Manipulation Through Mass Media


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Brief analysis of media manipulation, means, study cases. Conclusion to be drawn by the reader.

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Manipulation Through Mass Media

  1. 1. 2005 MANIPULATION THROUGH MASS MEDIA   BRIEF ANALYSIS OF MEANS      Iulia Bîlbîe  Private  7/1/2005 
  2. 2. Manipulation through Mass Media FOREWORD We are in the third millennium, we are a generation who is always in a rush, we have no time to communicate to know what is going on around us. But in this busy world nothing can be done if we are not in touch with reality. The one who is informed has the power and has the wits to act properly in different situations. This is how we explain the man’s hunger for information, for news, and fortunately, our modern era offers us the best and the fastest means to be informed: MASS MEDIA. But unfortunately, the media’s role, to inform people about the reality surrounding us, was perverted by mean interests, and, from the source of information, it became the most efficient means of mass-manipulation. What is to be done? Are we just puppets in the hands of those who control this genuine machine? How could we prevent this from affecting us? How could we build our immunity to manipulation? These are some items we will try to deal with throughout this paper which we hope you will find interesting. -2-
  3. 3. Iulia Bîlbîe Table of contents Foreword …………………………………………………………………………………………… 2 1. Manipulation ……………………….……………………….………………………………….. 4 1.1 Techniques and procedures of manipulation ……………………….……………………………… 5 2. Public Opinion……………………….……………………….………………………………… 6 3. Mass Media Manipulation ……………………….……………………….…………………… 9 4. Persuasion ……………………….……………………….……………………………………..11 4.1 The sleeper effect ……………………….……………………….……………………….…… 13 4.2 Changes in opinion ……………………….……………………….…………………………....14 4.3 How to enlarge the acceptance limits of a group? ……………………….………………………….15 4.4 The relationship between the source’s credibility and changing the opinion……………………………16 4.5 The Media’s Circular Matrix ……………………….……………………….………………….. 17 4.6 The All-mighty TV ……………………….……………………….…………………………...20 4.7 Media and the imitative behavior ……………………….……………………….……………….21 5. Misinforming ……………………….……………………….……………………….………….23 5.1. Hiding an action……………………….……………………….……………………………...24 5.2. Creating conflicts between nations……………………….……………………….……………...25 5.3. Catching the attention of a decisional factor……………………….……………………….……...26 5.4. Misinforming and Publicity……………………….……………………….…………………....27 6. Religious freedom and freedom of speech……………………….……………………….…….29 6.1 American International Court……………………….……………………….…………………...31 6.2. Controlling the internet and email……………………….……………………….………………32 7. The Press’ claimed ethics……………………….……………………….……………………….34 8. Conclusion……………………….……………………….……………………….………………36 -3-
  4. 4. Manipulation through Mass Media 1. MANIPULATION In terms of social psychology, manipulation represents a certain social situation, created on purpose in order to influence the reactions and the behavior of an individual or a social group, regarding and far the goal followed by the subject who manipulates (person or social group). As a programming process, manipulation is divided in three steps: a) deprogramming –canceling the initial structure, diverting or deforming of the informational content belonging to the cognitive, affective and attitude structures of the person’s personality; b) reprogramming – introducing the information which serves the goal desired by the manipulator; c) fixing the information – in order to get the resistance of other possible manipulations; In Stefan Buzărnescu’s opinion, in his work “The Public Opinion’s Sociology”, manipulation – as a sequence of the communication process – defines “a double involvement in opinion”: - a real one , of the source emitting the message, and - a potential one, belonging to the target In this process, the attention is constantly focused on “converting” the target, turning it into one dependent on the influence of the source transmitting the message. Manipulation is dangerous, and it can be recognized by the fact that: - it distorts the truth on purpose; - uses false arguments in order to mislead; - it appeals to the non-rational area, which folly works at the mass level, and, no matter what occurs, the real intentions remain hidden from the manipulated subject. Manipulation knows different shapes: - education - politics -4-
  5. 5. Iulia Bîlbîe - religion - espionage - MASS-MEDIA 1.1 Techniques and procedures of manipulation: - propaganda - publicity - communication - misinforming - making the person feel guilty - victimizing - black-mail - intimidation - inciting All of the different forms of manipulation named above present a special importance and interest, but what mainly interests us is the MASS-MEDIA manipulation. This one, in order to reach certain goals, which can be many and varied, with multiple motivations, tries to influence the Public Opinion, with which we will deal throughout the following lines. -5-
  6. 6. Manipulation through Mass Media 2. Public Opinion In this work “Political Psychology”, chapter “The Eilte and the Crowd”, Gustave Le Bon shows that behavior of a crowd is totally different from that of a person taken separately from its group. According to Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgăoanu1 , there are “interpretations that distinguish the public opinion from the individual one“, as it comes from individuals, but it has a power above them, even if the public opinion cannot exist independent from the individual one. This is how is explained the way that surveys reveal the mass opinions from the interviews with persons taken separately. Public opinion has different characteristics: - it belong to the civil society; - it represents the “informal consciousness”; - it is permanently affected by different tendencies, it is a permanent state of confrontation, it is not a uniform block. In order to understand better this concept, it is necessary that we get acquainted with a few other definitions given to it. For example, Harwood L. Chelds considers that it is a matter of attitude: “the public opinion represents the verbal expression of attitude”.2 Considering that the opinion represents a form of organizing the multitude of ideas and options of a person or society, we have to know that the public opinion must be analyzed in relationship with the context, the history of that specific community with its experiences and mentalities. Another interesting idea is the conclusion drawn after the polemic between Leonard Doob and Hadley Cantril, members of the leading staff of the Propaganda’s Analysis Institute (New York,1937), which states that the public opinion is a “reaction to reaction”. The fact itself – Doob 1 Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgaoanu – Mass Media and Society, pg. 19 2 Harwood L. Chelds – An Introduction to Public Opinion, pg. 44 -6-
