Friday, January 14, 2011

Propaganda VS. Misinformation

I once asked someone I know why she listens to Rush Limbaugh, even though his diatribes bring her endless anguish. Her response? “Because I want to stay informed.”

As someone who regularly watches Keith Olbermann, perhaps it’s hypocritical to be astonished by such an absurd pronouncement. But here’s the difference between Olbermann and conservative propaganda. Yes, Countdown is a form of propaganda, the same way this article can be called propaganda. But it is not disinformation.

According to, the word propaganda was coined in 1718 and is taken from the Latin word propagare, which means “to propagate” and was short for “Congregatio dePropaganda Fide,” or “congregation for propagating the faith,” a term employed by a committee of cardinals bent on spreading the teachings of the Church. defines propaganda as “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.”

This in no way equals the plain candor of’s definition of disinformation, whose grim origin is Rus. Dezinformatsiya, 1955: “false information intended to deceive or mislead.”

Today, everyone’s favorite way of demonizing the opposition is by calling it propaganda. But, as a teacher once taught me, propaganda was not always considered a dirty word. As he put it, “The Nazis ruined it for everyone.” When I popped Triumph of the Will, one of the most notorious Nazi propaganda films, into my DVD player, I was braced for a bombardment of disgusting depictions of Jews. But by the time I was finished I was surprised by the absence of negativity and sole focus on the positive, such as footage of healthy, strong Aryan boys playing in open fields. In his speeches, Hitler’s language often mirrors that of any normal politician—one could easily conjure Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush when the Fuhrer talks of uniting the nation.

In this paradigm, propaganda is employed to motivate Germans to join the Nazi movement, not to go out and massacre Jews, Gypsies, gays and the sick. It’s not unlike watching the YES network, where you’ll regularly see celebratory clips and never a commercial showing the Yankees giving up a home run or a classic rerun of the Red Sox triumph in game seven of the 2004 ALCS. The goal is to glorify and get viewers excited about the Yankees and motivated to watch or buy tickets to the games.

However, as we all know, many other articles of Nazi propaganda did incite the volk to commit pogroms and eventually genocide. Since then, propaganda has been treated with absolute contempt, in a way reminiscent of how “fuck,” as George Carlin put it in his immortal “seven words” routine, originally meant “to strike” but is now understood to encapsulate not only the act of copulating, but also all the frightening and aggressive connotations we associate with sex.

Consequently, nowadays the left calls Fox News and conservative talk radio propaganda, and the right reserves that catch-all epithet for “the liberal media,” i.e., every media outlet that’s not staunchly conservative, especially Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

All this would be tolerable, especially because most moderate conservatives can easily distinguish between Fox News—where on supposedly non-opinionated segments (i.e. not Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and co.) the anchors routinely, egregiously misinform their viewers, such as the time they ran a story misrepresenting a Max Planck Institute report by claiming that it concluded that trees are causing global warming—and The New York Times, or CNN, etc.

But the wholesale demonization of propaganda as a tool in political warfare becomes troublesome when it makes it acceptable for disinterested commentators to classify Olbermann, who establishes at the beginning of each show that he offers “all the news and commentary,” in a category that must be reserved exclusively for groups such as Fox News, conservative talk radio, the producers of the 9/11 conspiracy documentary Loose Change, and Alex Jones, who seeks to “inform” the masses that the “elite” of America are plotting to enslave everyone as part of a grand conspiracy to establish a New World Order.

I first watched Countdown two years ago, when I had just started following politics and had no ideological convictions, and I made the same error as many people by dismissing it as mere propaganda because of the incendiary tone of the show. The Worst Person’s in the World bit, the absolute contempt for conservatism and Bush, and strong rhetoric such as “Fox News is worse than Al-Qaeda,” all made it easy to ignore Olbermann’s message.

But eventually, after steadily following the news, conducting various research projects and learning more about just how deceitful Fox News is and how divorced from reality today’s mainstream conservative movement has become, considering that it entails believing climate change is a hoax, waterboarding is not torture, and the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused by too much government regulation, to pick a few prominent examples, I started watching Countdown again and now feel comfortable asserting that Olbermann really is “saying it like it is” (though I disagree with him on some issues, such as his opposition to the war in Afghanistan and his insistence on a public option for healthcare) with the full realization that I run the risk of sounding just like any defender of Limbaugh.

