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Pravda: American Media Uses Disinformation to Guide Policy

By sasha in MLP
Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 11:25:43 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Here is an interesting article from Pravda.RU concerning [poor] coverage of recent events in the American media.


It is a widely known truth that anything published on the Pravda website (which is not affeliated directly with the print edition) isn't necessarily to be taken seriously, and that sometimes they syndicate from questionable sources. However, this one seems to me to be an academically sound article, seemingly written by an American or otherwise English-speaking person.

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Pravda: American Media Uses Disinformation to Guide Policy | 67 comments (46 topical, 21 editorial, 1 hidden)
Double plus good, friend citizen. (3.57 / 7) (#4)
by alpinist on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:30:32 PM EST

Funny, I was discussing this point just the other day. GWB has stated this will be a `secret' war, and in fact has even cut congress out of the loop because he feels they leak too much information to the press. CNN had US military psychological warfare officers working at its offices. A democracy only works when the populace is well informed and knowledgeable of the issues.

Even in a true democracy, if you control the flow of information to the people, you can achieve any result as surely and easily as a non-democratic dictatorship ever could.

A few facts are off... (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by TheCaptain on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 02:32:06 PM EST

Funny, I was discussing this point just the other day. GWB has stated this will be a `secret' war, and in fact has even cut congress out of the loop because he feels they leak too much information to the press. CNN had US military psychological warfare officers working at its offices. A democracy only works when the populace is well informed and knowledgeable of the issues.

No...take a look at what actually happened.

The ones who were going to get the information according to the article:

...the president had ordered key Cabinet members to disclose "classified and sensitive" information only to eight high-ranking House and Senate members: the top leaders from each party and the chairmen and vice chairmen of each chamber's intelligence committee.

According to the last paragraph, things ended up like this:

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters an agreement was reached that will allow a wider group of lawmakers to continue recceiving sensitive intelligence information. Secretary of State Colin Powell will brief members of the foreign relations committees, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will brief the armed services committees and other lawmakers will receive information on a "need-to-know basis," Fleischer said.

Even beyond that, I don't have a hard time seeing why there would be quite alot of information that shouldn't be getting out. Broadcasting our actual battle plans or targets seems strategically unwise, somehow. This isn't a matter of turning the U.S. into a dictatorship...this is a matter of trying to keep our people in the line of fire from getting killed. Congress is just as in the loop as they ever were...and that I am glad for. Cutting off most of congress didn't sound good to me either, although them leaking information isn't the best sounding thing either.



[ Parent ]
Eh (3.00 / 3) (#23)
by PhillipW on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:55:10 PM EST

I really do not think that saying what our targets are is going to cause harm to our soldiers. The people they are fighting against know very well where they are at. Even if they don't want to take that chance, than all information should be released fairly soon after the fact; there is no way it could cause harm to a mission that has already been completed.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Loose lips sink ships (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by sigwinch on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 05:55:22 PM EST

I really do not think that saying what our targets are is going to cause harm to our soldiers. [Emphasis mine.]
Knowing targets would allow them to be evacuated, and would allow deployment of a weapon of mass destruction (anthrax, radioactivity weapon, pony nuke, ...). Even if the enemy only has low-tech weapons, knowing the targets would let them deploy antipersonnel mines, snipers, caltrops, etc.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Sure (none / 0) (#34)
by PhillipW on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 07:00:18 PM EST

This is true... but events could be disclosed after the fact at no risk to our soldiers.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
here's why (2.00 / 2) (#62)
by Anon 17933 on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 01:44:05 PM EST

The reason we don't say what the targets are is simple -- you allow defenses to be set up and give up the element of surprise. If we tell osama "at 0900 this morning an f-18 will be flying over your hut with a 2000 pound bomb with your name on it" do you think he's going to sit and wait? No! He's going to set up defenses, maybe even get out that stinger missile he's been hiding in the basement, and we may lose a plane and a pilot. If we disclose the targets afterwards, we risk disclosing the source of the intelligence that led us pick that particular target. and when that happens, that source may wind up being killed. So -- that's why they don't disclose much information on the news.

[ Parent ]
From ABC news - here's what *really* happened! (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by sasha on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 05:02:40 PM EST

Yes, it's all lies - when you want the whole truth, go to your abcnews.com link! Heh..

Sarcasm aside, I think you're paraphrasing the mainstream a little bit too much. The "blabbering" tendencies of Congressmen and the piety of the media in picking every small thing up is inertia from the Era of Lewinsky, more than anything. This and many other things taken into account, do you think that Congress would be briefed on *real* battle plans of strategic importance? Not just vague/surface sketches, but -real- tactical information? I doubt it.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

No...facts. It's plain and simple. (none / 0) (#42)
by TheCaptain on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 10:37:38 PM EST

Well...the previous poster DID post something that was incorrect. It's a rather obvious event that happened, and a rather well known outcome. The congresscritters are receieving their information as they were previously. (If you think they wouldn't be complaining if they weren't, your kidding yourself.) That simple blank-and-white fact makes the previous posters message on that subject - false. End of story.

