Monday, May 05, 2003

Herman interview: Propaganda in the "Free Press"
Edward Herman discusses the propaganda model, as developed in his and Chomsky's book 'Manufacturing Consent', first published in 1988, new edition 2002.

Manufacturing Consent is surely one of the most important and vital books published since the war, addressing a concept and a subject which is all but inconceivable to the Western mind but which is convincingly demonstrated in this work. It has been said of Chomsky that 'not to have read Chomsky is to court genuine ignorance' and this book is among the first that must be absorbed to be taken at all seriously as a political and social commentator. The corporate and mass media, usually described as a 'free press', is in fact a sytematic propaganda and disinformation system, which must rightly be compared (and contrasted) to Goebbels' propaganda ministry and to Stalin's 'factory of lies'.

In the Herman/Chomsky model, media control in the US (and through much of the Western world) is achieved through five filters: ownership, advertising, sourcing, flak and ideology (communism & terrorism). Taken together with the case studies, the model is compelling and demands to be either refuted in detail or accepted.

Comprehending this propaganda system is an unforgettable and revolutionary insight, comparable in georgist literature to 'seeing the cat.' An urgent political and social issue for the 21st century therefore is the problem of the media. Responses must be something along the following lines: banning of foreign ownership in all media; diversity of ownership; public share (including community groups and NGOs) and board positions in media companies; re-assertion of public ownership and control of all natural media resources such as broadcast spectrum, mastheads, and telecommunications grids; strengthened public media and broadcasting entities such as ABC and SBS, with guaranteed independence, community involvement, and a total ban on paid advertising; strengthened independent media of all kinds; guaranteed rights of free speech across all media; guaranteed internet access and independence including such initiatives as the Freenet; and a personal, individual commitment to support and access alternative media: not to buy or consume corporate/mass media except with a view to critiquing it.

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