by Eric Zuesse
Modern dictatorship, as Walter Lippmann pointed out in 1921 about “the manufacture of consent,” is the “creation of consent” and “is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic,” so that we now have artificial ‘democracy’, which George Orwell prophetically allegorized in his 1949 novel 1984. But here is the real version of it, today:
On May 26th, a youtube was posted titled “TIME Editor Literally Admits He’s For Gov. Propaganda!” It’s about, and discusses this: Richard Stengel, who was a former Managing Editor of TIME magazine (2006-2013), and then the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2014-2016), had hosted, on April 20th, at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a Workshop for College and University Educators — in other words, for professors — and this workshop was titled “Political Disruptions: Combating Disinformation and Fake News”. Stengel and his panel of ‘experts’ were teaching these professors how to recognize ‘Fake News’, and Stengel made clear there that it’s whatever violates America’s “master narrative.” (Truth-falsity has nothing to do with it, he and they were teaching.)
After a lot of unquestioning questions from his academic audience, and only near the very end of the entire workshop, an unidentified attendee asked a questioning question:
Q: I’m going to kind of go against the grain here and challenge us to … think about the media cartels, which control and dominate the way that the discourse is shaped. Is that not fake news in certain ways? … So for example, I’ll talk about the events in Gaza three weeks ago. Every American — every mainstream American and world outlet wrote a title that said, “Palestinians killed” or “die in clashes with Israel.” There were snipers, hundreds of feet away, shooting at unarmed demonstrators, but every major newspaper outlet — or every major news outlet called it clashes. No one calls that fake news.
So there’s a question here about how we are defining and what merits our attention as fake news that we need —
STENGEL: So just to — so a — so give me — give examples of the master narratives that existed — or still exist that maybe need to be questioned.
Q: American master narrative about — what is it — destiny — manifest destiny. American narrative about entitlement to American land despite American — Native Americans’ presence and the massacres against them. The denial of the continuing aftermath of slavery that is continuing to be a part of American mainstream media and mainstream consciousness.
[The invited panel of ‘experts’ then answered with irrelevancies. Finally, Stengel came in with:]
STENGEL: So I’ll — you will be the last question, but I just want to weigh in on that for one second. So there’s another word for master narratives. It’s called history.
Basically every country creates their own narrative story and, you know, my old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist job. We haven’t talked about propaganda. Propaganda — I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population [he is saying that every nation is the same in this regard], and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful. And this idea of a news cartel — I mean, I was editor of TIME in 2012, during that election, and I remember — you know, you were competing against cartels and everybody. I remember being on a panel with the then-editor of The New York Times, who said, it’s really hard to break through these days. This is the editor of The New York Times saying it’s hard to break through. I almost — I wanted to jump off the platform — like, what’s it like for the rest of everybody? So, I mean, there’s no — I mean, there are cartels, but the cartels don’t have hegemony like they used to.
The gentleman right there. Last question.
Q: I don’t think you all addressed her issue, which I [would] put in terms of understanding what happens in the world, because what is happening in America is what I’m — the United States flipped on the Global South and in the Third World, which we live with for many, many years in terms of a master narrative that was, and still is, propaganda.
STENGEL: You know what? I hate last questions — (laughter [from the audience — they evidently felt that this statement from Stengel was humorous; and the panelists, too, at 1:16:55 in the video, were smiling at his saying this, apparently sharing Stengel’s clear hostility toward that questioner, and toward his question]) — don’t you? [One of the panelists here, who was still smiling, now shook her head vigorously yes while raising her right eyebrow also in assent to this] I never — I usually just want to end something before the last question.
But at any rate, I want to thank this fantastic panel here today. (Applause.)
And I do want to say I actually think the — I mean, talk about optimism. I mean, the optimism is all of you there figuring out how to teach your students about this, and using some of the techniques and some of the sources that we’ve talked about here today, and I hope you are successful.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Stengel refused to address that last question, though he had implicitly promised to answer it when he said “The gentleman right there. Last question.”
