study showed that 96.5% of lung cancer patients in examined St. Louis hospitals were smokers.

In the increasingly hostile environment for American cigarette companies during the 1980s, the Reagan administration successfully used the threat of trade sanctions to force Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand to open their markets to American tobacco companies.  The “free trade” rhetoric behind the Reagan administration’s offensive was reminiscent of the British Opium Wars against China.  The tobacco industries in those nations were stagnant before the entry of the American tobacco companies, and their market was primarily comprised of adult men.  In the wake of the entry of American tobacco companies, with ad blitzes that specifically targeted women and children, smoking rates in those nations skyrocketed.  

Such subservience to their advertisers was far from restricted to cigarette ads.  At Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, they would give their advertisers advanced notice, including tobacco companies, if an article ran, including plane crashes and studies on alcoholism, that put their advertisers’ products in an unflattering light, so that the advertisers could move their ads accordingly.  Also, those publications would produce ads that looked like news, not ads, to readers who were not careful to distinguish ads from “news.”

Herman and Chomsky concluded that the “buying mood” imperative of TV advertisers ensures that only bland, lightly entertaining content will be delivered to viewers, as the primary reason for advertising is to disseminate the “selling message.”


The sourcing of mass media news


Herman and Chomsky wrote, “The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interests.”  The authors noted that the media’s needs for a reliable stream of raw material for news, and the need of powerful institutions to shape society to their advantage, form the basis of mutually beneficial arrangements between the media and governmental and corporate institutions, which steadily produce material that is increasingly published by news agencies virtually unaltered, turning the mass media into little more than a conduit of governmental and corporate propaganda.  The media dependency on those news sources can be extreme.  Herman and Chomsky wrote, “It is very difficult to call authorities on whom one depends for daily news liars, even if they tell whoppers.”  

Herman and Chomsky presented a survey of the American military that showed that the Pentagon produced 371 magazines in 1971, at a cost of $57 million, which was 16 times larger than the largest American publisher.  The authors wrote about Senator J.W. Fulbright’s investigation of the U.S. Air Force in 1968 that yielded the findings that the Air Force had 1,305 full-time public relations employees, and Herman and Chomsky noted that the resources that governmental and corporate institutions devoted to spreading their message are hundreds and even thousands of times greater than those of dissident organizations.  

Regarding the American government’s public relations efforts, Herman and Chomsky wrote:


“It should also be noted that in the case of the largesse of the Pentagon and the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy, the subsidy is at the taxpayer’s expense, so that, in effect, the citizenry pays to be propagandized in the interest of powerful groups such as military contractors and other sponsors of state terrorism.”


Herman and Chomsky wrote that in 1972, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urging them “to buy the top academic reputations in the country to add credibility to corporate studies and give business a stronger voice on campus.”  The authors noted that in the 1970s and early 1980s, that buy-an-expert trend began the era of “think tanks” that had the effect of “propagandizing the corporate viewpoint.”

Herman and Chomsky provided an analysis of such “experts” on terrorism and defense on the highly regarded MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour for a one-year period in 1985-1986, on the subjects of the so-called Bulgarian Connection to the assassination attempt on John Paul II, the shooting down of Korean airliner KAL 007, and terrorism, defense, and arms control.  The majority of guests on the show were current and former officials and conservative think tank “experts.”

The year after Manufacturing Consent was published, the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) published a study of 40 months of Nightline shows, which confirmed Herman and Chomsky’s analysis of MacNeil/
Lehrer News Hour, in that the vast majority of American guests on the show were professionals, government officials, or corporate representatives.  Only five percent of the guests spoke on behalf of the public interest (peace, environmental, consumer advocates, and so on).  Nightline’s most frequent guests were Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig, both former U.S. Secretaries of State.

Nightline responded to FAIR’s survey and Ted Koppel, the host of Nightline, replied that FAIR’s survey merely reflected Nightline’s shows during the reign of the conservative Reagan administration.  FAIR’s director, Jeff Cohen, replied to Koppel’s defense with:


“This explanation could have been given uttered by a Soviet TV news programmer – pre-glasnost.  American television news is not supposed to be strictly a forum for representatives of the state.  FAIR does not criticize Nightline for inviting policy makers to appear on the show, but for its exclusion of forceful American critics of the policy.  Critics, and critical sources, are part of a news story.”


In 1994, the authors of the Nightline study released by FAIR, David Croteau and William Hoynes, published By Invitation Only: How the Media Limit Political Debate, which presented not only their Nightline research results, but also their analysis of the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and their results were similar to Herman and Chomsky’s.  Their study of several hundred Nightline episodes showed that of Nightline's guests, 82% were male, 89% were white, and 78% were government officials, professionals, and corporate representatives.  They also presented the same data taken from The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.  Those numbers were even more skewed, at 87% male, 90% white, and 89% government officials, professionals, and corporate representatives.  

