Kundera has described a great deal of what drives public opinion today, and how public opinion in turn shapes the perception of reality in a circular feedback loop facilitated by polling. He doesn't mention the MSM directly here (he does get to it later), but of course it's a big part of this loop.
I found his analysis of why it is possible for the process to work this way particularly compelling; the scale of modern life makes it impossible to know about things in the way people in a village used to know what was going on in that small arena. And so we are dependent on image shapers and the media to construct a reality for us, and we are often none the wiser that it is a distorted reality.
And now Dymphna at the Gates of Vienna, who demonstrates how the media distort reality by what they DON'T report:
Sources say Hamas operations coordinators in Gaza use the station to provide terrorists with directions such as the exact coordinates in and near Gaza City from which to launch the rockets and mortars and the trajectory to be used in firing the Qassam missiles.
But the best part is the punchline. Want to know why Hamas and the Voice of Al Aqsa are coordinating this effort? Because then Hamas can say it drove the Israelis from Gaza, rather than the truth of it, which is that the Israelis decided to unilaterally withdraw from the area.Analysts expect the rocket attacks to increase as the evacuation date gets closer so that Hamas, popular in the Gaza Strip, can claim to its Palestinian supporters it drove Israel from the area.
That’s Islamofascist manly warrior priniciples in action, folks. The kind of military that indoctrinates its kindergartners in Jew-hatred and trains them with toy missle launchers. The same people who make their women hide weapons in their underwear.
There is no question that Manipulation is a powerful tool to control the masses. Distorting what is said and carefully choosing what is not said is a part and parcel of that process. One that the MSM appears to have perfected since the unfortunate series of events that led to a Republican president.
Robert J Lifton in his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China, identifies 8 basic requirements for total thought control and manipulation:
1. Milieu Control, or the control of communication.
2. "Mystical Manipulation" or extensive personal manipulation that seeks to provoke specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that these will appear to have arisen spontaneously. A good example of this is the pervasive and obsessive use of POLLS by the media to demonstrate the unpopularity of causes or people to whom the MSM are opposed. Any dissenting polls are minimized or simply not reported. Thus people are continually pressued to go along with the opinions of the group that runs the MSM. I might mention that the use of polls and and opinion data are interestingly selective, of course, and are often very carefully worded to obtain the response desired. Wouldn't want people to get the incorrect message (a good example is the fact that most people are not even aware of how resiliant and robust the economy is right now. Somehow all the positive economic indicators have not made it to the MSM outlets).
3. The Demand for Purity - this encompasses the insistence that people they don't like be completely perfect in every way; that wars need to be completely perfect in every way --otherwise they are not "moral"; that everything, everywhere must turn out perfectly otherwise it is a "failed" policy--except of course for the policies of which they approve, which have considerable leeway for imperfection.
4. The Cult of Confession - the constant calls to confess sins--especially sins one hasn't committed; to admit mistakes; and to bow before the altar of ideological purity.
5. Reference to "Sacred Science" - "an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself. While thus transcending ordinary concerns of logic, however, the milieu at the same time makes an exaggerated claim of airtight logic, of absolute "scientific" precision. Thus the ultimate moral vision becomes an ultimate science; and the man who dares to criticize it, or to harbor even unspoken alternative ideas, becomes not only immoral and irreverent, but also "unscientific." In this way, the philosopher kings of modern ideological totalism reinforce their authority by claiming to share in the rich and respected heritage of natural science."
6. Loading the Language-"The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, for instance, the phrase "bourgeois mentality" is used to encompass and critically dismiss ordinarily troublesome concerns like the quest for individual expression, the exploration of alternative ideas, and the search for perspective and balance in political judgments." We see this manipulation of language everywhere in the MSM in the hopes that we won't notice that the word "bomber" or "insurgent" has replaced the word "terrorist".
7. Doctrine over Person - which means the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine. This is perfectly exemplified in Neo-neocon's post by Kundera's description of the Communist's rage over reality: "For example, communists used to believe that in the course of capitalist development the proletariat would gradually grow poorer and poorer, but when it finally became clear that all over Europe workers were driving to work in their own cars, [the communists] felt like shouting that reality was deceiving them." Actually, though the voices in the MSM, they are still shouting it and actively trying to cover-up reality by resorting to the old slogans and empty rhetoric--hoping perhaps that reality will simply go away.
8. The Dispensing of Existence - this is seen in all totalitarian regimes: drawing a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognized, and those who possess no such right. In the MSM this is implemented by what they choose not to tell, as well as which special interests they promote over others. For example, speaking out against Islam is taboo; but raving aboutCatholicism is perfectly appropriate. Trashing Islam is harassment; but trashing Christianity or Judaism is OK because they had it coming. You can see this in many other areas besides religious preferences (e.g., speaking of "The Federalist Society" as if it were a secret cult of black magic intent on destroying all freedoms. Fortunately, for the reading public, the MSM has not yet achieved the power to determine who shall live and die--but just remember that the "pen is mightier than the sword"; and when the pen is in the hands of a totalitarian thug or apologist, it can be pretty powerful.
Interesting, isn't it, how similar are the tactics used by the so-called "free" press to those used by the Communist Chinese (the subjects of Lifton's analysis) to control their large population?