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The Propaganda Model: Still Relevant Today?

  • Piers Robinson
Part of the Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought book series (CEPT)

Abstract

Of Noam Chomsky’s many contributions, this chapter focuses on his analysis of mainstream US news media and its role as a propagator of elite interests. Published in 1988 and written in collaboration with communications scholar Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media presented a clear-cut and uncompromising critique of the US media. In essence, their provocatively titled propaganda model argued that mainstream US media output were being driven by corporate business interests and reliance upon advertising as a source of profit, while being constrained by over-reliance upon official sources, bullying right-wing think tanks, and Cold War ideological imperatives. As a consequence, US news output presented a truncated and fundamentally distorted view of the world, and one that served the interests of US political and economic elites. Within the framework of the propaganda model, enemies of the US government were highlighted by US media as abusers of human rights, undemocratic, and belligerent, while the crimes of the US government and its allies were largely ignored. Most importantly, underlying the framing of all media reporting was the representation of the United States as inherently benign, peace-loving, and the indisputable leader of humanity. At its very worst, this misrepresentation of reality enabled wars such as Vietnam, which involved the deaths of millions of people, to be understood by the US public as a noble and dignified war in pursuit of freedom and democracy. In short, the critique of US media developed by Herman and Chomsky could not have been more fundamental and disconcerting.

Keywords

Foreign Policy News Medium Political Communication Economic Elite Persuasive Communication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Piers Robinson 2015

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  • Piers Robinson

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