The media themselves also provided their own “experts,” such as Claire Sterling and John Barron, and another class of experts was remarked on by Herman and Chomsky, of “former radicals who have ‘come to see the light.’”  Those former “sinners,” whose work was formerly marginalized and ridiculed by the mass media, were suddenly catapulted into the bright lights and became revered “experts.”  The authors recalled how Soviet defectors during the McCarthy era vied with each other to provide the most lurid stories and warnings of a coming Soviet invasion.  Herman and Chomsky concluded that, “The steady flow of ex-radicals from marginality to media attention shows that we are witnessing a durable method of providing experts who will say what the establishment wants said.”

Flak and the enforcers

The PM’s first three filters act as powerful coercive controls over what news is published, but sometimes news that does not conform to the dictates of power is produced.  Herman and Chomsky wrote about “flak” as a negative reaction directed at media organizations.  It can simply be a letter to the editor or phone call to a TV station, but the most influential flak comes from highly organized operations or the powerful, such as a call from the White House to a TV news anchor.  The authors emphasized right-wing think tank flak and cited Accuracy in Media (AIM) in particular.  AIM is a media watchdog organization founded by Reed Irvine, whose media attacks were frequently published in the media, as he and AIM were given ready access to the media.  AIM was one of many corporate-funded organizations that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, whose general purpose was to produce flak to police an already right-leaning media while using the Orwellian “liberal” epithet to describe the media.  

Freedom House has had close relations with AIM, and Herman and Chomsky provided an example of Freedom House’s kind of flak when they wrote:


“In 1982, when the Reagan administration was having trouble containing media reporting of the systematic killing of civilians by the Salvadoran army, Freedom House came through with a denunciation of the ‘imbalance’ in media reporting from El Salvador.”


Herman and Chomsky analyzed one of Freedom House’s most notable publications, Peter Braestrup’s Big Story, which contended that the media helped lose the Vietnam War.  The authors wrote that the premise of Big Story was that the media’s function was supposed to be as cheerleaders for all American wars, no matter the merits of American interventions and invasions.  

In the years before and after Manufacturing Consent was first published, spectacular instances of flak were seen.  In 1982, NYT's reporter Ray Bonner accurately reported on the El Mozote massacre, committed by American-trained El Salvadoran forces.  About one thousand people were murdered, mainly women and children.  That mass murder was committed by Reagan's "fledgling democracy," reporting the truth cost Bonner his job, and AIM led the attack.  The alternative media covered the El Mozote and Bonner story extensively in the 1980s, and Bonner was vindicated when the mass grave was discovered.  

In 1998, a joint project by Time and Cable News Network (CNN) produced a report on Operation Tailwind, which was a secret American operation in Laos in 1970.  CNN reporters April Oliver and Jack Smith published their story on the alleged use of Sarin nerve gas by the American military in Operation Tailwind, which was partly mounted to find and kill deserting American soldiers.  CNN's Peter Arnett also helped report the story.  It was broadcasted on June 7 and June 14, 1998, and Time ran it in its June 15, 1998 edition.

The reporters worked on the story for several months and interviewed people involved in the operation, as well as Major General John Singlaub and Admiral Thomas Moorer, who were aware of operations such as Tailwind.  CNN was prepared to support its reporters, but did not anticipate the level of flak.  AIM went on the attack, but the biggest flak came from the Pentagon and Henry Kissinger.  In the flak’s wake, CNN hired two attorneys to critique Oliver and Smith's report, CNN retracted the story, and Oliver and Smith were fired.  The establishment press accounts of the Tailwind controversy made it appear as if CNN responsibly retracted a story that its loose cannon reporters snuck through.

Whatever inaccuracies there may have been in their story, Oliver and Smith were fired because of whom they offended.  Peter Arnett's career with CNN ended in April 1999 because of the issue.  He was one of America's finest mainstream reporters, but his continual reporting of the "wrong" story, such as his uncensored reports from Baghdad in 1991, won him the enmity of many powerful people.

Reed Irvine publicly called for the firing of those responsible for the Tailwind story and got his wish.  Oliver and her colleagues were eventually vindicated.  Singlaub sued Oliver to clear his name, sullied in the Tailwind flap.  On January 17, 2000, Thomas Moorer, in the presence of Oliver and Singlaub, was deposed as part of the lawsuit.  The transcript of that deposition was posted to the Internet, and Moorer confirmed all the essentials of Oliver’s reporting, including:

  • Sarin gas (also known as "BG" and "CBU-15") was stockpiled at the Nakhorn Phanom base in Thailand, where the Tailwind mission was launched;  
  • The mission sought American "defectors," and that killing them would have been a mission option;
  • Sarin was regularly used on the secret missions, the pilots knew they carried it and knew how, when, and why to deploy it; Moorer justified its deployment if it would save American lives, and admitted that the Montagnards had gas masks that were too large to fit properly, which allowed the nerve gas to kill them and prompted the USA to begin making smaller gas masks;
  • He believed that Sarin was used on the mission and that it was successful.

