The Times' constituency differs from that of say, Rush Limbaugh, whose
appeal is primarily to under-educated, fear-ridden, and thus
psychologically vulnerable residents of dusty, poverty-ridden corners of
America, whose legitimate fears have been cynically manipulated to make
them think that they are threatened by gay marriage, evolution, and
terrorism on Main Street.
February 4, 2005
Even the Propaganda is Stale
he appended article is a verbatim transcript of a microfilmed article from the New York Times for September 3, 1967. The image was posted to the website:
The article is a revealing find in the archaeology of propaganda. It confirms the assertion that elections have a long and infamous history as a US response when its policy-determining elite perceives that it is losing the war against the indigenous resistance to its aggression. Its collateral use in the same circumstance is to shore up declining domestic support. It is in the latter campaign against its own population that the propaganda machinery on the home front plays an indispensable role.
The article's spin, placing Washington's cautious optimism alongside the reporter's gushing enthusiasm, is perfectly calculated to shore up the former's by-then-sagging credibility. Defense Secretary McNamara's remark early in the war of "having the troops home by Christmas" turned into his infamous remark, "the light at the end of the tunnel."
Compared to the modest 1967 article, the media megawattage expended on the Iraqi elections suggests that, 38 years later, the best the technocrats in charge of the domestic product could come up with was to turn up the volume.
The 80% criterion for a successful turnout hasn't changed either, nor has the utter lack of interest in the platforms of the candidates. This is as you would expect for a propaganda event. To be effective, it must be boiled down to a single, easy to grasp, and easy to falsify symbol.
Did this propaganda have real world consequences? One way of answering that question is to ask how many US soldiers' were killed in action after the Times' enthusiastic reportage of the September 1967 election. The presumption is that the purpose of the propaganda, namely to prolong public support for the war, was achieved.
The chart to the right has a vertical line at the date of the election. It intersects the cumulative deaths curve at 13,728. In other words, at the time of the election, that number of US soldiers had been killed in action. By the time the US withdrew its forces in 1971, the total number of combat deaths was 45,260. Thus, from the point in time that the NY Times was providing specific assistance to the administration to enable it to prolong the war until the war actually ended, an additional 31,532 US soldiers died in combat.
The Times is not solely responsible for these deaths, but, to the extent that its propaganda achieved its purpose, it shares responsibility for them.
Has it ever acknowledged that responsibility and expressed regret for its actions? It has not.
In fact, this shared responsibility characterizes a permanent U.S. socio-political class whose defining attribute is imperialism and which has at its disposal the military, police, intelligence, and propaganda apparatuses it requires.
How did the Times respond when it was caught promoting the Bush administrations lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? It lamely pleaded journalistic haste in not wishing to be scooped as an excuse for a long series of articles, mostly authored by Judith Miller, whose effect was to create the climate of public opinion that the government needed to support its latest imperialist war.
The conclusion is that these two examples of identical behavior by the Times in respect to two wars, separated by almost 38 years, are part of an underlying pattern which the paper goes to exquisite lengths to conceal.
In the early years of the Cold War, one of Radio Moscow's favorite anti-capitalist epithets was "Wall Street war monger." I suspect they applied the term to the NY Times. If they did, they were right.