What would you do if you discovered that people you trust were constantly slipping you little bits of misinformation in an effort to trick you into doing something you never would do otherwise?
Would you get angry? Would you quit trusting those scheming liars? Or would you just smile and welcome them into your living room the next time they came calling?
I’ve worked in the news business since 1978. And you need to know that most newspapers and TV news people are using the power of the media to gradually shape your opinions so you will go along with their agenda for changing American society – in ways you might never have agreed with in the beginning.
The war in Iraq
Back in November, the Associated Press released a story that grabbed headlines all over the country. The AP told us a Shiite militia destroyed four mosques and grabbed six Sunni Muslims, doused them with kerosene and set them on fire, while Iraqi government soldiers just watched.
The only problem is, the mosques that were “destroyed” are all still standing and no one was doused with kerosene and set on fire. In fact, Iraqi troops in the area pursued the attackers, called the fire department, and secured the area in case more attacks were planned.
Does that make you wonder what other untruths you’ve been told about the war in Iraq?
Marriage and family
Did you notice a recent news story about how the majority of American women now live without husbands? Women are waiting later to get married, divorced women are deciding not to remarry, and widows are concluding that getting hitched again isn’t worth the trouble. One expert noted that this trend showed American women were finally experiencing the independence feminists had been fighting for since the 1960s.
The problem is, the study defined “women” as including girls as young as 15. And it excluded women whose husbands work out of town, are in the military, or are institutionalized (read “in prison”). The fact is, once you filter out the twisted statistics, the “news” story reported the opposite of what is actually true.
Do you wonder why someone would want you to think marriage is a bad idea that women all over the country are rejecting?
The power of the mass media in a society like ours is greater even that that of government. Reporters tell you stories that will create the opinion they want you to have. Many of them will filter the facts – or make them up – so you will believe what they want you to believe. And the next time you go to vote, you will cast your ballot the way they want you to. Or maybe you won’t vote because they’ve convinced you it won’t make a difference.
The next time a smug reporter tells you a poll has revealed some astonishing truth, stop and think for a minute. Ask yourself why anyone should be surprised that a poll has confirmed what the reporters have been telling you for six months or a year. It’s not because Americans had that opinion that to begin with; it’s because the media created that opinion by their reporting.
The headline ought to say “Media succeeds in convincing majority of Americans that ….”
Most reporters are idealists. They envision an ideal society they want to help create. That’s why they went into the media business to begin with. They select stories to tell that will convince you to help them. And a lot of them don’t care whether what they tell you is the truth.
Don’t take a reporter’s word for anything. And don’t take my word about this. When you hear something on the news, figure out who disagrees and go find out what they say.
Read more about the Iraq reporting problem here.
Read more about the misleading marriage story here.
Read Jacque Ellul’s Propaganda: The formation of men’s attitudes