Manufacturing Consent

a child getting brainwashed ~ getty images

The media promotes the preservation of a massively unequal and unjust society by defending the interests and beliefs of the dominant political and economic elites. To do this, the media employs a ‘propaganda model,’ in which critical viewpoints are filtered out and the news agenda is dominated by elite viewpoints.

People are indoctrinated to accept an unequal society through the media.

The media serves a variety of purposes; it is their responsibility to inform, entertain, and amuse us. However, the media also have an important role to play in the promotion of shared societal ideals and rules of conduct. The government and ruling institutions require a means to ‘teach’ the general public about their values, which the mass media provides.

The media’s protection of the status quo is basically a defense of the interests of the ruling class, ensuring that their politically and economically strong positions are preserved. As a result, the media must slant its reporting in order to provide stories that promote the governing political and economic classes: a small group of individuals at the top of society.
The media, given their function of protecting social systems, successfully produce propaganda that supports the ruling classes.

The media frequently boasts about producing impartial and trustworthy news while keeping the powerful accountable; the Vietnam War is frequently cited as an example. In truth, the media is uninterested in protecting the public interest from the affluent and powerful. Instead, they defend the governing elites’ rights and advantages by reporting events through a restricted, skewed perspective. This guarantees that viewers accept their place in society’s uneven and unjust order.

i don't know why when we say elite I remember bill gates

The media will never criticize the governing elite, though they may pretend to do so when the elite’s viewpoints are mixed.

On occasion, the media seems to criticize society’s governing elites. There have been countless instances, such as the Watergate crisis, where politicians or business executives have been chastised by the media and their wrongdoings exposed.

Such events appear to refute the notion that the media is biased towards the ruling classes. Certainly, media spokesmen brag about their role as protectors of free speech and the public good against the affluent and powerful. However, in these circumstances, so-called criticism by the media consists solely of advocating the interests of one elite group against another, never of a non-elite group vs an elite group. The media suppresses or ignores complaints coming from outside the elite.

The Watergate incident epitomized this schism in elite interests. Because the victims of Nixon’s crime were the powerful Democrats, a political party that represented a sector of the elite, the media was eager to investigate and prosecute him and his associates. The media stood silent when the Socialist Workers Party, a minor party representing no elite interests, was unlawfully spied on by government agents.

The media employs a ‘propaganda model,’ which filters out information that is in opposition to elite objectives.

The mainstream media largely favors the interests and viewpoints of the ruling class. News that is inconvenient to these interests is purposefully ignored or hidden.
Unlike the media in authoritarian regimes, the democratic west’s media are not hampered by official control or censorship. Many people mistakenly assume that the West has a ‘free’ and ‘objective’ press because the forces that compel the western media are more subtle and ‘natural.’
A ‘propaganda model’ can best explain the forces that force the mass media to disseminate propaganda for the highest levels of the social hierarchy. The model includes a number of filters that material must pass through before it is deemed “clean” enough to be considered newsworthy.

Financial incentives, such as the requirement to be profitable or placate owners or advertisers, can be used as filters. For example, General Electric, a global corporation, owns a significant portion of the media. They are involved in problematic areas such as nuclear power and the arms trade, and rely largely on their media networks to keep out of these conflicts.

Other filters can be developed from news sources and how they are presented. Because government agencies and huge enterprises produce a vast amount of news source material, the media may tend to rely largely on such sources. Those sources might therefore exercise control over the media by giving them precisely curated news stories that were framed in a specific manner.
These multiple filters ensure that whatever news that is really disseminated in the media favors those in power.


The majority of the media is controlled by a few affluent families and businesses whose primary goal is profit.

The left-wing radical press flourished in Britain in the first part of the nineteenth century, thanks to tiny, independent proprietors. This media aided in the representation and dissemination of working-class viewpoints, posing a severe threat to the ruling class’s information monopoly. Despite efforts to stifle the radical press through libel laws and prosecutions, the radical press thrived.

The free market was what shattered the radical press’s strength. The ultra-competitive market succeeded where governmental repression had failed. Large newspapers were able to reach a wider audience thanks to modern printing equipment, but the cost of purchasing and maintaining such technology pushed out the underfunded radical press. This left just the right-wing press, which was sponsored by the ruling elites and thrived as a result. This process persisted, and the industry concentrated, leaving only a few gigantic behemoths to control the entire Western media market.

