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An Introduction to the US Propaganda System

Written by Jeff Drake
1 · 26 · 18

[The following was compiled and written by me in 1995, thus I include it here categorized under “Jeff’s Wayback Machine”.

I originally wrote this as part of an ongoing newsletter I published called, “The New Sentry”, for a small group of friends. Back then and even now, I write about certain things in order to better understand concepts and material. Back then I also hoped to spur some kind of dialogue about the subject matter with my friends. I was working too many hours and flying all over the country too frequently to carry on a dialogue about much of what I wrote, so I was looking for a willing participant in some good political discussion.

Sadly, all I ever received for my effort was… the sound of crickets. I would only find out years later that my friends promptly took the newsletters I wrote and filed them in the waste basket. LOL! One of my firends told me he resented the newsletters (he voted for Nixon). I guess that explained the crickets! My friends had no interest in hearing anything about what I was learning or reading about, and I was reading so very much back then. Still, I continued to write. I can’t help myself really. 

Propaganda has been a topic of interest to me ever since I realized that it was our own US propaganda system that created the situation which would eventually lead me to the war in Vietnam. 

I hope you find this copy of “The New Sentry,” issue 2, of interest.]


Approaching a subject like propaganda in the United States should be done with a healthy dose of skepticism, and I have no doubt that most of you will be skeptical – although all, I would guess, have at times felt that our views were being manipulated by the media. As I studied the pre-history of the Vietnam War and US involvement in Vietnam, repeated use of the media by our government to shape popular opinion about the war was quite blatant, and in retrospect – quite obvious.

Not so obvious, but perhaps as dangerous, was the way in which the media, with little direction from Washington, supported and propagated the government and big business viewpoints nearly up to the end of the war (until it just became too unpopular). Governmental apologists of the time will point at the media and claim that the media undermined the government’s plans, but this opinion is unfounded, has no basis in historical fact, and is a result of conservative historical revisionists, as anyone who has ever really studied the period can tell you.

Too many people in this country are asleep at the wheel when it comes to understanding the media and the impact and importance of these huge mega-businesses on our daily lives and the way we view the world. I am painfully aware of this situation since I have often been a victim of misinformation, leading me to support various governmental causes and foreign incursions, only to find out later the truth behind the “real” story.

I don’t expect you all to fully agree with the information I present concerning propaganda, but if I can cause any of you to treat the news you hear and see with skepticism, and to assume a stance whereby you “question authority,” the work I am putting into covering this subject will have been worth it.


What is the Mass Media All About?

What do you really know about mass media? I don’t think that I’d be going out on a limb to state that the commonly held view, especially in the United States, is that the mass media is greatly independent, devoted (for the most part) to both truth and public service. And indeed, for many, the press is seen as a kind of rational counterbalance, keeping the government in check by exposing the failings and minor crimes of officials and politicians. Do you remember the Pentagon Papers case in the 1970’s?[1] This particular incident provides an excellent example of this attitude: At the time, a judge (Judge Gurfein) ruled in favor of the press and “declared that while the United States had a ‘cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press,’ this meddlesome group ‘must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.’ In other words, the media were a kind of “necessary evil.”

Anthony Lewis, a noted liberal commentator, responded to Gurfein’s decision by observing that although the media had not always been as independent, vigilant, and defiant of authority previously, during the Vietnam and Watergate eras the press had learned to exercise “the power to root about in our national life, exposing what they deem right for exposure,” without regard to any external pressures or the demands of state or private power. Lewis even cites Supreme Court Justice Powell, who argued that since “no individual can obtain for himself the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his political responsibilities… the press performs a crucial function in effecting the societal purpose of the First Amendment,” by enabling the public to assert meaningful control over the political process.

This is an interesting and generally accepted theory about the media in this country. Of additional interest is the current debate (among those people who discuss such things) about whether the media have perhaps gone too far and are now endangering the very fabric of democracy with their boisterous challenges. Some pundits go so far as to ask: “Must free institutions be overthrown because of the very freedom they sustain?” While others argue that such risks must be taken in order to preserve the freedom of the press.

