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Does this mean that we don’t need to listen to Noam Chomsky anymore?

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 19 years ago, in 2005, on the World Wide Web.

For the past few decades, libertarian and Leftist critics of U.S. foreign policy alike — from Noam Chomsky to Murray Rothbard — have put a lot of work into documenting and exploring the subtle mechanisms of control that the American government has developed to ensure that our supposedly free press is still reliably at the service of U.S. government policy. What their efforts have have revealed is an interlocking system of interests and manipulation, which manages to effectively carry out the aims of an extensive propaganda system without taking on the formal structure of one.

But it looks like here, as in so many other places, the Bush administration is committed to bolder leadership than its predecessors:

  • New York Times (2005-01-7): Bush’s Drug Videos Broke Law, Accountability Office Decides

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 – The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Thursday that the Bush administration violated federal law by producing and distributing television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people.

    The accountability office said the videos constitute covert propaganda because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, which were distributed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. They were broadcast by nearly 300 television stations and reached 22 million households, the office said.

    In May the office found that the Bush administration had violated the same law by producing television news segments that portrayed the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly.

    The accountability office was not critical of the content of the video segments from the White House drug office, but found that the format — a made-for-television “story package” — violated the prohibition on using taxpayer money for propaganda.

    A spokesman for the drug policy office said the review’s conclusions made a mountain out of a molehill.

  • USA Today 2005-01-07: Education dept. paid commentator to promote law:

    Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

    The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts, and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

    Williams said he does not recall disclosing the contract to audiences on the air but told colleagues about it when urging them to promote NCLB.

    The contract may be illegal because Congress has prohibited propaganda, or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. And it’s propaganda.

    The Nation Capitol Games (2005-01-10): Armstrong Williams: I Am Not Alone:

    And then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. This happens all the time, he told me. There are others. Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. I’m not going to defend myself that way, he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.

    The Blue Lemur (2005-01-12): Columnist Bush paid to promote No Child law still on Bush fellowship board (via Wendy McElroy @ Liberty & Power 2005-01-12):

    Armstrong Williams, the columnist paid $240,000 by the Bush Administration to surreptitiously promote Bush&’s No Child Left Behind Law remained listed on the White House website as a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships as late as Wednesday, RAW STORY has learned.

    The discovery, first reported by D.C. Inside Scoop, suggests that the White House has declined to sever ties with the discredited pundit. Williams was terminated by the company syndicating his column, Tribune Media Services, last Friday.

  • Financial Times (2005-01-11): Allawi group slips cash to journalists (via Strike the Root 2005-01-11):

    The electoral group headed by Iyad Allawi, [U.S.-installed] interim Iraqi prime minister, yesterday handed cash to journalists to try to ensure coverage of its press conferences, in a throwback to Ba’athist-era patronage ahead of parliamentary elections on January 30.

    After a meeting held by Mr Allawi’s campaign alliance in west Baghdad, reporters, most from the Arabic-language press, were invited upstairs where each was offered a gift of a $100 bill in an envelope.

    Many of the journalists accepted the cash, equal to about half the starting monthly salary for a reporter at an Iraqi news-paper, and one jokingly recalled how the former regime of Saddam Hussein had also lavished perks on favoured reporters.

Welcome to the mainstream news media for the new millennium, in which Noam Chomsky has become obsolete: they aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. Interlocking interests and subtle mechanisms of control aren’t even the point anymore; the Bush machine and its clients now pass out government-manufactured news segments and lucrative tax-funded bribes for useful political commentators. The Bush League may not be making government smaller, but they are making radical critique simpler–may God help us all.

3 replies to Does this mean that we don’t need to listen to Noam Chomsky anymore? Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Geekery Today:

    Does this mean we don’t have to listen to Noam Chomsky anymore? Part 2

    Sometimes I hate being right. Los Angeles Times 2005-11-30: U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press: WASHINGTON — As part of…

— 2008 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2005-03-27 – Beltway Baiting:

    […] about prostitution, much less homosexuality; it was about yet another glaring example of the Bush Administration’s willingness to institute the mechanisms of an overt propaganda machi…—including using tax resources to exert control over the press corps through pay-offs and […]

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