Media Control, Second Edition: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

By Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky’s backpocket classic on wartime propaganda and opinion control begins by asserting two models of democracy—one in which the public actively participates, and one in which the public is manipulated and controlled. According to Chomsky, “propaganda is to democracy as the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state,” and the mass media is the primary vehicle for delivering propaganda in the United States. From an examination of how Woodrow Wilson’s Creel Commission “succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population,” to Bush Sr.’s war on Iraq, Chomsky examines how the mass media and public relations industries have been used as propaganda to generate public support for going to war. Chomsky further touches on how the modern public relations industry has been influenced by Walter Lippmann’s theory of “spectator democracy,” in which the public is seen as a “bewildered herd” that needs to be directed, not empowered; and how the public relations industry in the United States focuses on “controlling the public mind,” and not on informing it. Media Control is an invaluable primer on the secret workings of disinformation in democratic societies.

About the Author

  • Series: Open Media Series
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; Subsequent edition (September 3, 2002)

Amazon Reviews:

Mind Blowing

I’ve always heard of Chomsky but I never quite got around to reading anything he wrote. Then one day ‘Media Control’ was on sale at Amazon and I gave it a shot. This book is mind-blowing, not just because of what he puts in that I hadn’t heard of before but because it forced me to think about the relationship between power and knowledge. Chomsky pulls no punches when discussing the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that governments control their people and keep groups too fractured to ever truly change the status quo. This book is a good introduction to his ideas and once you read it, you’ll want to dive into the rest of his works just like I do. You may think that he’s a little extreme sometimes, but much more often you’ll find yourself thinking that he makes just a little too much sense.

So, you think the American press doesn’t use propaganda?

Another thoughtful and insightful book by a recognized master. Dr. Chomsky enumerates all the dangers that result from too few sources having the “voice”/ability to be trusted to inform the masses. This book shows you how Hitler’s propaganda assault fooled a large portion of the German people. And those techniques are being used here in America, and have been for quite some time. He lends credence (if not complete proof) to the quote by A. J. Liebling, that – “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” – is the cold, hard truth.

The real truth about the truth

This book should be required reading for all high school seniors. Chomsky tears the lid off the Pandora’s Box that is the network news and other “reputable” media sources. Don’t believe everything you’re told by “official sources” but question what those sources may have to gain. The book is short and to the point. It’s NOT a study in paranoia or conspiracy theories but makes the case for critical thinking and proper skepticism.

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