"There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press.
Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information
is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship...
...to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed,
democracy itself is degraded.
...the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously.
...Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth...
...the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
and that he was in on 9/11...
My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods
by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by ...propagandists disguised as media.
...the more conscious you are of these techniques,
the less likely they are to work on you.
#. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering.
With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear.
The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment.
...This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience?
Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain.
...when people are afraid, they don't think rationally.
And when they can't think rationally, they'll believe [almost] anything.
#. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem.
...go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity.
...like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals,
but entire categories of people...
...This form of argument ...leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas...
...involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you're using
and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first.
We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism,
or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon
are accused of not having science or facts on their side.
It's often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.
#. Rewriting History.
...The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale,
but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well.
A recent case in point is Palin's mangling of the Paul Revere ride,
which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate.
Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false?
Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality
than to update their viewpoints.
They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests.
This works best when people feel insecure or scared.
...if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems,
you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them,
and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.
...this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed.
The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument,
but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees
is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along.
Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking,
thereby giving the user's claims veracity in the viewer's mind.
...The speakers identifies themselves as one of "the people"
and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people.
The opponent is always "elitist" or a "bureaucrat" or a "government insider"
or some other category that is not the people.
The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with.
It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating.
A common logical fallacy with populism bias
...is that accused "elitists" are almost always "liberals"...
#. Invoking the Christian God.
This is similar to othering and populism.
With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots,
Christians and "real Americans" (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking)
and anyone who challenges them as not.
Basically, God loves ...America. And hates taxes
and anyone who doesn't love those other things.
Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans,
any challenge is perceived as immoral.
It's a technique used by totalitarian entities from states to cults.
There are three components to effective saturation:
being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent.
The message must be repeated over and over,
it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators:
e.g. "Saddam has WMD."
...There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over,
regardless of whether it's true or if it even makes sense,
e.g., "Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States."
If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth.
#. Guilt by Association.
...if your cousin's college roommate's uncle's ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984
with Gorbachev's niece's ex-boyfriend's sister, then you, by extension
are a communist set on destroying America.
#. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes,
the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction
to avoid accountability.
...Any attempt to bring the discussion back to the issue at hand will likely be called deflection,
an ironic use of the technique of projection/flipping.
[Some] often defend their arguments
by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same perceptions.
...the fact that a lot of people believe something
is not necessarily a sign that it's true;
it's just a sign that it's been effectively marketed.
As honest, fair and truly intellectual debate
degrades before the eyes of the global media audience,
the quality of American democracy degrades along with it."
Dr. Cynthia Boaz