Friday, July 29, 2011

Progressivism: Journalism, what they think about you, and the manufacturing of consent

Most of us know just how arrogant that journalists are. Here is how Walter Lippmann, who many consider to be the father of modern journalism describes it, in his own book: (Public Opinion on page 75)

And finally since opinions do not stop at the normal members of society, since for the purposes of an election, a propaganda, a following, numbers constitute power, the quality of attention is still further depressed. The mass of absolutely illiterate, of feeble-minded, grossly neurotic, undernourished and frustrated individuals, is very considerable, much more considerable there is reason to think than we generally suppose. Thus a wide popular appeal is circulated among persons who are mentally children or barbarians, people whose lives are a morass of entanglements, people whose vitality is exhausted, shut-in people, and people whose experience has comprehended no factor in the problem under discussion. The stream of public opinion is stopped by them in little eddies of misunderstanding, where it is discolored with prejudice and far fetched analogy.

This could be written today, about any one of you who consider yourselves a tea party supporter. And get how he writes that. "Normal members of society", Walter are you excluding yourself from the rest of us? That's why journalists very often do not report on the whole story. He continues: (pages 247, 248)

The established leaders of any organization have great natural advantages. They are believed to have better sources of information. The books and papers are in their offices. They took part in the important conferences. They met the important people. They have responsibility. It is, therefore, easier for them to secure attention and to speak in a convincing tone. But also they have a very great deal of control over the access to the facts. Every official is in some degree a censor. And since no one can suppress information, either by concealing it or forgetting to mention it, without some notion of what he wishes the public to know, every leader is in some degree a propagandist. Strategically placed, and compelled often to choose even at the best between the equally cogent though conflicting ideals of safety for the institution, and candor to his public, the official finds himself deciding more and more consciously what facts, in what setting, in what guise he shall permit the public to know.

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough.

Lippmann does not explicitly include journalists themselves as said 'leaders' and 'propagandists', but he doesn't have to. We all see the news and information of today, and we all see how the journalists are using it to their advantage.

He already made it clear that he views portions of the populace as "mentally children and barbarians", and "grossly neurotic", why wouldn't those journalists who are so superior to the rest of us not withhold certain information so as to make us more fit for 'democracy'?

And this isn't the worst of it. Lippmann continued this line of arrogance in another book of his, The Phantom Public. Unfortunately, it's still under copyright.

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