Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Propaganda in the United States

Propaganda in the United States comes from governments and private entities of various kinds. It is widespread and involves every form, type, model and techniques.
If you study propaganda fundamentally you will be able see how it is used in the USA on a mass scale in every form of media (TV, Radio, News papers, Books, etc).

News media
Numerous sources of news exist in the US, most of which are operated by private companies. Whether they propagandize, either on behalf of the government or private actors, remains hotly debated. The "big three" broadcast networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, and cable news channel CNN, are frequently accused by those on the political right of biasing their coverage toward left-wing views, and, by those on the left, toward right-wing views. The newer Fox News Channel has been widely accused by the political left wing of biasing coverage toward the right and toward an American jingoist point of view.
In reality all channels of US media is using techniques of propaganda.
Political campaigning and lobbying
As in other countries with elected governments, parties and politically active individuals publicize their views and promote their candidates of choice. This propaganda goes through the usual advertising channels, such as television, radio, and the press, as well as non-advertising channels like bumper stickers. Candidates promote themselves to the public through speeches, political debates, and photo ops. In May 2005, US President George W. Bush openly referred to his efforts to gain public support for his plan to phase out Social Security in favor of private accounts as propaganda. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda", he said.
Aside from election campaigns, people and organizations communicate their views on particular issues through lobbying organizations, which distribute propaganda to the public and to political representatives. These come in the form of advertisements, fax distributions, newsletters, and letter-writing campaigns, to name a few. Think tanks bring together like-minded experts and analysts to review current legislative and policy issues and present their conclusions to legislators, the public, and news media. Both lobbyists and think tanks receive their funding from businesses, private foundations, and individual donors. The influence of money in American politics is a frequent subject of controversy and reform efforts.
Government propaganda

The first large-scale use of propaganda by the US government came during World War I. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens". The government used propaganda on a larger scale during the New Deal and World War II. Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
During the Cold War, the government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation. The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts. On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill. See also: Pentagon military analyst program
Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and other programs. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposed "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.
"Psychological operations"
The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.

The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public. Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.

Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved that document, which is called "Information Operations Roadmap". The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a sixty-four-year-old retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia, as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.

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