No Minister

The MSM through the ages

with 13 comments

Well the 20th and 21st centuries anyway.

As usual our former National Defense Minister has proven to be a goldmine for … interesting comments… in this case about the MSM coverage of the current nastiness in Ukraine:

However, BBC (I know, part of the dreaded and corrupt MSM) has been able to find satellite photos that show the bodies have been lying in the streets for at least 10 days. BBC, NYT, CNN have huge numbers of staff able to undertake this sort of research, they have teams of journalists, not just one or two, on the ground. And unlike some on this site, I don’t think the journalists employed by these outlets are corrupt and venal dupe

And later…

I know some commenters here view TV1 as simply the propaganda arm of Labour, but I am not one of them.

Okay. While I’ve long thought that Putin was an un-reformed KGB thug (and have argued with the likes of Andrei on this point across multiple platforms over the last decade), and while I think his invasion of Ukraine is total bullshit… (throat clearing done)…. Andrei is not entirely wrong about what goes into the MSM coverage of the conflict.

Which is to say that while they’re more than happy to diss Russian propaganda, they’re a lot less likely to do this with Ukrainian propaganda.

Here’s Ye Olde Leftie Chris Trotter – a self-confessed “Tankie” , who pretty much sides with Russia and China whenever they’re against the West and especially the Great Satan, but to his credit has said that Putin has committed a crime in launching the invasion – unloading on the MSM coverage of the war here and here. But it was that last from which I’ll pull a quote:

What you are watching is a carefully constructed narrative which, in its essentials, does not change from broadcast to broadcast. We are supplied with a cast of heroes and villains to cheer on and condemn. An occasional nod in the direction of fairness and balance may be inserted, but any serious challenge to the dominant narrative will be contradicted more or less immediately. Nothing is permitted to blunt the emotional impact of the coverage. The journalism to which we are nightly subjected is not intended to supply information, it is intended to be affective – that is to say it is aimed almost exclusively at arousing our feelings.

I’ve already responded to this, pointing out the parallels that could be made to the NZ MSM’s coverage of the whole Chinese Lung Rot story for two years now – with his full approval of all the things he condemns in that paragraph. But since Chris has a habit of dumping my comments with no explanation I’ll put this here.

This is nothing new. The Narrative is what’s been taught to journalism students for decades now: the idea that even before starting to write an article, a story must be created, a narrative the reader will receive, after which anything that goes against The Narrative – facts, witness testimony, anything – gets dumped, while the same things that support The Narrative are included.

But it’s even older than that. Here’s Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff in 1979, writing about the US MSM coverage of NASA’s Mercury astronauts:

It was as if the press in America, for all its vaunted independence, were a great colonial animal, an animal made up of countless clustered organisms responding to a single nervous system. In the late 1950’s (as in the late 1970’s) the animal seemed determined that in all matters of national importance the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone should be established and should prevail; and all information that muddied the tone and weakened the feeling should simply be thrown down the memory hole.

In a later period this impulse of the animal would take the form of blazing indignation about corruption, abuses of power, and even minor ethical lapses, among public officials; here, in April of 1959, it took the form of a blazing patriotic passion for the seven test pilots who had volunteered to go into space.

In either case, the animal’s fundamental concern remained the same: the public, the populace, the citizenry, must be provided with the correct feelings! One might regard this animal as the consummate hypocritical Victorian gent. Sentiments that one scarcely gives a second thought to in one’s private utterances are nevertheless insisted upon in all public utterances. (And this grave gent lives on in excellent health).

They/Them certainly does, and in fact the training of The Narrative in journalism schools plus Post-Modernism, PC, Identity Politics, and Woke has pushed the singularity collapse further and faster. “White male power structures”, “objectivity is bullshit”, “advocacy journalism” and so forth. Insert those viruses into the Gent and we certainly have something from the Victorian era – Mr Hyde.

Later in the same chapter Wolfe gave a specific example of how this narrative control worked in a situation when facts confronted the proper emotion, in this case when one of the greatest American test pilots (and a rocket pilot), Chuck Yeager, casually screwed the MSM’s message:

As a matter of fact, today, in Phoenix, what was it the local reporters wanted to ask Chuck Yeager about? Correct: the astronauts. One of them got the bright idea of asking Yeager if he had any regrets about not being selected as an astronaut.

Yeager smiled and said: ‘No, they gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, to fly the X-1 and the X-1A, and that’s more than a man could ask for right there. They gave this new opportunity to some new fellows coming along, and that’s what they ought to do.’ ‘Besides,’ he added, ‘I’ve been a pilot all my life, and there won’t be any flying to do in Project Mercury.’

No flying?

That was all it took. The reporters looked stunned. In some way that they couldn’t comprehend immediately, Yeager was casting doubt on two indisputable facts: one, that the seven Mercury astronauts were chosen because they were the seven finest pilots in America, and two, that they would be pilots on the most daring flights in American history.

The thing was, he said, the Mercury system was completely automated. Once they put you in the capsule, that was the last you got to say about the subject.

Whuh! –

‘Well,’ said Yeager, ‘a monkey’s gonna make the first flight.’

A monkey?-

The reporters were shocked. It happened to be true that the plans called for sending up chimpanzees in both suborbital and orbital flights, identical to the flights the astronauts would make, before risking the men. But to just say it like that!…….Was this national heresy? What the hell was it?

