Category Archives: Media Analysis

NPR, Political Propaganda and Syria

November 1st, 2015

I turned on my car radio early this morning in a small town I happen to be in only to find an NPR affiliate, public broadcasting station delivering the morning news. It started with a fluff piece about an actress who is making a name for herself for being a rather eccentric, bad girl. Then it turned to the more serious news. The other stories seemed to have some credibility until a news piece started about what is going on with the war in Syria. News about Syria was one of the most important things I wanted to hear. The level of misleading the public with political propaganda journalism was so bad that I wondered how credible any of their news reporting is although I suppose NPR might report honestly about something if there is no hidden agenda reason for them to do otherwise.

What really struck me as being the most obvious example of manipulating information toward a particular political agenda was that NPR claimed to be delivering “the news” but I realized they were reporting old information. Instead of reporting on the success of Russian air strikes, cruise missiles from Russian navy ships, Hezballah fighters from Lebanon and Iranian ground troops NPR was reporting about ISIS having victories with attacks that included one initiated with car bombs. NPR reported about ISIS gains in Syrian towns and territories but an observant listener would have noticed that NPR mentioned that these things were events from: “a month ago” and “two months ago”. It was blatantly obvious that NPR was trying to downplay the success of Russia, its allies and the Syrian military in destroying ISIS which is now on its way to non-existence in Syria. Further NPR repeated the official Barack Obama administration and American government line that Russia was not really attacking ISIS targets at all. This part in fact was a one hundred percent, total lie.

The fact that NPR which is considered by many to be an “alternative” news source would engage in supporting a fictional account of events to make the American people believe that Syria, Russia and their other allies which now include Iraq, Iran, Hezballah and China are losing the war against terrorism when in fact they are being victorious is as bad as any war propaganda that the American people have ever been exposed to. When one considers the level of propaganda during war time that Americans have been subjected to in the past including the undeniably obvious example of the Vietnam War in more recent history why should we be surprised? It is a little more sensitive and controversial to speak of the war propaganda from previous war time histories in America that often included racism and xenophobia as tools especially since so much of this history is clouded with feelings of patriotism. However at this point our greatest protection from potentially rogue government in our own country is to question what we hear as the “official government story” and the media that reports along the same lines.

Former CIA Agent Sentenced for Leaking Secrets to Journalist


Photo by Tiago Moisés

Jeffrey Sterling received a lighter sentence than the 20 years prosecutors wanted for leaking secret information to a writer. He only received 3 1/2 years. The writer, James Risen, published a book with the information in 2006 called ‘State of War.” The secret information was about a CIA asset from Russia, code named Merlin, who in 2000 gave flawed plans to build nuclear weapons to Iran in the hopes of delaying their nuclear weapons program according to the report from NBC news.

Just as I was taught that the Russian people didn’t believe what they read in their own press during the Cold War I question this piece of journalism in the American media. First it really bothers me that we have an agency of the government known as the CIA that has been proven to have infiltrated the American press as well as everything else to propagandize the American people with their own political philosophies. To accomplish this they have perpetrated information campaigns full of outright lies to deliver to the American people. Worse yet in our current times mainstream media news services now openly admit they receive information directly from the CIA and consider their liaison with the secret, spy agency indispensable to carry out their function of delivering information to the American people. It has recently been reported that the CIA edits and approves scripts for television and movies.

During the Ronald Reagan administration CIA agents were planted in the Los Angeles Times as reporters .   They were sent to Central America to report on the Contras in Nicaragua.  They returned only to deliver the slant that the Reagan administration was giving to the people.   They were discovered and fired by the Los Angeles Times.

The American people at one time understood that their military used Army and Navy intelligence during time of war.  With the invasion of Iraq the American people have now been treated to the spectacle of the mainstream media and the American government speaking openly about this “secret” organization being involved in daily military operations.  Like the reporters who were “embedded” with American soldiers during the invasion the CIA has now become embedded in the minds of Americans as indispensable to military operations.

