Noam Chomsky is well known for his illustration of the “Propaganda Model.”
Chomsky’s model includes five filters that expose how the media is
controlled and completely infiltrated by corporations, governments, and
the elite in order to manufacture consent. The five filters include: OWNERSHIP, ADVERTISING, THE MEDIA ELITE, FLAK, THE COMMON ENEMY.
To manufacture consent, you need an enemy — a target. A common enemy, a
bogeyman to fear, helps corral public opinion.
These techniques have historically been used to whip up the “Red Scare” which saw the witch-hunting of communists, socialists and other radicals from the union movement. McCarthyism succeeded in severing left-wing ideas–and their long history in the U.S. working-class movement–from American society.
In the early 1950s, American leaders repeatedly told the public that
they should be fearful of subversive Communist influence in their lives.
Communists could be lurking anywhere, using their positions as school
teachers, college professors, labor organizers, artists, or journalists
to aid the program of world Communist domination. This paranoia about
the internal Communist threat—what we call the Red Scare—reached a fever
pitch between 1950 and 1954, when Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, a
right-wing Republican, launched a series of highly publicized probes
into alleged Communist penetration of the State Department, the White
House, the Treasury, and even the US Army. During Eisenhower’s first two
years in office, McCarthy’s shrieking denunciations and fear-mongering
created a climate of fear and suspicion across the country. No one dared
tangle with McCarthy for fear of being labeled disloyal.
“Well, what’s the crucial fact about Iran, which we should begin with,
is that for the past 60 years, not a day has passed in which the U.S.
has not been torturing Iranians. That’s 60 years, right now. Began with a
military coup, which overthrew the parliamentary regime in 1953,
installed the Shah, a brutal dictator. Amnesty International described
him as one of the worst, most extreme torturers in the world, year after
When he was overthrown in 1979, the U.S. almost immediately
turned to supporting Saddam Hussein in an assault against Iran, which
killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians, used extensive use of chemical
weapons. Of course, at the same time, Saddam attacked his Kurdish
population with horrible chemical weapons attacks. The U.S. supported
all of that. The Reagan administration even tried to—succeeded in
preventing a censure of Iraq. The United States essentially won the war
against Iran by its support for Iraq. It immediately—Saddam Hussein was a
favorite of the Reagan and first Bush administration, to such an extent
that George H.W. Bush, the first Bush, right after the war, 1989,
invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the United States for advanced
training in nuclear weapons production. That’s the country that had
devastated Iran, horrifying attack and war. Right after that, Iran was
subjected to harsh sanctions. And it continues right until the moment.
So we now have a 60-year record of torturing Iranians. We don’t pay
attention to it, but you can be sure that they do, with good reason.
That’s point number one.” – Noam Chomsky
The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and
symbols to the general populace. In a world of
concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill
this role requires systematic propaganda.
In countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a
state bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media, makes it clear that the media
serve the ends of a dominant elite.
The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents
occurs so naturally
that media news people are able to convince themselves that they choose and
interpret the news “objectively” and on the basis of professional news
In sum, a propaganda approach to media coverage suggests a systematic
and highly political dichotomization in news coverage based on
serviceability to important domestic power interests.
“Aggression has a meaning, but that meaning doesn’t apply to us. For US
leaders, aggression means resistance. So, anyone who resists the United
States is guilty of aggression. And that makes sense if we own the
world. So any active resistance is aggression against us. So when the US
invaded South Vietnam in the early 1960s under Kennedy, Kennedy said we
were defending ourselves from what he called “the assault from within.”
In other words, that’s the framework of reporting. Reporting
must be cheering for the home team. Nothing else is conceivable because
of the depth of these principles which are instilled into people in the
educational system and propaganda. You can’t see the world in any other
terms. So it’s “neutral, objective reporting” to say we’re cheering for
the home team.
But notice that it makes not the slightest difference what the people
of the world or the Middle East think. That’s not relevant… And what do people think?
Well, what people think, we know from international polls that are
regularly taken. They think that the United States is the most
frightening, dangerous country in the world. And
there’s overwhelming opposition to US force, almost everywhere. It’s
also true of the Middle East. And there’s nothing new about it.” – Noam Chomsky[x]
Andrew Marr: “How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are..” Noam Chomsky: “I’m
not saying you’re self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re
saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different,
you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”
Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism is Destroying Our Democracy
“Margaret Thatcher said ‘there is no society, only individuals’… for Thatcher that’s an ideal. Neoliberalism destroys or undermines the governing mechanisms in which people can participate. To weaken them, undermine unions and other forms of association, and leave a sack of potatoes. Meanwhile, it transfers decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom. The one barrier to the threat of destruction is an engaged and informed public acting together to develop means to confront the threat and respond to it. And that’s systematically weakened for people to become more passive and apathetic and not disturb things too much. And that’s what the neoliberal programs do. So put it all together and what do you have? A perfect storm. This is all very simple, it’s in front of our eyes. All you have to do is look.”