But there are two underlying assumptions that both sides of the “debate” seem to agree on – that the mass media are independent and defiant. But, are these assumptions accurate? Is this what you believe?

Now you may find yourself in agreement with the above viewpoint, and if you do, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, for I think it’s safe to say that most Americans are right there with you. But, I want you to step back from your belief in an independent and free media working diligently to expose the truth for a moment, and allow me to introduce an opposing point of view.

Consider the possibility that the media have assumed a larger purpose in our lives, and perform a number of functions that are not so intuitively obvious. No, I’m not talking about some kind of media cabal, where media moguls sit around in smoke-filled rooms deciding what the truth will be today. What I am suggesting is that today’s media serve some very specific “cultural” or social purposes.

More specifically, today’s media serve as a system for communicating cultural messages and symbols to the general public.

What is being stated here is that in addition to the media’s basic (and commonly accepted) functions of providing amusement, entertainment and information – are the more important (and not widely understood) cultural functions of inculcating people with the values, beliefs, and “codes of behavior” that will help people assimilate and integrate into the various institutional structures that make up our society. This “assimilation” is necessary of course, if we are all to enjoy “business as usual.”

Perhaps the most obvious example (at least to those of us with children) of this “higher” purpose of the media is MTV. Here is a television giant whose superficial purpose in life is to entertain, but whose real purpose is to sell billions of dollars of CDs and related merchandise. But in order to achieve its aims, it has to ingrain specific values, beliefs, and enforce certain codes of behavior that will create a “buying mood” in the viewing audience and thus, encourage continual repeat business. We may look at this situation and say, “that’s terrible,” but remember – this is the inherent heart of the capitalist system of which we are all a part.

Let’s face it… attempting to pull off this massive “charade” in our society, where the wealth of the country is concentrated in the hands of the few, and the interests of the rich and poor are constantly (and increasingly) in conflict, requires more than just a lot of hard work. In fact, what it really requires is systematic propaganda. Believe me, this inherent truth is not lost on the advertising industry.

Yet, propaganda is rarely talked about in this country, other than the cases where the media point out propagandist efforts in other countries. And there are at least three reasons why propaganda should be a subject of discussion in the media:

  1. Many elite intellectuals in this country have actually advocated that the media should assume a propagandist function. Walt Lippman (a famous liberal from the past), for instance, back at the turn of the century, welcomed the “revolution” in “the practice of democracy,” as the “manufacture of consent” became “a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government.” According to Lippman, “the common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality.” The public should remain merely “interested spectators of action.”
  2. The use of propaganda in this country is intuitively obvious. Simply looking at the institutional structures of our society today and the pressures that are being put upon them, it should not be too controversial to expect that the media would service this function. Media corporations are still corporations. What would be really amazing is if they actually worked to undermine corporate interests.
  3. There is lots of public support for a “propagandist” view of the media. In 1981, a Washington Post poll found that forty percent of those polled, the largest group, felt that the media “were not critical enough of the government.” In 1986, a Gallup poll carried out for the New York Times found that 53 percent of the respondents considered the press to be too often “influenced by powerful people and organizations,” including the federal government, big business, trade unions and the military.[2]

If you just take these three observations (and there were too many available to recount here), it should be easy to draw the conclusion that propaganda should at the very least be a part of the public debate and discussion about the media. Yet it is not. And this in itself is revealing.

The Need for Control

Consider a country where power lies in the hands of a state bureaucracy and there is a monopolistic control of the media, often supplemented by official censorship. In such a country, it is quite clear that the media serve the demands of a dominant elite. An example of such a country would be the former Soviet Russia, where everyone in the country knew who controlled the media. In such places, propaganda is as close as the newspaper on your doorstep and everyone knows it. Such countries often resort to force and fear to enforce values and accepted patterns of behavior.