  7. 7. Iulia Bîlbîe considers – that there is a reaction, shows that the event is important. The public opinion reacts not to the event itself, but rather to the reaction towards the event. 1 The interest for controling the public opinion for personal interest (political or with other motivation) comes from the fact that it creates a state of mind, it induces certain things. In “Public opinion surveys”, J. Stoetzel and A. Girard consider that: “beginning with the first half of the 19th century, a historian who deserves his name cannot ignore any more in his work – no matter if he approves or blames it – the idea that there is a political force whose name is the public opinion.” Long desired by manipulators, public opinion. is vulnerable because: a) of lack of competence of the crowd in analyzing ideas or facts b) the mass of people acts and reacts under the majority’s pressure. The same idea is sustained by Leonard Doob2: “The public opinion reflects the attitudes people have towards a problem in their quality of members of the same group”. This is a more specific definition of conformism, which can bring nothing good to individuals. c) crowds are very susceptible to be persuaded (especially when persuasion appeals to emotional, irrational area) d) the masses are controlled by the elite What makes the public opinion change? Harwood L. Childs considers that there are two facts that cause this change: proximate causes (active and decisive, primary) – which can be ideas, relating, news, representations which make our world of symbols, and latent factors (secondary, make us have predisposition to certain the actions) which could be place of living, age, the degree of financial wellness. Opinions change depending on the information persons or groups of person have and provide, this point showing us the great importance of media which has as work base information. The mass media influence can be: 1 Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgaoanu - Mass Media and Society, pg. 236 2 Leonard Doob – Public Opinion Propaganda, pg. 48 -7-
  8. 8. Manipulation through Mass Media a) immediate: here, the role of information is to cause the process of rearranging the data existing up to that moment, or/and b) on long/medium term : this effect is more important and it last longer (a stream of information on a period of years can shape even mentalities). Bearing in mind all this, that the master of information is the media and that precise information, which impose limitations in interpretation, is often kept away from the public eyes, which is provided instead with vague information which leaves room for interpretation, distorting, we have to be careful in processing it. Every time we have to be careful because we can be targets of manipulations, no matter what kind of it could be. -8-
  9. 9. Iulia Bîlbîe 3. Mass Media Manipulation Robert Cisimo1 considers that “mass-media participates not only to the genesis, but also to the manipulation of the public opinion, being one of its most active systems of manipulation”, and there can be noticed different influencing techniques: 1) selecting news: considering that the solution criteria belong to those already influential in the social structures, there will be selected the information that do not harm their interests; 2) giving the news a certain orientation – incomplete distorted information, sequences; 3) placing the news – the dimension of content on a page: a mundane fact phrase story is placed on the first page becomes a real event, meanwhile an authentic even, but not favorable to the influential ones will be neglected, being briefly presented on the last page. The public opinion will follow the idea that it is not important; 4) Influencing by headings – the synthetics in the title represent an evaluation of the news in the ensemble of the publication; 5) Selecting the photos – for instance, placing a scandalous photography near the image of a person to whom they are making negative publicity. The simple joining of photos induces the reader the idea of an equality between their value, idea which persist and will have great impact on the future public appearances of the person in cause; 6) The editorial – the editorialist becomes a leader of opinion, he sums up in few words the scale of values necessary to get by in the context of events of a world so hurried; 7) Producing and broadcasting tendentious information in different forms: 1 Robert Cisimo – Don’t blame the people, pg.103 -9-
  10. 10. Manipulation through Mass Media the total lie: it can seduce paradoxical spirits the “opposing” truth – something that can not be canceled due to the lack of witnesses lying by omission half truth capitalizing mundane facts to the prejudice of the essential facts relative quotation, approximately distorted. exaggerating unimportant facts in the name of some moral principles making the truth seem weak by a sarcastic or taunting presentation telling the truth so that the target understand it is a lie, or denying an affirmation so that the collocutor to believe that the transmitter in fact, aproves it. - 10 -
  11. 11. Iulia Bîlbîe 4. Persuasion Persuasion is a register of the communication activity which concerns changing opinions, modifying attitudes, behaviors in the direction desired by the persuader. It involves three main steps: - focusing attention on the collocutor, studying the audience; - structuring and dosing the message, and finally - catching the reaction, the feed-back. In the case of inter-personal relationships, persuasion can be called any attempt to convince your collocutor to accept your ideas, or to adopt certain behavior, and it is relatively easy to recognize. The problem appears when we talk about mass-persuasion, which most of the times appears in politics and for political motivations, and in war. A very good example of how important persuasion is to achieve a goal is proved by what happened in 1941 in the U.S.A. After the Japanese attack over Pearl Harbor on December 7, the U.S.A., by President Roosevelt, declare war to Japan and its allies. The passionate speeches of the president, who often calls the Japanese people “gangsters” or “traitors”, combined with the few information the Americans had about people, made them consider the Japanese an inferior race, the embodiment of whatever is evil and cruel. This made a lot of Americans enroll in the U.S. army, as they considered the war would be easily won and knew almost nothing about what a war implied. But in only few weeks, the general enthusiasm began to fade away, which was a real problem. The responsible ones in the U.S. army were now preoccupied to turn millions of normal citizens into determined fighters, focusing not on how to teach them to salute or to use the weapons, but on how to motivate their loyalty, how to keep up their enthusiasm. They got to the conclusion that there were necessary some series of movies to persuade the soldiers that the U.S. actions were right. In 1942, the attention is focused on Hollywood, from where they picked Frank Capra to create those movies. The result was a - 11 -