In this world of espionage clearly the CIA feels it has the right to control information.  How do I know that this entire escapade of selling bad blueprints for building nuclear weapons to the Iran government isn’t just another CIA media campaign?


Democrats Who Voted For The Keystone XL Pipeline

oil firePhoto from Library of Congress

Perhaps many Americans are unaware of the importance of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project and its political importance in both Canada and America.  In fact it is an issue that puts a spotlight on everything that is wrong in American politics right now.

First, it is important to understand what the project consists of and why environmentalists are adamantly opposed to it.  The oil development project consists of extracting oil from sands that are saturated with tar.  This tar is known as bitumen.  This is nothing like normal oil operations.  This involves oil extraction techniques known as fracking.   Vast amounts of heat, water and chemicals are used to extract the tar from the sand, silt and clay.  Already in California it has been discovered that oil companies have illegally dumped three billion gallons of toxic water polluted by fracking into California’s aquifers.  Aquifers are underground water supplies.   In addition the amount of water used for fracking in drought stricken California is a scandal in and of itself.

Just recently there has been a natural gas leak that forced people to be evacuated from their homes in eastern Ohio due to a fracking incident.  Last summer a fire broke out in eastern Ohio at a Halliburton fracking site that spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into an Ohio river.  Last October in eastern Ohio a rupture spread natural gas and methane forcing the evacuation of over 400 families.  One worker was killed in a fire.  In another rupture several acres of woods caught on fire.  In Canada indigenous people have been removed from their land and have fallen victim to rare cancers and other diseases due to tar sands oil extraction.


Illustration by Dominique Chappard

The Keystone XL Pipeline project has become a lens into the current dirty politics at work in Washington.  It was used to keep long-term unemployed people from receiving the Federal Unemployment Extension after their state unemployment benefits ran out.  Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to allow a bi-partisan Senate passed bill to renew it for five months with retroactive payments as an emergency measure to help the unemployed by passing it on to President Obama asking him to add a jobs creation bill to it.  This is the first time in American history that the House of Representatives has not passed a Federal Unemployment Extension benefits bill after it has passed the Senate.  These are nasty times in American politics and the long-term unemployed have been used as a bargaining chip.

President Barack Obama did not even bother to call John Boehner on the issue.  One of his greatest failures as president is his inability to work with the Republican leadership.  Unfortunately the jobs creation bills that were passed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives all included approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, tax cuts for the largest corporations and wealthiest people and reductions in environmental laws.  This is why the Senate which until recently was under Democratic control would not allow a vote on these House passed bills.  Meanwhile all of the jobs creation bills sponsored and approved by the Democrats and Obama have not been allowed to come to a vote in the House under the leadership of John Boehner.

In fact the leadership of the Republican party has been taken over by the Tea Party, a group that pretends to be grassroots but is really funded by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers.  When David Koch ran for president as the Libertarian candidate he had a platform that included abolishing minimum wage, social security, unemployment payments and privatizing the post office.  The Koch brothers heavily fund the political campaigns of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.  Mitch McConnell is now the Senate majority leader.  He is known for his extreme right wing views.  He was tape recorded in a conversation with the Koch brothers in which he bashed minimum wage, unemployment benefits and student loans.  He is known for bashing consumer financial protections and environmental protection laws.

Democrat Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana voted for the Keystone XL pipeline.  In Louisiana’s primary system if no single candidate gets enough votes there is a run off election between the top two candidates in December.  The Democrats failed to supply Mary L. Landrieu’s campaign with the promised one million dollars to defeat Republican candidate, Bill Cassidy, choosing instead to use the money in other campaigns.  This shows how in the current American system financial contributions to political campaigns from the districts or states in which a candidate is running do not win elections.   Not only can multi-billionaires such as the Koch brothers help to decide elections in small states like Kentucky where right wing Mitch McConnell is from but the Democratic National Convention and its Republican counterpart can help to decide local elections with their treasure chest of campaign money.  The only reason I can think of that Mary Landrieu would vote for the environmentally unsafe Keystone XL pipeline which would terminate at a processing plant in nearby Texas is to appear to be pro-business and pro-jobs .  This, in spite of the fact that nationally the pipeline would create few jobs and displace farmers.  She had lost much of her electoral base because Hurricane Katrina caused many blacks who traditionally voted Democrat to leave the state.  Mary Landrieu lost in the runoff election.

