Attack of the right-wing nuts - Page 3

ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: The manipulations and media machine behind the assault on progressive ideas
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Glenn Beck

Occupying other seats at News Corp.'s board table is an assortment of professors, attorneys, public-relations experts, and businessmen with their fingers in a variety of banks and multinational corporations. Among the more familiar names are Phillip Morris, Ford Motor Co., Hewlett Packard, Goldman Sachs, HSBC North America, and JP Morgan Chase. Lesser known are the investment banking firms that have stakes in the petroleum industry, utilities, mining companies, and real estate.

While the connections between corporate interests and the country's leading conservative propagandist are extensive and obvious, there's a stark contrast between the message delivered by Fox News and the interests of its parent company.

Fox News plays up the theme of patriotism and reinforces the idea that there is a distinction between "real Americans" and outsiders. But Fox's board is made up of members whose lives and economic interests are scattered across the globe, but have one common thread: they all control extraordinary sums of concentrated wealth.

 

PROPAGANDA AND EMOTIONS

While Dunn called Fox News Channel an arm of the Republican Party, others have gone so far as to label its content pure propaganda — and incredibly effective propaganda at that.

"This is very, very sophisticated propaganda," says Bryant Welch, a clinical psychologist, author, and expert on political manipulation. "I don't think progressives really get it that it's a technique being used all the time."

Welch said when he began working as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist on behalf of the American Psychological Association years ago, he started observing the tricky political maneuverings at play in the nation's capital through the eyes of a psychotherapist who had spent some 30,000 hours helping patients confront their deep-seated hang-ups.

To his surprise, Welch found that some of the most successful right-wing political operatives also seemed to have an understanding of psychology — although they use the knowledge very differently. "A lot of it is psychological manipulation," Welch asserts.

George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley and author of Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, offered a similar analysis. He said Republicans approach issues as a marketing challenge. "They've learned from the cognitive scientists. Even if they don't understand the science, they know how to do marketing."

Welch, who is also an attorney and Huffington Post blogger, provides an analysis of how the right wing gets its message across in his book, State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind. He argues that public relations professionals, right-wing commentators, and others in the business of shaping public opinion are skilled at tapping into widespread feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

"In this world, things are confusing," he explains. "You've got to be constantly adapting and assimiutf8g new information. When times get confusing, people have a hard time forming a sense of what's real."

Right-wing television and radio personalities like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh prey on this widespread uncertainty, Welch argues, by providing viewers and listeners with an absolute version of reality that is easily grasped, neatly divided into right and wrong, and spelled out in very certain terms.

"The thing that Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity do is, they sound very powerful, certain, and aggressive," Welch told us. "[Viewers] identify with that strength. They draw a sense of security from someone who has certainty about what is real."

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