I’m getting tired of the media noting things like that the majority of Americans think Obama raised their taxes (instead of what he really did, which was cut them) and then concluding that it is Obama’s fault because he hasn’t been very good at messaging. Isn’t it the media’s job to report news like this?
Not only are the media blaming Obama for something that is their own fault, but they are choosing to ignore the fact that Obama has been the subject of a relentless and well funded right-wing propaganda campaign to discredit everything he does.
Conservative Andrew Sullivan has an excellent example of just one of the “Big Lie” propaganda campaigns being waged against our president. In Sullivan’s example, Jonah Goldberg takes one sentence from a statement by Obama out of context, reverses its meaning, and claims that Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism. Even though if you read the full quote, he clearly believes in American exceptionalism and actively defends and promotes it.
Never mind that your average Tea Party member probably can’t even tell you what American exceptionalism is, but I guess if Obama doesn’t believe in it then he must be anti-American.
Forbes magazine then publishes an unabashed hit piece on Obama, and in it they repeat the lie, claiming that Obama himself said he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. Forbes then takes an interesting step, and doubles down on the lie in a separate article, stating “Obama may be the first U.S. president to lack faith in our special history, our special spirit and our special mission in the world.”
Then The Washington Times repeats the same lie, taking it one step further by (unfavorably) comparing Obama to (the sainted) Reagan.
The list grows longer, all taking the same exact sentence out of context. The National Review repeats the lie again. The Washington Examiner repeats the lie verbatim. Then conservative Charles Krauthammer “Blasts Obama for Rejecting American Exceptionalism“.
What’s especially remarkable about this hackery – and there are numerous other examples – is that these conservative authors don’t just egregiously misrepresent the president’s actual position. It’s that all of them actually cite, as evidence, an out of context line from the very speech that proves their analysis is wrong.
How can you fight an intense propaganda campaign like this? You can’t. If you try to deny the lie, it just keeps it in the public mind and makes even more people believe it. And besides, if that smear doesn’t work, then they will just come up with another smear and repeat it, and another one, ad nauseum …
For example, take conservatives who scream about out-of-control government spending on social programs like Medicare. But if you actually pass reform that attempts to cut Medicare costs, then they scream about “death panels”. It doesn’t matter if there are no death panels; if you repeat propaganda often enough some people will believe it. They are still talking about death panels, even though PolitiFact rated it their “Lie of the Year“.
Here’s an even simpler and more graphic example of how this works. On Monday, Rush Limbaugh spent his entire show talking about the “Twinkie diet” where a nutrition professor, as an experiment, lost 27 pounds while still eating junk food (including Twinkies). Even in a simple case like this, Limbaugh can’t keep to reality. He says “A nutrition professor lost 27 pounds eating nothing but Twinkies.” and “All he did was eat Twinkies. When he got tired of Twinkies he went and got some Little Debbie stuff and then some other Hostess Cakes. He ate nothing but desert essentially and lost 27 pounds”.
However, if you actually read the article, the professor says that in addition to junk food, he took a multi-vitamin pill, drank a protein shake, avoided meat, drank diet sodas, and ate vegetables every day. Hardly “nothing but Twinkies”. What he was trying to demonstrate is that the kind of calories you consume is less important than the simple math of consuming less calories than you burn though physical activity.
But not only does Limbaugh get the story wrong, but he turns it into an attack on liberals and Michelle Obama:
What have I told you about diet and exercise? Exercise is irrelevant. … “How do you know all this?” One of the reasons I know what I know is that I know liberals, and I know liberals lie, and if Michelle Obama’s gonna be out there ripping into “food desserts” and saying, “This is why people are fat,” I know it’s not true. “Rush, do you really believe that? It’s that simple to you, liberals lie?” Yes, it is, folks. Once you learn that, once you come to grips with that, once you accept that, the rest is easy. Very, very simple.
Limbaugh lies about the facts, jumps to unrelated conclusions (“exercise is irrelevant”), and then attacks the first lady and tries to use his lie to prove that liberals lie.
If you still don’t believe that there are concerted efforts to influence public opinion, I have one last example. A former head of communications for a major health insurance company is releasing a book today that explains in detail “how the insurance industry relied on professional public relations firms and a wide network of news outlets and conservative think tanks to move public opinion against progressive reforms like the public option and ensure that the health law did not interfere with its profits.”
If you have enough money it is easy to buy public opinion and the media. But somehow, not getting the truth out is Obama’s fault because he has a “messaging problem”. There is no messaging problem — you are hearing exactly the message that the corporate-owned media wants you to hear.