American Samizdat

Thursday, May 24, 2007. *
In their groundbreaking 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, professors Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky not only explained, but documented with extensive case studies, how mass media and public opinion are shaped in a democracy. Twenty years later, can their "propaganda model" still be used to explain modern media distortions? That was one of the main questions discussed last week at a conference in Windsor, Ontario, titled "20 Years of Propaganda?" Organized by Dr. Paul Boin, the conference drew hundreds of scholars and activists including myself, and more than 1,000 people attended a closing speech by Chomsky on May 17.

The "propaganda model" that Herman and Chomsky put forward in Manufacturing Consent has made the book notable (some would say notorious) as the most influential book by serious academics to challenge the common dogma of media objectivity in the United States. When it first appeared, it was almost unheard-of to suggest that U.S. media such as the New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines and CBS News were propaganda vehicles.

Today things are somewhat different. Across the political spectrum, there is a widespread belief that disinformation, deception and propaganda pervade the media. On the internet, the initials MSM have become a standard term of disparagement for untrustworthy "mainstream media." The right has in fact far surpassed the left at denouncing the myth of media objectivity and has developed an entire industry of think tanks, media watchdogs and pundits such as Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter who devote themselves to discovering and denouncing purported instances of media bias — while enjoying privileged media access themselves.
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:59 AM
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