Congressman James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the third-ranking House Democrat, accused certain members of the U.S. media of spreading "manufactured controversies" that pose dangers similar to the propaganda spread by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Rep. Clyburn made the remarks on Wednesday as Tim Farley’s guest on Sirius XM’s “The Morning Briefing" program on the POTUS channel. He appeared to discuss the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech.”
Clyburn accused the modern Internet-based media of misrepresenting the statements of people in order to hurt their reputations.
"You have people's words and phrases being misrepresented and looped through the news media and thrown out there on the Internet, and people run with it because these things start getting reported in the mainstream media, and before you know it, people believe that stuff," Clyburn said.
Clyburn said, "these things should not be taken lightly because the consequences of this right-wing propaganda can be very damaging."
“The people of Germany believed Hitler’s foolishness that led to the Holocaust. They believed that stuff,” Clyburn said. “People will tend to believe what they hear through the media. “People tend to act now and ask questions later,” Clyburn added.
Extreme Right Wing Bloggers
Citing a couple examples, the Congressman singled out “extreme right-wing” bloggers in particular for criticism. He accused such bloggers of forcing Shirley Sherrod to resign from the Department of Agriculture after misrepresenting statements she made to make her appear racially biased. He also said they had libeled the progressive group ACORN, leading to the group’s disbandment.
“The media has not been discerning enough, in my opinion, to say to people, ‘This ain’t news. This is foolishness.”
Congressman Clyburn’s remarks will likely ruffle a lot of feathers. He is certainly going to be the subject of attacks by the very right-wing bloggers he was speaking about. His comments will mist assuredly be taken out of context.
He is correct, however, except that he needs to include some of the so-called main stream media like Fox News, and from time to time, the Wall Street Journal and even some News commentators like CNN’s Erin Burnett who slant their coverage to the right.
Anti-Semitic Political Narrative
Going back to the days of Richard M. Nixon, Republican political strategists have adopted a narrative, and have employed all the proven tactics of Madison Avenue to sell that narrative. Madison Avenue adopted the same propaganda techniques used by the Nazis and the Soviets because they were successful. They used the same techniques to sell cigarettes and soap that Hitler’s propagandists did to sell his political anti-Semitic agenda.
Republicans adopted those techniques when they created the Silent Majority, the Moral Majority, family values, and free market campaigns. These narratives elected Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush presidents. Republicans everywhere stick to carefully crafted talking points so the message is consistent and hammered home by Republican politicians everywhere.
The main stream media has some responsibility for this as well. Reporters almost never challenge the ridiculous statements politicians make. For instance, as recently as yesterday, Republican Congressmen are still telling town halls that there are death panels in Obamacare. They say, untruthfully, that the Affordable Care Act will require government pre-approval before a patient can get treatment by their doctor. Reporters never confront the politician on those blatant lies, and if they do, it never put on the air.
A Democracy depends on an informed population to succeed. Misinformation is the enemy of democracy. The role of the media is to put out truthful information and knock down misinformation and blatant lies. For the most part, the media allows political propaganda to go unchallenged so it becomes “truth.”
The Soviets and the Nazis censored the press. In this country, the press is free, but it is shirking its responsibility to confront political lies whether they come from the left or the right. Rep. Clyburn is correct, but he did not go far enough.