But here’s the crucial difference between the two. When Limbaugh “informs” his audience about how “Imam Obama,” who “does not have a birth certificate,” wants to create death panels, he’s lying. When Olbermann tells his viewers how Gov. Brewer of Arizona has, in fact, implemented a death panel, he’s not deceiving anyone by interviewing mortally sick patients who have callously been denied easily available funding for life-saving procedures by a heartless conservative leader. Olbermann’s propaganda motivates people to donate thousands of dollars to help the “Arizona 98,” while Limbaugh’s disinformation spurs activists to protest in front of the Capitol and call Barney Frank a faggot to his face.

When Glenn Beck cravenly tells his followers that he “can’t debunk” the idea that Obama—whom he consistently calls a “radical Marxist,” a student of Stalin and a fascist bent on forming a private army, securing reparations and trampling on the Constitution—has created concentration camps through FEMA for political enemies, he’s misleading those who believe him (his neatly evasive backtracking notwithstanding) and inspiring them to fear obscene and fantastical threats. When Olbermann expresses outrage over Bush’s privatization of the military and opening, via executive order, CIA black sites that featured interrogation tactics modeled after KGB methods, he truly is informing people about radical, unconstitutional, heinous crimes against humanity.

Angry white conservatives who crave excuses to despise Obama turn to Beck (and the Tea Party, for that matter) to be told why they should hate, or to use their dishonest terminology, “fear” the President, progressivism and labor unions. Beck, like Fox News as a whole, feeds them the stories they desperately want to hear, though he “doesn’t want to believe they’re true,” and consequently large chunks of the population think healthcare reform is a government takeover, Obama is a socialist and George Soros will establish a One World Government unless “the people” stop him.

Olbermann, on the other hand, does not need to invent reasons to be outraged by the Bush administration and corporate campaign contributors like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers, who in fact donate millions to politicians and disinformation outlets to try to dismantle the safety net and destroy progressivism.

If you look at the non-partisan Politifact’s “truth-o-meter” page on Olbermann you’ll find two “false” and three “half true” statements. Olbermann’s half-truths are merely opinions, such as that Ronald Reagan would not have passed the “Tea Party checklist.” At his worst, he has made two false statements, one of which was an honest mistake that he corrected the next day, and in the other case he accused a Republican representative of “Tweeting the whereabouts of a top-secret mission to Iraq,” a popular but discredited claim.

Compare this to politifact’s profiles of Limbaugh and Beck. Limbaugh has three “pants on fire” ratings, one for claiming that President Obama “wants to mandate circumcision” and another for accusing the White House of stealing donations to Haiti through And Beck has (only) four “pants on fire’s,” for saying things such as “in the health care bill, we’re now offering insurance for dogs,” and “John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, ‘has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.’ "

As we reflect on the Tucson massacre, we must caution against overly caustic rhetoric, but we must also be able to distinguish between moral outrage and false outrage. We should be angry that a mentally unstable person could legally purchase a semi-automatic weapon with an extra-large gun clip. And we must not allow the right to blast calls for stricter gun control as a callous attempt to “politicize” the tragedy.

Propaganda, like most things, can be used both for good or evil. Disinformation is a form of propaganda that is invariably sinister and dangerous. Propaganda, by design, evokes a visceral reaction: when I watch Fox News I usually lose my appetite (literally). But when I watch Countdown, or read Christopher Hitchens’ classic polemic against religion, God is not Great, I experience the same emotions Limbaugh’s fans feel when they listen to him: exuberance and outrage—I’m hooked. The point of propaganda is to motivate people to act upon the message being relayed. But when that message is a complete distortion of reality we end up with movements like the 9/11 Truthers, the Birthers and, of course, the Tea Party.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Homeland Security Report: Rightwing Terrorism Is America's Biggest Threat

Two years before the Tucson massacre, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report that right-wing extremism was on the rise and could prompt "lone wolves" to launch attacks. But the agency backed away from the report amid intense criticism from Republicans, including future House Speaker John Boehner.

The report, which warned that the crippled economy and the election of the first black president were “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment,” described the rise of “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology [as] the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,” according to a copy reviewed by The Center for Public Integrity.
In the wake of last weekend’s attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six dead and 14 wounded, the report’s warning of a lone wolf attack from someone with extremist tendencies seems prescient.
But when the April 2009 report was issued, it was overwhelmingly criticized by conservative commentators and lawmakers, who derided it as political propaganda from the Obama administration. Some experts worry that its findings were ignored due to political blowback.
“Not only was the report buried, the actual unit which created it was disemboweled,” said Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice and the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. He noted that DHS is congressionally mandated to study long-term trends among extremist groups.

