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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

The Liberal Nature Of The Media In Question

Our basis for the argument, or theory that is being proposed, is the liberal nature of journalism and the “free” press in the United States. The question always arises, “Is the mainstream media too liberal?”

But before we get into a heated debate about Fox News versus MSNBC or whatever, let’s try to be more analytical through a philosophical lens. Just what does liberalism really mean?

Noam Chomsky, an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has his own theory about the constitution of the press. Chomsky has written more than 150 books and is well known internationally. He is considered to be a libertarian socialist.

The Propaganda Model
Examine the book — Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media — by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. The authors suggest that the media is always under absolute control by the huge corporations that own them. This includes print, television, and radio. The suggestion here is that all media is motivated always by profit and the public interest is not really the core of news philosophy.

Okay, this is nothing new. Even Dan Rathers of CBS has expressed his opinion, offering his view of the corporate media. So what we are saying is that the news can be distorted, biased, slanted, or even omitted. Profits and only profits are corporate motive. Not true?

News can be distorted or edited, in such a way as to comply with the consent of corporations and their government partners, to achieve the means instead of presenting a case. News must be presented in a way to promote stability, which doesn’t usually give an alternative from an intellectual standpoint of view, or interfere with the agenda.

In other words, events are published to pacify the audience to retain popularity, and news is not presented in a fashion to challenge the authority, or even stimulate minds of the populous.

The Five Filters – The Bias as reported by Herman and Chomsky
1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation
2. The Advertising License to Do Business
3. Sourcing Mass Media News
4. Flak and the Enforcers
5. Anti-Communism

Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky take this view to another level. Chomsky proposes that the news process is simply institutionalized to perform its primary function, which is to serve the corporate masters. Another obvious point of interest one might note is the source of funding. One is not going to run a story that offends the advertisers, right?

Herman states:

“The mainstream media really represent elite interests. And they serve those elite interests in a way that can be described as carrying out a propaganda function”.

Can it be proved that the liberal media are biased? Chomsky and Herman are suggesting that the bulk of media is actually conservative based by its nature.

Chomsky theorizes that “most independent research has found that the media are influenced by wealthy business and conservative interests.”

Noam Chomsky articulates that the media are extraordinarily subordinated to external power:

“Now when you have that power, the best technique is to ignore all that discussion. Ignore it totally, and to eliminate it by the simple device of asserting the opposite.

If you assert the opposite, that eliminates mountains of evidence demonstrating what you are saying is false. That’s what power means. And the way you assert the opposite is by just saying the media are liberal.”

Chomsky states that we cannot prove anything by the way journalists vote, because they will always be under duress while they are working, serving manufactured news that serves the interests of their bosses, conservative corporations.

Chomsky says the real issue is whether “the media are truly free to allow expression of opinion from whatever source?”

Justin Lewis says there are a number of flaws with public thought process:

“The public may assume that it’s the journalists, rather than the media owners, the advertisers, news shapers, or the news makers, who control the manufacture of news. That’s a bit like saying that the workers on the factory floor decide what the car industry produces”.

It is necessary for them to keep the population from their throats. Chomsky says that the ruling class can control the public either by physical force, or by control of opinion. He says that here is no other method.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is writen by George Orwell, Orwell refers to a term called Blackwhite.

“This word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.”

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