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The Propaganda Model and the Mainstream Media: Debate and the Liberal Bias - Noam Chomsky

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Published on May 31, 2012

The propaganda model is a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that states how propaganda, including systemic biases, function in mass media. More Chomsky: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=U...

The model seeks to explain how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social and political policies are "manufactured" in the public mind due to this propaganda.

The theory posits that the way in which news is structured (through advertising, media ownership, government sourcing and others) creates an inherent conflict of interest which acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces.

First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the "Propaganda model" views the private media as businesses interested in the sale of a product — readers and audiences — to other businesses (advertisers) rather than that of quality news to the public. Describing the media's "societal purpose", Chomsky writes, "... the study of institutions and how they function must be scrupulously ignored, apart from fringe elements or a relatively obscure scholarly literature." The theory postulates five general classes of "filters" that determine the type of news that is presented in news media. These five classes are: Ownership of the medium Medium's funding sources Sourcing Flak Anti-communist ideology

The first three are generally regarded by the authors as being the most important. In versions after September 11th, Chomsky and Herman updated the fifth prong to instead refer to the War on Terror and antiterrorism, although they say it operates in much the same manner.

Although the model was based mainly on the characterization of United States media, Chomsky and Herman believe the theory is equally applicable to any country that shares the basic economic structure and organizing principles which the model postulates as the cause of media biases.

Following the theoretical exposition of the propaganda model, Manufacturing Consent contains a large section where the authors seek to test their hypotheses. If the propaganda model is right and the filters do influence media content, a particular form of bias would be expected — one that systematically favors corporate interests.

They also looked at what they perceived as naturally-occurring "historical control groups" where two events, similar in their properties but differing in the expected media attitude towards them, are contrasted using objective measures such as coverage of key events (measured in column inches) or editorials favoring a particular issue (measured in number).

Examples of bias given by the authors include the failure of the media to question the legality of the Vietnam War while greatly emphasizing the Soviet war in Afghanistan as an act of aggression.

Other biases include a propensity to emphasize violent acts "genocide" more in enemy or unfriendly countries such as Kosovo while ignoring greater genocide in allied countries such as the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. This bias also said to exist in foreign elections, giving favorable media coverage to fraudulent elections in allied countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala, while unfavorable coverage is given to legitimate elections in enemy countries such as Nicaragua.

Chomsky also asserts that the media accurately covered events such as the Battle of Fallujah but because of an ideological bias, it acted as pro-government propaganda. In describing coverage of raid on Fallujah General Hospital he stated that The New York Times, "accurately recorded the battle of Fallujah but it was celebrated... it was celebration of ongoing war crimes." The article in question was "Early Target of Offensive Is a Hospital."

The authors point to biases that are based on only reporting scandals which benefit a section of power, while ignoring scandals that hurt the powerless. The biggest example of this was how the US media greatly covered the Watergate Scandal but ignored the COINTELPRO exposures. While Watergate helped Democrats and only harmed people politically, COINTELPRO harmed average citizens and went as far as political assassination. Other examples include coverage of the Iran-Contra Scandal by only focusing on people in power such as Oliver North but omitting coverage of the civilians killed in Nicaragua as the result of aid to the contras.

In a 2010 interview, Chomsky compared media coverage of the Afghan War Diaries released by Wikileaks and lack of media coverage to a study of severe health problems in Fallujah. While there was ample coverage of Wikileaks there was no American coverage of the Fallujah study, in which the health situation in Fallujah was described by the British media as "worse than Hiroshima."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propagan...

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