Public opinion runs unabated in the media – this notion is one of the most spectacular achievements in the world today. Masses are made to believe that the media is liberal, when it is only propagandized to advocate the conservative corporate interests and to obey an esurient political class – the ever powerful lobby which has the power of distribution, of decision making, of production and of financial operations. By rationale, masses have been induced to thraldom for generations.
Media, for decades, has been a slave to external power. What is dictated by an elite few becomes news. Thus, there is exclusivity in setting out a national or an international agenda. When we talk of the modern world, control of public opinion has brought potent stabilization to the state – a vapid ideology institutionalized to adopt an authoritarian control on the masses. Revolution in mainstream media is a perverted truth. It is a fundamentalist theocracy of the extreme right, who advocate merciless corporate plunder, destroy tenets of world culture, impede worthy policy making and ruin socio-political doctrines through obsessive excogitated deceits.
If we talk about the operations of mainstream media, its essence has been dominated by corporatism, government bureaus, aggressive marketing and advertising agencies. Public promotion in print or through televising is the exchange which organizations and establishments want for their currency. A newspaper firm, a magazine or a news channel on satellite television makes sure that whatever they promote is serving the interests of their men of affairs, who are financing them and are behind their endeavors. It helps them in keeping their production costs smooth and stable, and subscription costs low, to enhance advantageous competition. Media is a business, a corporate entity. The New York Times, which is probably the world’s most significant newspaper, decides the layouts of adverts first, and news and op-ed layouts after. That’s how the so called liberal media becomes a mouthpiece of entrepreneurial despoil and political hegemony – its primary concern is to serve selective and powerful groups.
A distortion occurs through editorial prejudice for profit motives. There is facilitation of selective truth or there are blatant lies. This aberrance is essential to stabilize business holdings and its procedures. If we look beyond triviality and attempt a broader introspection, what we see on television, or read on newspapers, is mostly marketing of personal interests and not just some sensational articles or breaking news headlines. This has threatened the integrity of journalism, has facilitated media imperialism, world over, by promoting mastery of mass media, of stronger countries over weaker countries. Globalization through FDI regulations of powerful corporations has acquired a degree in containing unrest of diversified opinion all over the world. This has ensured a one sided, preconceived functioning of news making policies.
It is important to note that leftist and centrist journalists generally don’t create dubious and distorted versions of news-making. It is the fear of extreme right, which is creating supremacy, in high visibility, and in undisputed domination. It is not that the academia and intellectuals haven’t accentuated on these crucial matters. In fact they have, to the best of their intelligent quotients, but have only been marginalized and victimized by propaganda machines. However, one of the very rare critiques of mainstream media, presented by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, in their analytical book, ‘Manufacturing Consent’ – has been a path breaking, definitive and objective model against mainstream media institutions. A book widely acclaimed and read throughout.
‘Manufacturing Consent’ is an insightful critique of history, politics and media. However, the most unique style drafted by Noam and Herman, which is worth mentioning, is the usage of the ’propaganda model’ – a systematic analysis on the functioning of mainstream media. The model describes five filters which justify the editorial bias: Firstly, international business owns the media outlets for their vested interests. Secondly, advertising as potent revenue for operations, and as a lucrative profit source. Thirdly, the sourcing of news, where the grant funding institutions get a routine route to news making, unlike the rest. Fourthly, the cautious approach of media to publish only that informative material of their agents, which cannot be rebuked severely (a term called ‘flak’ is used), and which can’t threaten their business performances. Lastly, the fifth filter is used which is the hostility to Communism or Socialism. The notion that America and its allies are intellectually and morally pure, and Communism being a deplorable ideology. The latter being replaced by ‘war on terror,’ as discoursed by Chomsky in recent years.
Whenever we read a free lance blog, a column or see an eye-opening documentary of appealing genres on world history, we often think that why didn’t people reveal the exigencies of all those uncomfortable truths prevalent in those times. Brainwashing. Collective manipulation of ideologies. Lack of transparency in politics. Psychological Warfare. Chauvinistic diplomacy. Invisible slavery. These distortive traits have been championing their causes through media in our societies for decades. Didn’t we witness shameful corporate lobbying in Indian media recently? Why didn’t Al Jazeera get a license to broadcast into North America during the Iraq war? It is because it would have shown the American public what brutalization of power is, the extermination of Iraqis in their cozy couches, would have bought down all right wing American media to its knees, and that is what American administration didn’t want.
How often do we hear about a regime of Suharto which butchered 500,000 landless peasants in West Papua and East Timor, all a celebration of slaughter to Western powers. The El Mozote massacre, where Salvadoran army massacred thousands of villagers in the guise of civil war, all on American training and ammunitions. Genocide of Tamils. The brutal shelling of Sri Lankan air force, inhibiting hundreds of civilians to live under the rubble to avoid death. My Lai killings of Vietnam, where homes of hay roofs were set ablaze, by cigarette lighters and babies, elderly, instantly killed. The stories of thousands of unmarked graves in Burma and Kashmir, of countless rapes by state armed forces. Gassing of a whole Kurdish city by Baathists. Drone attacks into residencies of innocents, inside the tribal frontiers of Pakistan, killing hundreds. War lord rivalry in Afghanistan, where rockets were fired into saintly graves, where schools were pulverized and hospitals raided. The rapacious wars of Seirra Leone and Somalia. The grotesque butchery in Palestine which happens every month. The dawn air-raids of northern Iraq villages by American military pilots which transferred a living town into a pungent smell of death, into neatly ordered graves. Does this mainstream media, a slave of western neo- imperialism, report? Why is there an arcanum to verity? A refusal of reality? Is history a farce or is it a knowledge of emancipation, of truth, of consciousness?
World has witnessed a perpetual anarchy in the land of Arabs. A single Wikileak cable rang the bells of revolution in Tunis. It disseminated the truth of freedom and liberty like forest fire into neighboring states, and the approach of westernized states was to declare a reformatory organization like Wikileaks into a terrorist organization. A contradiction against morality and against the principles of justice. The same America issues threat orders against Socialism every now and then, but fails to realize that its own Capitalism has been a victim of cyclical crises since more than a century. America opposes Afghan guerrillas, Taliban, but fails to realize that it was them who nurtured Afghans to suicide bomb against the Soviets, to help them in their desire to free their lands from infidels, when Salang Tunnel was a logistical route during Soviet invasion. They forget their former trade links with slain Sadam Hussain. America opposes Al-Qaeda, but refuses to recognize its slain convenor as one of it’s old friend.
Our history is drenched in blood. Media is transformed into a puppet of claims, a stage of intellectual suppression and societal subjugation. George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty Four, conveyed that the state would cross any totalitarian extreme to preserve power. It is indeed right and still holds true. This catastrophic propaganda needs to get diluted by a good sociological propaganda, which propagates egalitarianism, which respects truth, advocates peace, perceptive discourse and which transforms the world into a saner outlook.
Naveed Qazi is an avid blogger and his work is published in many newspapers, websites and magazines.