Levin worried that political fallout rendered the report’s findings “impotent,” as well as future reports from the department profiling extremist groups. “Rather than the report being a hit piece, the hit piece was what was done in the wake of the report.

“Was there some awkward language in one section? Sure. But it was a very well-done report.”

The awkward language he refers to was a section in the report warning that returning veterans could be prime targets for recruitment into extremist organizations. Then-Minority Leader Boehner of Ohio was one of many Republicans who called on DHS to apologize.

“Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why … her own department is using [“terrorist”] to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation,” said Boehner, now House speaker.

Leading conservatives claimed the report was a White House-directed hit piece—commentator Michelle Malkin derided it as “propaganda.”

Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to issue a statement defending the study, stating that “we do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs.” When asked about the report at an event in late 2010, Napolitano described it as “ancient history.”

The report’s primary focus was the fear that if the economy continued its downturn, it could mix with racial and political opposition to the election of Barack Obama and the ongoing debate about immigration. The report was especially concerned that these factors paralleled those that led to several incidents of domestic terrorism during the Clinton era.

“The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers,” it said.

Unlike the 1990s, however, “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.”

Threat analysts within the department’s Extremism and Radicalization Branch, which produced the extremism report, also produced a “Domestic Extremism Lexicon” in late March 2009, just before the controversy began. The lexicon, which defined different extremist groups, was recalled quickly after being issued. When the lexicon came to light a few months later, it received criticism for including anti-immigration and antiabortion groups on its list of extremist organizations.

Giffords, a Democrat, had been the target of violent threats over the past year. In March, her Tucson office was vandalized hours after she voted in favor of President Obama’s health-care reform bill. Other Democrats experienced similar threats or vandalism.

The three-term congresswoman has received generally poor ratings from pro-gun groups. Gun Owners of America gave her a D in its 2010 candidate rankings, and the NRA gave her a D+ in 2008. Giffords has described herself as a gun owner, and she joined the NRA’s amicus brief regarding the Washington, D.C., gun ban. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban, she described the decision as “a common sense decision that reaffirms the constitutional right—and Arizona tradition—of owning firearms. I commend the court for ruling in favor of restoring our right to bear arms.”

The U.S. Capitol Police, which is in charge of security for members of Congress, does not disclose statistics on threats to sitting representatives. The sergeant at arms for the Senate has said that threats of violence against senators went from 29 in 2009 to 49 in 2010. Speaking to reporters following a moment of silence at the Capitol today, Terrance Gainer, the sergeant at arms, said that overall the number of direct threats against members of Congress is “very low.”

While discussion has swirled around possible ties between accused gunman Jared Loughner and right-wing extremists, DHS on Monday said department officials “have not established any such possible link.” Levin doesn’t believe extremism was the sole driving factor. “This guy is a mentally deranged person first,” he said, and noted that the mentally ill often latch on to conspiracy theories to layer over their already “obsessive and aggressive template.”

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Monday, January 10, 2011


This is the truth. The question is what next? The answer is coming soon. TAKE A STAND!

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Do NOT comment till you watch it all the way through!

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!


Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona gunmen who shot Congresswoman Giffords in the head and killed 5 including a federal judge, was an avid fan and admirer of Glenn Beck. Here is proof:

This video is one of many crazy Rantings of Jared Lee Loughner, also known as classitup10 on YouTube. Notice his statement that the Beckinator is way cool?

