Off Deadline: Where is 'propaganda analysis' ed when we need it? | February 24, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 24, 2017

Off Deadline: Where is 'propaganda analysis' ed when we need it?

Where is 'propaganda analysis' ed when we need it?

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Former Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be emailed at jaythor@well.com. He also writes periodic blogs at PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm

# Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" were a brilliant sharing of his
# views in a despairing and terrifying time of economic collapse
# and impending war. They still were propaganda,

When you discuss two things that are so different, the use of language
by political figures, the dishonest/disingenuous labelling of these two
different people as just propaganda seems to me like a strategy from
Orwell to remove the meaning from words and make it impossible for
people to communicate.

Boo! There is no point in taking things like FDR and Goebbels and
making them the same.

We Americans had better get past such simple-minded tactics to prevent
communication. One recent example is the labelling of a pure miscreant,
now timely discredited, who had a speaking engagement at a famous
university free speech, putting it on a par with any contemporay poltical
figure who really has something to say.

Yes, I know, who gets to decide who has something to say and who doesn't.
I don't know, maybe the same person who gets to decide what is pornography
and what is theater?

We better invent some way to deal with this, or how to parse communication
in public or pretty soon we will not have any - and that would be denial of
service on a massive unAmerican scale - because our whole system depends
on communication, discussion, news, opinion.

Recently years worth of such discussion were taken off line from IMDB and
trashed because some people ruined the whole thing for those who wanted
to seriously discuss movies and TV and IMDB could not afford to manage
the thugs of free speech.


15 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm

The leaked Podesta emails revealed many of the reasons why trust in the media is at an all-time low. Emails revealed everything from collusion between the media and the DNC to the news organizations giving a favored politician a level of access and control over stories that would be released.

Between "control of the narrative" to the desire for voters to be "unaware" and "compliant," it is a wonder that even 30% of Americans trust the media.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:16 pm

I like to watch various TV news networks. Frankly I can't tell much difference, in terms of propaganda, among any of them. For example I cannot see any substantial difference between MSNBC and RT. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time determining what actual 'facts' are, because there is so much shading and spinning and selection and distortion. Repetition and 'poisoning of the wells' is alive and well, today.

I remember the old days when old 'Uncle' Walter Conkrite was trusted as a truth teller. He wasn't, but so many people believed he was. Then he was replaced by Dan Rather, but people were beginning to get more information, and he was forced out for telling untruths.

Mostly, I just look at journalism as an angle of attack...and I watch various angles from around the world. Still not sure I get the real deal, though. But I keep watching.


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Everyone can attend the White House briefings via Fox News Network, channel 59 approximately 10:00 AM, PT. Shawn Spicer gives a briefing then answers questions from the news people in attendance. The problem arises in that each news network has a specific question and when Shawn answers the question one time, it sometimes gets asked again by a different person. The people in attendance do not listen to each other. It is irritating. So check the next morning how that question and response is portrayed in your newspaper. The SJM and SFC will tweak it in a negative narrative. The WSJ will give a clear cut narrative of the response. CNN and MSNBC are hard left Democrat, Fox News is Republican, and CSPAN tries to be neutral.
The bottom line is that if you listen to Shawn provide the briefings then you will understand the starting point of the WH point of view.


12 people like this
Posted by realist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:15 am

Excellent essay and response by CrescentParkAnon, too.

I think Ronald Reagan belongs in there. The two Goebbels quotes are right out of the neo-conservative playbook Reagan created. This may as well have been Reagan. I wonder if he knew about Goebbels or realized it himself:
"Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth (is) unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology."
"A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth."

Reagan managed to create a new religion of politics for fundamentalist Christians and authoritarian-oriented voters. His budget director, David Stockman (who is no liberal) admitted the whole thing was a Trojan Horse for cutting top tax rate and quit over it. The whole economic theory was one of the biggest lies if the 20th century. Any centrist/scholarly look at the economy under Democrats versus Republicans finds the economy does better under Democrats. Eight out of the last ten recessions came compliments of Republican administrations. Despite what the last Republican millionaire/billionaire businessman did to tank our economy (state and federal), and the ensuing Democrat did to fix it, Republicans still vote for Republicans fir the economy despite all rational evidence that it will make the economy worse. The economic theory of Reagan was self serving for a few, had to rely on propaganda and conflating of religion and politics to get true believers who would believe anything no matter the evidence, and in reality was based on two motives: cut top tax rates (thereby creating plutocracy from destabilizing power balance between the rich and poor), avoid having to buy government to maintain the tax cuts/create a permanent majority. Destroying the (little d) democratic government to neuter the power of the People is an important part of that. The current administration is the ultimate endpoint if that quest, including the lies, the rightwing public that believes the fake news (its real meaning) so easily, and the Russian involvement, as both the Russiand and Republicans have been actively trying to destroy the American government for the last 30-40 years.


