My personal gauge for the effectiveness of the Obama propaganda system

I have my own personal gauge of how well the Obama propaganda system is working. It consists of my social circle, almost all of whom are strong Obama supporters. They read newspapers, watch a lot of CNN and MSNBC, and despise Fox News. They see themselves as well-informed about current events and politics. So whenever there is an occasion when many of them are gathered together, I usually raise a current topic to see what their reaction is.

Last evening was one such occasion. I asked what they thought of the Snowden whistleblowing and the reactions suggested that the Obama propaganda system is working well, unfortunately. They said (and I paraphrase) that the government has no choice but to do all these things to protect us in the war on terror, that what the government did was legal because they got FISA court approval, and that they had informed Congress. These words could have come straight out of the mouth of Dick Cheney, someone whom they think of as the devil incarnate.

Of course, as anyone who followed the news beyond a superficial level knows, the Bush and Obama regimes have made a mockery of these safeguards with their ‘secret’ interpretations of laws and their selective release of information. But when I pointed this out, they accused me of living in an ideal world where people and nations obeyed the laws and the constitution and international treaties, whereas they were hardened realists. It was quite extraordinary how they were willing to casually ditch the Bill of Rights in their defense of Obama’s lawlessness.

The most revealing part was when they played the “Who does a young punk like Snowden think he is, to take it upon himself to reveal government secrets?” card. They said that he should have gone through the proper channels with his concerns. When I told them that that was precisely what senior NSA analysts like people like Thomas Drake and William Binney and others had tried to do and had been hounded for their efforts, and that Snowden had seen what had happened to them before taking his action, they said that they had never even heard of these people.

That is the key to the success of the propaganda system, in consigning unpleasant information that goes against the official narrative to purgatory, like the way that the BBC interviewer of Noam Chomsky had heard of Watergate but not of COINTELPRO.

So the Obama propaganda system is working well in keeping his people within his camp, just like the Republican propaganda system of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is successful with theirs.

Perhaps we should start to call the Obama supporters dittoheads too.


  1. says

    Holy hell. I personally can’t comprehend anyone being a strong Obama supporter, although they clearly exist. The best that can be said about him is that he hasn’t been the unmitigated catastrophe a Republican president would have been.

  2. Corvus illustris says

    Wow. I assume that the academic biz is as socially incestuous as it was when I retired from it, so that the sample was drawn from that population. This says a lot for our world of independent thought. Of course, if my assumption is wrong then you are to be congratulated on your escape from the ivory tower.

    … when many of them are gathered together …

    I note that the devil is still quoting scripture for his own purposes … 😎

  3. says

    Carter was right – the US no longer has a functioning democracy. In fairness, though, we shouldn’t victim-blame the people: they have been disempowered, lied to, manipulated, gerrymandered, divided and conquered and fleeced by professionals.

  4. Mano Singham says

    This group did not contain any academics. They were mostly professionals in the medical fields, physicians mostly.

  5. Corvus illutstris says

    (Again, congrats.) I wonder whether you have noticed a general tendency in this group to take “authoritative” pronouncements at face value. This is a trait that (anecdotally–I have no statistics) I found striking in med-school faculty, pre-med undergrads, and the professional friends of an MD relative*. It would skew your sample’s attitude toward Obama, not to mention Snowden. Of course you have to credit their not knowing about other whistle-blowers to our non-conspiratorial censorship system.

    *whom I would silently compare to my own loaded sample: tell a math person something and s/he’ll immediately start looking for a counterexample.

  6. Corvus illustris says

    IIRC Carter made this observation because Snowden had made the character of the surveillance state too obvious to ignore. But the observation about democracy was being made much earlier, e.g., in the collected works of Gore Vidal. 😎

  7. Mano Singham says

    That’s an interesting point about math people that jives with my own experience and that also applies somewhat to theoretical physicists.

  8. MNb says

    “Perhaps we should start to call the Obama supporters dittoheads too.”
    Leftwing Dutchies like me have suspected this regarding Democrats in general since Carter lost the elections in 1981, in my eyes the last American president with moral integrity.

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