Among the other Democrat senators who voted for the Keystone XL pipeline were: Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Thomas Carper, D-Del., Robert Casey, D-Pa., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Jon Tester, D-Mont., John Walsh, D-Mont., Mark Warner, D-Va.

In March of 2015 the Senate failed to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill that passed the Congress after the Republicans took control of the Senate at the beginning of the year.  The reason for this article is to remove the certainty that the mainstream mass media seems to put in people’s minds that the two major political parties always vote in a block without dissension in their ranks.  I, also, wanted to point out that without dissension within the ranks of the political parties there really is no democracy.  This is compounded by the current  system of financing political campaigns that undermines the ability of voters within voting districts to decide on who their representatives are.




May Day 2015


Photo from Library of Congress

May Day is a holiday that is mainly ignored by most people in the United States of America. People act rather oblivious to any mention of it. When it is mentioned some will say, “That’s when they dance around the May Pole, right?” If I mention something about an international workers solidarity day they will say, “There was a riot called the Haymarket Riot wasn’t there?”

In fact May Day started as a celebration of the beginning of Spring. Its roots go back to pagan times in Europe. Some say it began with the Greeks and Romans and the Roman celebration honored Flora, the goddess of Spring. The holiday spread throughout Europe. In some celebrations the dance around the May Pole created a pattern of ribbons of different colors.

In America it is said that the Puritans suppressed the May Day celebrations because of their pagan origins. The Puritans, it is said, disliked the fertility connotations of the Spring ritual thinking them to be licentious.

Unfortunately May Day for many Americans has come to represent radical elements among the labor movement because of the scandal of the Haymarket Riot of 1886. No one has been able to prove who was responsible for the bomb that exploded when labor activists met to protest police brutality that resulted in one death during a labor strike in Chicago. In 1889 labor organizers in Paris declared May Day as International Workers Day calling for an eight hour work day.

This May Day there are many labor rallies and protests planned. In America organizers are adding the issues of immigration reform, racism and police brutality to workers’ rights issues.

Just as many turn their noses up at mushrooms because Christianity persecuted and even executed natural healers who used mushrooms for medicinal purposes as being pagan priests and priestesses so Americans turn their noses up at any notion of celebrating May Day due to prejudices going back to ancient times.


book-1371887441RUpPhoto by George Hodan



When I was a little boy in the nineteen-sixties my mother always had a subscription to Readers Digest. Every issue of Readers Digest had at least one section if not more than one in different places in the magazine known as,”Humor in Uniform” which featured humorous anecdotes and jokes about military life. Readers Digest, also, had articles concerning the Roman Catholic Church such as articles about the American Archbishop, the Pope and about priests. Readers Digest, also, had sections with religious humor about priests and ministers. During this post World War II period I suppose it only seemed natural for Readers Digest to have humor about military life especially since with the Korean war as well many American men and women had served or were serving in the military.

Like the vast majority of Americans in the early sixties I did not even know that a country existed called Vietnam. When rumors started spreading because of families having sons who were in combat and even being killed in Vietnam the American government echoed by the mass media claimed there were only American military advisers over there and the US military was not actively involved in combat. Later as more information kept coming back from Vietnam via the soldiers themselves who were over there the American government and the American mass media finally admitted that American soldiers were involved in front line combat. As thoughtful observers of the current war in Iraq point out that when there is a war there is another war going on over the control of information and the control of the minds of the people, so it was then during the Vietnam war only with different strategies. At first reporters were not allowed into the combat zones in Vietnam and when they finally were allowed American opinion about the war started to change.

