Friday, April 29, 2011

OMFG! The War for Your Mind

Should I be surprised?

This is insanity at its worst.

Of course it's fake right? Because a black man can't possibly be legitimate.

They won't be satisfied. EVAR.

I loved the last line. It's a dead give-away as to their strategy.
"We'll keep our eye on it. We'll keep digging....But it certainly opens up that can of worms that there are at least questions."

This is where the War for Your Mind comes in. Agenda Setting theory is a media theory which posits that the more something is talked about in the media, the more salient it is on people's minds. It's been tested again and again and proven true. When asked what are important issues facing the country, again and again, people cite those things that have been highlighted in the media. This prompted noted media theorist Bernard Cohen to pen: “It (the press) may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.

The echo chamber of the right has been well documented (ThinkProgress, SourceWatch, Know Your Government). Rachel Maddow does a nice piece on a particular lie regarding Obama's trip to India last year that is worth watching.  She goes on to unpack some of the crazy lies that frequently show up in our news cycles and how they come to be.

This is important to recognize because the more the various media outlets report on topic, the more likely it will be covered. And when enough media sources say things that aren't true - they become true in people's minds.

Rick Perlstein had a great article in Mother Jones, Inside the GOP's Fact-Free Nation that's worth the read just for the historical look of political lying. But inside his piece is an analysis of one factor that helps us understand how this has come to pass. He writes:

There evolved a new media definition of civility that privileged "balance" over truth-telling—even when one side was lying. It's a real and profound change—one stunningly obvious when you review a 1973 PBS news panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring National Review editor George Will, both excoriating the administration's "Watergate morality." Such a panel today on, say, global warming would not be complete without a complement of conservatives, one of them probably George Will, lambasting the "liberal" contention that scientific facts are facts—and anyone daring to call them out for lying would be instantly censured. It's happened to me more than once—on public radio, no less.
In the same vein, when the Obama administration accused Fox News of not being a legitimate news source, the DC journalism elite rushed to admonish the White House. Granted, they were partly defending Major Garrett, the network's since-departed White House correspondent and a solid journalist—but in the process, few acknowledged that under Roger Ailes, another Nixon veteran, management has enforced an ideological line top to bottom.

The inability to call lies lies because of the need for "balance," coupled with the 24 hour news cycles, coupled with a zealous willingness to lie to further their cause*, has led to a media circus where outrageous claims become part of the daily discourse in multiple media outlets. And when multiple media outlets talk about it, people think that it is important and thus must have merit. Even if it is a lie. Gobbles, the infamous Nazi propagandist once said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

As long as there are questions, there is controversy. And you can bet your ass that they will keep asking the questions.

But the question I really want answered is how come none of those people in the top video have rejected the accusation that they all fuck goats? Remember, as long as the question is out there, we'll keep digging.

* Perlstein's article also exposed a culture where lying is justified on the right as long as it furthers a noble cause, summed up excellently by this quote from evangelist C. Peter Wagner "We ought to see clearly that the end does justify the means, if the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method."

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