George Graham

The Power of Propaganda


You might think you’re too smart to fall for fake news. You might wonder why governments waste their money on propaganda. You might even laugh at demagogues like Donald Trump when they tweet bad math to support a dangerous overhaul of America’s health care system.

Who would fall for such crap, you wonder.

But don’t be too sure you aren’t unknowingly influenced by carefully designed disinformation.

Back in the Sixties, there was a wave of “liberal” sympathy promoted by popular music and movies, supported by most of the media and adopted as dogma in most colleges and universities.

It was an environment in which Lyndon Johnson’s vision of a Great Society seemed possible.

Today, even the word “liberal” is in disrepute. Fringe movements once considered “right-wing crazy” are now mainstream.

One reason is a deliberately planned propaganda campaign triggered by a 1971 memo to the US Chamber of Commerce. The memo was written by Lewis Franklin Powell Jr., who would soon become a Supreme Court justice, and it was a road map for promoting “free-enterprise” concepts.

This memo is credited with inspiring a massive assault on the public consciousness, funded by right-wing billionaires. These billionaires founded think tanks, established journalism awards, and even endowed university departments – all designed to promote a right-wing view of the world.

The material is designed and tested by psychologists and marketing experts, and it has proved diabolically effective over the years.

Now, we have to cope with a fake news epidemic, which was instrumental in giving us the Trump presidency.

Of course, there are also forces on the left that spread their own propaganda, but they are no match for the wealth and power backing the voices on the far right.

In the midst of this mind blowing din, the value of a free and independent press is  obvious. And the vicious attack on the press by Trump and his minions is obviously too dangerous to tolerate.

It is no laughing matter. Propaganda – even Trump’s bizarre brand of propaganda – can be effective, even deadly, over time.

It’s up to thinking people – like you – to get serious. Someone has to tell the fake news purveyors and the free-press castigators to shut up.

Let’s get on social media, write letters to the editor, do everything we can think of to counteract the right-wing goons and stem the tide of fake news.

The Powell memo

Fake news sites

Trump’s fake math

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for