American Samizdat

Monday, January 01, 2007. *

By Robert Parry November 18, 2004

George W. Bush has been criticized for disdaining fact in favor of faith in his own instincts. But he is savvy about the dangers that information can present to his authority over the government and the American people.

That is why the first priority of his second term has been the elimination of the few government sources of information that could challenge the images he wants to project to the public. Bush doesn’t want the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency portraying his Iraq and other foreign policies as abject failures or reckless adventures.

So, by attacking these remaining pockets of analytical resistance, Bush is moving to ensure that his administration can keep much of the U.S. population seeing a near-empty cup as almost entirely full, a concept known in the intelligence world as “perception management.”

On a personal level, Bush appears to have found in his electoral victory a validation of his public-relations strategy of casting his foreign policy as a black-and-white war between good and evil. In this tough-talking approach, Bush has been helped immeasurably by the powerful conservative news media, ranging from AM talk radio to Fox News, from right-wing newspaper columnists to Internet bloggers.

Indeed, it is impossible to understand why Americans have grown so detached from reality without appreciating the combined impact of this conservative media – built over the past quarter century – and Bush’s personal insistence on loyalty over almost all other values. These two factors have made the United States a kind of ultimate test for the Orwellian intelligence theories of “perception management.”

Controlling Opinions

“Perception management” – also known as “public diplomacy” – is a propaganda strategy for controlling how a target population views political events. Refined by intelligence services as they tried to manipulate foreign populations, the practice eventually seeped into domestic U.S. politics as a way to manipulate post-Vietnam-War-era public opinion.

posted by Uncle $cam at 6:55 PM
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