  12. 12. Manipulation through Mass Media series of seven movies, called “Why We Fight?”, which presented the most important steps of the conflict in the entire world. In creating these movies, Capra began from the well known pro-Nazi movie, “Triumph de Willens”, realized by Leni Riefenstahl, trying canceling the propagandistic messages of it.1 The films had a limited effect, there was noticed absolutely no change in the improvement of the psychic tonus of the soldiers or their motivation to fight, because this is influenced by many factors of the individual’s background, factors that were not taken into account when the movies were conceived. These movies were only simple information presented through the American vision upon the events. Important to notice from this research is that an overwhelming majority considered that the movies presented objectively the facts; they didn’t perceived them as being propagandistic. The conclusion is that, despite the fact that the movies didn’t have the desired effect – to improve the psychological condition and motivation of the soldiers – this was not due to a possible resistance to propaganda. Not the same thing can be told about the series of movies “Rambo “which had great impact upon the viewers. During his mandate, President Ronald Reagan ordered these movies from similar reasons. He needed to justify his military action in Libya and also to motivate the soldiers to fight. The result was amazing: not only that the goal was achieved – the number of the men who enrolled in the army increased with 200 per cent – but also it had great impact upon the 1 Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgăoanu – “Mass media and Society”, pg. 146-147 - 12 -
  13. 13. Iulia Bîlbîe whole American population. They created the image of the perfect soldier: brave, strong, intelligent, and also charming – the American soldier, image which was induced to those who watched the movies. Even non-American people all over the world saw these movies and “swallowed” the idea of the indestructible all-mighty American soldier whose actions are always right . 4.1. The sleeper effect Experiments proved that the passing of time amplifies the effect produced by information. The reaction takes place at the subconscious level and it is not visible unless a certain period of time passes. (for example, the case of subliminal messages in movies , commercials or music ; it is well- known the case of rock-music that, if you play the disc conversely you will hear a different message than the one the lyrics transmit ) . In Mr. Hovland’s opinion1, not the time is to be analyzed, but “the events that take place during that specific period of time . “ This effect has been demonstrated by a new experiment based on viewing the movie “The Battle of Britain”. Two sets of questionnaires were applied at different terms to check if the effect varies depending on time. At only five days after viewing the movie were applied the first questionnaires to check the effect on short term.The result revealed a change in opinions really unimportant. After nine weeks, when the second set of questions was applied, the results showed that opinions had changed considerably. Hovland shows2 that we have to the deal with late effects, or with amplifying and persistence of an initial effect. 1 Experiments on Mass Communication, pg.182 2 Experiments on Mass Communication, pg. 189 - 13 -
  14. 14. Manipulation through Mass Media 4.2 Changes in opinion In changing the opinion, the group a person belongs to has a very important role in changing or keeping a certain opinion despite the new information presented. The group’s pressure works as a gatekeeper for ideas and opinions stream. Another decisive factor which should be paid attention to, in changing opinions ,is the level of education and culture. Basing on experiments, researchers have reached the conclusion that there are two types of opinion depending on the level of education: uneducated people tend to have uniformed opinions, meanwhile the educated persons have informed opinions, they study first before they adopt an attitude. Arguments also influence people depending on the degree of information; so pro arguments have greater impact on the people with low education; on the other hand pro and cons have a more important effect upon those better informed. In studying the ways opinions change, it is very interesting that the opinion keeps existing even without the informational base that created it. The source will be forgotten, but the information stays, and so does the created opinion. Even if the source is little credible, the information remains, especially if it has negative connotations, defamatory. This idea is sustained by Hovland and W. Schramm. With the time’s pass, people are not aware any more that the source was not trustworthy, they simply keep the impression. This fact is exploited, especially in electoral campaigns, where starting political scandals is a common deed to decrease the competitors’ chances to be elected by creating them a negative image. Even if ,later, the complete lack of truth from those rumors will be proven, the effect of calumnies remains valid, affecting the people’s trust in the person involved in the scandal. - 14 -
  15. 15. Iulia Bîlbîe 4.3 How to enlarge the acceptance limits of a group? Hovland expresses1 his conclusion that the laws of persuasion can be extended at the mass communication level. In this case too, the source is important only for short term impact. A good persuader knows that, both for an individual and a group, there are some acceptance limits for new information, limits that must be taken into account if a maximum effect is desired. So, a new item appears in discussion: how to enlarge this acceptance perimeter? This is a delicate matter, as you can not present strong information, very different from a group’s general opinion without risking being rejected. There is an interesting saying: “Poisson must be given in small amounts”. The same concept is to be applied in persuasion. Opinions must be modeled step by step. It is enough to take a look at how people get used to the technology go fast developing to understand how things work: if we talk about cell-phones, initially people were quiet reticent to this new device, simple people from countryside - ridiculous as it may seem – thought that cell-phones involved strange evil things, as they functioned without wires. Nowadays nobody thinks that way any more, today everybody has a cell-phone, even children who are always in a search for better more performant models. Another matter would be the Internet. Created in 1962 as a mean to reunite American scientist, allowing them to transfer rapidly huge amounts of data, it was called ARPANET and it worked with only four units. In 1971, ARPANET is compound by 23 nods, he use of this network being exclusively reserved to a small group of persons. Although it was regarded suspiciously by common people – the fear of espionage, of dependency- ,in 1956 the INTERNET includes 15 millions of nods, in 2005 the most of the Terra’s population having access to it. 1 Communication and Persuasion, pg. 53 - 15 -