As for what kind of information they have - the exact plans may or may not be known. I don't know how detailed their plans go. I do know that there are alot more bits of classified data than troop movements in Afghanistan though, which I threw out as one very reasonable example. (We do have special forces people in there somewhere...I just don't have any idea how many and where. Odds are good that at least someone in congress knows that, however.) What about information reguarding potential terrorist activity here and abroad? It's not unrealistic to think that they would have some kind of briefing on such matters. Or information about the wereabouts of people other than Bin Laden. If we know where someone is, we sure as heck don't want them to know that we know. Anything like that reguarding what's going on is somewhat important...and I don't doubt for one minute that they have at least SOME information that is classified for some good reasons.



[ Parent ]
Wait, (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by spacejack on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:48:18 PM EST

The essay ends with the line "American media is owned by a handful of corporations, and these are names that the people of the world need to know:", which is followed by a list of over 500 corporations. Is that a handful?

I think he/she meant the holding corporations (none / 0) (#12)
by nstenz on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 01:22:05 PM EST

The ones in bold are the big problem... How many of those are there?

[ Parent ]
Yes, it's a small handful (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by dennis on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 04:01:18 PM EST

The ones in bold are the owners of the ones beneath. Knight-Ridder, for example, is the owner of the Charlotte Observer.

[ Parent ]
Propaganda everywhere (4.25 / 4) (#7)
by quartz on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:49:35 PM EST

I agree with the Pravda article up to a point. US media coverage in the aftermath of Sept. 11 has certainly been chock-full of propaganda, and I don't think it takes much effort to spot it, as it is quite obvious. 95% of Americans supporting war against Afghanistan? Heh. Try asking how many of them are ready to go on the battlefield and fight the war themselves, or send their children to the front line. You'll probably come up with a much lower number.

But the article contains quite a bit of propaganda itself. Here's a few examples: "in most countries control of information is seen as the prerogative of the state "; "In America the press does little but inflame public passions"; "the media, with its ties to American Zionism is dangerously attempting to pull the administration forward". Oh puh-leaze. Don't tell me you expect balanced articles from Pravda - the grandaddy of Russian spin doctoring.



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Fighting the war themselves (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:54:30 PM EST

Well, those of us who live in Arlington County Virginia or New York City are on the front lines. We've taken casualties and everything.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by M0dUluS on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 01:07:08 PM EST

a pity that he went for the anti-Zionist line at the end. And I agree with your examples of propaganda. I'm not sure that you're right about how many would be ready to go on the battlefield though. I suspect quite a lot.

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
Yes, but propaganda in the right direction (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by sasha on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 01:38:46 PM EST

Putting a spin on things is certainly a ubiquitous trait in all media. However, the kind of media the article is taking a shot at cannot be categorised in the same area as an ideaological mouthpiece like Pravda in the past has been. There's a very important distinction.

As a matter of technical pedanticity, I feel compelled (though for no constructive purpose whatsoever) to point out that Pravda.RU is not a direct affeliate of the Pravda newspaper.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Found the bugger.... (4.87 / 8) (#9)
by catseye on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:55:44 PM EST

Took a bit, but I found the author. Mr. Bill White was a former Utopian Anarchist Party candidate. The Utopian Anarchist Party web site no longer seems to exist, as such, but a bit of info on it was found at Dark Horse 2000.

Mr. White now resides at Overthrow.com, an outlet for the Libertarian Socialist Party. At the bottom of the home page for Overthrow is a very brief bio of Mr. White:
Mr White is an independent political activist in Montgomery County, Maryland, who has recenty begun writing on American news and politics for Pravda, official voice of the Russian Communist Party.


So what? (none / 0) (#64)
by svampa on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 07:31:34 PM EST

It's very interesting to know who is the writter. But it is more important to know if the written stuff is true

I can tell, from Spain, that a lot of people wonders if this war stops terrorism, or just helps to rise more hate (specially against USA). But unfortunatly my govermnent has other priorities with our powerfull friend, USA. And this is another's countries situation

Support to USA war is far from total, and as far as I know this fact is not shown in CNN nor USA press.

Mass media power concentration is a fact in every country and specially in USA, and this jeopardizes freedom. No matter who writes it, is it true or false?

USA press is controled and biased so you can't relly on it about the news of this war. No matter who writes it, is it true or false?