Fortunately for Yeager, the story didn’t blow up into anything. The press, the eternal Victorian Gent, just couldn’t deal with what he had said. The wire services wouldn’t touch the remark. It ran in one of the local newspapers, and that was that.

And so it ever has been.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 8, 2022 at 6:30 am

13 Responses

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  1. The thing about the media is that the people who thrive in that industry are drawn from the ruling class and in that world you go along to get along, don’t swim against the tide

    I’m not from that class and couldn’t join the club even if I wanted to, my face don’t fit and I’ve got dirt under my finger nails

    If I point out that the BBC plays exactly same role in British life as Pravda did in Soviet one the Wayne Mapps and Veterans of this world think I’m crazy but rather than analyze such a statement and consider it on its merits using their higher thought processes shut down and more primitive parts of their brains kick in – and a kind of anger bubbles up

    If I ask a difficult question, the answer to which might challenge their structural world view I’ll get an insult in response – just about every time.

    “A lie travels half way round the world while the truth is getting its boots on” – Mark Twain

    This is key to how our masters can deceive us and manipulate us

    A famous example might be the babies thrown from incubators by the Iraqis in Kuwait fable

    I believed it when I heard it – it fitted with my prejudices at the time but later with a lot of hard work by people interested in the truth it was exposed as a complete lie. But most people who heard the tale originally probably still believe it happened and if you try and convince such a one it didn’t their eyes will gaze over as you present the evidence that it didn’t. They just don’t want to know, its more comfortable not to know and Saddam Hussein went to the gallows many years ago now as a classic example of “victors justice” so what does it matter

    There is an example of this playing out in public discourse as we speak, we have hashed this out on another post. no minds were changed – the lie has taken root – in the fullness of time the evidence of what actually happened will filter out but by them nobody will be paying attention

    It is no accident our current Prime Minister has a degree in Communication and it might be “Communication” in this context is actually “Propaganda”


    April 8, 2022 at 8:26 am

  2. Of course everything coming from Putin and the Russian media is the gods honest truth.
    They would never use propaganda.
    Silly silly me for ever doubting them.

    Old Curmudgeon

    April 8, 2022 at 9:24 am

    • No old C

      You read everything you can and listen to everyone you can

      You can listen to Biden and watch his body language
      Likewise with Vladimir Putin

      You listen to Blinken and Lavrov in the same way

      And you read every thing you can from as many sources as you can

      A lot of the reporting is actually single source reporting, particularly if its propaganda

      If you read a story quoting “source in the Pentagon” you know that story is a plant – the idea being to create an idea in the public mind that something is true which if it blows up in their faces and proves to be demostratably false doesn’t bring blowback on the person who put it out there

      Its the” plausible deniability” thing

      You have got to try and filter through the crap and most of what passes for news is crap


      April 8, 2022 at 9:56 am

  3. Good post Tom. I noted from part of Wayne’s response to a Andrei that he was not totally dismissive and believing the Western narrative. That makes at least 4 of us who have a degree of skepticism towards MSM. Back in the 70’s my father subscribed to Pravda to “see what the other side was saying”.

    The question is how to promote a fact rather than narrative based approach. I hear the West has put terrible sanctions on Russia, then the BBC reports that they are providing $1bn a day to Ukraine while paying $35bn per day to Russia for energy. The US may well have forced Putin’s hand by pretending to invite Ukraine to join Nato but that does not give Russia an excuse to invade a sovereign country. It merely recognises the reality that the US and Nato are not without fault.

    PS. Andrei – Saddam Hussein deserved everything he got at the end.

    Phil S

    April 8, 2022 at 9:37 am

    • Andrei – Saddam Hussein deserved everything he got at the end

      He was no saint and that’s for sure but who actually had the greater body count, Saddam Hussein or William Jefferson Clinton?

      Why did one end hid life on the gallows while the other charges $250,000 for a speaking fee?


      April 8, 2022 at 10:08 am

    • @Phil S… Did Russia get paid for the gas in roubles as they requested? Haven’t heard a peep about it which makes me think ‘yes’.


      April 8, 2022 at 11:59 am

  4. Andrei: the actual figures would be interesting. Saddam invaded Iran and Kuwait plus his internal atrocities. What is your Clinton list? But whatever anyone else or any other country has done, the Putin invasion of Ukraine is unconscionable and indefensible.


    April 8, 2022 at 10:31 am

    • Clinton? That’s the fellow who rocketed a milkpowder factory in Africa because ha had just been forced to admit Monica gave him a BJ?


      April 8, 2022 at 12:16 pm

  5. And with perfect timing…

    Isn’t that exactly what Wayne said of this story the other day?

    Ann Applebaum is Joe Biden is Barack Obama is John McCain is Mitt Romney is John Key is Wayne Mapp…

    Our ruling fucking class.

    Tom Hunter

    April 8, 2022 at 10:55 am

  6. Here’s another one, Tom.

    This whole ‘disinformation’ thing has morphed into a monster that needs to be put down.

    Lucia Maria

    April 8, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    • Oh I loved that one, especially the part where the young guy asks why, if the MSM are just making “mistakes”, that these only go in one direction, against the GOP?

      And of course the CNN creep called for lunch instead of trying to deal with that.

      Tom Hunter

      April 8, 2022 at 3:11 pm

      • Indeed. 😛

        Lucia Maria

        April 8, 2022 at 4:47 pm

  7. OMG

    Lucia Maria

    April 8, 2022 at 1:40 pm

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