Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Propaganda, Brought by Your Own Tax Dollars

Former President Obama (2018): "Special interests, foreign governments, etc. can, in fact, manipulate and propagandize." What if at least one of those special interests is your own government? In Peter Richardson's A Bomb in Every Issue (2009), we learn the CIA directly or indirectly funded numerous liberal and conservative organizations, including ones with Gloria Steinem, the AFL-CIO, and William F. Buckley, Jr. 
Problematically, we don't know which cultural change organizations weren't funded by the CIA. In other words, government interference may have cost Americans leaders who could have delivered more honest or less divisive commentary but who didn't have the numbers or influence at the exact time of the CIA's involvement. Funding x rather than y meant anything independent--anything related to y and not x--was at a disadvantage, tilting the media towards CIA-picked cultural leaders. As a result, almost everything you see and read might have been curated for you by a secretive, non-transparent government agency. If that's not propaganda, what is? And why isn't the president of the United States talking about it? 

Bonus: "The agency's goals were to counter similar groups under Soviet control abroad and to recruit foreign students." The only reason we know any of this is because an insider--we'd call him a whistleblower today--hadn't signed an NDA and provided documents to a journalist at an independent publication. The independent publication, The Ramparts, had a distinctive strategy: raise hell and keep on raising it until national media, always late to the game, finally picked up the story. 

Bonus: a world where secretive organizations can manipulate winners requires not just irresponsible funding but online manipulation (SEO, etc.). If the top 25 hits on Google's search engine can be curated for you by one or more intelligence organizations, can you believe anything you see and hear? 

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