But in countries where the media are private, and formal “official” censorship is absent, it is very difficult to see a propaganda system at work. This is even truer when the media are allowed to actively compete and to periodically attack and expose corporate and government wrongs, and aggressively portray themselves as spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest. In these kinds of countries (of which the US is the primary example), values and behaviors cannot be beaten into the masses, yet population control is still required. So, more subtle means have to be found to persuade people into doing the “right” kinds of things to sustain the status quo.

What I am talking about here is a collaboration of the media, government, and big business. Not through anything as mundane as a conspiracy, but simply because (for the most part) their goals and objectives are coequal.

Public relations officials, advertisers, and news management people have developed a whole range of word definitions (and redefinitions), and various other verbal manipulations to achieve their ends. Intensifying market pressures and the drive to sell various products that are all basically the same (and some downright toxic) are examples of the types of forces driving the business community to distort the truth.

In the political arena, the principles of marketing have been further applied to the “packaging” and “selling” of politicians. The same type of commercial tactics and strategies used in business completely replace any sense of obligation one might have to provide real informational substance and fulfill the requirements of a genuine democracy. And believe me, managing the gap between the aims and needs of the US elite and the interests of the general population requires constant attention and manipulation.

Corporations are continually being pressured to increase profits due to increased international competition (which began in the 1960’s and continues to the present). To address this, the corporate community has completely abandoned its pre-WWII social accord (informal peace treaty) with labor and is now aggressively attempting to roll back wages, working conditions, unionization, and government benefits to workers. This “counterrevolution” has a counterpart today in the rightward shift of both media and politics (spurred on of course, by the Reagan/Bush presidencies that elevated the attack on the working class and social wage to the level of national policy).

It shouldn’t be surprising that the hourly real wage of a worker in 1991 was lower than it was in 1973 and that economic insecurity is rampant. At the same time however, the upper classes in the US have been treated well and the structures of federal taxes and expenditures have shifted even further in their favor. This situation exacerbates the tension between the classes.

Increased political grass roots mobilization and activism over the past 25 years threatens the interests of the moneyed elite, and highlights the widening gap between the aims and perspectives of the elite vs. the masses. This sharpened awareness has stimulated popular participation in government and elections, causing what establishment spokespersons have called “a crisis of democracy.”[3]

This “threat” that the masses pose to the rich and powerful is not new. In fact, it was fully anticipated (and feared) by this country’s leaders from the very beginning. Our so-called forefathers saw themselves as “natural leaders” and the masses as mere rabble, typically unfit for any kind of meaningful participation in government and posing a very serious control problem which they discussed quite openly (at the time):

In the Federalist Papers (Number 10), James Madison noted the differences between the “permanent interests” of society (i.e. the property interests) and those of the majority. He also raised the possibility that the majority might (gasp) use the vote to redistribute both wealth and income. But Madison took heart at the great size and fragmentation of our country, which he anticipated (thank god!) would allow the “natural” leaders to prevent the majority from realizing their real interests and desires.

An elite-dominated press would also serve to protect the so-called permanent interests. Madison, perhaps more democratically inclined in his old age, wrote in 1822 that “a popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”[4]

This farce (and/or tragedy) achieved new heights in the post-WWII era, when spokespersons for the “permanent interests” saw fit to “scare hell” out of the masses in order to pursue “national security” concerns to the farthest reaches of the planet (and into outer space).

The Propaganda Model Foundation

So, how can one possibly study propaganda in a free and “open” society such as ours? Assuming that propaganda exists and we are subjected to it daily (albeit cleverly so we are unaware), what does it look like? How is it manufactured? How and why are we so easily bamboozled?

Fortunately, in order to better understand the mass media and how they work in our society, author Edward Herman  (with help from Noam Chomsky) took the time to develop a model by which propaganda can be studied. It is called (aptly enough) the Propaganda Model, and is featured in the current award-winning film about Noam Chomsky, entitled “Manufacturing Consent,” and described in detail within a book by the same name.