  16. 16. Manipulation through Mass Media So, when trying so enlarge the acceptance perimeter of a group it is best to take into account every information about it. A group that has a neutral attitude towards a problem, or one that is not well informed, can be easily influenced. The process is easier to be realized than in the case of an informed group, because ,when trying to shape certain opinion information is hidden, events are presented biased in sequences selected for this purpose (half truths), things that would raise question marks and a rejecting attitude from a better prepared group. 4.4. The relationship between the source’s credibility and changing the opinion - 16 -
  17. 17. Iulia Bîlbîe 4.5. The Media’s Circular Matrix In “Mass Media and Society“, Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgăoanu present the circular model of media (p 208). All the items presented work together in influencing opinions and attitudes, the power of this system begin greater the more varied the components are. People are vulnerable to manipulation as the media creates dependency. They need information which is vital in order to be prepared to confront with daily problems, and that is why they are under the media’s influence, because it controls all the resources of information. It gathers information, it transforms it and it spreads it, in this situation being very likely that the subjectivity interferes. In 1999, M. I. De Fleur and S. Ball Rokeach present a model to explain the dependency relationship between the media and its consumers. After this model we will try to present a scheme below: Social system The media system (the degree of stability (what varies is the number and the may vary) importance of the informing functions) Audiences (the dependency on information varies) Cognitive, affective and behavior effects - 17 -
  18. 18. Manipulation through Mass Media The relationship between individuals and mass-media can be weak or strong; the dependency relationship can be established either with the whole system of mass-media or with one component of it: radio, TV, newspapers, or with certain product of media. An individual’s freedom to organize his own media system is limited mainly for two reasons: one would be that of the technological and organizational differences (movies and books are not very useful in a crisis moment which requires prompt information), and the other one – that the media has the tendency to specialize in content, fact which affects the types of purposes it can serve at. Individuals in our society have a common goal: to understand the environment where they live, which makes them resort to news, a limited set of mass-media (newspapers, TV, radio). When the surrounding environment becomes ambiguous, menacing or changing rapidly (for instance, a crisis, war, etc.), the dependency relationship becomes more intense. As a result, the media is in control because it possesses the resources necessary for building the significance of the events. Mass-media does not teach us how to think, but teaches at what to think. There are the ways how this is realized: a) media draws the public attention to a certain theme (impressing); b) it provides information about the theme/subject; c) the information provided leads to forming and changing attitudes; d) the established attitudes influence the behavior 1. Another aspect of the media manipulation is the fact that there is a discrepancy between the importance given to a story by media and its real importance. Even if certain events are still going on, even if their importance remains the same, the media can not consider them news any more, can publish less about them, or can even cease any information providing. 1 A. Lowery and Melvin l. DeFleur – Milestones in Mass Communication Research, pg. 161 - 18 -
  19. 19. Iulia Bîlbîe On the other hand, the excess of relations about a story out of common can create a disparity between its real significance and the importance given by the media, just because it is sensational, although it has no special meaning. Seldom exaggerations happen: the persons involved in an event declare that it would have been more exciting if they had watched it on TV. Some other means of manipulating the public opinion could be the specially invented events – the so called “pseudo-events” - , imposing something to the public attention by “dilating” the event, or launching some “bomb-events” without a real importance in fact, in order to distract the public attention from really important events going on at a certain time and that could be dangerous for the influential persons, creating some media diversion. In the chapter “Public Opinion” we saw which are the factors that make the public opinion change. In the next lines we would like to explain a little. It is good to know that the public opinion will be impressed if at least one of the following conditions is accomplished: - the TV attention is intense, at least thirty appearances per month; an event may get into the public opinion’s agenda in two to six months; - the attention paid to a subject by media is accumulated constantly in time, without big variations - the language used convinces the public that to events worth maximum attention. Gladys E. Lang and Kurt Lang emphasize how important is the way the presentation is built. A representative example is the “Watergate Affair”. The case it self was not so important, which required insisting in order to bring it to the public attention. As long as the press referred to it as an “incident’, it was not regarded seriously, not much importance being given to it. The change interfered when the press began to call it: “scandal” or “tragedy”, and when the context was changed – from the presidential election, which made it look like a partisan movement, to the context of generalized corruption in the U.S. – the national audience was won. Watergate was linked to the “need of bringing the facts in daylight”, to the “confidence in government”(such phrases used in relations about Watergate appealed to the public feelings of justice and patriotism - 19 -
