As Chomsky and Herman wrote, “the media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them.” This propagandizing, they continued, “is normally not accomplished by crude intervention, but by the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors’ and working journalists’ internalization of priorities and definitions of newsworthiness that conform to the institution’s policy.” In other words, fill up newsrooms with like-minded people, send out the signal — and presto! — the establishment gets what it wants.
The result of this system: “The mass media of the United States are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function.”
In the centuries since, Marx’s wisdom has been pithily summed up as “Situation determines consciousness.” Or as canny bureaucrats like to say about any question, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
So now we’re starting to see how news stories can become news narratives, carried along by two journalistic types: mercenaries and true believers. If Marx’s theory of structural materialism offers one explanation for Main Stream Media behavior, Hoffer’s theory of zealous idealism offers another.
James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, has been a Fox News contributor since 1996.
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