How Propagandists Exploit the Media’s Weakness
I spent nearly all of my working life in newsrooms – in Jamaica, Haiti, Canada and the United States. And I know how susceptible reporters can be to cunning manipulators. We are only human after all, and sometimes we just aren’t that bright.
But I’ve never seen anything like this!
As traditional journalism fades, the American public is at the mercy of servile hacks who are overwhelming the voices of the few remaining “objective” reporters.
Doctored information that passes as “news” is slanted to support the agendas of the rich. Independent news outlets get little funding and the ads that support them are dwindling. But the hacks who do the bidding of America’s elite are showered with money.
Some of this happened naturally. Advertisers tend to support the media they like – or rather the media that like them.
But much of it is deliberate.
For several decades, an alliance of super-rich “conservatives” has been crafting a propaganda machine designed to counteract the “liberal” slant they perceived in America during the Vietnam era. It has been a massive crusade involving many billions of dollars.
It would be impossible to detail the campaign; it’s too huge. Not just news outlets, but “think tanks,” university departments, lecturers, and every other conceivable source of information and analysis, have been funded by these right-wing billionaires.
An article by Sara Jerving today on a web site called PR Watch, provides a revealing glimpse of the movement.
Here’s an excerpt:
As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state….
Some of these new sites go by the moniker “Reporter” as with the Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter that was launched in January as a website and wire-like service. Others have taken the shared name of “Watchdog.org,” or “Statehouse News.” The websites all offer their content free to local press – many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing.
….The Franklin Center …. acts as a hub that distributes funding that it receives from right-wing institutions such as the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance. The North Dakota and DC-based center works with reporters embedded in conservative think tanks and others who have their own news bureaus….
The writer quotes reports showing that the Bradley Foundation’s “targets range from affirmative action to social security” and notes that its greatest successes include “welfare ‘reform’ and attempts to privatize public education through the promotion of school vouchers.”
And here’s the punch line:
The Bradley Foundation gave the Franklin Center $190,500 last year.
The article reveals that the Franklin Center was launched with the help of the Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), which is funded in part by billionaire crusader David Koch’s right-wing group, “Americans for Prosperity.”
SAM is also funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. And guess who comprise that group’s board of directors? David Koch’s brother Charles, his wife and children, and long-time Koch employee Richard Fink.
In its first year, the Franklin Center had a budget of $2.9 million, and a chunk of that cash came from SAM.
This story is not unique. Dozens of “news” organizations, “think tanks,” talk radio and TV shows – and hundreds of web sites are funded by the the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires . Hacks even get paid to write slanted “comments” on other people’s web sites.
It’s like a plague of locusts. They’re everywhere!
Fortunately, Americans are a skeptical people, and with the assault on their credibility becoming more obvious each day, they are bound to catch on. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.