  20. 20. Manipulation through Mass Media in order to made them sensitive to the item). High officials from the Republican Party expressed their position towards Watergate case when it was on the limelight, which increased and accelerated the process of imposing to the public agenda.1 4.6. The All-mighty TV It is very commonly used the expression: “A picture’s worth more than a thousand words”. This is one of the principles exploited by television, whose ration of being is the image. The emphasis is put on reducing the time between the moment an event took place and the moment when the information referring to it recaptured, which leads to diminishing the interest for checking the information’s truth. Getting used to such a treatment, the public reaches the stage when it judges through the television’s point of view. The TV’s influence is great and it is the most effective means of mass manipulation as it is the most comfortable and accessible way to get informed or even to spend spare time for entertainment. The danger comes from the fact that nothing is left at random in television: it induces perceptions about the reality, it presents behavior models. One aspect that is the most obvious is the effect the movies have upon young people. 80 per cent of them are aggressive, promote violent attitudes which are easily adopted by young people. Teenagers need reference points, need to find out how to make themselves popular or influential, how to solve their conflicts, and, unfortunately they borrow these reference points from the movie characters they see. All in all, the TV presents sets of values that are borrowed by its consumers; these false values being factors of integration, of homogenization of masses. 1 D. Graber – “Mass media and American Politics”, pg. 269 - 20 -
  21. 21. Iulia Bîlbîe 4.7. Media and the imitative behavior Albert Brandura’s experiment in 1963 proved that a certain behavior is adopted if the persons are showed an example. The experiment consisted in presenting to a group of children (divided into three parts) different behaviors towards a doll, called Bobo. The common part was that the children were shown an aggressive behavior towards the doll. The first group of children was rewarded if they adopted the same type of behavior, the second was punished for being aggressive, and the third group of children was left with no reaction for their behavior. At a first sight, the results proved that the kids in the first group imitated the behavior presented, being very aggressive, in contrast with the second group, only a few of these kids being violent imitating the model presented. But, what surprised everybody was the fact that, in the end, all the children in the three groups imitated the aggressive behavior, no matter the system reward/punishment used in their case. The same effects can be found if we extend the observation on the level of the mass-media consumers. Young people take after the models presented on TV, they imitate the stars’ way of talking,dressing or behaving,not necessarly because they like it, but because they live the illusion that borrowing a style or another will make them more popular, respected or appreciated. This practice used by the media is called cultivation. It is a process of aligning everybody to the dominating trend in attitudes, beliefs, values and practices of society. For example, in the American society, the differences in opinion which divided the Americans into liberals and conservatives – about themes like: segregation, abortion, sexuality, minorities rights – are faded between the heavy consumer of TV. The television became the “melting pot” of the American society, it homogenizes, it brings beliefs and opinions at the same level. - 21 -
  22. 22. Manipulation through Mass Media The social psychology revealed that people fear more the isolation than they fear being in error, which is why they make certain decisions which bring nothing good to themselves. The public opinion works in disfavor of the individual, but it is benefic for the society. Some examples of this type of attitude, social behavior could be the alignment to fashion – even if, as it is well-know, sometimes, it has nothing to do with refinement, class,or even decency – or the results of the electoral survey: after the election, every person who is asked claims he/she voted with the winner party. Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgăoanu launch a very good question: “is the press the fourth power in the state or is the dominating one?”1 In a state, the press role is that of a “watchdog”, to sanction, to punish the errors of the other powers. It is built on the fundamental right of expression, the right that everybody can express freely his/her opinions. Nevertheless, its declared role may be perverted and the result completely different because, as François Revel thinks2 , the press is not a power self-standing, recruiting its members has no restrictions, representatively, competence or morality criteria established by constitution, laws or regulations, like in the case of other powers – judicial, legislative. The media’s legitimacy comes from the public and its power comes from using the most important source of influence, the information and the way on which it circulates. Has the media too much power? Or too little? These are rhetorical questions. But we know that the media teachers at what to think – as you can not have an opinion about nothing, you need a subject – and it is doubtless that the power fears the media, as it shapes the public opinion which can approve or destroy. 1 Paul Dobrescu and Alina Bârgaoanu - Mass Media and Society, pg. 273 2 F. Revel - The useless Knowledge, pg.27 - 22 -
  23. 23. Iulia Bîlbîe 5. Misinforming “A journalist is also a <<soul-engineer>>, he must know perfectly the instrument he plays – the whole clavier of human pulsing and instincts; he must provoke at the right time the reader’s conditioned reflexes”. (Vladimir Volkoff – “ Misinforming – War Weapon”) Giving a definition to misinforming is something difficult, as it is very complex. We can call “misinforming” any attempt to influence the enemy’s decisions and moral state, but it is meanwhile a weapon and a state of mind. When did it appear? And why? The misinforming has been existing since the most ancient times and it concerns rebalancing a state, a society, undermining its resistance capacity without being needed the intervention of army forces. In the preface of Pierre Nord’s work – “The Intoxication” - , G. Veraldi says that misinforming means “creating a false reality so convincing that the enemy considers it fair”. …And manipulators of all kinds tried to do this every time they had interests that could not be brought in daylight. The goal of misinforming may vary depending on the situation, as we will see: it can be used to find excuses, to lure the electors (this phenomena is treated at the level of the masses, not separate persons); hiding an action, distracting attention; to discredit a personality; to create conflicts or misunderstanding between nations, to create misconceptions; to catch the confidence of a decision factor; to manipulate the public opinion. - 23 -
