Monday, June 25, 2012

Fourteen propaganda techniques used by Fox News.

Courtesy of Truthout:  

Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin's ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere's ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world's largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn't real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn't born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge? 

The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it. 

1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. (Always be afraid, terrified people never think clearly.)

2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. (I was personally subjected to this back in 2009, after my Splitsville story, when Bill O'Reilly essentially called me a pervert and child molester on the air.)

3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you're using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. (Now WHO is famous for this tactic?)

4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin's mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. (This also includes the tactic of convincing Americans that this is a "Christian nation" as if every other belief, or lack thereof, invalidates that individual as citizen of this country.)

5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It's technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. 

6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I'd call a "meta-frame" (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. (A favorite tactic of the NRA and its supporters. If you ever notice Fox reports more incidences of home invasions, or violent attacks, than any other news outlet. And it is also no coincidence that many of their advertisers offer identity theft protection, alarm systems, and investment opportunities in gold, for when  the economy collapses of course.)

7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. (Bill O'Reilly has made this into an art form.)

8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. (Easy to do when your audience is made up of older Americans not apt to run to Goggle in order to check your "facts.")

9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of "the people" and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always "elitist" or a "bureaucrat" or a "government insider" or some other category that is not the people. (Smart people are unethical, government is corrupt, and ethnic groups are just trying to live off of the tax dollars of white people.)

10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and "real Americans" (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. (Sort of self explanatory I believe.)

11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. "Saddam has WMD." Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. (Have you ever noticed that when one segment of Fox News reports a story, ALL of the shows report that same story? Think about this ongoing "Fast and Furious" bullshit. It is literally reported 24 hours a day, on an endless loop, until THEIR version of the truth about it is embedded in the viewer's mind.)

12. Disparaging Education. There is an emerging and disturbing lack of reverence for education and intellectualism in many mainstream media discourses. In fact, in some circles (e.g. Fox), higher education is often disparaged as elitist. (In the world of Fox News the individual who is the most knowledgeable on a given topic, is the least believable on that very same topic.)

13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. (Andrew Breitbart did this by associating Joe McGinniss with me after the discovery of an e-mail between the two of us.)

14. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes, the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction to avoid accountability.

The article I used for this post is about a year old (That is why there are references to Palin's Paul Revere revisionism, Glenn Beck who longer works at Fox, and Andrew Breitbart who is now deceased.), however the tactics have not changed one little bit and in the run up to this next election you can bet they will be cranked up to an insane level in an attempt to defeat our President and allow Fox to place yet another of their puppets into the White House.

Even if you don't watch Fox News their propaganda will still affect you as it is picked up by CNN and other supposedly reputable news organizations. However being forewarned is being forearmed.


  1. Anonymous6:43 AM

    Waiting as patiently as I can for the Trig article...

    1. Anonymous7:50 AM

      Ditto, but I don't want to annoy uncle Gryph so I'm just enjoying his ruffle-free posts until then.

  2. the most important point that no one in the MSM will ever admit to is that ALL of the MSM ,the tv networks, the newspapers(ny times, wash. post etc,etc) the entire 24 hour hate talk radio, the magazines, the cable channels..ALL COMMERCIAL MEDIA...SUPPORT FOX NEWS AND THEIR METHODS.

    WHY? because they are all corporate entities for profit that dont give a rats ass about the people or the truth.

    thats why you get overt racism and all the other methods described.

    dont ever be fooled for a second thinking the rest of the corporate elite dont approve of fox network and their methods.


    1. Anonymous9:22 AM

      Hello, that would be #3 - projection, right? Because NPR and a few others simply do not engage in the type of crap FAUX does.

    2. Anonymous9:34 AM

      You are right. The MSM lets anybody on TV state anything they want without or with very little challenge to the facts. It makes me sick every time I see it.

    3. Ya know why Faux Gnus isn't in Canada?

      They have laws against broadcasting lies.

  3. Anonymous7:07 AM

    Excellent post. People need to be aware of this.

    Sad thing is, some journalism and social science courses teach how to identify propaganda, but I wish everyone were taught this in high school. An informed public is a public forewarned about how some might try to manipulate them.

    Viewers of Fox News are victims of manipulation.

    1. Anonymous9:23 AM

      It's called logic and critical thinking, which quite sadly is not taught in high school. Most students have to wait until they get to college to encounter a philosophy course, which is the discipline of which logic is a branch (under epistemology.)

    2. Gasman10:09 PM

      FauxNews viewers are also morons. THAT has much to do with their slobbering fealty to the fetid and festering diet of bullshit that they hungrily gobble down during every waking hour.

  4. Did you know that the Vatican just hired someone from Fox to do damage control?

    1. Anonymous9:08 AM

      That's why the phrase 'Ein Glauben' or 'One Faith' should be added to the poster.

    2. Anita Winecooler6:50 PM

      Yeah, he's part of Opus Dei and sounds like the right man for the job. Guess Rick "don't google me" Santorum passed up the job, how sad!

      here's a link to NPR's blog post about the coup.

      Surprise, Surprise!!

  5. This is a very helpful article. Propaganda permeates Fox News but, sadly, it seems all our media has taken to using some of the techniques some of the time. In a way, the article is an example of #3 Projection/Flipping as Truthout blatantly used character assassination and faulty logic to attack Joe McGinniss and his Palin book.

  6. Anonymous7:46 AM

    That's interesting Jane but not at all surprising, at the risk of offending catholics here I must say the church pioneered the use of these 14 techniques.

  7. Anonymous8:05 AM

    Did anyone ever figure out how Fox got their hands on the email between you and McGinniss? Are we looking at another case of Fox hacking into private accounts?