Like this comment
Posted by Intelligent Mind
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 26, 2017 at 9:05 am

I was following through on searching for something referenced in a now deleted comment and found it interesting.

The fact that this comment has been completely deleted without trace makes me ask whether freedom of the press is also freedom of commenting on the press? In my humble opinion, an intelligent mind will always want to read more than one side of an issue and ask relevant questions. Even if we do not agree it is useful to know how someone of a differing opinion arrived at that opinion. If there is indeed a propaganda mentality today shouldn't we also be intelligent enough to be able to comment about it without fear of being quietened? If not, what are the consequences of that?


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

To add a bit of levity to this most serious of topics that boosts
the point of my earlier comment ...

- ... freedom of speech ENDS when the caps-lock key is pressed.

The broader point being freedom of speech is key, fine, wonderful,
one of the most necessary things in a free and open society ... BUT

1. The purpose of speech is communication and expression. Expression
is great, but communication is what overrides. Communication is how
we gather information and ideas.

2. Studies show, and commercials and insults prove that when people
are strongly emotionally aroused, especially in a negative way, they
are not thinking straight. Malcolm Gladwell referred to it as mind-blind.

The point being that when the CAPS-LOCK is pressed, at least for a whole
message instead of emphasis on one single point, there is usually an strong
emotional overtone that far from communicating is meant to throw the listeners
into a mind-blind state.

If we allow our internet forums at all levels to be subject to to the unloading
of raw emotion or calculated emotion designed to blind and destroy this
foundation of our country we will be doing something that leads to our own
demise.

We must be wise enough to realize that not all speech is free speech. We
must value communication and the freedom to hear as much as the freedom
to speak. That's why I have always been a supporter of the FDD Fairness
Doctrine. Maybe it was not perfect but it avoided fairly effectively the islands
of political and social solipsism. We have to start somewhere, and allowing
someone else to have an opposing point of view does not prevent the other
person from speaking.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:29 am

-- I was following through on searching for something referenced in a now deleted comment and found it interesting.

Yes, deleted without any reference ... with extreme prejudice, so to speak.
Can we get an explanation about what happened there?

I did the search and found the document had been deleted.
I did not search farther, but likely something was screwy there.


2 people like this
Posted by Kristin
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:42 am

CrescentParkAnon wrote: "2. Studies show, and commercials and insults prove that when people
are strongly emotionally aroused, especially in a negative way, they
are not thinking straight. Malcolm Gladwell referred to it as mind-blind." This is so right on. And we Americans are prime patsies!
I've noticed lately in news and in political punditry and talk shows where political topics are discussed that Americans are judging political persons in an emotional light. Let me explain: instead of judging ideas and persons in a logical, reasonable manner- as adults are supposed to do, they are responding and deciding based on "feelings". How a person makes them "feel" as opposed to real or tangible reasons. The people are responding emotionally to emotional triggers. This is a childish and immature way of doing things. Be very wary of TV ads that pull your heart strings- they are appealing to the lowest common denominator, your animal instincts, your base human elements. Be on guard when faced with politically charged plans and initiatives that bandy words about like "humanitarian" or use children or families as chess pieces, as I suspect they are using carefully chosen tools that are designed to lure unsuspecting and well-meaning persons down a primrose path.
Another gem I've learned is not so much to note what the propaganda/news person is actually saying, but be wise to exactly what emotions you are left with after the story, that is the rub.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:21 pm

It's very easy. Whatever supports what you want to believe is a fact. All else is propaganda.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

"The fact that this comment has been completely deleted without trace makes me ask whether freedom of the press is also freedom of commenting on the press? "

You overlook a supreme Conservative tenet: private property rights. This forum belongs to a private entity which can manage it as it sees fit. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:23 am

The problem on the table is where will all of the people work - all of those people out there who are screaming away with their mouths hanging open. They have no job prospects because we are systematically removing manufacturing from the scene. And all of the students who have studied technology - their jobs have been outsourced to India - yes - the UC system has done that. In fact the UC system is being gutted out by all of your favorite politicians. If the Democrat party is suppose to be for the working person - assume no special degrees - then where are they suppose to work? When I was growing up in LA we had manufacturing and all colors and types could find a job within that framework. It was a stabilized society. NAFTA has moved those jobs to Mexico with the intention of building a middle class in Mexico and producing the product at a cheaper price. But the cost to our middle class - all colors - has been devastating. Not everyone is going to be a billionaire tech wizard. Or wants to be. There has to be a balanced work environment so all skill sets can have a place to work. This state has to incorporate more diversity is the type of manufacturing jobs available and reduce the taxes imposed on profit oriented businesses.


