28 March 2012

Anti-Communism Anti-Terrorism

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts
[substituted “Terrorism” for “Communism”]

A final filter is the ideology of anti-terrorism. Terrorism as the ultimate evil has always been the specter haunting property owners, as it threatens the very root of their class position and superior status. The ongoing conflicts and the well-publicized abuses of Terrorist states have contributed to elevating opposition to terrorism to a first principle of Western ideology and politics. This ideology helps mobilize the populace against an enemy, and because the concept is fuzzy it can be used against anybody advocating policies that threaten property interests or support accommodation with Terrorist states and radicalism.

27 March 2012

Media Flak

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

“Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program. If flak is produced on a large scale by individuals or groups with substantial resources, it can be both uncomfortable and costly to the media. Positions have to be defended within the organization and without, sometimes before legislatures and possibly even courts. Advertisers may withdraw patronage. Television advertising is mainly of consumer goods that are readily subject to organized boycott.

The ability to produce flak that is costly and threatening is related to power. Flak from the powerful can be either direct or indirect. The direct would include letters or phone calls from the White House or from the FCC to the television networks asking for documents used in putting together a program, or from irate corporate sponsors asking for reply time or threatening retaliation.

26 March 2012

News Experts

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

The media need a steady, reliable flow of the raw material of news. They have daily news demands and news schedules that they must met. They cannot afford to have reporters and cameras at all places where important stories may break. Economics dictates that they concentrate their resources where significant news often occurs, where important rumors and leaks abound, and where regular press conferences are held. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, in Washington, D.C., are central nodes of such news activity. The large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring the raw materials of, and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become “routine” news sources and have privileged access to the gates.

The media incorporates “proper-thinking experts” to confirm ideologies that are taken for granted. Censorship is largely self-censorship by the pre-selection of right-thinking people - reporters and commentators - who have internalized the constraints imposed by centers of power. Another reason for the heavy weight given to official sources is that the mass media claim to be “objective” dispensers of the news. Partly to maintain the image of objectivity, but also to protect themselves from criticisms of bias and the threat of libel suits, they need material that can be portrayed as presumptively accurate.

25 March 2012

Concentrated Media Ownership

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

Since 1990, a wave of massive deals and rapid globalization have left the media industries further centralized in nine transnational conglomerates – Disney, AOL Time Warner, Viacom [owner of CBS], News Corporation, Bertelsmann, General Electric [owner of NBC], Sony, AT&T-Liberty Media, and Vivendi Universal. These giants own all the world’s major film studios, TV networks, and music companies, and a sizable fraction of the most important cable channels, cable systems, magazines, major-market TV stations, and book publishers.

The large media companies are fully integrated into the market and the pressures of stockholders, directors, and bankers to focus on the bottom line are powerful. They are controlled by very wealthy people who are closely interlocked with other major corporations, banks, and government. The powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to “manage” public opinion.

Advertisers choose selectively among programs on the basis of their own principles. Large corporate advertisers will rarely sponsor programs that engage in serious criticisms of corporate activities. Advertisers want to avoid programs with serious complexities and disturbing controversies that interfere with the “buying mood.” They seek programs that will lightly entertain and disseminate the selling message. The mass media are interested in attracting audiences with buying power.