In essence, Oliver's reporting was accurate.  Although the Tailwind flap was huge news when it happened, the revelations of Moorer's testimony failed to receive any mainstream media coverage.  Singlaub's lawsuit was quietly settled and Oliver received a substantial settlement from CNN, reputed to be about $1 million, although the nature of such settlements is that Oliver cannot publicly say that she was vindicated, but the silence of Singlaub and others spoke volumes, and Oliver always stood by her story.  The careers of Oliver and others were ruined, but not a hint of "sorry" could be heard from Irvine or the others who attacked Oliver and her colleagues for reporting the truth.  They merely moved on to their next flak targets.

Similarly, reporter Gary Webb ran a series of reports in the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 regarding the issue of Contra complicity in the drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere.  The same stories came out during the Iran-Contra scandal, and it put the powerful in a bad light.  There was no substantive objection to Webb's powerfully supported story, and the CIA and Justice Department confirmed key elements of it, but nevertheless, Webb’s career ended.  Webb committed suicide in 2004, largely because of the financial pressures of his career’s termination over his accurate reporting.

Immediately after Oliver and Smith's public professional execution came the story of Mike Gallagher of the Cincinnati Inquirer, who published a series of articles about Chiquita Brand International in May 1998.  Chiquita used to be known as United Fruit.  The USA overthrew the Guatemalan government in 1954 so that United Fruit could continue to "own" the country.  Gallagher reported that what went on in Central America was merely more of the same, and he found himself legally attacked by Chiquita, accusing him of illegally accessing their voicemail system.

During American invasions, the flak could become deadly.  During the American invasion of Panama, American troops murdered Spanish photojournalist Juantxu Rodríguez for the crime of taking pictures of the invasion.  For instance, several Reuters reporters were murdered by the American military, with the first coming during the conquest of Baghdad, when the invading Americans shelled the Palestine Hotel, which was well known to host foreign journalists.  It was later revealed to be a potential target before the invasion.  Later that year, before the Abu Ghraib prison became a household word in the West, for its tortures and murders of prisoners, a Reuters cameraman was killed by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib as he stood outside of its gates, filming.  Another Reuters photographer was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib.  In 2007, a Reuters photographer and his driver were murdered by an American helicopter crew.  The information about those murders was suppressed until footage of them was leaked by Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and Wikileaks.  The killers received no reprimands while Manning went to prison and Wikileaks’s founder, Julian Assange, lives in political asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, under the specter of rendition and prosecution by the United States.  

Between 2002 and 2017, the United States sank from 17th to 43rd in press freedom, in the annual report by Reporters without Borders.  Herman and Chomsky wrote, “News management itself is designed to produce flak.”  

Anticommunism (or “fear ideology”) as a control mechanism (partly replaced by the “war on terror” after the fall of the Soviet Union)

The final news filter presented by Herman and Chomsky was ideological, and when Manufacturing Consent was first published, that ideology in the United States was anticommunism.  The authors wrote:


“Communism as the ultimate evil has always been the specter haunting property owners, as it threatens the very root of their class positions and superior status.”  


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Chomsky said that he thought that the final news filter should have been more generalized, to portray a malevolent external power to scare the populace into huddling under the “protection” of the state, as a primary strategy of elite rule is through “induced fear,” and especially in democratic societies.  Herman stated near his life’s end that in the first edition of Manufacturing Consent, they should have probably included market ideology as a filter, as the market economy has long been promoted in the American media as an “ideal arrangement of the economic order.”

Herman and Chomsky stated that their hypothesis was no “conspiracy theory,” but that market and structural principles were a better explanation of the media’s behavior.  A Canadian documentary of Chomsky’s life and work was released in 1992, titled Manufacturing Consent, which briefly featured Herman.  It was the most popular documentary in Canadian history to that time, yet it never played on American mainstream television or had a mass theatrical release in the United States, but played at American colleges.

After presenting the PM, Herman and Chomsky presented case studies of the PM in action.  In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky coined the terms “worthy and unworthy victims” (which Chomsky later stated was Herman’s invention).  Worthy victims are victims of official enemies, and unworthy victims are victims of us or our allies and clients.  Herman and Chomsky often used pairing analysis, which Herman thought that, along with his structural analysis of the media, was his chief contribution to the field of scholarship.  Not that Herman invented paired analysis, but he believed that he and his coauthors’ efforts may have “given them more weight and salience” in subsequent studies.

Their paired analysis of worthy and unworthy victims in Manufacturing Consent also became their most famous, in which they compared the media’s coverage of the murder of Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko by the Polish police to the murders of one hundred church workers in Latin America, who were killed by American client regimes.  Herman and Chomsky studied the coverage in NYT, Time, Newsweek, and CBS News, which in 2017 are still the most respected media productions in the United States.  For the murders of Popieluszko and the Latin American church-workers, including Archbishop Romero and four American churchwomen, the authors adduced the number of articles, their length, whether they were on the front page and in editorials, and in the case of CBS News, how many news segments were on the evening news.  The coverage afforded Popieluszko’s murder was far more than the collective coverage of the hundred murders of church-workers in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were American client states when the murders occurred.  