In a series of videos, he gave a rambling account of obsessions and paranoias that appeared to be troubling him with increasing intensity up to the catastrophe. They included references to conscious dreaming, or "conscience dreaming" as he called it, a process of directing one's own dreams that he is thought to have practised. Another was a belief in the gold and silver standard of currency – a favourite topic of the rightwing of American politics that is regularly propounded by the Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.
The tone of Loughner's rantings is almost exclusively conservative and anti-government, with echoes of the populist campaigning of the Tea Party movement. "Don't trust the government listener!" he said in one video, accusing Washington of mind control and brainwashing.
The US constitution, the bible of the Tea Parties, features heavily, as does the suggestion that the federal government is acting against the text. "You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Read the United States of America constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws."
There is also a strong streak of implicit violence in the postings.
He linked to his favourite video, America: Your Last Memory in a Terrorist Country, which shows a ghostly figure burning the US flag in the desert to a heavy metal song that repeatedly chants "Let the bodies hit the floor!"
He referred to people calling him a terrorist and wrote "a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon."
Until 4 October, Loughner was a student at Pima community college in Tucson, but he was suspended after a number of inappropriate acts.
The college said he had five contacts with the campus police for having disrupted classrooms and the library. In a YouTube video posted on 29 September, Loughner accused the college of fraud and of being illegal under the US constitution.
After Loughner quit the college, the institution made clear that, if he wished to return, he would have to undergo a mental health check to ensure that his presence did not "present a danger to himself or others".
Fellow students at Pima told local newspapers that he had displayed troubled behaviour. He was reported to be isolated and withdrawn and used to laugh out loud in the poetry class in a way that made others feel uneasy.
"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," Lynda Sorenson, who shared his mathematics class last year, told the Arizona Daily Star.
He lived with his parents on the northwest side of Tucson, a few miles away from the shooting scene. His difficulties began relatively early, with one incident recorded by police of a drug violation while he was at high school. He tried to enlist in the US military in Tucson but was turned away for unspecified reasons.
Arizona prides itself on its loose gun laws but there is still shock that a man with such a prolonged history of erratic and disturbing outbursts was able to legally acquire the gun he used in his rampage. The shootings were carried out with a Glock 19 semiautomatic, with a magazine of 30 bullets.


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' blood is on Sarah Palin's hands after putting cross hair over district.
Sarah Palin should've known what she was doing when she put a target on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (below). Palin might as well have said, 'Fire!'

Yes, she put a cross hair on Gifford's district, encouraging gun-toting lunatics.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was a target of Sarah Palin, but is a moderate, gun-owning Democrat who is tough on illegal immigration, really a threat to the Tea Party agenda or is she just a fragile target for Selfish Sarah to pick on. Here is what Sarah Palin said on the Facebook page where she depicted Gabrielle Giffords in the cross hairs of a rifle scope: "Don't retreat! Instead - RELOAD!"
Well, the guy who shot Giffords yesterday managed to keep firing until he killed six, including a child, and wounded 13 .
Palin would no doubt say that she was only speaking in metaphor, that she only meant her followers should work to unseat Giffords and 19 other Democrats who had roused her ire by voting for health care.
But anyone with any sense at all knows that violent language can incite actual violence, that metaphor can incite murder. At the very least, Palin added to a climate of violence.
Palin should have taken it as a warning of what might happen when a Tea Party hothead dropped a gun while heckling Giffords at an earlier Congress On Your Corner event, more than a year ago.
That did not stop Palin from declaring Giffords a "target." Giffords' district office was subsequently vandalized, and the congresswoman noted that Palin had put "the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district."
"When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said.

Giffords herself at least publicly failed to appreciate the full magnitude of the danger. She said at the time of the dropped gun incident that "at no point did I ever feel in danger and at no point did I ever feel there was a problem."
"When you represent a district that includes the home of the O.K. Corral and Tombstone, 'the Town Too Tough to Die,' nothing's a surprise out in Cochise County," Giffords was quoted saying.
In citing the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Giffords did not note that the gunplay was sparked when the Earp brothers sought to enforce town ordinance No. 9.
That law was promulgated on April 19, 1881, by the Earps themselves. It prohibited carrying "deadly weapons, concealed or otherwise" including "firearms of every description."
For Giffords to have cited Ordinance No. 9 could have meant political ruin in a district that romanticizes the O.K. Corral as part of its "gun culture."
Either out of political expediency or actual belief, Giffords herself spoke fondly of this supposed legacy of the Wild West.
"In my district and in my state, we have a very strong gun culture," she said in May when asked for her position regarding a renewed ban on assault weapons.
She had been one of the members of Congress who added their support to the effort to overturn the gun ban in Washington.
She also noted in interviews that she herself owned a Glock 9 mm. The NRA still branded her as an opponent because she had dared to suggest that guns should not be carried in bars.
Even if Giffords had been carrying her Glock at her latest Congress On Your Corner event yesterday, she would have had no time to reach for it and defend herself. Unlike in all those westerns, gunmen bent on homicide almost never give you a chance to draw.
And, unlike in the real Arizona of old, there was no Ordinance No. 9, no Earp brothers in the crowd yesterday to enforce it, to maybe spot the killer with the gun before he had a chance to use it.
The result was exactly the kind of carnage the Earps had sought to prevent with their attempt at instilling gun-control culture.
And, now that Palin may have the blood of more than some poor caribou on her hands, I wonder if she will continue putting people in cross hairs and calling on folks to RELOAD!

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!