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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Propaganda, thy name is BushCo

WallDon has already commented on the recent business of The Regime's political manipulation of a report prepared by the Surgeon General but rejected by his handlers. Rep. Waxman of the House Oversight Committee is following up, and according to Raw Story has sent a letter to the Secretariat of HHS reqesting further information.

Raw Story offers excerpts from Waxman's letter (my emphases):

A comparison of the two drafts reveals striking differences. Dr. Carmona’s draft includes extended discussions of the impacts of women’s rights, poverty, climate change, tobacco, and obesity on global health. Mr. Steiger’s draft omits or barely mentions these topics. Dr. Carmona’s draft describes a U.N. declaration that establishes health as a human right. Mr. Steiger’s draft omits this language. Dr. Carmona’s draft contains references to condoms. Mr. Steiger’s draft does not mention condoms.

Mr. Steiger’s draft is considerably shorter than Dr. Carmona’s draft: 11,400 words compared to 17,000. Despite the shorter length of Mr. Steiger’s draft, it contains many more references to President Bush (ten references) than does Dr. Carmona’s draft (two references). Mr. Steiger’s draft also contains extended discussions of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Carmona’s draft does not.

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Mr. Steiger asserted that Surgeon General Carmona’s report was blocked because it was “often inaccurate or out-of-date” and contained “sloppy work, poor analysis, and lack of scientific rigor.” A comparison of the drafts does not support these assertions. Dr. Carmona’s draft thoughtfully covers a wide range of global health topics. Mr. Steiger’s draft ignores or glosses over serious global health problems and emphasizes the achievements and policies of the Bush Administration.

The differences between the two drafts are further evidence that Dr. Carmona’s report was blocked for political, not scientific reasons.

I have already expressed my own utter disdain about this particular matter in a comment to WallDon's posting.

But I think here we have incontrovertible proof, for those somehow not yet convinced, that The Regime routinely practices and values propaganda (see Update below) above any and all expressions of truth or even genuine, independent thinking. Even if one disagreed with the Surgeon General, or proved some assertions wrong, the fact that the revised document, a full one-third shorter, nevertheless mentions the Occupant's name five times more often, and introduces references to Iraq and Afghanistan, demonstrates what is going on.

Why say this? (Sigh. There really ain't much point, but . . . ) Well, this morning I read a "moderate" response to the left-wing blogs' furor over yesterday's NYT OpEd by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack in support of the Surge, at the Moderate Voice:

[Here] we have what’s wrong with today’s politics in a nutshell: Someone doesn’t like the message, so they shoot the messengers.

Um. The "message" in this and almost every case is propaganda (and bullshit propaganda at that); and the "messengers" (no matter how "serious"- heh) are in effect agents provocateurs. And I think that sort of messenger might well be shot.

Some people are still predisposed to give some level of credence to The Regime and those who support it. I do not see how. Nothing the current Administration says can be believed. Nothing.


UPDATE

A handy reference on propaganda-- excerpts from Manufacturing Consent, by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky (1998). This should sound familiar:

A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings: (1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) "anticommunism" as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.

The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news "objectively" and on the basis of professional news values.

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