Now Legalized, US Propaganda Swears It’s ‘Fair and Accurate’

John Glaser, July 15, 2013

In May of last year I noted at this blog reports that an amendment had been slipped into the 2013 NDAA bill that nullified two U.S. laws – the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987 – that ban domestic propaganda. This month marks the official repeal.

John Hudson at Foreign Policy:

Until this month, a vast ocean of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed or listened to at broadcast quality in foreign countries. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It’s viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.

The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 70s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they “should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics.” Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky who argued that such “propaganda” should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. “from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity.”

Hudson then goes on to interview a spokesman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which produces government news for foreign audiences on “Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.” This spokesman promises, from the bottom of her heart, they don’t engage in propaganda.

BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insists BBG is not a propaganda outlet, and its flagship services such as VOA “present fair and accurate news.”

“They don’t shy away from stories that don’t shed the best light on the United States,” she told The Cable. She pointed to the charters of VOA and RFE: “Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible, discussion, and open debate.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth! The problem is, those engaged in propaganda for the government always deny – and indeed are virtually never aware – that they are engaged in propaganda. Today’s cable news companies, many of them owned by rent-seeking corporations with close ties and interests to the state, engage in propaganda all the time and continuously believe they are independent minds who report in a ‘fair and accurate’ way.

Take Glenn Greenwald’s recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He accused host Mika Brzezinski of issuing White House talking points on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, while masquerading it as a balanced debate. She seemed shocked at the accusation, which was true despite her own ignorance of it.

Look at how confused this BBC journalist is when Noam Chomsky tries to explain the propaganda model to him:

He thinks he’s an adversarial journalist, clearly. But of course, if he was a different kind of journalist with a different set of views (say, anti-government views), he may not be working for the BBC.

And so, Ms. Weil’s protestations about being engaged in propaganda cannot be trusted simply because she says so.  As Hudson writes, “if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons.”

Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firmconfessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing Al-Shabaab. “Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership,” reported The Post.

A primer on the history of U.S. propaganda might help in convincing Americans that propaganda isn’t just another one of those horrible things that every other government does but ours is different, better.

During the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson set up the Committee on Public Information (CPI), a propaganda ministry meant to build public support for the war effort. The CPI distributed propaganda in news stories, street posters, advertisements, and hollywood films. It launched pro-war lecture circuits to mobilize public opinion, and publicly criticizing the president or the war effort was essentially criminalized.

“The propagandists in World War II,” writes historian Susan A. Brewer, “followed in the footsteps of the Committee on Public Information, while attempting to avoid their predecessor’s mistakes.”

The OWI’s [Office of War Information] objective, acknowledged privately, was the “coordination, synchronization, embellishment, emphasis, manipulation and distribution of facts as information rather than…gross overstatements and exaggerated misrepresentations.” To mobilize the population, the OWI drew on familiar advertising techniques such as repetition, catchy slogans, and celebrity endorsement.

…On December 16, 1941, President Roosevelt set up the Office of Censorship, headed by Associated Press executive news editor Byron Price. The Office of Censorship had authority over all civilian communication…Before news organizations released a story, Price wanted them to ask themselves, “Is this information I would like to have if I were the enemy?” In a 1942 press conference, he and [OWI Director Elmer] Davis explained the relationship of the Office of Censorship and the OWI with the news media. Price announced, “We tell what they cannot print.” Davis said, “We give them stuff we hope they will print.”

For those who still doubt we’re at greater risk now, the question arises: why were these laws repealed? The BBG spokesman admits they want to target, for example, Somali expats, to give them an alternative to the Al-Shabab propaganda and outlets like Russia Today. Hm.




61 Responses to “Now Legalized, US Propaganda Swears It’s ‘Fair and Accurate’”

  1. if their aim is to convince people to support US policies and glorify the US government they've got some stiff competition in MSNC, CNN, Foxnews, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.

  2. I fail to see how this has changed much. Ever hear of the Ad Council?

    Or NBC?

  3. OBAMA neoPolicies: let us adopt an illegal child(israel) and iphone/kill all muslim children

  4. Great article, particularly the Chomsky piece where he points out how the U.S. press used Watergate to obfuscate and ignore the much larger scandal of cointelpro at the time.