That is the question



[ Parent ]
question: (4.00 / 4) (#10)
by spacejack on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 01:04:23 PM EST

Is this "new" set of media companies any more or less powerful with regard to dictating U.S. policy than, say, CBS, NBC & ABC would've been 20 years ago?

Probably (1.66 / 3) (#13)
by sasha on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 01:27:48 PM EST

At first glance, I would definitely be inclined to say, citing the consolidation and merging that has taken place in only the last 20 years among media companies.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Why? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by physicsgod on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:54:28 PM EST

I can understand why the corporations would be more powerful in the outside world, since they're larger, but why would that have any effect on the newsdesks? 20 years ago the anchors and reporters still had bosses that could fire them, now they have more bosses, but I doubt the people higher up could fire them, i.e. the order to fire still has to come from the head of the news department.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Two websites to prove you wrong (none / 0) (#58)
by thenick on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 09:17:49 PM EST

Indymedia.org

and

Drudgereport.com

I don't think people had easily accessable choices for different views on news like this back in 1981. In 1981 there were 3 Networks, which all reported the same news, a local paper, and a fraction of the nationally distributed papers and political magazines we have today.


"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex
[ Parent ]
No doubt about it. (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by sasha on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 12:02:41 AM EST

In terms of sheer quantity, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that in 1981 there was only a fraction of the publications and sources of mass information that there are today. An educated and determined person can find a whole lot more today than ever before, which is great - it's one of the great things about America.

What I was referring to is the stranglehold of a half-dozen megaconglomerates on the mainstream - what typical drones read. *Less* corporations (in number) have a greater stake in mainstream media (in percentage) than ever before.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Less (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 04:29:17 PM EST

20 years ago there were CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN was just starting. To that you could add one weekly newsmagazine and one local newspaper in most families.

The internet changed all that. To the ones above add the New York Times, Washington Post, and all other newspapers that have a global reach via the web. The BBC, the Guardian, others. Places like this, and slashdot, providing tech news. Salon.com. Many more news sources today then 20 years ago.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

pravda.ru and pravda.com (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by mantrata on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 02:23:14 PM EST

Some people noticed that irony that the newspaper, Pravda (which means "The Truth" in english) was a propaganda tool of the old Soviet Union. That's irony on top of irony. I wanted to see who was running Pravda now, and I ran across this article. Apparently, provda.ru is not the newspaper (pravda.com). Pravada.ru was formed to "place factual reporting above political directive."

irony on the side (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by dr k on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 02:54:19 PM EST

Tonight's irony entree is the notion that America won the Cold War because it never resorted to using propaganda on its own people.
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]
What? (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by delmoi on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 07:25:09 PM EST

they didn't force propaganda on their people, they didn't ban non-propaganda...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
pravda.com (none / 0) (#33)
by delmoi on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 06:23:08 PM EST

there is no pravda.com
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Oops (none / 0) (#49)
by mantrata on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 09:55:57 AM EST

Oops, you're right. I misread. Pravda.com is owned by squatters. I guess the newspaper doesn't have a web version.

[ Parent ]
Now I *am* confused... (1.42 / 7) (#19)
by Scrutinizer on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:28:09 PM EST

Libertarian Socialists? What the heck is that? Besides an oxymoron, that is...

The russkies are just jealous because they can't have the "naked news" there. Peasants...

naked (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by nodsmasher on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:37:44 PM EST

the naked news is based on a russian show thats title translats into "the naked truth"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Socialism (4.40 / 5) (#21)
by PhillipW on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:43:33 PM EST

Is an economic system, not a governmental one. You can have a socialist system where you have rights of free speech, religion, privacy, movement, etc. Socialism is not defined as a lack of basic human rights, as those who are avid capitalists would have you believe. That is totalitarianism.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Oxymoron? (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by sasha on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 04:51:34 PM EST

How exactly is Libertarian Socialism an oxymoron?

It's certainly not one of the more mainstream platforms out there, but I fail to see in abstract where the oxymoron comes in.

Unless of course you're a brainwashed git who's been taught that socialism == dictatorship == tyranny, and hence are inclined to believe that it's somehow the antithesis of libertarian sympathies.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Like most West European countries (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by Nickus on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 10:15:08 AM EST

Most West European countries has that kind of rule. A mix betweeen socialism and capitalism. Take those two separate and they are not really good, mix them together the right way and it is much better.



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
libertarian socialism. (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by dogwalker on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 04:54:18 PM EST

Libertarianism = people should be free to act without harming others
Socialism = the workers should control the means of production.
Put 'em together, and you get libertarian socialism, coined to avoid the negative connotations people have with the word 'anarchy.' Consult an FAQ for further details.
--
share and enjoy

[ Parent ]
Hrm (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by delmoi on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 06:20:30 PM EST

The russians invented naked news... they show stuff like that on broadcast TV!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Libertarian socialism (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by spiralx on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 09:32:22 PM EST

Is what libertarianism originally meant when the phrase was coined in the 1900s (IIRC), although now it has been co-opted by the libertarian capitalists of America. Basically, anarcho-socialism - see the Anarchist FAQ. It's a political theory that has nothing to do with politics ever practised in Russia.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

You're right (1.00 / 4) (#41)
by thenick on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 10:22:47 PM EST

Socialism - Production controlled by the government

Libertarianism - Citizens can own anything they like, as long as they do not harm others.