Herman and Chomsky noted that the coverage of Popieluszko’s murder was “somewhat inflated” because of the coverage of the trial and convictions of the Polish policemen who murdered Popieluszko, while virtually no murders of the hundred church-workers in Latin America were prosecuted.  The quantitative aspect of Herman and Chomsky’s analysis was complemented by a qualitative one.  The media’s treatment of worthy victims stress their humanity and even saintly qualities, while the media’s treatment of unworthy victims’ suffering is perfunctory if at all, and in the case of the American churchwomen, American Secretary of State Alexander Haig and American ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, went so far as to say that the women deserved it, as they lied about the circumstances of their deaths and their relationship with the “rebels” in El Salvador (those women had none).

The media’s reaction to Popieluszko’s murder was to provide great detail on the manner of his death, demands for justice, and the search for responsibility at the top, as the media strongly hinted at Soviet involvement.  For Archbishop Romero’s and the 99 other church-workers’ murders, including the American women, the coverage was muted, if any, and only rarely was there even an attempt to investigate or prosecute, or any interest shown by the media in knowing who might have been responsible for the murders.  When four El Salvadoran National Guardsmen were eventually prosecuted for the murders of the American women, years later and only because of intense American pressure, the trial officials and American media never even hinted at whose orders they might have been carrying out.

In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky argued that those news filters reflected conflicts of interest that biased the news toward serving powerful interests instead of objectively informing the public.  Manufacturing Consent presented several other case studies of the news filters in action, including “Legitimizing versus Meaningless Third World Elections in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua,” the “KGB-Bulgarian Plot to Kill the Pope,” and the Indochina wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

As they summarized the American media’s retrospective treatment of the Vietnam War, Herman and Chomsky wrote:


"The war was a 'tragic error,' but not 'fundamentally wrong or immoral' (as the overwhelming majority of the American people continue to believe), and surely not criminal aggression - the judgment that would be reached at once on similar evidence if the responsible agent were not the USA, or an ally or client.

"Our point is not that the retrospectives fail to draw what seem to us, as to much of the population, the obvious conclusions; the more significant and instructive point is that principled objection to the war as 'fundamentally wrong and immoral,' or as an outright criminal aggression - a war crime - is inexpressible.  It is not part of the spectrum of discussion.  The background for such a principled critique cannot be developed in the media, and the conclusions cannot be drawn.  It is not present even to be refuted.  Rather, the idea is unthinkable.

"All of this reveals with great clarity how foreign to the mobilized media is a conception of the media as a free system of information and discussion, independent of state authority and elite interests."  


In 1989, Manufacturing Consent won the National Council of Teachers of English’s George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language (the Orwell Award).  The same year, Exxon earned the National Council of Teachers of English’s Doublespeak Award, for its prevarications about its cleanup of the Exxon Valdez’s Alaskan oil spill.  

Subsequent assessments

In 1999, Herman revisited the PM and analyzed the mainstream media and “left” academic critiques, including the criticisms that the PM was a “conspiracy theory,” that it came from Chomsky’s linguistics (when it really came from Herman’s institutional framework of analysis), that it ignored what reporters thought, that it ignored journalistic professionalism and objectivity, that it failed to explain opposition and resistance, and that it was too functionalist and determinist.  With his characteristic approach, Herman argued that all such criticisms were invalid.  

Herman further noted in his decade-later review of the PM that changes in the economy, communications industries, and politics made the PM more relevant than when Manufacturing Consent was first published.  Herman noted that with the demise of the Soviet Union, Reagan’s “miracle of the market” had nearly become a subject of religious faith among the American elite and media.  Herman provided 1990s examples of the PM in action, such as when the media became cheerleaders for the North American Free Trade Agreement and harshly condemned any dissent to it.  Herman also noted how the media treated the chemical industry and its regulation, and its coverage of the single-payer medical insurance issue.  Herman argued those examples made the PM perhaps more relevant in 1999 than in 1988, when it was first published.

In 2009, Herman and Chomsky participated in interview about the PM, 20 years after it was first published.  They noted that the propaganda framework for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, under plainly false pretenses, was never questioned in the mainstream media.  Herman and Chomsky noted that a NYT retrospective in 2008 featured notable “experts” for think-pieces on the global situations that the incoming president would face, and every article assumed that the American invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were “legitimate, even noble.”  Herman and Chomsky observed that the media’s treatment of those invasions were just like it treated the American wars in Indochina.  At worst, they were “strategic blunders” in their high mission of spreading freedom, and the American media never referred to any of them as aggressions.  Herman and Chomsky noted that the effects of four filters had become even more pronounced in the intervening 20 years, while the fifth, anticommunist ideology, had somewhat receded since the demise of the Soviet Union, but that the “‘war on terror’ has provided a useful substitute for the Soviet Menace.”  