4 people like this
Posted by realist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2017 at 7:49 am

@CrescentParkAnon,
I've noticed perfectly reasonable posts, even positive posts, going completely missing, too, lately. I've screen shots of this. Sometimes most of a thread. And I've also noticed trying to post, not even as the first poster, and being unable, even with a noncontroversial post. (I've also noticed likes being zeroed out, etc., but not a certain every time, it just seems.)

Will you say something to the web person? This was exactly what I noticed in the weeks leading up to the Weekly hack. Don't assume it's the Weekly.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Our moderators remove posts that are deemed spam, self-promotional or that do nothing but link to another website without acknowledging the post with "Post removed." The referenced post in this thread was deemed an attempt by the poster to drive readers to his website.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 10:06 am

-- The referenced post in this thread was deemed an attempt by the poster to drive readers to his website.

Bill,

The post in question seemed at least semi-on-topic as far as being about propaganda,
the poster also did not post his website, though he did post search terms and very
cleverly got his name in there, which I forget now.

Anyway, thanks for clearing that up. I am curious why no explanation is posted in these cases?
You just like to leave your readers in suspense I take it?

My only opinion is that it would not hurt Palo Alto Online to be a bit less judgmental. I am
not sure how that guy could have made any money from posting his website, but since I didn't
even get to it, who knows. In a case like this you could err on the side of leniency since this
was not blatant.

Not meaning to single out Curmudgeon, but this is a good example:

-- belongs to a private entity which can manage it as it sees fit. So instead of
-- indulging yourself in misplaced whining, why not get up and start your own
-- online forum?

seems insulting and off-topic, and provocative with the "indulging yourself in misplaced
whining" which seems like more of a clear and present irritation, a disguised insult as
opposed to much or Curmudgeon's wittier posts.

Should there be some test as if there is a more civil way to express something that
contains needless provocation it should be considered for deletion or editing?

I would ask PAO to consider deletion of posts, and there are so many of them, that deliberately
provoke these little political insults with no point. Mentioning something is hardly the same
as whining, yet, speaking of propagandistic devices, when an discussion is cast in political
terms all I hear is that "Liberals whine". When you investigate this it is a real insult. Where native
Americans whining to lose their country, where blacks "whining" about slavery. It makes every
social injustice that someone perceives and wants to discuss or do something about trivial,
and mostly these questions are not trivial.


5 people like this
Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 27, 2017 at 12:29 pm

This comment sequence seems pretty civil, but discussions of news topics may improve in tone if people use their real names.

As I was reading this piece, I was thinking that Thorwaldson was going to say "mea culpa" for the somewhat misleading double editorial a couple of weeks ago that represented the new City Council as a conspiratorial group that willfully ignores carefully wrought unanimous public planning input. After reading the weekly, my neighbor happened to express real distress at this bad behavior on the part of our Council, and I had to tell him that I was there at the Council meetings and the Council did not seem so sinister and the public input was not so uniform.

Weekly is wonderful, but could use a bit of introspection.


5 people like this
Posted by ThinkingIsTheBestWayToTravel
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Feb 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

When I was a senior in High School (on the east coast) our history/civics class (Yes! and where it is now?) was titled Problems of Democracy. One of the units was on advertising as propaganda. We read newspapers every day (one was the NYT; another might have been Philadelphia Inquirer). There was an intention and an attempt to direct us along the lines of critical thinking. Is that done today?


2 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:57 pm

@realist...."Both the Russians and the Republicans have been actively trying to destroy the American government for the last 30-40 years." Really? You can prove that how? Or are you parroting the "real" fake news that the liberal press has been giving us for decades.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:06 pm

-- This comment sequence seems pretty civil

Since you did not quote, say or address anyone, I assume you are talking about my
previous post.

Civil is not the point. When I hear "liberals" and "whine" together constantly in situations
just like "Little Marco", "Lyin' Ted Cruz", "Crooked Hillary", "Nasty Media" or whatever
... the point is propaganda, and how it operates at different levels.

Allowing the terms "whiny" and "Liberal" to show up over and over together, with no
objective measured representation as to whether the public thinks that is a subliminal
tactic that is used to brainwash or emotionally condition people.

This is not speech or communication, it is subliminal propaganda that we see over and
over in the mainstream media, and in our media advertising. You of all people should
be aware of this, but then again you cannot express things too wide of the accepted
norm can you? You could say what you really think anonymously, so I am against
forcing people to identify because you never know what ideas who has really and what
they can and cannot say.

What is means is that we value power over ideas and critical thinking, and will use any
tactic necessary to normalize that and make it seem normal, even positive, even a guilt
pleasure - the one mode of bullying that is condoned.