  5. Americans are by far the most brainwashed and indoctrinated sheep on the planet.

    What's really hilarious is how aggressive Proud Amuricans are in boasting about the superiority of the Free Press compared to other nations.

    America is the nation that gave the world massive propanganda lies about WMDs in Iraq; the War on Terrorism; and the greatest lie of the all, Defending Freedom and Democracy!

  6. [...] Now Legal, US Propaganda Swears It’s ‘Fair and Accurate’ [...]

  7. This nation is certainly blessed to have such strong and exemplary advocates of truth such as Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald to counterbalance the massive hoards of "steeple" who know which side their bread is buttered and will not risk their access to power with a meaningful critique of governmental misbehavior.

  8. Sorry, that would be "sheeple" which autocorrects. Webster's New International Dictionary includes this new word to describe unquestioning echoing of media propaganda. Pathetic.

  9. [...] Now Legalized, US Propaganda Swears It’s ‘Fair and Accurate’ (antiwar.com) [...]

  10. Great article. Could also point out continued propaganda agencies in the US after WW2, such as Reagan's Office of Public Diplomacy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Public_Dip….

    Another telling observation, which I heard from Chomsky in other material, is that after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it took a few years for the operation to be called an "invasion" in the Soviet press.

    However, in the US, the invasion of Vietnam has NEVER been referred to as an "invasion" in US press. Washington sent in troops, bombers, and authorized napalm and DDT.

    This shows you that perhaps an even higher level of obedience and totalitarianism has been achieved in some ways in the US.

  11. steeple = stupid sheeple

  12. Oh we are definitely in greater danger now. Just because it's already bad does not mean it can't get worse – much worse. The degree of brainwshing is already mindboggling but we're potentially in for a tidal wave of it, little could be worse.

  13. Understanding the propaganda that comes at you daily is a key factor is learning how to be free and to think for yourself. You have to be able to spot the propaganda in order to be able to ignore it and keep it out of your head.

    These days, I don't watch any of the American news/propaganda channels. Here's what I used to notice about them though. I'd un-mute the TV to hear a story about which I was independently knowledgable. For instance, claims that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. I'd listen to the propaganda news, and I'd be able to spot exactly what was wrong, untruthful and misleading about the story. Then, the propaganda would continue on into a story where I wasn't knowledgeable. And I'd notice that some of that would slip into my mind and come back out later on. Without the detailed knowledge about the lies I was being told, it was easier for those lies to get into my thinking.

    The safest thing to do is to turn them off.

    If you run into people who say things that seem counter to their normal personality, like normally kind and generous people ranting about how immigrants are leaching off of society, often its just the propaganda talking. If you try to engage in conversation to go deeper and find out why they think this way, often you will find that they are unable to respond, usually just repeat the original propaganda views more assertively, then will tend to end the conversation. This is because they really don't know why they think this way. Its propaganda that's gotten into their heads and is now coming back out and they are unable to talk or debate intelligently any deeper than the propaganda that they've memorized. That's a sign you are talking to propaganda and not a person.

    Turn it all off. Convince others to turn it all off. A goal is for all of these channels to talk, and yet no one listens.

  14. John, you are the man today. Thanks for all this great reporting.

  15. You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the article you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you
    who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
    At all times go after your heart.

  16. Talk about 911 in this context………. All other psyops pale in comparison…………

    Is it Snowdon's hole card……..?????????????????????????????????

  17. "governmental misbehavior" ……….????????? More like government criminality ………. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orIOHciisKw

  19. If you run into people who say things that seem counter to their normal personality, like normally kind and generous people ranting about how immigrants are leaching off of society, often its just the propaganda talking.

  20. The constitutionality of propaganda under First Amendment standards (viewpoint discrimination) is currently pending decision in the fully briefed Ninth Circuit case Johnson v. U. S. Department of the Treasury, No. 12-16775.

    See my article Federal Court Affirms Sweeping "Bully Pulpit" Government Right to Lie, at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Federal-Court-Af

  21. [...] ensued almost immediately across the political spectrum, uniting both liberals and conservatives. Is the hubbub merited, or merely a false alarm? Only time will [...]

