Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Pentagon Spin Machine in Overdrive?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Pentagon Spin Machine in Overdrive?

Article excerpt

In "The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense," the philosopher John Ralston Saul defines propaganda as "the means by which the thousands of organizations in a corporatist society communicate with each other and with the general public."

Mr. Saul traces the term to its origin in the Vatican Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. "Propaganda married romanticism with facts, which seemed to replace any need for understanding," Mr. Saul wrote. He then briefly compared the marketing wizardry of corporations to the ease with which modern government ministers, especially in the military, advance one dogma or another for fun and profit.

"The purpose of these several hundred thousand communications experts," Mr. Saul wrote, "is to prevent communications or any generalized grasp of reality. Their job is to propagate the faith."

John Ralston Saul's definition comes in handy when sifting through the miasma of lying platitudes that pass for news, politics and entertainment these days. The general landscape has been so corrupted that the difference between truth and propaganda might only be a few degrees.

Recently, reporter Michael Hastings, whose 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal got him booted as commander in Afghanistan, broke a story at Buzzfeed about an attempt by two House members to repeal the law against the use of propaganda here on the American mainland.

"An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill," Mr. Hastings wrote. "The bill's supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight al-Qaida, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online."

As we all know, the Pentagon and the State Department do a lot of lying in pursuit of American interests. Lying is considered a legitimate arm of foreign policy, especially during this extended war on terror.

Because the Pentagon became so good at manipulating facts to fit its view of the world decades ago, there were justified fears that it would turn its propaganda apparatus on the American people. …

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