And, yet, instead of booing here at the end, the assembled professors issued “Applause.” They had just been told that American propaganda being directed at the American people, by the U.S. Government and its “media cartels,” is good, because it’s what creates “history,” and it consists of real news, not the fake type. And things such as what the Euro-Americans did (or do) to America’s natives don’t belong in America’s “master narrative” or ‘history’, and so are better ignored, not mentioned. These professors didn’t think that what Stengel and his ‘experts’ had said was disgusting; they didn’t think that any professor who accepts it should be fired; they instead thought that this is actually the way professors should be, and that it’s what they should do, and should inculcate into their students.
Perhaps this is the reason why the youtube’s title, “TIME Editor Literally Admits He’s For Gov. Propaganda!” ended in an exclamation-mark: the discussants there, in that “Jimmy Dore Show” segment, were stunned — even though they had failed to make note of the fact that Stengel’s “Workshop” was for ‘historians’ and other academics, and so was even more disgusting than Dore and his guests noted it to have been. But, otherwise, they covered well the putrid ground of this CFR Big-Brother seminar, which had, in fact, been designed for the CFR’s invited academics (people selected by CFR , so as to train them, essentially, to propagandize for their “master narrative”), to teach to them what and how to teach to their students. This was like a seminary, except for representatives of the aristocracy, instead of for representatives of the clergy.
Consequently, peeling away the surface of Big Brother’s face, to see the workings underneath that artificial skin, there aren’t mere formulae and algorithms, as is now so commonly assumed and demonized; but, instead, there are the owners of the corporations and aristocratic fortunes that fund organizations such as the CFR — and this is the reason why they fund this, and why the endowed academic chairs at universities and colleges get filled by the sorts of people who issued that “Applause” there, instead of any “Boos,” after having been taught that “history” and that “the news” consist only of “the master narratives” of the nation’s “media cartels,” and that all else is just “fake news.” “Propaganda — I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population, and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful. And this idea of a news cartel” is also fine, because you’re still “competing against cartels and everybody.” Just so long as everybody is “competing,” it’s good; and, “I mean, the optimism is all of you there figuring out how to teach your students about this, and using some of the techniques and some of the sources that we’ve talked about here today, and I hope you are successful” in that competition, for funding by the donors to the CFR, and for job-offers from the universities and colleges that teach the “master narratives.”
And, so, here’s a concrete example of the end-result: an MSNBC segment, whose underlying asssumption is that U.S. theft of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth will be okay, displays how this upside-down world is being presented directly to America’s voters, by people such as those CFR invitees:
Rachel Maddow’s & Col. Jack Jacobs’s psychopathy are on full display there, at 6:00 till the end at 16:45. The discussion in that part of the segment, accurately represents this entire segment (which is publicly available only in the full presentation of that evening’s complete Rachel Maddow Show, where it can be seen at 12:25-18:40):
That’s the entire Maddow Show, dated 21 August 2017.
However, that show’s transcript
notably excludes, from the transcript, this interview of Jack Jacobs — that entire segment is simply eliminated, entirely, from the show-transcript — and MSNBC also didn’t include the interview as being among the stand-alone excerpts that MSNBC posted from that program. This segment went down the memory-hole (perhaps in retrospect the Show’s producers thought that it would be too embarrassing), but people such as Jimmy Dore somehow had obtained or retained the key clips from it, which Dore published and discussed (with his guests) at youtube, on 23 August 2017. (Incidentally, Dore likewise did the earlier-mentioned discussion, “TIME Editor Literally Admits He’s For Gov. Propaganda!”. Both of those discussions are very sharp.)
That’s just one of the innumerable examples, of how the people who control America, manufacture consent, to being ruled by them. What the public need — or even want — is ignored, except as something to be manipulated by the owners of the “cartels” (those presenters’ ultimate bosses). The end (those owners’ dictatorship) justifies any means, and truth is simply to be ignored. This is what Stengel’s workshop taught, and what MSNBC was pumping out to its market.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.