  22. Interestingly reviewing the above info we accept the above as it’s true and it’s great to see a blogger thats showing it publically to review

  23. Speaking of citing the blog plenty will believe this because it’s what we really think and its nice finding a poster that is writing this for all to see to think about

  24. Clearly understanding the OPs info many will agree with this because it is what we genuinely feel and it’s nice reading from a web guy that’s writing info like this on the internet to review!

  25. Appreciate this one, you are a great author. It's really written in depth analysis and have urged visitors to look forward more on your writing

  26. I appreciate your efforts and your sharing it is very meaningful that awesome.

  27. For what are you appreciating it.

  28. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more is bubblegum casting legitimate

  29. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.
    what does bubblegum casting do

  30. thanks a lot Michael Gaigg, for sharing great tool.. really this is very helpful. I am big supporter of PPT prototype. Again Thanks…

  31. I am realy very happy to visit your blog. Now I am found which I actually want. I check your blog

  32. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally thanks
    Top Ten Places to visit

  33. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally thanks.

    Top ten christmas presents

  34. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more to sort out.

  35. It's All About Pictures Quotes Pictures, Sayings Pictures, Artistic Pictures, Mix Wallpapers, Different Information, And Many More .
    Daily quotes and sayings collection

  36. nice blog very informative Thank you For the posting .Keep Posting !

  37. Too much reading of the foreign policy press of the ruling elite by Glaser.
    Is he in love

  38. Well like your site and that i appreciate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more to sort out

  39. OPEN MULTIPLE URL'S WITH JUST ONE CLICK
    BEST SEO TOOL NOW YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRIED ABOUT OPENING VARIOUS

    URL'S WITH THE SINGLE CLICK OF YOUR MOUSE BUTTON. THE

    FAST URL OPENER CAN HELP YOU ACHIEVE THIS GOAL AND

    SAVE YOU SOMETIME AND BOTHERATION OF CLICKING THE

    MOUSE KEYS AGAIN AND AGAIN.
    ENJOY THE WONDERS OF FAST URL OPENER AND SAVE TIME

  40. t's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely
    Fort Myers real estate lawyer

  41. foreign policy press of the ruling elite by Glaser.
    Is he in love

  42. Many types of educational topics like science, physics, history, about human, nature.

    It's all about sharing the education

  43. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.” This spokesman promises, from the bottom of her heart, they don’t engage in propaganda.Soonerette battled for the lead

  44. This month marks the official repeal.

  45. Take Glenn Greenwald’s recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He accused host Mika Brzezinski of issuing White House talking points on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, while masquerading it as a balanced debate. She seemed shocked at the accusation, which was true despite her own ignorance of it.firstcnaclasses.com certified nursing assistant training

  46. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It’s viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.here

  47. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It’s viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.Jennifer Webb

  48. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.Fridge repairs surrey

  49. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me

  50. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

  51. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more to sort out.
    patch

  52. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.” This spokesman promises, from the bottom of her heart, they don’t engage in propaganda.Volkswagen servicing

  53. Appreciate this one, you are a great author. It's really written in depth analysis and have urged visitors to look forward more on your writing
    lucas duplan

  54. Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work. 2anken

  55. amendments should be tossed out. He wants terrorists stripped of the 5th amendment because they're a convenient target for that. If possible, he'd strip everyone of the 5th amendment. Muscletech Clear Muscle review

  56. on expensive “aircraft carriers in and near the Persian Gulf,” the U.S. should move its military presence back onto land in at least three different Gulf states. buying wow gold

  57. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much.
    Toronto immigration lawyer fee

  58. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more to sort out.

  59. Well That's things i was trying to find. I like your site and that i appericiate your time and efforts. Your article is extremely useful for me personally and many more to sort out.
    Immigration law

  60. Fire loss claims Toronto Find Criminal records Toronto Lawyers on Appointmente.com – Our local lawyers are recommended and reviewed by locals. We understand how legal issues can stress you out, so take control on your legal matters and contact us.

  61. Bagh-e-iram properties All types of properties and real estate for rent, buy or sell available on meraghar.pk