They lie, terrify, confuse and divide us
The world’s top “influencers” aren’t sexy people on TikTok. They are the CIA, the military-industrial complex, and the corporate owners of broadcast and print media. The media they control influences billions of people. For our own health and the world’s, we need to stop watching, listening to, and reading them.
How do you feel when you watch Fox, ABC, MSNBC, PBS, or other corporate news? Are you afraid, confused, sad, angry, discouraged? Maybe with a little American patriotism mixed in? If you have such a reaction, they’re doing their job.
Social critic Jessica Wildfire wrote, “You are always being shown what to think, especially when you don’t realize it. The shows you watch inform how you act. This is how “mind control” actually works. Nobody needs to put a microchip in your vaccine. They’ve got your eyeballs.”
While media outlets have always reflected the views of their owners, they have in recent decades been structured into a network of platforms, broadcasting the same corporate message in a bewildering variety of voices. In the 1950s, The CIA established a program called Operation Mockingbird to recruit a small army of media figures to shape public views of reality. They created what Frank Wisner, then head of the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination, called his “Mighty Wurlitzer,” of propaganda (named after the huge organs some theaters had at the time) “on which I can play any tune I want.”
The CIA is far from the only agency using media to shrinkwrap our minds. Big industries, governments and advertisers lie to us constantly. A hundred years of psychological research has made them extremely effective persuaders.
Here’s how they roll
● Fear — George Grebner, researcher of 20th Century journalism, wrote, “Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line postures…. They may accept and even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities.”
That’s why, all our lives, media has been working to terrorize ua. I grew up fearing communism and the threat of nuclear war. We kept hearing that the Russians wanted to destroy us. We were told to build fallout shelters in backyards and hide under school desks in case of nuclear attack.
After the Soviet Union fell in1989, we were taught to fear terrorism..Media constantly reported on ‘terror plots’ narrowly thwarted by the FBI, plots usually hatched by FBI informants themselves. We lived with a backdrop of color-coded terror threat levels that meant nothing except “be afraid.”
Then fear shifted back to Russia and China. Russia will sabotage our electric grid. China will freeze us to death next winter. All along, we are taught to fear crime, stranger abductions (featured on milk cartons,) and other people, especially those of a different skin color.
With the pandemic, extreme fear of disease and death has replaced foreign threats. Stay inside! Stay home! The air is full of deadly germs. Ignore how the system is systematically robbing you and killing all life on Earth. Fear COVID!
● Distrust and division –If people came together, the rule of the 0.1% couldn’t last. The rulers know this and have developed a hundred ways to divide us, starting with racism. For two hundred years or more, Americans were taught that white people were superior. Racism didn’t exist; we rarely heard the word in the media. Black people’s poverty was their own fault. Many white people dutifully took their rulers’ side against inferior people of color.
By 2019, though, that scam wasn’t working so well. The misery of the entire working class had reached the point where a multi-racial working class movement was a possibility. So media changed the story. Suddenly liberal, mainstream media outlets like the New York Times featured racism all the time.
Not that there was any chance the 0.1% were going to make the slightest amends for slavery and Jim Crow. The goal was to make sure white and Black people didn’t unite. So, we saw media reports that Black Lives Matter were burning down cities. White supremacist militias were coming to urban centers with their guns.
Our rulers aren’t one-trick ponies, though; they divide us in all kinds of ways other than race. Sex, gender identity, age, nationality, citizenship, religion, political affiliation, taste in music, and more are all used to separate people. On social media, algorithms literally divide us by our beliefs and attitudes into a thousand different echo chambers who never talk to each other.
● Confusion — William Casey, director of the CIA under President Ronald Reagan, is widely reported to have said, “Our disinformation program will not be complete until everything the public believes is wrong.” To confuse us, they lie regularly, change their stories frequently, and force-feed different information to different groups.
In media reports to Rightist audiences, caravans of unarmed, desperate refugees from Central America became an invading army. In reports to liberals, the unarmed Capitol Hill rioters of Jan. 6, 2021, became an insurrection. Donald Trump’s win in 2016 was due to Russia’s buying $247,000 worth of Facebook and Twitter ads. Readers may believe one of these stories even now, but they are media gaslighting us, seeking to confuse us until we give up and say ‘whatever.’
Promoting war, austerity, and separation
Why are they doing this? First and foremost, the Mighty Wurlitzer plays to gain support for rulers’ wars and aggression. That’s why we hear about how badly China treats the Muslims in Xinjiang and the protestors in Hong Kong. These stories come from people found and promoted by the CIA or their regime change friends at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). As if the US were really concerned about protecting Muslims. (Like they protected the Iraqis and Libyans!)
They also have domestic motives. COVID narratives full of fear and confusion have divided people even more sharply than racism. Mask and anti-mask people, vaccine promoters and resisters aren’t even speaking to each other. Either way, we’re told to stay home and be safe. How can people organize or fight for change when we’re hiding in our homes? It’s like a police state without the police.
This is how important narrative is. Society, as Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone says, is made of story. We gain our perception of the world from what we are told and shown. What most people are told is what corporate media chooses to tell us, and that story is 50% illusion and 50% lies.
What can we do about being lied to all the time? TBH, social media isn’t that much better. We need to talk to real people. See and hear what’s actually around us. Stay sane. When your coworker harangues you with propaganda and calls it science or news, ask them where they learned their story. Why should you, or they believe sources that lie so consistently?
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