Posts Tagged ‘news media’

Don’t Let Them Snow You

February 7, 2018

Recognizing Propaganda

Every minute of every day you are subjected to propaganda. People are using words, pictures, and even music to influence the way you think.  Before I get into how propaganda works, the techniques that are used, I should define the term as used in this post.

Propaganda is the use of one-sided messages to influence the emotions, opinions, attitudes, and actions of targeted audiences for political, ideological, or commercial purposes. The messages may or may not be factual.  That’s a paraphrase of a definition provided by Richard Alan Nelson in a Wikipedia article.

A very effective explanation of how propagandists manipulate us is a documentary, Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions, by Jerry Kroft, Ph.D., a Psychologist, who wrote Duped! Delusion, denial, and the end of the American Dream.  You can see it on YouTube.

He explains the basic tools that are used.


2. Repeated Affirmations

3. Vicarious/ Imitative learning

4. Distraction and denial

5. Classical & operant conditioning.

It would be great, in my view, if this were shown to every11th grader in the United States.





You Got to Accentuate the Negative

August 19, 2016

What will the most memorable  story to come out of the Rio Olympics?

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps, the all-time medal winning Olympics champion, ending his Olympics career with even more gold medals?

The gold medal winning athletes who tear up when their national anthems are played?

The sportsmanship displayed when winners and losers hug each other after a competition?

Or, some allegedly miscreant drunken American swimmers who are accused of causing a ruckus at a Rio gas station and charged with making up a story about being robbed at gunpoint?

Unfortunately, it appears it will be the latter, but maybe not. As many reporters have said a lot at the end of a story, only time will tell. How’s that for hedging?


Why do Politicians Lie?

February 11, 2013


I, like former comedian and present Senator Al Franken, “never lie, unless it is absolutely necessary.” Really, I do prefer telling the truth. All of that conditioning by my mother, the church, school teachers, and the Boy Scouts made its lifetime impression on me that lying is wrong.  However, as the old saying goes, actions do speak louder than words. Sooner or later, a person discovers that the very people who have told you it is immoral, or a sin, to lie, lie. Sooner or later you are going to catch your parents telling a lie.  A classic example is the Santa Claus lie. 

Of course there is a very practical reason for not lying.  People will trust you if they think you don’t tell lies. That’s a huge reason that I assiduously tried never to report a story on the news that was not, to my knowledge, true. Protection against news sources lying was to attribute their comments to them. If the comment turned out to be a lie, it wasn’t me lying. It was the source. My TV news ratings were quite good  on average, and I believe a main reason is that viewers trusted me.   Still, being a human being, I did tell a few untruths off the air.  I’m certainly not proud of it, but in an effort to be truthful,  I can’t deny it.  

There are different kinds of lies.  There are the outright ones  like President Obama being a Muslim (Pew research shows that 30 percent of  Republicans believe that) , and global warming being a hoax.  Probably, lies by deception are more effective..  To say, as some politicians do, that their goal is to “save Social Security,” when their real aim is to destroy it by “privatizing it” is lying  by deception.  The absolutely most effective lies are probably lies that are closest to the truth.  A Time article reported that, in the last presidential  campaign,  President Obama’s lies were worse because they were the most accurate.  

It is interesting to me that the news program on the air that, in my view,  best tells us the truth about the inconsistencies, doublespeak,  and double standards of political and other powerful people is the “fake newscast.” Yes, I am referring to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This program is presented as comedy, but it is very serious satire.

Now, all of this is not to say that lying is a good thing, or that a politician should be forgiven when he or she lies because “everybody does it.”   In fact, it can be a very destructive thing, harming the common good, causing catastrophes like wars.  The fact is there is a lot of it, and some believe that  the public is at fault for putting up with it.  Then, there are those who blame news media. No doubt, they must share some of the responsibility, though some do put in a lot of effort to fact check what politicians say. 


August 24, 2008

  At one time the radio and TV networks covered the Republican and Democratic National Conventions gavel to gavel. Over time they cut back, but continued to give a lot of coverage. Now coverage is limited.  But, not on C-SPAN. Also, cable news coverage will be extensive, but C-SPAN is where I’ll be a lot of the time because that’s where you get floor actions unfiltered. Talkative network and cable news commentators won’t be giving you their perspective of what it’s all about. C-SPAN will feature some analysis and telephone call-in programs getting viewers views, but that happens only when the convention isn’t in session.  I’ll be watching C-CPAN a lot. However, I will sample the networks and cable news channels some to see what spin they are putting on things.