In the last essay that was published in Herman’s lifetime, Herman assessed the PM 30 years after it was first published.  Herman noted that the casualty-free Russian annexation of Crimea, after the American-backed coup in Ukraine, was regularly described as an “aggression” in the American media, while the unprovoked and casualty-rich American invasion of Iraq was never described that way.  Herman noted a similar double standard of the use “genocide,” such as when it was “lavishly” used to describe the Srebrenica massacre of approximately 500 military-aged men, while the U.S. sponsored sanctions regime against Iraq, which preceded the invasion and claimed the lives of at least a half million children was not only not called “genocide,” but Madeleine Albright said that those deaths were “worth it” on national TV.

Herman discussed the same criticisms of the PM that he previously identified, and he noted their superficiality and the critics’ inability to address what the PM really is.  Herman noted another criticism, that the PM was not deterministic enough, as if some formula could be used to rank the filters and predict media performance for various situations.  Herman wrote that all such criticisms demonstrated that the critics did not understand what the PM is, which is a broad analytic framework.

Herman wrote that the biggest change in the media since Manufacturing Consent was published was the growth of the Internet, but that the rise of Google and Facebook, while taking advertising revenues from the traditional media, don’t even produce content, but are in the “spying and selling” business.  However, with their control over the “eyeballs” that advertisers seek, Facebook seeks to become a platform for the mainstream media, and may be on its way to controlling online journalism.  Herman observed in a late-life interview that the Internet Revolution has actually been regressive, as far as journalism and media freedom went.  Dissidents may have the ability to publish like never before, but that does not mean that anybody knows about it or reads it.

Herman wrote of the Internet-Age media campaign to justify invading Iraq, and how the lies told before the invasion were lurid and quickly exposed, one after another, with NYT and Washington Post notably swallowing Bush administration disinformation whole, and instead attacked the findings of the United Nations and American inspectors of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which clearly demonstrated that Iraq had been completely disarmed, and NYT even published an attack on the most vocal American WMD inspector, Scott Ritter.  NYT in particular, and especially its journalist Judith Miller, became conduits for the Bush administration’s disinformation campaign against Iraq.  In the wake of no WMD being found after Iraq’s invasion, NYT and Washington Post offered semi-apologies, yet not only were the personnel responsible for publishing the disinformation not fired, but the very same people almost immediately began publishing lurid articles about Iran’s alleged WMD.

Herman provided 21st century paired examples to demonstrate that the PM was alive and well.  In 2009, Iran and Honduras held elections.  Iran’s was contested, while the Honduras election happened soon after a coup that the United States supported, and was another infamous Latin American Demonstration Election, and only two elite coup-supporters were on the ballot.  Nevertheless, American newspaper coverage used “fraud” and “rigged” to describe the Iranian elections 2,139 times, versus 28 times for the Honduran elections.  One Iranian protestor was shot and killed in a peaceful demonstration in Iran, and one Honduran protestor was killed by the Honduran military two weeks after the Iranian protestor’s death, and his murder was dramatically captured on video.  Herman noted the disparity in the American media’s coverage of those two deaths: 736-to-8 in the print media, and 231-to-1 on TV news, in favor of the Iranian protestor’s death, which was nearly the same ratio in Manufacturing Consent regarding Popieluszko’s murder versus the Latin American church-worker murders.

Herman concluded with:

“The Propaganda Model is as applicable as it was thirty years ago…The Propaganda Model lives on.

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

I also drafted a section on challenges and defenses to the propaganda model, which I will put in the criticisms chapter.  

Best,

Wade


Challenges and defenses of the propaganda model

Ever since Manufacturing Consent was published, it has received a wide spectrum of response.  Herman and Chomsky’s PM is a hypothesis of how the media operates, not how effective it is.  In the conclusion of Manufacturing Consent, the authors wrote:


“The system is not all-powerful, however.  Government and elite domination of the media have not succeeded in overcoming the Vietnam syndrome and public hostility to direct U.S. involvement in the destabilization and overthrow of foreign governments.”  


NYT published a review of Manufacturing Consent by Cornell professor Walter LaFeber.  LaFeber wrote that the impressive detailed work in Manufacture Consent was weakened by the tendency of the authors to “overstate” their cases, and LaFeber provided examples that he argued contradicted the PM, notably that activists had hampered the Reagan administration’s attempts to support the Nicaraguan Contras.  

The year after Manufacturing Consent was published, Chomsky addressed critiques of the PM in his Necessary Illusions.  Chomsky wrote that the PM held up well to tests of its validity, and noted that paired examples clearly identify the double-standards that the media uses for reporting similar events.  Chomsky reiterated the dichotomous treatment of Polish and Central American priest and nun murders, in which the murder of one priest in an enemy regime received far more coverage than a hundred priests and nuns in client regimes.  