This “Propaganda Model” was not conceived in a vacuum, nor is it new, as it was initially put to paper in 1988. Since then it has been tested over and over. According to Noam, “There are, by now, thousands of pages of documentation supporting the conclusions of the propaganda model. By the standards of the social sciences, it is very well confirmed and its predictions are often considerably surpassed. If there is a serious challenge to this conclusion, I am unaware of it.”[5] Noam even goes further: “I would hazard a guess that it is one of the best confirmed theories in the social sciences.”[6]

[If you are wondering why you have never heard of the Propaganda Model, you need not bother. Noam Chomsky’s and Ed Herman’s work on this model has not been given much time by the media in the United States. This, however, is not the case in Europe or in Canada, where Noam is continually sought after by their media for his opinion. Not so here, where the mass media find Noam’s wit and genius too sharp and too dangerous to deal with.]

According to the Propaganda Model, the media do indeed serve a purpose, but it is quite different from the one envisioned by Justice Powell. It is a “social purpose,” similar to the view elicited by James Mill in the early days of establishing such a media system in our country, i.e. to “train the minds of people to a virtuous attachment to their government,” and to the arrangements of the social, economic, and political order more generally.”[7] The social purpose is that of “protecting privilege from the threat of understanding and participation.”[8]

In plain English:

the purpose of the media is to cultivate public stupidity and conformity, in order to protect the powerful from interference by the lower orders.

A rather disturbing view of the media, but there is much argument and support in favor of such an outlook. Spending any significant amount of time in front of the “boob tube” or with the ‘talking heads” on Sunday morning will soon sway any opposing opinion.

Essentially, the Propaganda Model developed by Herman and Chomsky focuses on the inequality of wealth and power in this country and the various effects this phenomena has on mass media interests and choices. It traces the ways by which money and power are able to “filter” out the news that’s really “fit to print,” how they work together to marginalize dissent, and allow both the government and dominant business interests to get their messages across to the public.

Testing the Propaganda Model

Naturally, if one is to propose a Propaganda Model, it should be capable of being tested. Noam developed three methods of testing the model:

Test 1: The strongest method is to take those cases that are held to be prime examples of media independence and see if the Propaganda Model holds up. This kind of test can’t be dismissed on the grounds that the example was some kind of aberration. (The model says that the media is influenced by power and wealth).

Test 2: Another type of test is to study pairs of examples of historical events and see if disparities in media behavior can be found between them. (The model says that there will indeed be differences).

Test 3: A third testing approach is to explore the boundaries of “permitted opinion” on important topics, thus establishing the boundaries of acceptable dialogue within mainstream media. (The model says that the media control the boundaries of debate and therefore controls what can and cannot be discussed in the media.)

Perhaps the Watergate affair is the strongest test of the Propaganda Model. For here is a situation where the Watergate affair is regarded throughout the world as a high-point in investigative journalism, and which demonstrates the power of an independent press to challenge the political establishment, even to depose a president! The major scandal of Watergate was, of course, that the Nixon administration sent a band of petty criminals to break into the Democratic Party headquarters, for reasons which today still remain obscure.

Yet, there was no scandal when, just as passions over Watergate were reaching their peak, it was revealed that the FBI had been disrupting the activities of the Socialist Workers Party, a legal political party, through illegal break-ins and other measures – for over a decade. This continual illegal harassment of a legal political party by the FBI represents a “violation of democratic principle far more extensive and serious than anything charged during the Watergate hearings.”[9] Documents that the government was forced to release under Freedom of Information legislation at the time revealed a systematic and extensive program of terror, disruption, intimidation and instigation of violence. These plans were initiated under the most liberal Democratic adminstrations and carried out further under Nixon. The targets of FBI harassment and terror included the US Socialist Workers Party, the Young Socialist Alliance and the Black Panthers.

Another major charge against Nixon was the so-called “enemies list.” This contained the name of known dissident Noam Chomsky, as well as the names of powerful and influential people such as Tom Watson of IBM. Chomsky comments, “I know perfectly well from my own experience that absolutely nothing happened to anybody on the enemies list. They didn’t even audit our income tax returns, and that was particularly striking in my case because I was publicly organizing tax resistance.” Nixon’s crime was not that of persecuting those named on the list, but simply to have drawn up a list at all. The way Noam put it is: “In other words, it’s a scandal to call powerful people bad names in private.”