As an idealistic, young boy who had a scholarly nature my concern for all the problems in the world led me to wanting to read about the Vietnam war and understand what was really going on there. Since Readers Digest ran so many articles about the Vietnam war I read volumes in Readers Digest about the war. It wasn’t until the 1980s when I found an amazing book called,”Cold War America”, by Lawrence S. Whittner that I finally read the truth about the Vietnam war. It was then that I became fully aware that everything I had read in Readers Digest about the Vietnam war was all lies. The lies were obviously on purpose.

no-warPhoto by X posid

It is a sad commentary that the lies in Readers Digest mirrored those of more than one American government administration with both Democrats and Republicans alike and was in effect all that most Americans really believed about the war. It is obvious the earliest victory of the war was getting so many people to live and die for a lie. As a young boy when I read Readers Digest’s version of the war I was lead to believe that the war started because North Vietnam invaded a sovereign country, South Vietnam, for no other reason than to spread Communism throughout the world. We were taught then and Readers Digest confirmed it that according to Communist philosophy Communism can’t work unless the entire world is under a Communist system therefore Communists are dedicated to conquering the entire world. We were taught then and the officials of the American government informed us, also, about the “domino principal”. According to them the “domino principal” meant that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communist rule then another would and then another with the final object being the spread of communism all over the world.

When I read “Cold War America” by Lawrence S. Whittner I learned that in fact at the beginning of the Vietnam War North Vietnam was not even involved. In fact North Vietnam did not even want to be involved in the war. The war began when South Vietnamese people started an organized resistance movement to free their country of foreign corporations and governments that were stealing the natural resources of South Vietnam and exploiting the South Vietnamese people in the process. Among the many aberrations of the foreign nationals in Vietnam including the French was keeping the Vietnamese people in total poverty while making massive profits so much so that young Vietnamese girls were forced into prostitution, a sex trade that still goes on to this day in much of Southeast Asia. The foreign nationals, including America, kept this system of exploitation in place by supporting a right wing, dictatorship government in collusion with organized crime.

The organization that was engaged in an armed conflict with the corrupt Saigon government and the foreign nationals was called the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. The French were tired of the never ending war in Vietnam and wanted to get out. That is when the American military became actively involved in combat. From the beginning of the US military involvement in the war the American Air Force started bombing Vietnamese villages indiscriminately killing South Vietnamese people who were not even members of the South Vietnamese Liberation Army and even killing Vietnamese people who were supporters of the Saigon government. This caused many Vietnamese people to turn against the Saigon government and the foreign nationals and join the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. The South Vietnamese Liberation Army in fact was not Communist at all but there were Communists among them. Eventually the carnage and the savagery of the Saigon government, the American military and its allies made the country of North Vietnam feel compelled to enter the war and Communist China said it would provide supplies and support to liberate the Vietnamese people from the oppressors.

At the beginning I mentioned the humor in uniform and the religious references in Readers Digest. I did not mention yet the anecdotes about military chaplains who are members of religious clergy such as rabbis, priests and protestant ministers who are military officers. Obviously Readers Digest as a publication has a purpose. There is a reason why it tells brazen, political lies while tying religion and military together. Those of us who are knowledgeable about propaganda techniques understand that media outlets in collusion with political factions have created what we call “misguided patriotism” which is something people cling to with religious fervor. I am always trying to explain to people that there is a real patriotism that is loyalty to the country and the people not to any government. When people consider it to be unpatriotic to question, to criticize and to choose not to participate in a war they are part of a system of fascism unwittingly.



book-pagesPhoto by Mick Lissone


This is the first article to introduce this section called,”Media Analysis”.  Why is media analysis so important?  Because we have to learn to sort through the truth and lies in the information technology revolution that we are in the middle of right now in these historic times.  Are there people engaged in conspiracies to control the minds of the people because of their vested interests?  There is a war going on out there over the control of the minds of the people.  The way to protect yourself is to liberate yourself in your mind.  To do that you have to have knowledge.  Those who keep real knowledge from the people do so for a reason.  They want to manipulate you.  Call it cultural wars if you want to but that is only a part of it, although an important part.