Chomsky replied to LaFeber’s critique by noting that it was one of the few reactions to a PM that was not “invective.”  Chomsky replied to LaFeber’s assertion that activist victories contradicted the PM with:


“Consider [LaFeber’s] first argument: the model is undermined by the fact that efforts to ‘mobilize bias’ sometimes fail.  By the same logic, an account of how Pravda works to ‘mobilize bias’ would be undermined by the existence of dissidents.  Plainly, the thesis that Pravda serves as an organ of state propaganda is not disconfirmed by the fact that there are many dissidents in the Soviet Union.  Nor would the thesis be confirmed if every word printed by Pravda were accepted uncritically by the entire Soviet population.  The thesis says nothing about the degree of success of the propaganda.  LaFeber’s first argument is not relevant; it does not address the model we present.”  


LaFeber’s second and third arguments against Manufacturing Consent fared similarly in Chomsky’s analysis, particularly an instance of reporting that LaFeber argued undermined the PM, when the Reagan administration lied when stating that Soviet MIGs had been delivered to the Nicaraguan government, coinciding with the Nicaraguan election.  The MIG lie pushed the Nicaraguan election completely out of media attention.  Chomsky replied that it was not an exception at all, but conformed to the PM.  Chomsky’s response to LaFeber’s “exception” finished with: “That the media questioned what was openly conceded by the government to be false is not a very persuasive demonstration of their independence from power.”  Herman replied that the MIG event “fits our propaganda model to perfection.”

Herman and Chomsky noted that LaFeber’s was one of the few critiques of Manufacturing Consent worth replying to, but it contained logical fallacies that invalidated his critique.  

Chomsky wrote that the PM generated several kinds of predictions, of first, second, and third orders.  Chomsky wrote that the first order prediction of the PM was that constructive bloodbaths will be welcomed, benign bloodbaths ignored, and nefarious bloodbaths will be:


“…passionately condemned, on the basis of a version of the facts that would merely elicit contempt if applies to a study of alleged abuses of the United States or friendly states.  We presented a series of examples to show that these consequences are exactly what we discover.”  

 

The second-order prediction is that within mainstream circles, studies such as Manufacturing Consent will be absent, which was true, and the third-order prediction was how the mainstream would receive the analysis in works such as Manufacturing Consent.  

Chomsky and Herman’s third-order prediction was that exposure of the facts would elicit no reaction for constructive bloodbaths, “occasionally noted without interest in the case of benign bloodbaths; and it will lead to great indignation in the case of nefarious bloodbaths.”  Chomsky’s reasons for the reactions were that for constructive bloodbaths the facts cannot be acknowledged, partly because it would expose the hypocrisy of the denunciations of nefarious bloodbaths, as well as the social role of the “specialized class” of privileged intellectuals, but that the exposure also “interferes with a valuable device for mobilizing the public in fear and hatred of a threatening enemy.”  Chomsky wrote that for benign bloodbaths, as long as the United States’s role remained suppressed, then exposure of the facts produced little ideological damage.  

As can be seen in the following examples, the greatest attacks against Herman and Chomsky conformed to the PM’s third-order prediction, when they exposed the media’s treatment of three nefarious genocides, in Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda.

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

I finally put up Ed’s bio draft, here.  The next step is getting feedback from Ed’s pals, then making a Wikipedia-sized version of it, then doing battle with Wikipedia’s editors.  I hope to have something at Wikipedia within a week.  I kind of look forward to it, and kind of don’t.  But for Ed, I happily will.  More eulogies came in, such as here.  Those who knew and worked with Ed stressed his kindness, humility, and generosity.  Ed’s giant shoes are now empty, but we will carry on.  

While working on Ed’s bio, plenty of ideas for posts came up.  I’ll never run out of topics to write on.  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

As I worked on Ed’s Wikipedia bio, I realized that the only way to do justice to Ed’s work, at least at Wikipedia, is going to be to either make new Wikipedia articles for some of his books or beef up articles that already exist. That is going to be a big job that I won’t finish this year. At this time, there are Wikipedia articles on:

Manufacturing Consent
The propaganda model
The Political Economy of Human Rights
Counter-Revolutionary violence
Lies of Our Times

Which may all be largely “notable” because of Noam’s involvement, but I think that I may be able to add articles on:

Corporate Control, Corporate Power
Hope and Folly
Demonstration Elections
The Politics of Genocide
Enduring Lies

I would like to be able to add articles for:

The Real Terror Network
Beyond Hypocrisy
The Global Media

But I might run into notability problems for those.

I understand that The Politics of Genocide and Enduring Lies are going to be tough going, and might get erased by the “editors,” but it is worth a try. I’ll go after the less controversial ones, first, but with Ed, that is relative. :)

I can tell what I am going to be plunking along on next year (and maybe even longer).

Last night, I already worked on the Counter-Revolutionary violence article.  