Put it together and it makes no sense. Anarcho-Communism would be the correct name of the Libertarian Socialist movement.


"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex
[ Parent ]
Funny. (5.00 / 3) (#63)
by DGolden on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 07:06:41 PM EST

I looked up Socialism in American and British dictionaries. It's funny how the slants on the two entries, are so different:

American (dictionary.com):
Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.

Manages to make it sound all "evil commie", while still retaining the european understanding of meaning in the first phrase - Anyone care to guess why didn't they leave it at "Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively" ? Hmm...

British (Chambers 20th century):
The theory, principle, or scheme of social organisation which places means of production and distribution in the hands of the community.

No hint of planned economy, dictatorship, or even big government. Hardly conflicting with Libertarianism - in fact, phrased that way, it sounds like they're a good match, given that a community is just a semi-organised bunch of citizens!

Just goes to show, eh? The gulf of understanding between America and Europe grows ever wider...


Don't eat yellow snow
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia description (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by winthrop on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 02:51:13 PM EST

From http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/Libertarian_socialism:

Libertarian socialism is a form of anarchism.

Libertarian socialists see themselves as dedicated to opposing all forms of authority, coercion and social hierarchy. In this they include not only coercion by the state, but also by businesses, schools, religous institutions and at times even the family as well.

[ Parent ]

Similarity != conspiracy (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by itsbruce on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 05:00:31 PM EST

The article makes a mistake common to the paranoid: seeing common interest as conspiracy. The US media often seems to speak with one voice but this is more due to the fact that the respective news organs are afraid to take a lone stand and be isolated. A channel or newspaper which takes an independent line on a major issue becomes an easy target for reactionary politicians and lobbyists. So they tend to find a consensus, within which they find minor points to disagree on. But it's herd instinct, not conspiracy.


--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.

Herd instinct or conspiracy (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 08:01:08 PM EST

It doesn't matter. The net result is the same.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#47)
by itsbruce on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 06:11:40 AM EST

A conspiracy is malign. The herd is simply thoughtless. This is an important distinction: the former actively suppresses independence while the latter merely discourages it. If there were a conspiracy, there would have been no Watergate revelations.

OTOH, the fact that the Watergate revelations are the most recent example of the US media behaving with distinction is a depressing sign of the inertia of the herd.


--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#52)
by SIGFPE on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 12:21:42 PM EST

...it depends on what exactly you are judging. Consider a hypothetical case: let's say you're arguing that Americans are ignorant about world affairs. It doesn't matter whether there is a conspiracy or herd instinct among media companies keeping people this way - the net effect is the same (I'm not saying that this is the case, just that if you were making this argument it wouldn't matter either way).
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Free speach (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by svampa on Sun Oct 14, 2001 at 07:37:15 AM EST

A channel or newspaper which takes an independent line on a major issue becomes an easy target for reactionary politicians and lobbyists

is that free expression?

In other governments, dissident voices are imprissioned, the only difference is the level of pubishment.

Both methods get people and press don't express what they are willing to say because they are afraid. Some are afraid of jail and some are afraid of become a target.

In a free state, people shouldn't be afraid to become a target of anyone, and reactionary policians should be harmless and ignored.

That is an ideal, no country in the world honours this, but day by day USA is getting farer. Day by day reactionary policians and lobies are getting stronger.



[ Parent ]
Lies, damn lies and statistics (4.00 / 3) (#55)
by kemikalzen on Fri Oct 12, 2001 at 03:27:56 PM EST

The pravda-article points out the flaws in the statistics served up. Now, its a known issue (not to say fact) that statistics are immensely powerful, and an active key in marketing and sales. I tend to forget that. I'm glad pravda pointed out the obvious for me.

Sheesh... (none / 0) (#67)
by Scrutinizer on Mon Oct 15, 2001 at 02:29:45 PM EST

It was a *joke*, you guys.

Don't take everything so seriously, you'll live longer and enjoy it more.

I do want to thank the euro-trash folks that took the opportunity to "dis" the US for not being europe. Good call, guys. Get a job...

"They're them and we're us, and that's why we're here and they're there." -- Firesign Theatre

Pravda: American Media Uses Disinformation to Guide Policy | 67 comments (46 topical, 21 editorial, 1 hidden)
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