  24. 24. Manipulation through Mass Media We considered three examples to present as arguments for some of the possible purpose exposed previously. 5.1. Hiding an action In order to hide a certain action it is necessary to create a fake reality, everything turning into a “deception game” It is the case of the operation “Mince meat”, also known under the name of “The man who never existed”. The purpose of the action was to hide the zone where the allies’ forces will land in Europe, after conquering the Northern Africa, in July 1943. How did they do it? The action consisted in distracting the Germans’ attention from Sicily, making them to believe that the landing will take place in Greece or Sardinia. The secret services of Britain abandoned in the waters near the Spanish shores the dead body of fake highly important officer who had tied on his hand a portfolio which contained a set of documents – real documents – conceived by important military personalities, but with fake information about the Allies’ plans and routes of landing.1 The mission was a total success. 5.2. Creating conflicts between nations An example of how misinforming created conflicts with terrible consequences between two states, is the “Palmer” business in Indonesia, 1964. 1 Vladimir Volkoff – Misinforming – War Weapon, pg. 23 - 24 -
  25. 25. Iulia Bîlbîe At that time, Indonesia was led by President Sukarno, who was a fiery supporter of the Third World against imperialism. Indonesia was also in conflict with its neighbor-state, Malaysia, whom it accused of having accepted the subordinations in front of the occidental powers, and, above everything, the country was confronted to an economic crisis which created mass protests against the state administration]On this context, the Czech secret services recruit agents from the Indonesian diplomatic and press circles. Initially, the operation began as a routine action to disturb the American–Indonesian relationship, but the way things evolved was out of control. For a better understanding of the events, we delimited some steps. 1) For the beginning, there was created a local action committee whose mission was to boycott the American movies. The import of American movies in Indonesia has been being supported for over twenty years by William Palmer. 2) Without having any evidence, they accused Palmer of being a C.I.A. secret agent. False documents are published, in which, it is told that W. Palmer acts against the Sukarno government and that he is pro-Malaysia. The rumors were so more credible, as the sources that transmitted information, were important: the Indonesian ambassador in Holland, (who was corrupted), repeated articles in “Ceylon” and “Singapore” newspapers and letters with defamatory content were addressed to political personalities, influential organizations and Indonesian journalists. 3) In December 1964 the campaign grows in intensity by diversing the anti-American actions. The students began to attack the American institutions, manifestations are organized in front of the American embassy in Djakarta and the selling of the publication edited by the United States Information Agency (U.S.I.A.) is boycotted by the post offices. 4) In the summer of 1945, the American –Indonesian relationship reach their lowest point: the American ambassador is withdrew , William Palmer leaves his post and the Indonesians take the control of the American companies in the country. - 25 -
  26. 26. Manipulation through Mass Media 5) A new stage is reached in the conflict: new documents appear that say Palmer was opened to commit aggressions against Indonesia and that he made an operation against Malaysia fail. 6) Given the situation, the population can not resist the crisis anymore, hysteria is born ,the panic capsizes everything and the whole story runs crazily out of control. 7) The results are a complete disaster: the Chinese communists intervene pushing the Indonesian Communist Party to resort to insurrection. As a consequence 500 thousands of communists and sympathizers are massacred. This is the tragic story, the blamable ending of a misinforming operation.1 5.3. Catching the attention of a decisional factor Catching the attention of a decisional element may sometimes be the motivation for misinforming actions. We think this can be illustrated by cases of Harry D. White and Alger Hiss from USA, during the period right after the Second World War. Harry D. White was a very close collaborator of the American Finance Minister, Edgar Hover. Despite FBI warnings, Harry D. White is named the USA representant in International Monetary Fund. Later on, he will become I.M.F.’s president, surrounding himself with person chosen by him, whom he considered to be trustworthy in serving his interests. Alger Hiss was an office holder in the state department, ex-assistant of Roosevelt President during the conference from Yalta. Later, he was the USA representant at U.N.O. Whitaker Chambers – agent of the Soviet power –recruited both Harry D. White and Alger Hiss to serve the soviet interests. The irony was that after ten years, when he had broken any link with the secret services that were using him, he denounced both of his recruits. In consequence, Hiss was 1 Vladimir Volkoff – Misinforming – War Weapon, pg. 27 - 26 -
  27. 27. Iulia Bîlbîe convicted to five years of prison, and H. D. White died at the right time from a hard attack, before being convicted.1 Remarkable is this case it that, despite the warnings of their own security services, the American administration reacted very slowly. So, we can observe the method of acting upon a small decisional group through its leader: a secret agent can be infiltrated inside that persons’s company,or installing such an agent in an important position so that his influence can serve to taking the decision. These are only few examples of how things work when diversions interfere; a lot of similar cases have been developing all over the world. The modern misinforming is the worse, the more original the new means are :Nowadays we talk about using a modern methodology borrowed from publicity and based on the discoveries of the psycho-sociology , the media’s influence and diversity amplifies the whole effect, the misinforming is more often used as a political weapon and the people are manipulated through images. 5.4. Misinforming and Publicity The publicity is moreover manipulation rather than argumentation: it is preoccupied more by the impact upon masses, by creating a certain behavior than focusing on the message. The publicity represents an instrument of the market competition, fact which justifies its existences it ration of being and purpose is the profit. Still, it can not be ignored or considered harmless from the point of view of manipulation, because its pressure educates the public taste and it can have negative influence upon the public through is quantity and intensity. Although the first reaction of the public will be to close like in a shell at the contact with the aggressive publicity, there will remain an automatic perception, 1 Vladimir Volkoff – Misinforming – War Weapon, pg. 30 - 27 -
