Must Read Books:
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. NY: Pantheon Books, 1988.

Note: The following are notes from the above book. I found the book seminal, eye-opening, life-changing. I recommend that you buy and read the entire book. Only by reading the entire book will you get the whole picture. The following quotes, I hope, will whet your appetite. --Colby Glass


"They who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness."
John Milton


"..the mass media of the United States.. serve to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity.." (xi).

"..the democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived... If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to "manage" public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality" (xi).

"Most biased choices in the media arise from the preselection of right- thinking people, internalized preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints of ownership, organization, market, and political power. Censorship is largely self-censorship" (xii).

"..an essential feature of propaganda, as Jacques Ellul stresses:

The propagandist naturally cannot reveal the true intentions of the principal for whom he acts... That would be to submit the projects to public discussion, to the scrutiny of public opinion, and thus to prevent their success... Propaganda must serve instead as a veil for such projects, masking true intention" (xiii).

"... it is very rare for news and commentary to find their way into the mass media if they failed to conform to the framework of established dogma (postulating benevolent U.S. aims)... the "naturalness" of these processes, with inconvenient facts allowed sparingly and within the proper framework of assumptions, and fundamental dissent virtually excluded from the mass media (but permitted in a marginalized press), makes for a propaganda system that is far more credible and effective in putting over a patriotic agenda than one with official censorship" (xiv).

"A constant focus on victims of communism helps convince the public of enemy evil and sets the stage for intervention, subversion, support of terrorist states, an endless arms race, and military conflict--all in a noble cause... The public does not notice the silence [of] victims in client states (xv).
. "It would have been very difficult for the Guatemalan government to murder tens of thousands over the past decade if the U.S. press had provided the kind of coverage they gave to the difficulties of Andrei Sakharov or the murder of Jerzy Popieluszko in Poland.." (xv).

"The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings:

  1. the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms;
  2. advertising as the primary income source of the mass media;
  3. the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power;
  4. "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and
  5. "anticommunism" as a national religion and control mechanism

"The raw material of news must pass through [these] successive filters, leaving only the cleansed [approved] residue fit to print" (2).


Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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