Propaganda Terms in the Media and What They Mean – Noam Chomsky


The Film Archives

Published on Jun 1, 2012

The United States and the Soviet Union both used propaganda extensively during the Cold War. More Chomsky: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=U…

Both sides used film, television, and radio programming to influence their own citizens, each other, and Third World nations. The United States Information Agency operated the Voice of America as an official government station. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which were, in part, supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, provided grey propaganda in news and entertainment programs to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union respectively. The Soviet Union’s official government station, Radio Moscow, broadcast white propaganda, while Radio Peace and Freedom broadcast grey propaganda. Both sides also broadcast black propaganda programs in periods of special crises.

In 1948, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office created the IRD (Information Research Department), which took over from wartime and slightly post-war departments such as the Ministry of Information and dispensed propaganda via various media such as the BBC and publishing.

The ideological and border dispute between the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China resulted in a number of cross-border operations. One technique developed during this period was the “backwards transmission,” in which the radio program was recorded and played backwards over the air. (This was done so that messages meant to be received by the other government could be heard, while the average listener could not understand the content of the program.)

When describing life in capitalist countries, in the US in particular, propaganda focused on social issues such as poverty and anti-union action by the government. Workers in capitalist countries were portrayed as “ideologically close”. Propaganda claimed rich people from the US derived their income from weapons manufacturing, and claimed that there was substantial racism or neo-fascism in the US.

When describing life in Communist countries, western propaganda sought to depict an image of a citizenry held captive by governments that brainwash them. The West also created a fear of the East, by depicting an aggressive Soviet Union. In the Americas, Cuba served as a major source and a target of propaganda from both black and white stations operated by the CIA and Cuban exile groups. Radio Habana Cuba, in turn, broadcast original programming, relayed Radio Moscow, and broadcast The Voice of Vietnam as well as alleged confessions from the crew of the USS Pueblo.

George Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four are virtual textbooks on the use of propaganda. Though not set in the Soviet Union, these books are about totalitarian regimes that constantly corrupt language for political purposes. These novels were, ironically, used for explicit propaganda. The CIA, for example, secretly commissioned an animated film adaptation of Animal Farm in the 1950s with small changes to the original story to suit its own needs.

The United States and Iraq both employed propaganda during the Iraq War. The United States established campaigns towards the American people on the justifications of the war while using similar tactics to bring down Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq.

The extent to which the US government was guilty of propaganda aimed at its own people is a matter of discussion. The book Selling Intervention & War by Jon Western argued that president Bush was “selling the war” to the public.

President George W. Bush gave a talk at the Athena Performing Arts Center at Greece Athena Middle and High School Tuesday, May 24, 2005 in Rochester, NY. About half way through the event Bush said, “See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

People had their initial reactions to the War on Terror, but with more biased and persuading information, Iraq as a whole has been negatively targeted. America’s goal was to remove Saddam Hussein’s power in Iraq with allegations of possible weapons of mass destruction related to Osama Bin Laden. Video and picture coverage in the news has shown shocking and disturbing images of torture and other evils being done under the Iraqi Government.

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