Readers digest in the early seventies was the first magazine to use the word SEX in the title of an article on the cover of their magazine to get people’s attention and boost their magazine sales, a technique they still use to this day. Before it was considered to be poor taste to do so and was taboo among publishers. Readers Digest’s lead was quickly followed by other magazines and is now standard practice in the publishing industry. But why would such a conservative magazine as Readers Digest do this? The answer is strange indeed. Readers Digest had been losing sales and was on the brink of bankruptcy. This clever media ploy saved them. Does this seem amazing? After all Readers Digest is just a business right? Out to make money? It is clear from the content of Readers Digest, a seemingly harmless magazine, that there are vested interests that are extremely political to whom it was very important to keep this publication alive as I will explain.

What is the official, given reason and concept of Reader’s Digest? Why is it called Reader’s Digest? It is called Reader’s Digest because the official concept given by the magazine is that it is a place for people to go to keep up on their reading and what is going on in the world who do not have time to read all of the various, important publications out there to read. Many of the articles were already previously printed in other, well known publications. Hence the word, Digest, in the name. Another component in using the word, Digest, is that Reader’s Digest changes the articles for the given reason of condensing them so that the reader will have more time to read more articles. This seems harmless enough but the reality is Reader’s Digest in fact changes the articles to a particular political slant in the process of condensing them. We can call it for the time being a very conservative political viewpoint but there is certainly more to it. After all it gives readers a skewed view of what is going on in the world and a skewed view of what opinions are really being expressed in mainstream publications by changing the meanings of the articles.


Illustration from

The only way to really explain the political implications of Readers Digest and the way it propagandizes people toward a certain world view and even perception of reality is to give examples.  The most interesting of these examples really gets the point across to begin to understand.

Back when I was a little boy in the sixties Readers Digest ran an article in seriousness that it would be hard to believe people took seriously.  It was a story about a black man named Barney and his white wife.  They were newlyweds and the wife was carrying Barney’s child.  They were traveling across country by car and at night while driving on a desert highway.  Barney and his wife were beamed up into a flying saucer.  The aliens who at that time were called extraterrestrials did tests on Barney’s white wife that were described in detail in Readers Digest.  Included in these tests was when the extraterrestrials stuck a long metal needle into the navel of Barney’s wife, the implication being that the test had something to do with her unborn child.  Barney and his wife were unharmed and after a few days on the spaceship were returned to their car in the desert.

Readers Digest did not try to explain what the meaning of the story was and what the aliens were trying to accomplish but this bizarre story just coincidentally was published at a time when there was a big controversy about mixed marriages as in a black person marrying a white person.  Even in church on Sundays our priests addressed this issue of mixed marriages more than once.  They said that the position of the Catholic church on mixed marriages was that it was not forbidden and people could be married in the Church who were of different races but the Catholic church did not recommend mixed marriage and discouraged it.  The reason given was that the Church was studying mixed marriages and was not sure yet if it was a good idea.

One would think that no rational person would have given credence to this unbelievable story in Readers Digest but one has to remember the times.  This was the mid sixties and world was an entirely different place than it is now.  In fact people everywhere were talking about this incredible story as if it were true.  The priests in church even included it in their sermons.  They as well as a lot of adults I heard talking about this were convinced that the extraterrestrials had performed the tests on Barney’s wife because they were concerned about mixed marriages.  Amazingly Readers Digest re-ran the exact same story again within a very short period of time with the exact same effect.  People everywhere were talking about it as if it were true and the priests included it in their sermons about mixed marriages.  Is it possible that a printed publication could have this kind of power over influencing how people think?  It is and that is what is scary.  Never has any news publication or book ever reported about Barney and his wife, who they are or what happened to them.  I suppose that isn’t important. The story in Readers Digest served its political purpose.