Now at the same time the enemies list was uncovered, it was publicly revealed that the FBI had directed the assassination of a Black political organizer, Fred Hampton. Hampton was an influential member of the Black Panthers and had been involved in politicizing gangs such as the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago. The FBI first attempted to disrupt the relationship between the Rangers and the Panthers, and then turned to the destruction of the Panthers themselves. Hampton was considered particularly dangerous because of his opposition to violent acts or rhetoric and because of his success in community organizing. In a pre-dawn raid in December 1969, the Chicago police raided the flat where Hampton was staying and fired approximately a hundred shots, killing Hampton and another Panther, Mark Clark. The police first claimed that they had responded to the fire of the Panthers, but the local press soon determined that this was false. It transpired later that the police had been supplied a floorplan by the Panther chief of security and Hampton’s personal bodyguard, William O’Neil, who was an FBI infiltrator. All the gunfire had been directed at the inside corners of the flat rather than towards the entrances. Hampton had been killed while he laid in bed, and there was some evidence that he’d been drugged.[10] It should be noted that this incident alone completely overshadows the entire Watergate episode in significance by a substantial margin. Yet, little was made of this in the press.

These examples show a pattern that is difficult to avoid – the media defend the rich and powerful, not the poor and marginalized. If anything, the lesson of Watergate is quite clear – “the powerful are capable of defending themselves.”[11]

Another example of mixed media coverage is the treatment by the media of the victims of foreign state power. The different media reactions to the deaths of religious figures at the hand of the security forces is quite interesting and revealing. In particular, Herman and Chomsky did a study comparing coverage of the killing of the Polish priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, in October 1984, with the killing of one hundred religious figures in Latin America between 1964 and 1980. According to the Propaganda Model, the killing of a priest in an “enemy” state, especially a communist one, would be given greater prominence than the killing of a priest in a “client” state, because the former would tend to increase popular support for US foreign policy, while public awareness of the latter might interfere with US support for client regimes. That is, a priest in Eastern Europe (at the time) would be considered by the Propaganda Model media system as a “worthy” victim. Latin American martyrs, on the other hand, would be considered “unworthy “ victims.

The analysis performed by Chomsky and Herman revealed some marked differences in coverage. There was, for instance, a very emotional tone to the articles about the death of the Polish priest, whereas there was a distinct lack of indignation regarding the deaths of the Latin American religious figures. Further, the quantity of material written about the Polish priest’s death was strikingly different from the news written about the Latin American deaths. For example, in terms of numbers of newspaper articles and total newspaper column inches, Popieluszko received  more attention in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Time than the entire one hundred religious victims studied by Herman and Chomsky. In the New York Times, the hundred victims were accorded 604.5 column inches, just over half the total for the Polish priest. If you were to calculate the relative worthiness of the world’s victims as measured by the weight given them by the US mass media, you will find that a priest murdered in Latin America is worth less than a hundredth of a priest murdered in Poland, using the mainstream value system.

This particular test of the Propaganda Model was actually discussed in the mainstream media in a rare critique (in the sense that it actually addressed the issues, rather than condemning the argument out of hand). Nicolas Lemann, a national correspondent of the US journal Atlantic Monthly, suggested an alternative reason for the discrepancy in treatment. He states that the “big time press” concentrates intensely “on a small number of subjects at a time,” which shifts attention “unpredictably” from country to country. Thus, Popieluszko “was killed when the US press was most focused on Poland. Archbishop Romero, was killed before the press had really focused on El Salvador.” Therefore, no lessons can be drawn as to which death was regarded as more important by the press; “the discrepancy can be explained by saying that the press tends to focus on only a few things at a time.”[12] (Note that the other 99 victims have somehow disappeared from his analysis).  Noam Chomsky responds, “Let us ask only the simplest question: how much coverage were the media giving to El Salvador and to Poland when Archbishop Romero and Father Popieluszko were murdered? We find that the coverage was almost identical, eliminating this proposed explanation without any further consideration of its quite obvious flaws.”[13] But the problem is actually more severe than this. If you exclude the Popieluszko and Romero cases themselves, and compare the attention given to El Salvador in 1980 and Poland from August 1984 to July 1985, there was slightly more coverage of El Salvador in the period under review, according to Chomsky.[14] By Lemann’s own standard then, both Herman and Chomsky actually understated the bias of the media!