Nobody changed it back yet. :) While Ed’s bio is truly atrocious, the other articles misrepresent Ed and Noam all the time, by clever omissions, sources that miss the point, etc. This is going to be a long haul.


Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Before I write the Wikipedia article on Noam and Ed’s Political Economy of Human Rights, I am reading both books cover-to-cover.  For books that I have studied, I often made notes, which I then placed in those books.  As I began reading those volumes, I found my notes from when I read them 20 years ago.  I have written about their initial suppression before.  So, this is very familiar territory for me, also because the themes of those books have been repeated by Ed and Noam ever since.  This year is the 45th anniversary of their work’s original suppression.  

Speaking of anniversaries, this year I not only turn 60, but the raid happened 30 years ago on this coming Sunday, which began my life’s worst year (so far!  :) ).  How times flies, and how short life is.  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

To my earlier post on global poverty, Oxfam released a report on the eve of Davos, and the numbers I saw confirms what I thought the situation was many years ago.  That the world’s rich got almost all of the global wealth increase last year is no surprise, but Oxfam put a number on what would end extreme poverty on Earth: about $100 billion annually, or about 15% of what the top 1% of humanity raked in last year, or about 17% of the Pentagon budget.  What is wrong with that picture?  I am not sure, Krishna, on the relationship of high school education and extreme poverty.  Those numbers, of 17% of the Pentagon budget, are about the same as I recall them 30 years or so ago.  I was likely remembering the extreme poverty stats.

I am studying Noam and Ed’s The Political Economy of Human Rights before writing the Wikipedia article on it, and they made the case that corruption is an essential feature of American foreign policy, and that state terror was an integral part of producing a favorable investment climate.  You have to beat the slaves into submission.  

Of course, you will never find Noam and Ed’s positions fairly presented in the mainstream media.  If they are mentioned at all, big lies are told about them.  If not for my days with Dennis, I wonder how much of Noam and Ed’s message I could have digested.  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

I had another surprising overlap with Uncle Ed’s professional work.  That mutual fund study that Ed co-wrote had enduring relevance.  It was not only a U.S. Senator who threw darts at stock listings and outperformed most mutual funds.  When I was in college, I recall reading about The Monkey Fund, in which some researchers had a chimpanzee throw darts at a stock listing, and The Monkey Fund also outperformed most mutual funds.  Those dartboard exercises were inspired by the mutual fund study that Ed co-wrote.  So, I knew of Ed’s work while in college, amazingly.  
 
I am working long hours at work, and that won’t change soon.  But working on Ed’s bio project is my top priority for my next published work (other than forum writings), then it will be off to my essay update.  What I have been doing lately is making posts in the chapter discussions, as a way to “store” my thoughts on recent study when it comes time to update the big essay, which I greatly look forward to.  After I get that done, this year, I hope, but it is already looking like a stretch, with everything else on my plate, I will do more visibility work, attempt to recruit some writers who I think can contribute, and related efforts.  On one hand, it is nice to have such a hill to climb ahead of me, but it is also about the journey.  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Posted (edited)

Hi:

Some other odds and ends….

Reading Morris’s books took away from my bio project on Ed, and I am getting back at it.  It was a happy detour, but back to work.  Related to that, I am currently reading War, Peace, and Human Nature, seeing Ed refer to it and Noam write a blurb for it, and I suspected that it was a rather ideological effort, but so far, not too bad.  Frans de Waal wrote the foreword, and the book covers very familiar territory.  I’ll report on the book after I have read the whole thing, but it seems to be trying to resurrect the “peaceful savage” meme, and I doubt that the effort will be successful.  Primitive warfare was very deadly, proportionally.  In my studies of the warfare debates, not many have addressed the idea that warfare was borne of scarcity, and the relatively peaceful interludes in the human journey were the “golden ages” of the early days of exploiting a new energy source.  That dynamic has been barely dealt with in war studies, with some nice exceptions.  The reasons for warfare have always been primarily economic, going back to chimpsWar, Peace, and Human Nature is taking on a very trite idea, arguably a straw man effort, of the “killer ape” meme.  That idea is not taken seriously by scientists and scholars in the field, at least the ones worth reading.  Maybe War, Peace, and Human Nature will set the record straight, but it did not need to be straightened, IMO, as de Waal’s and others’ ideas are pretty mainstream today.  Goodall, Wrangham, and de Waal are the most prominent chimp researchers in the West, and they largely sing the same song, and de Waal and Wrangham have written extensively on the bonobo exception.  In the Fifth Epoch, war ends.  

Ed referred to War, Peace, and Human Nature in shredding Pinker’s imperial valentine, which I recently wrote about.  Just as Ed noted when studying the media, Ed laid bare Pinker’s double standards when dealing with “our” and “their” violence.  If it was “their” violence, Pinker’s work could stoop to the rumor level, but when it was “our” violence, Pinker dissected the sturdiest studies yet performed, trying to invalidate them, all the while trying to appear as an impartial scholar.  Ed called that kind of behavior an exercise in chutzpah, which imperial hacks excel at.  That Morris lauded Pinker’s work is telling.  So did Bill Gates, who takes photo ops with mass murderers.  