  28. 28. Manipulation through Mass Media subconscious, of the messages, and it will be found and recognized in the behavior that will follow after this first stage. In first publicitary messages appeared in France, around the year 1931, at the same time with the first newspapers. At the end of the 19th century, the commercials become beautiful. It is a mark that the society would enter the modern era of the publicity which speaks by image. The posters signed by famous painters (Toulouse Lautrec with the famous dancing-ladies from “Moulin Rouge”, Bannard with his “France Champagne”, etc.) are chosen by the public instead of paintings to decorate interiors. Around 1920, appear the first posters fans and it is being developed a poster’s market. The most important feature of the publicity is that it is continuous, its development being based on a strategy. On the contrary, the advertisements are characterized by discontinuity, they act “here and now”, as the following example will prove. In 1956, in a cinema in New Jersey (U.S.A.), during the Picnic movie, there had been shown images, commercial with only one message: “Drink Coca-Cola!” at a speed of 1/3000 second. The consequence was that after the movie ended, the consumers preferred the Coke instead of other similar drinks at the same price at the bar.1 Publicity is important for the commerce, for its economic benefits, but it is also a source of manipulation. 1 Ştefan Buzărnescu – The Sociology of the Public Opinion, pg. 70 - 28 -
  29. 29. Iulia Bîlbîe 6. Religious freedom and freedom of speech On November 14, 2001, President Bush announced that captured terrorists will be judged in secret processes, in secret locations. At news, a report talked about this executive decision. The reporter said that it was a controversial law, because the locations where the processes would take place were not on America’s territory. (“Instead, remote locations such as air craft carriers and military basses will be used for such trials”). In the case of such a process, all the constitutional American rights, and even globally admitted man’s rights will be ignored. Between September – November 2001, around 12000 people had been arrested in America, on reasons of suspicion of cooperation with terrorists. Many were taken to a military base from Guantamo Bay, an island near Cuba. Their names and personal data were not made public, nobody knows about them, who they are. They did not have a lawyer and not even a meeting with a judge. When questions and criticism began to show up, Attorney General-John Ashcroft declared in front of Senate Judiciary Committee, on December 6, 2001: “To those who are trying to scare the peace lovers with phantoms of lost liberty, I say only this: your tactics help terrorists because they erode our national unity. They give ammunition to America’s enemies”. But, what is interesting to notice is that these laws adopted after the tragedy from September 11,2001 do not give any definition to what is meant when talking about “terrorists”. This thing is done on purpose, to create the possibility that the meaning of this term can be extended, so that is includes every person who, through her/his mentality and way of living,does not fit any more in the standards and values imposed through the “global education” who makes people easier to control. In the close future, “terrorists” could be those who are for life and not abortion, those who say that not all the religious lead to the same direction (missionaries could be accused of intolerant proselytism), all those who will not let themselves intimidated by the dangerous propaganda of homosexuals and who will say that this life style is immoral and destructive. - 29 -
  30. 30. Manipulation through Mass Media Already, in mass-media is being used the idea that all those people who say “My God is better than yours” are dangerous, and, as a consequence are capable of religious fanatics and terrorism. Congressman Ron Paul, in a short speech on Nov 29, 2001 in front of members from House of Representatives, declared: “Almost all the new laws have to do rather with American citizens that with potential foreign terrorists. For instance, the definition of “terrorism”, for federal purposes has been widened. Now, somebody can be considered terrorist if he/she belongs to a pro-life association. Legal protests against the government could bring dozens of thousands of Americans under federal surveillance.”1 The terrorist act from New-York, September 11, is an ideal pretext for limitating and finally eliminating the freedom of word, and also for the unification of all the religions in a global one, lead by a global inquisition under the fake motivation of tolerance. Those who run his operations from shadow want create the impression that American politicians do all this thing for America’s good. The military actions are perceived by the Europeans and the population from the Middle East as being “American politics”. In fact, it’s the globalist policy. The American army is used by those who control this game in order to achieve their goals. In every operation, the script was the same. In Afghanistan, it started the fight and then the control was taken by generals and activists named by UNO. The agreement from November 28,2001 mentions the authority of U.N.O. troops in Afghanistan. Even the American soldiers were placed under its authority, with Bush’s permission. In Iraq – the same. The Americans go for it, suffer the most losses, and then, U.N.O. introduce a “peace-keeping force” formed by soldiers from many countries, who, after all, are taken there without knowing what they fight for. • 1 - 30 -
