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spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest. What is not evident \(and nature of such critiques, as well as the huge inequality in command of resources, and its effect both on access to a private media system and on its behavior and performance. Chomsky and Herman identify five “filters” which operate within the mass media as a system of regulation and, ultimately, disinformation. The first is “the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass media firms.” This book deals only with the largest news companies such as the New York Times, CBS, and the Associated Press. Collectively, we might call the companies they are dealing with “the mainstream media,” a set of corporations that dominate the flow of information in the U.S. and that propagate a surprisingly consistent set of values and analyses. The fact that the dissemination of information in the U.S. is a huge and profitable business automatically ties it into a web of constraints. The first has to do with investment. To start even a small newspaper tremendous amount of capital if any degree of sophistication is desired. This guarantees that those who run the media will always have to answer to an ownership that has benefited from the way things are, and that are thus sensitive to any criticism that may run too deep. The connections may be far more specific, however. Because the media giants are corporations, they “are also brought into the mainstream of the corporate community through boards of directors and social links”. As well as interlocking boards, media companies are tied into the economy through banks and cross-ownership. Take the case of NBC, which is owned by General Electric. It is hard to imagine the network taking a seriously adversarial stance towards military spending or the continued development of nuclear energy when both_ are sources of considerable profit for its parent corporation. The second filter is that of advertising. Production costs in any medium are tremendous, and whoever can acquire the most advertisements can supply a slicker product at a lower cost to the consumer. Chomsky and Herman provide an excellent historical analysis which correlates the demise of the radical, working-class press in Great Britain with the rise of advertising in broadsheets. For reasons both ideological and pragmatic, advertisers shunned progressive newspapers in favor of those which supported the status quo, and this situation allowed conservative papers to undersell or buy outright the widely-circulating but financially ailing papers of the left. This situation has continued to the present day, as news outlets temper their reporting with omissions and apologies in fear of losing advertising due to controversy. The reliance on advertising relates, of course, to the fact that the press is foremost a business which must make a profit, even at the expense of responsibility to the public. The third filter is the dependency of news agencies on the government. It is defined as “the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and `experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power.” Chomsky and Herman call this a “symbiotic relationship” which serves both business and government’s needs to get their views before the public, and journalists’s needs for steady and presumably reliable sources of information. Throughout the book, examples are given of well-known writers and speakers who are presented as objective authorities on a country or situation, but whose backing comes from a source that is anything but disinterested. Take, for instance, conservative Foundation Writer Claire Sterling’s role in promoting the “Bulgarian-Soviet Connection” as an explanation for Mehmet Ali Agca’s attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981. Even though Sterling had a clear interest in promoting her own thesis on the incident \(with the complete backing of the Reagan administration and conservative New York Times hired her to report on Agca’s trial in Italy. Chomsky and Herman show how this lead to an extreme perversion of the record, as Sterling either neglected to report or took out of context evidence which contradicted her beliefs: “This was displayed fully in Sterling’s front-page news story of prosecutor Albano’s report on June 10, 1984. The most important new information in that report that on June 28, 1983, Agca had retracted a substantial part of his evidence against the Bulgarians was omitted from Sterling’s story . . . This was seriously misleading”. The fourth and fifth filters .operate in tandem. They are “the use of ‘flak’ as a means of disciplining the media” and ” ‘anticommunism’ as a national religion and control mechanism.” Flak is a negative response to a piece of reportage. It can be presented in “the form of letters, telegrams, phone calls, petitions, lawsuits, speeches and bills before Congress, and other modes of complaint, threat, and punitive action.” While the individual use of flak is the exercise of a constitutional right, the institutional or governmental use of it can lead to abuses of power which curb the flow of information. Anti-communism, or redbaiting, is a tactic which can be used against “anybody advocating policies that threatens property interest.” While it is ‘often usedl to counter political movements based oni compassion, its primary use is to justify the creation and support of right-wing military states as a means of countering “the greater threat” of communism. The bulk of the book consists of explaining and documenting how the propaganda model predicts the behavior of the U.S. media. The statistics alone can be frightening, even without a consideration of the events that they uncover. In a chapter titled “Worthy and Unworthy Victims,” Chomsky and. Herman compare the news coverage of the police murder of a Polish priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, with that of 100 Central American churchmen and women who were also killed by agents of their states. The latter group includes a prominent Salvadoran Archbishop, Oscar Romero, and four North American nuns. By quantifying such data as number of articles, total column inches, front page stories, and number of editorials, the authors conclude that a victim of government brutality in Poland is “worth” between 137 and 179 times that of one in Central America. And this does not even take into account the quality of the reporting, which is far more indignant in the case of Popieluszko, and which is also reproduced in the book. While one mode of reporting is no less objective than another, the net result is propaganda. The pattern found in the Popieluszko case pervades the U.S. media. Attention and anger is focused on the Soviet bloc while the excesses that occur in U.S. client states are barely mentioned. The same bias can be found against national liberation movements which threaten U.S. interests. Victims of oppression have no intrinsic worth; they get attention only when the government can make domestic political gains from the tragedies; they are ignored, or even silenced when they are the victims of “our boys.” The most insightful point that Herman and Chomsky make has to do with this automatic “framing” of the news. The mass media always assumes that our government is in the right and that it does wrong only through well-meaning blunders \(e.g., in the case of Vietnam and the rest of Indochina, a topic which is discussed virtually never considers that our leaders intended to do wrong. This assumption limits the critical capacities of the press and, in fact, negates the role which the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalists in the United States. The irony of propaganda lies in the way that public outrage is simultaneously directed towards crimes over which it has no control and away from ones which it could greatly alleviate. The citizenry of the U.S. forms one of the world’s great bastions of democratic values, and they have proven this by their willingness to fight tyranny both here and abroad. It is unlikely that direct repression could smother such a powerful force, so the elites that came to govern this country devised a system of indirect control. Rather than simply telling people what to think and do, the governing elites manipulate the masses by appealing to their sense of justice. Propaganda channels the natural compassion of the American people into a useless banner-waving for the American Way. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19