  8. O/T:

    Fellow Inmates Reportedly Sang “Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone” To Jerry Sandusky

    1. Anita Winecooler7:20 PM

      What a nice gesture on their part! I'm so glad they learned to sing a Capella, and serenading their new arrival must have made him feel so welcomed.

  9. Anonymous8:51 AM

    This article is spot in. These are also tactics of abusers and highly manipulative to pathalogical personalities.

    One example of Palin's mastery of these tactics was diversion, enemy positioning, implied nut case, bad guy drama taking a complaint of tour bus traffic in a family neighborhood into the person concerned is against an innocent child having a lemonade stand anti children.
    People are prey for the vultures manipulating their emotions while feeding them lies.

    1. CorningNY2:07 PM beat me to saying that! These are the same tactics my fiance's sociopath ex-wife is using to keep their son away from him and smear his character. Only instead of "disparaging education," she throws around the phrase "in [our son's] best interest" to justify her withholding him.

    2. Gasman10:13 PM

      Except there has NEVER been anything masterful about anything that Palin has done. She is a bumbling oaf who possesses all of the rhetorical acumen of a flatulent, vomiting drunk.

  10. Randall8:55 AM

    How long has it been since anyone has read George Orwell's dystopian tour-de-force, "1984"?

    1. Read it? Hell I've been LIVING IT the last twelve years!

    2. Anonymous10:11 AM

      I still have my worn out copy and I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale again.

    3. Anonymous2:36 PM

      Yes and Yes... I have read and re-read these and other dystopian visions, and am grateful to Gryphen's posts relating to Change, the One Constant in the Universe.

      Though we may crave Balance, it is but momentary and it is Change which propels us on, for better or worse.

      Don't believe me? Think of the pendulum of a Grandfather Clock...


  11. Randall9:01 AM

    A good friend of mine's son is back from 20 years as a Marine, several tours of active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Marine listens to Fox News all day long.

    Out of respect for his sacrifice I say nothing - but it makes me so sad to listen to his twisted, ill-informed views.

    Propaganda rots the mind - that's why they instituted the Fairness Doctrine after WWII.

    But the only way conservativism makes any sense at all is to exclude any contrary facts and keep hammering the same message over and over
    ...and that's why Ronald Reagan got rid of the Fairness Doctrine in the 80's.

    1. hedgewytch9:28 AM

      I find the fact that the military broadcasts FOX news 24/7 to the troops very disturbing. They are already under major stress. For them to listen to this propaganda, that does nothing but induce more stress, is just brain washing them. They come home and then they're "reality" is even more so out of whack with the rest of the citizens "reality" making PTSD even more prevalent.

    2. Anonymous9:33 AM

      out of respect for his service - the truth needs to be gently, lovingly exposed
      and blind manipulation,proganda, etc revealed for what it truly is...
      not easy, and not even harder when trying to do it without creating tension and arguments -- but a little logic, facts, and gentle conversation with respect and sharing ideas that can be agreed on can in time lead a sane, intelligent person back to reality (at least sometimes)

    3. Anonymous2:51 PM

      Many in the military are brainwashed right wing tools.

  12. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Yes, this is what FOX news excells at. These are the same tactics that ALL corporate new medias employ to a certain degree. Most notable on the internets is Huffington Post. The notable thing about the Post is that they spread free about EVERYTHING happening in the world.

  13. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Respect =/= acceptance. You can respectfully disagree. Frankly, you would be doing him a favor, since one thing he supposedly fought for was freedom, not propaganda.

  14. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism documentary film.

  15. Anonymous9:38 AM

    O/T. Snarky comment on Brancy's use of TR quote.

  16. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Orwell Rolls in his Grave

  17. Anonymous9:54 AM

    O/T, here is a petition to sign regarding hateful political propaganda against Gays on Alabama Public Television, and two senior employees who were fired for protesting:

    Grandma Nancy

  18. Anonymous1:21 PM

    And MSNBC

    1. Gasman10:18 PM

      And the dumbass chimes in with FauxNews propaganda technique #3. Got any demonstrable, verifiable evidence to back up your bullshit claim?

  19. Anonymous4:52 PM

    What makes these contemptuous maneuvers by the Right so interesting is that currently there actually is an exhibition at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Wash. DC called State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. As the saying goes, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. (Not saying we're in that bad of a situation here, but the techniques sure do raise the eyebrows, don't they?)
    M from MD

  20. Anonymous5:20 PM

    I thought I'd find several postings here, like: "Oh yeah? Well, its okay that Fox channel airs lies and distortions all the time, because MSNBC shows some stuff now and then, that isn't kind at all to people like Mitt Romney!"

    However, as it shows in this absolutely excellent article, the Fox dittoheads will most likely not read it, so won't even try to argue against any of it.

    As someone who just hates it when I'm caught having been conned into believing the distorted version of the truth, I took the article's mention of how being educated about the tactics of propaganda, can mean being less susceptible to it, very the point of trying to MEMORIZE those 14 points, and their descriptions.

  21. Anita Winecooler7:49 PM

    All media uses some of these tactics to a certain extent. What's important is that Fox uses all of them repeatedly, 24/7 with lies and obfuscations passed on as the truth. CNN is slowly working it's way up to a close second on these tactics.
    The problem is the vulnerability of the viewers. When I see or hear something that seems "off", I try my best to research and find the facts. But I don't see that in the people who watch Fox News, I see blind acceptance as fact, and if they saw it on tee vee, it must be true, and no one can convince them otherwise.
    I can trust most of what's presented on MSNBC, but even with them, I find myself questioning their motives and sources. Current T V is becoming a pretty decent competition in the cable news arena.


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