“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” — H.L. Mencken
It would seem like propaganda is a new phenomena that has just come about over the last few decades. After all, many progressives point to the end of the Fairness Doctrine as the end of the good ole days as it pertains to information. There is some truth to that notion I suppose, but we all love to participate in our scare tactics.
When we went to the D Day Museum in New Orleans, we noticed an entire room dedicated to the propaganda of the time period. There was one particular pamphlet that told us how to tell the difference between our “Japanese enemies and our Chinese friends.” One could easily imagine the government printing out the same pamphlet five years after World War II ended and simply switching the two.
Two things characterize the propaganda of the past. When we are separated from it for several decades it becomes so much easier to see the outrageous nature of it. How could anyone have put any stock in any of it? Of course, we have to acknowledge how effective it was at the same time. Propaganda plays on our fears and our prejudices. That is the unfortunate second thing that characterizes the propaganda.
Maria Baritromo is just the latest to get clipped for trying her hand at propaganda. We can go any number of directions in this deal, but the hilarious point here is the use of the colloquial “people are saying.” In this case she used the journalistic equivalent of “people are telling me.” Sure. It was a trick that her former leader tried throughout his presidency.
One wonders what happens to anyone when they are subjected to a barrage of crap like that. Maybe Baritromo is a prime example. Maybe someone who’s claim to fame was a dress she wore to the Al Smith dinner in 2016 couldn’t be expected to keep an air of objectivity. Perhaps that’s just a cheap shot on my account. The folks at Fox have never been anywhere close to objective.
It’s also one of those things that makes you wonder what the toll is on all of us when propaganda gets tossed around. The good folks on Twitter refer to it as getting ratioed. For those that don’t frequent Twitter, the term “ratioed” refers to when someone’s tweet attracts trolls and detractors in full force. Sometimes it is deserved, but it makes you wonder what the effect is on average ordinary folks.
Well, the average person can’t help but get sucked into all of it. One cannot watch something like Fox Business without having an extreme visceral reaction. Either you find yourself agreeing with the nonsense or you find yourself getting more angry at the nonsense. It creates a two-tiered con on the public. The base level con is that we believe Baritromo when she reports that “people are saying.”
The second level of the con is to get you riled up at the ridiculousness of it. It is here that we probably should mind the Yoda lesson of how anger and fear lead to the dark side. It creates separation where there was not separation before. It throws a wedge in between ordinary folks. It creates the “how could you think that…” dynamic.
From there, it is easy enough to separate people into their separate information silos. You can almost picture folks at Fox and MSNBC meeting together for a power lunch and toast to each other’s efforts. It serves both of them and their profits. You just wonder which one is covering the bill today.