WNPR

The Insidiousness of Propaganda

Jun 23, 2015

We usually think of propaganda as a tool used by autocrats eager to manipulate minds and limit rights we take for granted in the West. Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un or King Salman bin Abdulaziz wouldn't have a chance with us.

But Western culture is steeped in propaganda that's more insidious and less blatant.

It's no coincidence that the silence of journalists leading up to the Iraq War coincided with the rise of "fair and balanced" reporting by Fox News. We knew it was a lie. They knew it was a lie. But, in turning the ideal of fairness against itself, we came to doubt any news came without an agenda. Prominent news outlets bent over backwards to avoid the charge of bias. We were free to speak  yet -- the silence was deafening.

Our democracy is loaded with politicians, lobbyists, and commentators using coded language to persuade us to buy what they’re selling. Even well-meaning people can unwittingly produce propaganda that breeds inequality and diminishes empathy.

Jason Stanley, author of How Propaganda Workssays it's not easy to challenge ideology we've accepted as true, especially when it (unconsciously) serves our needs and coincides with the beliefs of the social group in which we most identify.

Propaganda is undermining our democracy, making us more like those countries we don't wish to be. 

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