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-Through my eyes-

17 March 2005

Propaganda 101

This is my first attempt to capture and understand the ubiquitous propaganda strategies found in the mainstream media. Comments welcome. While I can see a news item being manipulated and I can verbalize what I see, my real goal is to outline the conceptual, theoratical framework underneath. That framework can be used in understanding other similar scenarios. This is a very fine and granular subject. I hope I can do it justice.

A- 'Neutralizing the Threat'. This is the toughest one. Players: A propagandist, the public, the victim, the originator of the threat, a neutralizer and the message that threatens the image of the victim. Goal: Neutralize the threat of the victim's image.

Strategies:

- Attack the message. This is the simplest. Show message is incorrect. Easy. Most of the time the real threat is a true.

- Attack the messenger. This is not hard either. The key is to constantly take the focus out of the threat and instead focus on the credibility of the originator. Slogans such as 'he's a liar' or that 'he just wants to make money' were used in the case of F9/11. 'You are unpatriotic' is another example. The attack can be purely rhetorical or an appeal to emotion.

- Attack part of the message and show the part to be of less credibility. From here extend (illogically) that the entire message is incorrect.

- Make no mention. Make no mention of the threat all together. Can be dangerous if others don't play the game, that is, other media outlets publish the news. In that case, attack the crediblity of such outlets themselves. This attacking of the crediblity does not need to start at the time of a threat; it can continue unprovoked on the side.

- "I therefore, love 'em or hate 'em all". Ok. So a truthful and powerful threat originates and threatens the victim. First, do all of the above and shake the dust around. Beat the crap out of the issue. Bring in the neutrailizer. Let the neutralizer show that 'Oh I'm sick and tired of this nonsense, I love all of them, let's make up, let's not get into the partisanship', etc. The public is confused and sick of the issue by now and settles to satisfice. This strategy was successfully used very recently. And I'm sure we will see it again.

B- 'Justify your existence'. So you are a propagandist. You want to justify your existence. IF all else fails, create a myth, show few examples to justfiy the existence of the myth, and you are in business. Two words: Liberal Media.

C- 'The Rosy balance'. So your client is about to do something that may not be received well by the public, such as signing a controversial law. Let the client do the deed. Let the client at the same time do something else of a similar nature such that the focus shifts from the deed and into the side, distractor act. E.g. The deed: http://www.progressive.org/webex05/wx031605.php. The side act, the distractor: http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/03/15/smog.busters.ap/index.html

D- 'Sugar Coat'. Name everything with a positive tone. This is as old as marketing. 'Co-pay' (the part of your insurance insurance will not pay), 'collateral damage' (civilian death), 'pro-life'
(anti-abortion), 'pro-choice' (pro-abortion), 'clean air act', etc.

E- Rhetorical attack. Is part of all of the above but I feel it should be mentioned. Use some emotionally charged rhetorical statements to attack and neutralize a threat.

F- Choose a label for yourself before others and framework everything against that label, etc.

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