Sunday, November 17, 2019
Seeking Truth: The Antidote to Message Manipulation
Hardly an astonishing realization, the communication of TRUTH rarely exists.
Instead, individuals, corporations, governments, and media communicate by way of PR. Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. The BBC continues to excel, but few Americans watch it.
You’d think the information flowing towards we Americans would be, at least, more truthful than in Russia.
Peter Pomerantsev, in his page-turner book about contemporary Russia, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, describes message manipulation since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Pomerrantsev worked for some years in Russia—creating documentaries, writing news stories, and observing the de-evolution of truth.
One Russian producer told him:
Over the last twenty years we’ve lived through a communism we never believed in, democracy and defaults and mafia state and oligarchy, and we’ve realized they are illusions, that everything is PR.
One of Russia’s richest men, Oleg Deripaska, added:
This isn’t a country in transition but some sort of postmodernism dictatorship that uses the language and institutions of democratic capitalism for authoritarian ends.
Pomerrantsev also writes,
The Kremlin’s … Moscow can feel like an oligarchy in the morning and a democracy in the afternoon, a monarchy for dinner and a totalitarian state by bedtime.
Putin literally employs a full-time PR consultant to create and re-create his image.
BUT NOW THE REAL POINT:
The same phenomenon—message manipulation—occurs in our dear United States, the home of the free, the constitution, God Bless America, and apple pie.
Consider just the facts gathered thus far in congressional hearings on impeachment:
- Trump asked for a “favor” in a phone call to Ukraine’s president, Zelensky.
- The favor involved digging up dirt on Joe Biden, the democrat Trump anticipates will run against him in 2020.
- The favor was contingent on nearly half a billion dollars of military aid to the country, a NATO member, now under attack by Russia.
You may or may not consider Trump’s behavior worthy of impeachment.
But consider the lies being peddled by media outlets like Fox News:
Their primary “news” anchors, like Hannity, Carlson, and Ingraham, alternately mocked the public impeachment hearings as:
biased, stupid, hearsay, pointless, time-wasting,
wait for it—
How’s that for objective reporting?
Greg Gutfeld, anchor of the Fox afternoon show, The View, said,
Congrats, Adam Schiff.. you found something that makes the Mueller hearing look sexy.
Gutfeld next referred to the hearings as,
a crappy horror movie scripted by the Dems for the media, with Schiff and his bunch playing the bug-eyed zombies.
Now, consider Trump’s shameless Twitter posts—apparently his only sane means of communication.
You don’t need to look for them.
They’ll be delivered into your psyche like an invasive virus.
Only one deserves mention because many believe it constitutes real time witness tampering.
While ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yavanovitch testified before an open congressional hearing, Trump tweeted to his 67 million followers:
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?
In fairness to Fox which, by all accounts, is Trump’s equivalent to Putin’s PR machine, the Fox Business Network host Lisa Kennedy said of this tweet:
Should the president be tweeting at her [Yavanovitch] mid-hearing? No. It makes him look like a big dumb baby.
What’s happening to the world if even Trump’s propaganda machine dares to call him a big dumb baby?
In his short but intense book entitled, On Tyranny, Timothy Snyder describes 20 lessons from the 20th century regarding tyrannical regimes.
His tenth point, BELIEVE IN TRUTH, reads,
To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
Heads up, Americans!
Blinding lights already obscure your vision.
It’s hard enough to find truth when you devote yourselves to it, reading from various sources, watching BBC as much as NBC, and hearing lectures, podcasts, and interviews.
Finding truth requires action, not reaction.
Go out and seek it.
And, meanwhile, remember the media strives to deliver you anything but.
Pomerantsev, P. (2014). Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. New York: Perseus Books.
Snyder, T. (2017). On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. New York: Tim Duggan Books.
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