  31. 31. Iulia Bîlbîe In 2004, during the negotiations for choosing Iroquoian government, which was supposed to replace Hussein’s regime, Bush asked the American Congress to Approve a budget of 600 millions $ for financing the troops called Global Peace Operation Initiative (GPOI), formed from 75,000 soldiers mainly from the Third World. The 600 millions $ come from the tax payers’ money. The American people sustain the expenses for a foreign army lead by UNO. In the context o such drastic laws, told to be against terrorism, the Americans are the first who have to loose. Congressman Ron Paul was right in his speech from November 29, 2001. Bush and the other members of his cabinet do not act in America’s interests at all. The interest comes from those who control the American and European politics, if follows to use the American’s army to hurry establishing a police state, from which everybody will have only to loose. The American’s army is the strongest at the moment, so they are the first who can carry the wars of the Elite which leads. And again, here comes the media’s role: through diverting the public opinion’s attention against the American people are distracted from seeing wholly the global slavery plan, the big picture. They fail to see the elitist who are the real responsible ones. 6.1 American International Court The edition from February-March 2002, in the “Policy Reviews”, Abraham Soafer and Paul Williams (politics annalists) made the affirmation that the courts for judging the terrorists, can and have to be stated through “U.N.O.’s Security Council’s Resolution”. In 2002 was ratified the treaty concerning the foundation of the International Criminal Court. There had to be 60 states to agree with it so that it can be ratified. Before September 11, 2001, twelve countries refuse to do it, but after few months in 2002, the member was completed. The International Court is in fact an international Inquisition. “Crimes against humanity” can be every negative remarks about abortion, homosexual practices and so on. In - 31 -
  32. 32. Manipulation through Mass Media America and West Europe there is a burning intolerance (which was educated in time by media, through movies and denaturized news presentation) against those who disagree with the homosexual propaganda. The public attorney will be able to ask the removal or prosecuting of the priests who refuse to officiate the wedding ceremony between gays. 6.2. Controlling the Internet and email On November 21, 2001, the FBI announced officially that it has a new programme for cyber- espionage called “The Magic Lantern”1 . This program can be downloaded on a computer during the internet navigation, without the user of the computer even realizes that. Once installed, it sends information about passwords, about all the files, including about those deleted. It can also control the email. Once finished the control over the Internet, they will succeed in eliminating the last way of free communication and unlimited access to information. These are some things we should consider seriously. We should also know that mass media propagated the idea that all these are paranoiac theories about conspiracies. After all, a lot of historical events happened because of conspiracies: Napoleon was removed and sent to Elba due to a conspiracy, Michael the Brave was assassinated due to a conspiracy. Jesus Christ was captured and sent to the death due to a conspiracy. One important thing to know is that a lot of people have the impression that, if there is a conspiracy it is a Jewish one. This is absolutely false, because the majority of those involved in the structures with global control are not Jewish. In fact, this is used by globalist thinkers to accuse of 1 • - 32 -
  33. 33. Iulia Bîlbîe anti-Semitism all the people who draw the attention towards their did. This is not to be believed. It is an international conspiracy which includes people from many nations. This is the grim reality, reality of which most of the people are not aware, have not the smallest due about the world they live in. And why is all this possible? What is the “watchdog” doing meanwhile? Sleeping? Absolutely not! It is busy with distracting the public opinion attention from this, presenting and creating “bomb events” from nothing, or worse, educating the spirit of mass-media cosumers, aligning them to the standard dictated by the powerful ones, so that hey have no reaction to the weird things happening around us. - 33 -
  34. 34. Manipulation through Mass Media 7. The Press’ claimed ethics Like all the important fields of activity that deal with people, the media has its principles, its ethics. When paying attention to someone making the press’ apology and exposing its fair principles you can do nothing else but approving and appreciating it, because everything seems so clear and honestly right that no doubts are allowed any more about the subject. For instance, Miruna Runcan in their work, “Introduction in the press’ ethics and legislation” says that the mission of the journalist is “to tell the truth, not a theoretic truth or a prophetic one, but the truth he found out, in the proportion he found out and in the proportion he can interpret it so that it becomes understandable for its addressee.” The logics of the argument is right, no on will accuse that very journalist tries deliberately to have a negative influence upon the public, but specifically this freedom of interpreting the facts makes, often, the individual journalists (whether they realize it or not) the instruments in the whole system of the manipulating media. This interpretation, whose role is to make the whole the message “understandable for its addressee”, most of the time perverts the meaning, the comments deform the perception of the reader/viewer, because the news presented will always suffer the influence of the personal style of the person who took the news, processed it and transmitted it. A more objective presentation, less influenced, could be showing the images without any commentary. Obviously, in this case too may be suspicions, because a truncated presentation of reality, of sequences of an event may also represent a manipulative material. A relevant opinion about this aspect we could find at Radu Cosaşu, in “Dilemma”. “Daily, at every 30 minutes, on Euronews, the few minutes rubric at the end, before the weather presentation, <<No comment.>>. Actual images suited in the concisely and precisely, with a silent and intelligent eye, which knows to lock straight into the eyes of the other…without having the illusion of objectivity, deeply convinced that nowadays everything is manipulation of misinforming, - 34 -
  35. 35. Iulia Bîlbîe still, you understand what can be understood,without being pushed.It’s enourmos![..]this quasi- order:<<No comment!>>” - 35 -
  36. 36. Manipulation through Mass Media 8. Conclusion After such a presentation of our reality and our means of being informed about it, the general impression can not be too optimistic. Our world is lead by interests that have nothing to do with the wellness of the individuals, and by all means they try to use the masses for their purposes, or just try to turn them into simple supers in the huge show of life. What is left to be done in such a situation? Will we accept it as a gray destiny which we can not stand up? Will we resign and conform? No! There is a solution. And Henri-Pierre Cathala gives us the hint: “the most efficient and, seemingly, the only weapon against misinforming ( and so, against manipulation1) is, and will always be, the free and active consciousness of every one of us.2 1 Author’s note 2 Henri –Pierre Cathala – The Misinforming Era, the backside presentation - 36 -