It is interesting to note that it only takes a few moments to check the New York Times index for the relevant years and to compare the levels of attention given to El Salvador and to Poland. Still, Leman’s response is incredibly inadequate. Unfortunately, his response is probably the most coherent critique of the Propaganda Model to come out of the mainstream press. It’s sad really.

According to the Propaganda Model, the mass media should treat atrocities differently according to how useful they are in propaganda terms. This will be true for coverage of individual victims, as shown above, and for large-scale atrocities. In a two-volume study named, The Political Economy of Human Rights, Chomsky and Herman defined three categories of atrocities: “constructive,” “benign,” and “nefarious.” “Constructive” bloodbaths, for instance, serve the interests of US power; “benign” bloodbaths are irrelevant to these concerns; and “nefarious” bloodbaths are those that can be blamed on official enemies. The Propaganda Model predicts[15] that constructive bloodbaths will be welcomed in the media, benign bloodbaths ignored and nefarious bloodbaths passionately condemned. For example, there was a constructive bloodbath in Indonesia in 1965, when the Indonesian government massacred hundreds of thousands of people to defeat nationalist forces and eradicate the Indonesian Communist party. This event was welcomed enthusiastically by Western observers. The benign bloodbath caused by the massacres in Burundi in 1972 neither advanced nor undermined US interests, and therefore evoked little interest. (Did you ever hear about Burundi in 1972?)

But one of the most famous “nefarious” bloodbaths of the postwar era took place in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, between 1975 and 1978. It was met with a flow of outraged condemnation in the Western media. Yet, in December 1975, not that far away, Indonesia invaded East Timor, a neighboring country which was in the formal process of decolonization from Portugal and which had declared independence shortly before the invasion. It soon became clear that the Indonesian occupation was exacting a severe toll on the people of East Timor. The reaction to the Indonesian massacres in the Western media was almost total silence. The contrast in media responses to these two bloodbaths was one of the central cases in PEHR and remains one of the most important tests of the Propaganda Model.

Chomsky and Herman commented:

In the case of Cambodia reported atrocities have not only been eagerly seized upon by the Western media, but also embellished by substantial fabrications – which, interestingly, persist even long after they are exposed. The case of Timor is radically different. The media have shown no interest in examining the atrocities of the Indonesian invaders, though even in absolute numbers, these are on the same scale as those reported by sources of comparable credibility concerning Cambodia, and relative to the population, are many times as great.[16]

In the film about Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, the film-makers unrolled two paper strips pasted with entries for Cambodia and East Timor, taken respectively from the New York Times index for the period 1975-79. East Timor accounted for 70 column inches of index entries, Cambodia for over 97 feet.[17]

It is important to realize the moral significance of media silence when evaluating the performance of the media in the case against East Timor or Latin America, or even the FBI programs. In 1975, the US supplied diplomatic, military and economic aid to Indonesia in order to facilitate the invasion and the massacres in East Timor. Daniel Moynihan, US ambassador to the UN at the time of the invasion, boasted about his accomplishments in his memoirs:

“The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.[18]

Moynihan followed this by noting that within a few weeks of the invasion some 60,000 people had been killed, “10 percent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War.” It seems clear that domestic criticism in the United States could have reduced US military, economic and diplomatic support for the invasion, and might have even led to an end to the killings. The lack of such criticism led directly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in one of the true genocides of the postwar era. Those who turned away carry a heavy burden.

To be sure, the Propaganda Model is a difficult theory to take seriously on first sight. The idea that the media systematically distort the news due to the interests of the powerful is (perhaps) a very difficult one to accept. You can either reject it out of hand or examine the evidence put forward in its support. You have just read some samples of how arguments can be constructed to support the model. It should also be clear in principle how such a model can be tested.