Another tactic is the simulation of democracy outside the ballot, by ECHO!

The subject here is propaganda, and the reason there is little analysis and education
is that when people know how it works and what is going on they surprisingly become
aware and immune to its effects and learn what to look for. We complain people do
not have critical thinking skills any more, while at the same time there is a reason
critical thinking skills are not stressed or exercised in education.


5 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Jay, a very big example of propaganda is readily accepted by many in Palo Alto and Stanford: Regarding global warming alarmism, we often hear "The science is settled". The skeptics are called "deniers".

Do you, Jay, ascribe to this propaganda?


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:26 pm

"NAFTA has moved those jobs to Mexico with the intention of building a middle class in Mexico and producing the product at a cheaper price."

A prime propaganda example--deflecting the blame.

NAFTA moved nothing. It only opened up the marketplace. Everybody knows an open marketplace is good, right? The elites took the opportunity to enrich themselves by exporting American jobs. Blame Wall Street and the Great Trumpian Swamp, not NAFTA.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 28, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Cur - give it up. NAFTA was conjured by Clinton with the help of Carlos Slim of Mexico - one of the richest five men in the world. Slim owns most of the companies in Mexico. What I indicated was the specific purpose of why they set it up. Whatever was thought up was way before Trump was in office - and before Obama was in office. This was a Clinton activity.
You can watch Trump speak tonight and throw popcorn at him. The problem is he is right. All of those young people running all over SF and Oakland do not have jobs, live in Mom's house, because there are no jobs for them.
Side note: Baltimore used to be the home of Bethlehem Steel - it was a stabilized economy. Now the main employer is John Hopkins - a non-profit. The school system is collapsing due to lack of funds and the students like to riot - given no better prospects. Not all of the students are John Hopkins qualified.


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2017 at 4:57 pm

"NAFTA was conjured by Clinton with the help of Carlos Slim of Mexico..."

Of course it's all another conspiracy; Clinton decided to shaft the American worker for shadowy reasons known only to the conspiracy insiders, and American factory owners were helpless pawns in its relentless sweep so they just had to move their operations to Mexico. Some people might actually believe that.

Now, how does that explain the demise of the American steel industry in the eighties on Reagan's watch, way before NAFTA? Did Clinton pull off a shadowy preNAFTA from Arkansas?


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:53 am

So some people are winning here and some people are losing. George Soros lost big when the stock market went up - being a hedge fund manager. And if the rail roads do not have rolling stock then somehow you will have rolling stock carrying coal to Oakland port and oil going through San Jose to San Louis Obispo. Why aren't those kids down there rioting over rolling oil going through town? After all - they are an engineering school. Maybe we can transplant some UC kids around to riot where fossil fuels are going by their towns.
[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by realist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2017 at 9:33 am

@Bill Johnson,
I never saw the post eliminated here. I was not referring to anything remotely in the realm you mentioned, those are normal editorial decisions I can understand. No, I'm talking about regular posts just disappearing. This happened and difficulties making regular posts in the first place, very much like what was happening in the lead up to the hack. People were complaining about that then, too. I am not talking about the specific post here, I did not see it.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2017 at 9:59 pm

I disagree strongly with everything "CresentParkAnon" has to say. What a load of over-analysis. [Portion removed.]

Guess what, we're all guilty of powerfully expressing ourselves. The difference? You are contradicting yourself as you speak, CrescentParkAnon. You are calling us blind lemmings who fall for propaganda while you possess "critical thinking" skills that are somehow above the rest of the helpless kool-aid drinkers. And you are doing it using polished, eloquent language with a lot of effort to balance viewpoints. I commend you on that, however you are using a very SUBTLE and sophisticated, advanced form of propaganda similar to CNN (although they totally blew their cover as of late). [Portion removed.]

We love propaganda, but in this day and age its of a different nature.
The explosion of technology and overkill of "news" stories from different sources has actually brought us to a post-truth era. These days I realize that instead of watching the news or worrying about the news, we need to make the news and be the news.
Which means taking action and building things rather than endless professorial ruminations over the meaning of "propaganda". Intellectual academic idleness can be so unproductive.
My way of dealing with the political chaos?
Unbridled optimism and hope for individuals in our country, and for our nation as a whole.


Like this comment
Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2017 at 8:02 am

Really enjoyed the thoughtful (mostly) exchange above. Lots of good thinking and exchange of views. As for "climate change," yes there's a lot of stuff said about something that no one knows everything about, and the future is the future. But the deniers, so-called, seem to ignore a huge load of verifiable evidence that is being observed, with or without the opinions of scientists. The preponderance of evidence is a powerful stabilizing force if someone doesn't drown it under a rising tide of political or self-interest ideology. Best, -jay


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