Wednesday, August 18, 2010


As many of us have been pointing out for a long time (in my case since the 1960s) the leaders/spokespeople for the rightwing of our country's politics learned from Nixon and his gang, Reagan and his and then Bush/Cheney and theirs (and the various others in between those Republican administrations, like Gingrich et. al.) to manipulate the mass media by framing the terms of any political interpretation of current affairs.

In other words it's not about whether escalating the war in Viet Nam is a betrayal of Nixon's promise to have a secret plan to end it, or whether objections to the futility of that war were well founded, but whether or not those who protested it were either "communists" themselves or being duped by "communists" etc. They created specialists to work on the wording and framing of whatever event the mass media covered so it could be spun in their favor and they got better and better at it.

Under Nixon, it was often in reaction to events. But under Reagan (and Lee Atwater among others) it became proactive with "sound bites" and staged "photo ops" etc. to take advantage of network TV evening news shows where most people got their news then. Those sound bites were well scripted and well delivered (compared to most politicians of those times Reagan, the professional actor who was best as a TV corporate salesman, was much more convincing because he knew, as a professional actor must, how to convince himself of the truth of whatever script he was reading whether it was actually true or not).

It was the same old tired name calling but so much more media savvy. So now anyone who objected to the breach against our Constitution by our government under Reagan running arms to rightwing "terrorists" trying to overthrow a legitimate government in Nicaragua was of course a "communist" etc. but the Reagna backed militarists were now "freedom fighters" and who can argue with fighting for "freedom" etc.

By the time of the Bush/Cheney administration they had their control of the media down to a science, so that what was one of the most calamitous presidencies in history—from even before it was official, when the Bush/Cheney camp sent Republican thugs in preppy outfits to Florida to pretend to be outraged citizens and intimidated the vote counters etc. to ignoring the Clinton/Gore warnings about imminent Al Queda attacks on the USA, which amounted to criminal negligence, to the failure to respond to the Katrina disaster and an unwillingness to even acknowledge it at first or to dismiss the casualties from it because they seemed to be mostly African-Americans (Barbara Bush's famous comment about how those suffering in the Astrodome probably never had it so good etc.) until it seemed even the rightwing Republican spinmeisters couldn't salvage Bush/Cheney— and its horrible legacy that the Obama/Biden administration inherited is now portrayed as a "victim" of Democratic blamers and the blame for Bush/Ceney policies that created what might have become another Great Depression and two unneseccary wars, etc. is Obama's fault!

As lots of us have pointed out many times, they are now so good at this that they dominate the news cycle almost every day with their framing of what's important to cover and how its covered. The latest hoax of course is the whole "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy that didn't exist until the rightwing media machine created it. A "hoax" because it isn't at "Ground Zero" and it isn't a "Mosque." But also because the Mayor of New York as well as most people who live in lower Manhattan and many people directly effected by 9/11, including family and friends of victims (I had a friend on one of the planes) did not and do not object to a prayer room in a privately owned building in lower Manhattan just because it will accommodate Muslims.

But now all over the mass media this is being talked about as "The Ground Zero Mosque" "controversy" even though it's entirely fabricated. The right refers to the spot as "hallowed ground" despite—as pointed out by many non-mainstream media sources—this building will be the same distance from Ground Zero as a "Men's Club" where lap dances are for sale, and that a mall is planned for the actual ground of "Ground Zero" where the remains of my friend and the other 9/11 victims will mix with the construction materials used to build mall shops and fast food stands etc.!

But it's not the "hallowed ground" and all that it stands for that the rightwing media and leaders are concerned with, it is stirring up the weak minded among their followers who cannot use reason or logic but react to psychological and emotional manipulation to make them fearful of and therefore angry at anything having to do with Islam, seemingly unaware that the 9/11 attackers were part of a small group of radical Islamists who should have been treated like an international criminal threat and were from Saudi Arabia where the rulers had close ties to the Bush family and their oil interests.

As others have pointed out, if we were to prevent any reminder of Islam appearing anywhere near 9/11—as though there weren't Muslims victims in those buildings and on those planes, which of course there were, or that all those who identify as Muslims are the same as the "terrorists" who commandeered the planes on that fateful day—then because some who oppose abortion based on their interpretation of Christian beliefs have murdered doctors and bombed clinics, no Christian establishment should be allowed near the offices or clinics or hospitals of doctors and establishments which legally give abortions, etc.

The mass media has become for the most part "fellow travelers" of the right, while the right has just become more and more bold about its intention to control the media and our politics (as in the Fox News parent company giving millions and millions to the Republican Party, though the mass media has ignored that story for the most part and Fox News entirely. Can you imagine if it came out that CNN had given millions to the Democratic Party?!)

Here's one of the best article on all this I've read lately.


JIm said...

Nice touch Mike.

More of the "Liar, Liar Pants on Fire" attack on the right and on anyone that objects to the Gound Zero Victory Mosque.

Anonymous said...

they ALL lie! It's the definition of being a politician!

let's see the preasent administration says

"we are adding 500,000 new jobs every month."

latest figure we actually lost 340,000 + jobs THIS MONTH

the present administrators say.. "there is only 26 % of the oil still in the waters"

the fact is "over 86 % of the oil is still in the water or on the bottom or in the sea-creature's breeding ground."

etc etc etc.

that last administration was worse... "we found Weapons of Mass Destruction" so, let's bomb them off the face of our Christian Earth!"

for Christ's sake Lally
wake up and get out of the alley

AlamedaTom said...

Well, the trolls have resurrected themselves on your site, brother.