Even today, a few wealthy families and businesses own and control the media, and their primary purpose is profit. The great majority of sales and audiences of magazines, movies, books, and broadcasts are controlled by the top 29 media companies, which control over half of America’s newspapers and the vast majority of sales and audiences of magazines, movies, books, and broadcasts. Against this monopoly, independent media has a little chance of surviving.

Because of its market strength, the mass media appeals to investors such as banks and brokers. In exchange for their money, these investors expect the media to profit from sales and advertising.
The impartiality of the media is severely undermined by two forces: a tiny elite’s control and the need to prioritize earnings.

Because the media relies on advertising income to stay afloat, they will go to great lengths to keep marketers happy.

Business costs from studios, publishing facilities, and reporters are substantial in the media sector, and the market is fiercely competitive. Advertiser sponsorship is crucial to a company’s success in the marketplace. Media companies that don’t make enough money through advertising are doomed to collapse.
As a result, the primary goal of media firms is to attract advertising. As a result, the media will aim to please its advertisers by providing skewed coverage. As a result, advertising becomes another filter in the propaganda paradigm, allowing the rich to ignore important news topics.

Due to commercial pressure, the media is compelled to change their stories in a variety of ways. The most obvious is news censorship, which has the ability to harm large enterprise. In one occasion, a US television network lost advertising money after airing a program about multinationals’ misdeeds in the Third World.
Advertisers in broadcast media will go so far as to demand that serious shows be pulled from the schedule because they may interfere with the viewer’s ‘purchasing mood.’ Light entertainment is preferred by advertisers above serious documentaries and dramas.

Of course, advertising’ primary concern is to increase sales. To do this, companies will compel the media to tailor its material to the preferences of richer consumers, who will purchase more things from advertisements. Media that caters to impoverished working-class consumers may have a harder time getting funding through advertising, limiting the range of viewpoints accessible in the media.

Because of their requirement for consistent content, the media must rely on government agencies and huge enterprises.

The media needs a steady stream of accurate material to fill its news programs and columns, but they can’t have correspondents at every site where breaking news items occur. As a result, they must concentrate on sources that give content on a regular basis.
State entities, such as police and government agencies, or major business press departments, are the most common sources.
The media uses these sources for obvious reasons. Because of their scale, they are able to produce consistent content, and they are also viewed as trustworthy and impartial, allowing the media to treat information as truth without having to verify it.

However, the governing elites’ overdependence on these entities allows them to control and’manage’ the media, adding yet another filter to the propaganda paradigm that decides what news is permitted to reach the public.
The government’s and big business’s monopoly on information allows them to dictate the news agenda. They might feed news to the media at the right periods to strengthen their position. In 1984, for example, the media disseminated a cleverly timed bogus report concerning the shipment of Soviet MiG aircraft to Nicaragua. The report assisted President Ronald Reagan’s political agenda by raising fear in the United States and discrediting the Nicaraguan election.

Alternative news sources are at an unique disadvantage since the information they give is intermittent and vulnerable to criticism, especially if it contradicts elite objectives. For fear of offending its usual sources, the media may be under pressure to hide other viewpoints.

The elite retaliate against criticism media by creating ‘flak.’

If the news is reported in a way that offends the interests of the governing social groupings, the media may face retaliation. The term ‘flak’ refers to the elite’s criticism of the media.

Journalists and media outlets may face direct threats from the government or companies, or they may be the focus of hostile press releases. The elite may also stoke controversy by pressuring sponsors to boycott particular media outlets. Critical media is sometimes subjected to legal action.
The goal of flak is to put free-thinking media on the defensive by cultivating an image of a media that is unduly critical and biased against liberals. Fear is created in media firms by well-directed and paid flak, adding another vital filter to the propaganda paradigm.

Right-wing ‘think tanks,’ whose main purpose is to hit the critical media with flak, might create criticism for the ruling elites. People prefer to listen to these groups since they are frequently prominent, influential, and well-funded by the elite, so when they claim that the media is unfairly critical, people tend to listen.

The report on the media’s participation in the Vietnam War issued by the right-wing think tank ‘Freedom House’ is a good illustration of the power of criticism. This paper argued that the media were too negative in their coverage of the war’s different campaigns, even accusing them of costing the US the war by deceiving the American public through their reporting. Despite research flaws and overstated findings, the dossier was favorably welcomed by the elite and enthusiastically covered in the media.

The media interprets all events through the lens of the anti-communist struggle.

The governing elites force the media to see events through the perspective of an ideological war between the “free” and “communist” worlds.
The activities of communist forces are invariably portrayed as bad, while those of the United States and its allies are portrayed as favorable. As a result, killings and torture in a communist-controlled state will receive extensive coverage, whereas identical events in a country favorable to America will go unnoticed.

