Tag Archives: Propaganda

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.

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.






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 clipartlord.com

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.