I thought a lot about this cogent post of yours, and I think I might be able to distill it down to something we all can remember: fashion for 13-year-olds. I remember so many episode of this when my well-meaning parents (who were supporting me and 3 younger siblings) would bring home a pair shoes or a jacket, or whatever, which they had gotten a good price on, and I would refuse to be "caught dead in it.' Looking back now, I am ashamed, not so much that I acted the way I did, but mostly that I fell under the sway of the fashion police. For example when I was 13, you had to have REAL Levi's rolled up once in a half inch cuff (no Wranglers or Lees or god forbid Sears!). I could go on and on, but we all know what I am talking about.

We now have Fox News(what a joke that title is)and those behind it acting in a much more pervasive, global way, but the effect is the same. Getting the masses to jump on their various bandwagons, (mosques, immigrants, the President's birth certificate, etc) is just exactly like rejecting a perfectly serviceable pair of jeans and truly believing that those Levi's are god's truth and your destiny. The point I am making is that I REMEMBER how strong that feeling was and how conflicted I was. I knew we did not have a lot of money, and that my parents had my sister and brothers to take care of, and I loved all of them, but despite all that I had been brainwashed thus pulled out every trick in the book to get those Levi's.

So, I am very loathe to dump on the folks who buy into the Fox/right wing agenda. As you point out, with the mainstream media being AWOL and Fox telling them that they will not be cool or informed unless they believe the Fox lies, half truths, distortions, can we blame them?

So, what we have to do is somehow get our brothers and sisters to realize and believe that wearing those Wranglers ain't all that bad.

~ Willy

Butch in Waukegan said...

The thrust of this post is incomplete.

The right wing, with media help, put this issue into play, but so-called liberal Democrats have taken the ball and are dribbling it down the court: Harry Reid , Governor Patterson, Howard Dean, and a host of House candidates.

On the other hand, some Republicans, like Mayor Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough, have stepped up.

Obama, who has the bully pulpit and is supposed to have great moral authority, stepped aside. (Is that Rahm Emanuel in the shadows behind him?)

This is a weak issue for the right wing, if only a prominent figure would lay the issues out and confront these bigots. Charles Davis exposed the essential hypocrisy of these kooks in a tweet: “Muslims are like the Nazis! says Newt Gingrich, advocate of aggressive war, torture and racial profiling.”

For 8 years we were told our nation was lost, that the only way to forward is to elect Democrats. Now we see Democrats walking arm-in-arm with the right wing down a very dangerous road.

Were the Democrats, who have the power, jiving us all these years, or are they just scared?

Robert G. Zuckerman said...


Miles said...

Tom, I like what you did there, great point.

Butch, I totally understand your disappointment in the Dems, but you distort their role. They may be in power, but they are struggling to exert that "power". A large part of this struggle comes from the kind of unified attack the right wing has mastered. This is what my dad is describing. Policy isn't easily created, especially when you have little popular support. But it's not just the right wing noise machine sucking away the Dems "power", many on the left consistently perceive the Dem's accomplishments as failures because they do not go far enough. While I share this view on some issues, not going far enough in a helpful direction, is not the same as actively moving in a harmful direction. I still find it easy to see the difference between a Republican and Democratic politician. Yes, they are both politicians, but their goals, and loyalties are different. Finally, this excellent New Yorker article exposes another side of what the Dems are up against: namely the (mostly) rightwing obstructionism in the Senate:

Broken Senate

Robert Z, nice link, thanks.

Lally said...

Thank you Miles, you said it better than I have.

JIm said...

You eloquently identify the problems with the Obama/Pelosi/Reid program.

"Policy isn't easily created, especially when you have little popular support. But it's not just the right wing noise machine sucking away the Dems "power", many on the left "

Butch in Waukegan said...

It is not correct to describe this very important issue as a left/right issue. It is a right/wrong issue.

All the excuses offered to excuse the Democrats were used in the struggle for the 1965 Voting Rights Bill. If you don’t fight you are guaranteed to lose, and some of the comments here (as will as the today's post) seem to concede to the right wing without a fight.

This is not a philosophical/political science question: Why aren’t the Democrats fighting harder against the right wing Park51 Cordoba House scare campaign?

JIm said...

Re: Ground Zero Victory Mosque

Many Democrats are running away from the issue because they realize that, if it is still going in November, we could have a veto proof congress.

Curtis Faville said...


I understand completely the rational arguments for tolerance, in the face of the natural tendencies to bridle at any evidence of Islamic "influence" in connection with the 9/11 WTC tragedy. We live in a democracy, and freedom of religion means just exactly what it says.

But our laws and government were based on Judeo-Christian values of tolerance and fairness and freedom and opportunity and equality. Islam wasn't an issue in this country, in the 18th, 19th or 20th Centuries. Islam was founded, grew and spread in the Near and Middle East. It has a strong theocratic bent. It has rigid rules and proscriptions regarding separation of the sexes, the raising and education of children, and the relationship between church and state, and "other" sects and non-believers. I'm not talking about "radical Islam" here but the garden variety.

I think that many people are just waking up to the fact that a thorough-going Islamic cultural paradigm is incompatible with American democracy and life as we know it.

It's still early. Islam has made some impressive inroads in North America, but it's still a small minority, compared to other religious movements, and to the non-religious populace.

But ask yourself what the implication might be for a 20%, or a 40%, or a 60% hegemony of Islamic faith in North America. Islam is very aggressive in its promotion of expansion. What might the effect be of a powerful Islamic movement here? Is Islam being honest when it proclaims that it is fully compatible with American ideals and freedoms?

I'm not being incendiary. I'm just you really think Islam is just like Judaism or Protestantism?

Might there come a time when our tolerance would find its natural limit(s)?

JIm said...


Right on Curtiss. A whisper of rational thought has emerged from a sea name calling.