The purpose of propaganda is not the personal instruction of the individual, but rather to attract public attention to certain things, the importance of which can be brought home to the masses only by this means. Here the art of propaganda consists in putting a matter so clearly and forcibly before the minds of the people as to create a general conviction regarding the reality of a certain fact…it must appeal to the feelings of the public rather than to their reasoning power, wrote Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.
Hitler continued, “The aim of propaganda is not to try to pass judgment on conflicting rights, giving each its due, but exclusively to emphasize the right which we are asserting. Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favorable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side.” Propaganda under the Nazis was used in an unprecedented way to not only facilitate the rise of Hitler to power, but once in power it was used to mobilize mass support by maintaining a heightened level of enthusiasm and commitment for its ideological foundations.
Propaganda was so highly regarded under Hitler that following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hitler established the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by master propagandist Joseph Goebbels. In Hitler’s 1933 decree concerning the duties of the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Goebbels was given the “jurisdiction over the whole field of spiritual indoctrination of the nation, of propagandizing the State, of cultural and economic propaganda, of enlightenment of the public at home and abroad”, furthermore, he was put “in charge of the administration of all institutions serving these purposes.” The Ministry’s aim was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press.
As Goebbels explained, “everyone must reconcile themselves to us. We are there, We are not going to go away and we shall gradually win the people over to our side…We do want to do that not by banning newspapers but by gradually influencing the people while we shape and form public opinion.” Goebbels further elaborated in his address to the representatives of the radio in March 1933 that “the age of individualism was finally destroyed and replaced by an age of national community feeling. The individual was replaced by the community of the nation. From now on the people will be at the centre of public, private, spiritual and political activity. The ideological breakthrough of a quite unimagined extent will not be abated.”
While the Nazis were eventually destroyed, their idea of communicating their message by controlling all outlets of messaging while using the power of propaganda lived on. Today, as the Obama administration emphasizes differences, distorts reality, incites mistrust and gins up hostility by compelling followers via their control of the media and press to line up behind their agenda, the power of propaganda has once again reared its ugly head.
It is of no coincidence that as soon as Barack Obama became President he was quick to harness the power of propaganda in using federal resources to promote his agenda. For instance, in a report issued in August of 2010, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform detailed a host of propaganda activities conducted by the Obama administration at the direct expense of the American taxpayers. The report, titled “Analysis of the First Year of the Obama Administration: Public Relations and Propaganda Initiatives“, noted the following:
“The Obama Administration frequently used federal resources to promote the President’s agenda. In many cases, the Administration relied on the reach and resources of federal agencies and their personnel to promote certain of the President’s favorite programs. The White House also leveraged ties to the arts and entertainment community to embed propaganda in the content of television programming and artwork.”
To get an idea of just one aspect of what this looked like, John Nolte of Breitbart, published a leaked memo that outlined the collaboration between the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and the administration to “organically create and produce as many stories as possible about service and volunteerism and connect them in the plots of network dramas, comedies and reality shows.” Nolte goes on to write that the administration “intentionally skirted around anti-lobbying laws and the Hatch Act by using First Lady Michelle Obama to promote the administration’s iParticipate initiative, a program that amounts to $240 million of free advertising for the President’s service and health care agendas.”
It’s no secret that Hollywood has become entrenched with promoting Obama’s agenda. Just last week we we’re treated to the latest example of this collaboration as Morgan Freeman and Jack Black, among other less known actors, lent their support to Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran in a new video designed to help persuade legislators to get the agreement through Congress. While it’s no surprise to see Hollywood shilling for their liberal messiah in ways such as this, what should really concern people is how this propaganda is actively reinforced within academia.
Patrick Courrielche documented this aspect of the Obama propaganda machine in a piece titled “How the Social Justice Left Uses Economic Incentives to Create Academic Propaganda“. Courrielche explains that this administration has used “the credibility and resources of the American higher education system to create researchprop – biased collegial research papers that serve as propaganda to support political policies.” In his piece, Courrielche highlights the Cry Wolf Project, which was created by the Obama administration in order to look “for faculty and graduate students… interested in writing short (2,000 word) policy briefs” that would “construct a counter narrative that demonstrates the falsity or exaggeration” of conservative claims. Writers of briefs selected by the project coordinators received $1,000 for their thoughts.
“Their hopes with this researchprop is for these papers to ‘become the basis for opinion pieces designed to run in the mainstream media, on line, on the air, or in the press’, with the end outcome of building the following narrative in the public consciousness: that conservative objections to their policies are just the old dirty tricks of the right-wing”, notes Courrielche. If executed successfully, the “first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders, will be, ‘there they go again’,” reads the Request for Proposal obtained by Courrielche in what appears to be a clear attempt to label any right-leaning objection to progressive policy as another case of crying wolf.
Max Borders of The Washington Examiner summarizes the Cry Wolf Project as “not merely academic malfeasance, but a call by credentialed scholars for budding academics also to abandon standards of research and reasoned discourse. That such abandonment is at the foundation of this scheme, though not surprising, is certainly disturbing.” What is even more disturbing is that examples such as these, solely representing the first year of the Obama administration, have evolved over the past six years to such an extent in which today there is no longer any “objective reporting”. The White House creates the narrative and the press, media, academia, and news merely regurgitate it as if it were fact.
While this was done behind the scenes in the early years of this administration, today the propaganda is actively pushed under the White House Office of Public Engagement which staffs no less than 14 employees whose job it is to push the President’s message out on new media and social Web sites. The following description provided by the Washington Post on the White House Office of Public Engagement should sound eerily similar to that of the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. The Post writes:
The White House has essentially become its own media production company, one that can sometimes look like a state-run news distribution service…More than half of the White House’s digital staff worked on one of Obama’s presidential campaigns, and the campaign mentality helps guide their messaging strategy now that they’re in the federal government.
The success, and the reach, of the White House new-media strategy is due in part to a series of close relationships between the White House and people in the new-media business, many of whom support the president politically. The collaborations have been a boon to the media companies, providing access to both power and content. And the White House gets to use cutting-edge technology to advance the president’s agenda.
This is all the more troubling given the revolving door that exists between media network executives and the Obama White House. The map below created by Crayfisherfiles, gives us a glance at the media’s incestuous relationships with the administration.
As the chart shows, Claire Shipman, Senior National Correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America, is married to President Obama’s former White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, while ABC News President Ben Sherwood is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a top White House National Security Council official who was recently confirmed as the Department of Energy’s Deputy Secretary. Add to the list the siblings at CBS, whose President David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s National Security Advisory for Strategic Communications.
You can begin to see how entrenched the press has become. This is further compounded by the fact that Academia, the main-stream media, and Hollywood as well have been virtually taken over by this administration in order to push their agenda on a wide ranging set of issues from gay marriage to civil rights, immigration to climate change, and gun control to abortion. The real danger that lies behind the propaganda that this administration relentlessly produces is that it is so clearly and forcibly put before the minds of the people that it is creating a general conviction regarding the reality of a certain fact without any opposition.
Do not take this for granted, the power of propaganda in making the people believe fiction as fact and fact as fiction is best summed up in the words of Hitler, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell.”
Follow Nick on twitter @Politicalshort or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org