The benefits of this ideological framing for the ruling elites are obvious: It aids in the mobilization of societal solidarity against a shared foe. The threat of communism is a global dread that brings disparate groups together in favor of American policies. People are willing to tolerate and justify the conduct of society’s leaders as long as they aid in the defeat of communism.

The anti-American overtones of communism can be used to groups who challenge societal injustices. Those who pose a danger to social hierarchies might be accused of being pro-communist, and so ‘anti-American.’
Liberals are always on the defensive because they are afraid of being classified as communists or for not being anti-communist enough. As a result, individuals may feel compelled to take a more right-wing stance in order to rebut such criticism. Because the bulk of the media follows suit, society’s perceived political center drifts more to the right.
Another filter in the ‘propaganda paradigm’ is the push to report right-leaning stories.

When it comes to foreign news, the media strongly favors Western-aligned countries.

The media likes to pretend that its coverage is objective, but if that were the case, events would be reported in the same way regardless of where they occurred. It is evident from the media’s coverage of events that this is not the case, since news articles are slanted differently depending on the political status of people involved.

The media’s coverage of Central American concerns is an excellent illustration of this. The countries in this region are within the sphere of influence of the United States and so of interest to the US government and media. Guatemala and El Salvador, for example, are US-backed military dictatorships. Others, such as Nicaragua’s burgeoning democracy, are left-leaning and hence distrusted by US authorities.
The media slants coverage of events from these countries based on their friendliness to US elite interests, frequently entirely altering the reality if it is thought convenient.

Take, for example, election coverage in Central America. The results of fake elections in US puppet nations such as Guatemala, which indicate substantial support for government forces, are accepted as trustworthy. Despite numerous claims of voting fraud, intimidation, and even violence, this is the case.
The comparatively free and open elections held in Nicaragua, on the other hand, are being portrayed as little more than propaganda exercises for the country’s left-wing authorities, despite the fact that the international world views them as fair and open to all.

‘Expert’ opinions are frequently used by the media to justify their biased viewpoints.

When covering current events, the media frequently use the opinions of a “expert.” The media expects that this will give its reporting more credibility and neutrality. Despite their neutral façade, media “experts” play a critical role in disseminating the elite’s propaganda.
Because they spend vast sums of money on educating and paying ‘experts,’ the governing elites are able to provide a steady supply of them to the media. Think tanks and similar organizations are established to pay and publish the research of ‘experts’ who may promote ruling-class viewpoints through the media.

It’s vital to remember that the ‘expert”s’ true function is to provide legitimacy to the elite interests and perspectives being aired, not to assist people grasp what’s going on. The media exclusively hires “experts” who share the dominant elite’s viewpoints.

The reaction to an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 is an example of how ‘professional’ opinion may encourage skewed reporting. A right-wing Turkish national was the would-be assassin. However, two media-paid “experts” sought to pin the conspiracy on the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that their proof was dubious and readily refuted, it was accepted without examination and widely disseminated by the bulk of the media. The ‘experts” reputation has successfully allowed a dubious conspiracy idea to acquire traction in the media.

Some people’s lives are seen more valuable than others by the media, depending on the message their deaths send.

Members of the secret police abducted, battered, and killed a Polish priest who openly fought against Poland’s communist regime in 1984. The tale was extensively reported in the American media, with a focus on its emotional impact as well as its broader political ramifications for the communist regime.
This tale is ideal for the media because it fits into the framework established by the governing elites’ interests: it portrays the communist foe as a violent and frightening force, which helps rally support for American policies.

Compare this to the media’s failure to report on the torture and death of hundreds of religious leaders in US-friendly Central American countries. Countless examples exist of priests who stand up to dictatorial regimes in those countries being subjected to harsh and murderous tyranny, however the media has mostly remained silent.
When the amount of attention given to each case is compared, it appears that a priest slain in Poland is worth a hundred times more than a priest murdered in Central America.
The rationale is self-evident. The media must report on wrongdoings in adversary countries with delight, using graphic details to elicit outrage from viewers and readers, while tying the crimes to the ruling regime.

In contrast, with US allies, the media conceals state atrocities in order to maintain unity, even going so far as to conceal the death of US nationals in Central America. Because they died under the wrong conditions and at the hands of the wrong people, they are regarded unworthy of our consideration.




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Ali H. Askar

Ali H. Askar

A Quant Trader | Data Scientist | can I help you?

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