Future issues will reveal more about the Propaganda Model. Stay tuned.

[1] The US government was seeking to prevent the New York Times from publishing extracts from the Pentagon’s secret internal history of the Vietnam War. Noam Chomsky resisted being called before a grand jury investigating the release of the documents by arguing before a grand jury investigating the release of the documents by arguing that such an appearance would jeapardize both his rights under the First Amendment and his sources of information as a journalist and speaker on contemporary affairs (Boston Herald Traveler, January 15, 1972). He also argued that the government had illegally tapped his telephone. he was reprieved, along with Richard Falk and Ralph Sarvins of the Institute for Policy Studies (NYT, January 19, 1972, p. 43). he later testified at the trial of the Pentagon analysts who had released the documents, arguing on behalf of the defendants that publication of the documents could not harm the national security of the United States (NYT, April 7, 1973, p. 16).

[2] NYT, 14 January 1986, cited in Herrtsgaard, On Bended Knee. The inclusion of the trade unions as a perceived power center, alongside corporations and the federal government, is a sign of successful indoctrination, according to Noam Chomsky.

[3] The emergence of the majority from a state of political apathy, along with their threatening attempts to understand, organize, and aprticipate in their own governance. Syn. — Excess of Democracy.

[4] Letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, New York: R. Worthington, 1844, vol. 3, p. 276.

[5] Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, Noam Chomsky, p. 10.

[6] Cited in Chomsky’s Politics, by Milan Rai; Transcript, “Noam Chomsky Meets the Washington Press,” p. 4.

[7] Cited in Chomsky’s Politics, by Milan Rai; Necessary Illusions, Noam Chomsky, p. 13.

[8] Ibid, p. 14.

[9] Manufacturing Consent, by Noam Chomsky, p. 299.

[10] See Perkus, Cointelpro, P. 16.

[11] Necessary Illusions, by Noam Chomsky, p. 189.

[12] Necessary Illusions, by Noam Chomsky, p. 146.

[13] Ibid. pp. 146f.

[14] Ibid. p. 382.

[15] An advanced student of Chomsky will note that as well as the main predictions about atrocities, the Propaganda Model makes what Chomsky calls “second-order,” and “third-order” predictions. (the concept of “orders of significance” comes from mathematics.) The second-order prediction of the model is that studies of The Political Economy of Human Rights (PEHR) will not be found within mainstream circles. No major investigation is needed here. The third-order predictions concern the reaction of mainstream intellectuals to a book about the media that investigates these topics. The prediction is that if a study of media performance appears that does not obey the accepted rules, and if it establishes unwelcome conclusions regarding media subservience to power, then there will be bitter condemnation from mainstream intellectuals. Chomsky goes further: “In fact, one might draw an even sharper conclusion: exposure will be ignored in the case of constructive bloodbaths; it may be occasionally noted without interest in the case of benign bloodbaths; and it will lead to great indignation in the case of nefarious bloodbaths.” (Necessary Illusions, p. 154). These predictions were fulfilled. When PEHR was published, Chomsky and Herman’s work on media responses to constructive bloodbaths in Indonesia or Vietanm was ignored, their discusision of the benign bloodbath by Indonesia in East Timor was occasionally noticed in passing, but there was a tremendous wave of condemnation for Chomsky and Herman’s discussion of media treatment of Cambodia. Chomsky notes that the sections in PEHR on media treatment of Cambodia “elicited a huge literature of denunciation” (ibid., p. 155).

[16] The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, by Noam Chomsky, pp. 205-17.

[17] Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, the companion book to the award-winning film by Peter Wintonick and Mark Achbar (1994): Achbar stresses that these are only index entries, not column inches of actual stories. It seems safe to suggest that comparison of actual story lenghts, together with placement and tone, would heighten the contrast in treatment.

[18] Daniel Moynihan, A Dangerous Place, Boston: Little, Brown 1978, cited in Deterring Democracy by Noam Chomsky.

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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.
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