We Are All Propagandists Now | Talking Points Memo

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. 

The U.S. is in an information war with itself. The public sphere, where Americans discuss public issues, is broken. There’s little discussion – and lots of fighting.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=1381729

Bothsiderism to say Dem’s are propagandists. The GQP have every single one of those slots filled.

The Big Lie? GQP
AntiVax? GQP
1/6 Tourists? GQP
Hillary’s Pizza Dungeon? GQP


The growing trend:

“Democrats say it’s raining; Republicans claim it’s sunny outside.”

(Carefully avoids looking out window only two feet away)

“I guess we’re not going to settle this controversy any time soon. Now, here’s Ted with sports…”


“Don’t modulate the key then not debate with me!” - Hamilton


I always heard it as “to” (as in in order to) rather than “then”. If only iTunes purchases came with little booklets showing the actual lyrics.

But it is one of my favorite lines either way

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“There are not two sides to every argument when one side is a load of crap”, Bill Maher. I think the media’s decision to treat all information as equal when much of it is a load of crap, has left Americans not knowing what to believe. If anything good has come out of Trump, it is the the mainstream media has finally been force to declare a big lie as a big lie. Yet the media has yet to declare those who continue to espouse the big lie as big liars,which is what they are.

That is the real problem causing everything to be propaganda is the total failure, in fact refusal, by the mainstream news media to tell the truth, thinking it either two complicated, to harmful, unpatriotic, to partisan, goes against the media’s longstanding narrative or against the media’s own interests like admitting to a mistake and and replacing real reporting with bothsideism where by all things uttered by a member of a political party are presented as being of equal truth.

I mean Al Gore did win the 2000 election, race is still the biggest issue in American politics and “values” in front of the word voter has always been code for race, the media including the New York Times did lie America into a disastrous war, furthermore when Bush invaded Iraq he also lost the war in Afghanistan, America’s current Supreme Court is Republican and not conservative, the Democratic Party is far tougher on Russia then is the Republicans as evidenced not just from Trump but from Bush seeing into Putin’s soul versus Russia suffering the biggest defeat in its history on Obama’s watch by losing the Ukraine which Putin blamed on Obama and is why Russia interfered in elections for Trump, just off the top of my head.

The decision of the media which long ago put bothsideism over objective journalism caused said media to totally fail its responsibility to provide a factual basis or be the factual referee in debates has left most Americans not having any idea what or whom to believe.

One of the great examples of this was Romney/Obama’s first debate. Obama sure enough looked asleep but got all his facts right, Romney on the other had told so many lies that his own campaign the next day had to come out with 6 retractions. In my debate days if you got caught in one lie, you lost. Yet the media refusing to comment on the facts declared Romney the big winner because of style. We saw it again in the VP debate between Harris and Pence whereby Pence ignored every question instead going into a canned campaign speech which the media called “normal”.

The refusal of the media to hold anyone to facts and answering questions and instead giving style points and treating everything a politician says regardless of its factual value as being equal has left Americans not knowing what to believe and has made all information propaganda.


I wish the article had addressed an important aspect of the manufacture of dissent in today’s world: it can be easily fomented by foreign bad actors (think Russia).


Also the “middle ground fallacy” wherein
Group A: 2+2=4!
Group B: 2+2=5!
Midde ground “bipartisan solution”: 2+2=4.5


Divide and conquer.


Dang! I think its time to dig out my copy of Michael Parenti’s Democracy for the Few and gloat that I was paranoid about the state of the Republic before it was cool!


OK Russia is bad but China, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia are worse.


About 10 or 15 years ago, I started calling it Manufacturing Resent.

I mean, it’s not just disagreement and dissent that Fox News, and right-wing propagandists in general, have been peddling. Fox News pushes hatred, rage, and resent.

For the past two decades, at least, Fox and other right-wing propagandists have been fostering violence and insurrection.

I would argue dissent is far too mild a term for what the right is attempting to manufacture.


Or gender, or sexual preference, or …

More generally, “values” has been a code word: for revanchism, for xenophobia, for hatred of “others,” for a style of politics based on using law and policy to exact revenge - for whatever reason, against whomever “value” voters hate, updated daily.


My worry is that, as in the 1850s, we are in the prodrome of a real, violent civil war.


Actual journalism would mean that in this “controversy” the reporter(s) would determine the truth or falsity of the claim “it’s raining/sunny” and then determine why one party is lying.

hint:“There are folks who will piss on you and tell you it’s raining.”

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" we are all propagandists now…"

No, we’re not…


Not so very long ago there was a very fine gander. He was strong and smooth and beautiful and he spent most of his time singing to his wife and children. One day somebody who saw him strutting up and down in his yard and singing remarked, „There is a very proper gander.“ An old hen overheard this and told her husband about it that night in the roost. „They said something about propaganda,“ she said. „I have always suspected that,“ said the rooster, and he went around the barnyard next day telling everybody that the very fine gander was a dangerous bird, more than likely a hawk in gander’s clothing. A small brown hen remembered a time when at a great distance she had seen the gander talking with some hawks in the forest. „They were up to no good,“ she said. A duck remembered that the gander had once told him he did not believe in anything. „He said to hell with the flag, too,“ said the duck. A guinea hen recalled that she had once seen somebody who looked very much like the gander throw something that looked a great deal like a bomb. Finally everybody snatched up sticks and stones and descended on the gander’s house. He was strutting in his front yard, singing to his children and his wife. „There he is!“ everybody cried. „Hawk-lover! Unbeliever! Flag-hater! Bomb-thrower!“ So they set upon him and drove him out of the country.

Moral: Anybody who you or your wife thinks is going to overthrow the government by violence must be driven out of the country.

-James Thurber, Fables for Our Time

I thought this article was really intriguing. Especially the observation that social media teaches us to farm outrage at the same time that it incentivizes engagement.

The more “sweet internet points” you’ve got, the more of the devil’s work you’ve done. An interesting notion.


Thank you, Josh-really appreciate your breakdown of this. It’s indescribably satisfying when someone is able to point out so clearly “what the deal is.” I think you nailed it.

P.S. I almost skipped reading it because the title sounded like a scold, and I wasn’t in the mood for that :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’m glad to have read this article hear. What I’d really like to see is Merceica telling this to a news reporter on every major network night after night.