On Ed’s bio project, I am studying The Political Economy of Human Rights, and will write the first substantial Wikipedia article on it.  What a harrowing read.  I am finishing the “benign terror” section, and will start on the “constructive terror” section.  Then it will be Volume II, on the Cambodia issue.  I have written plenty on these subjects and books before, but it was 20 years ago, and I need to do a good job on the Wikipedia article, or the hacks will come running.  They may come running anyway, but my work will be hard to attack.  Then I will do a little sprucing up of various articles, such as the Propaganda Model article, Manufacturing Consent, and other odds and ends, before writings Ed’s Wikipedia article, which is an abomination today.  After I do my big essay update, I plan to write Wikipedia articles for some of Ed’s other books.  That phase won’t happen this year, but the next few months promise to be “fun.”  :)  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi Krishna:

Routes of Power is in a stack next to my desk, to be read one day, probably before I write my essay update.  Yes, Pinker’s work is pedestrian, and because he lives in the nation that has mastered low-intensity coercion and dispossession, of course he can’t see it.  :) Pinker is just one more imperial hack.  He is a linguist like Noam, and I have to wonder if Noam “inspired” Pinker’s forays into that subject matter, especially as Pinker works in the heart of the liberal establishment, which hates Noam.  

Best,

Wade

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Posted (edited)

Hi:

I have a little time to write this weekend, and want to cover a topic near and dear to me.  Making that Wikiquote page for Uncle Ed is just a prelude to some substantial Ed work that I will do at the Wikis. My first effort was on the censorship of Ed and Noam’s first work together, and a lot more is coming.  I am finishing my Ian Morris detour, and getting back to Ed and Noam, and I needed a break from it – it is harrowing stuff.  While making Ed’s Wikiquote page, I looked at Noam’s.  The quotes about him were largely about American hacks defending their imperial turf.  Here is an example, from Daniel Flynn’s Intellectual Morons:


“Chomsky blasts the United States for having supported (post WWII) internal movements to liberate Eastern Europe from Soviet totalitarianism.  "These operations included a 'secret army' under U.S.-Nazi auspices that sought to provide agents and military supplies to armies that had been established by and which were still operating inside the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through the early 1950s."  This U.S.-Nazi army is so "secret" that only Chomsky knows of it, and he has thus far kept the documentation of it to himself, lest his secret get out.”


Chomsky was referring to the well-known Operation Gladio, Christopher Simpson’s Blowback has a chapter on the “Guerillas for World War III,” the Gehlen Org was deeply involved in those events, and so on.  Some secret that only Chomsky knows about.  

Brad DeLong has long been one of Chomsky’s chief assailants, and he wrote:


“PUH-LEEAAZE!  Chomsky did not write that Faurisson was a Nazi sympathizer whose right to free speech needed to be defended on Voltairean principles.  Chomsky wrote that Faurisson seemed to be "a relatively apolitical liberal" who was being smeared by zionists who--for ideological reasons--did not like his "findings."  Herman then repeats the lie by claiming that Faurisson's critics were "unable to provide any credible evidence of anti-Semitism or neo-Naziism."  Feh!”


Of course, it is easy to see what Chomsky actually wrote and compare it to DeLong’s characterization of it.  Chomsky wrote long on the issue, which, along with the Cambodia fabrications, was his biggest source of grief as a public intellectual.  Ed wrote on DeLong’s smears of Noam.  

It is really something to study for writing Ed’s biography and being struck by how clear Ed and Noam’s work is, to see how the hacks misrepresent it while attacking it.  I almost wonder who put up those quotes, Chomsky’s supporters or attackers.  If it was the attackers, what a statement, to publish such easily disproven, even libelous, attacks.  If it was his defenders, they had to be showing how credible the attacks on Noam were.  

Those attackers fail on the integrity or sentience issues, or both.  As Orwell said, the biggest violators against clear thinking and common sense are usually “intellectuals.”  It is really amazing how the most irrational writings often come from the “smart.”

The attacks on those great men strongly remind me of the attacks that I have seen on Dennis over the years, as his critics vie to tell the biggest lies about him, which easily dupe the credulous and, to be frank, the credulous lap it up because it aligns with what they want to believe.  

As I look back at my life, carrying the spears for Dennis, Brian, Ed, and the like have been among my life’s greatest honors, greater than I could have imagined when I met Dennis.  Those are some of the greatest humans to walk the Earth, and I was able to carry their spears, for a task that can help right humanity’s ship, and quickly.  On one hand, it has been anything but an easy ride, but on the other, I don’t know of a higher calling.  That damned voice knew what it was doing.  

Best,

Wade

 

Edited by Wade Frazier

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