This essay has a duel purpose. I began it initially to explain how sophisticated and effective the dominant corporate media is in programming the public mind to believe whatever message they deliver regardless of whether it's true which it rarely is. I chose the title Reeducation 101 - Defogging and Reversing the Corporate Media's Programming of the Public Mind which I'm now using as the heading of my introductory section. Along with that discussion, I then planned a detailed case study example of how they're doing it by demonizing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias with a building and resonating drumbeat of invective in advance of the US government's fourth attempt to oust him. That discussion follows my introductory section.
REEDUCATION 101 - DEFOGGING AND REVERSING THE CORPORATE MEDIA'S PROGRAMMING OF THE PUBLIC MIND
Does any reader of online progressive web sites still watch, listen to or read anything from the corporate media? If so, how do you stand it without having a good supply of stomach soothers and strong headache relief handy. I thought most everyone with enough smarts and common sense understood that this collective institutional juggernaut's mission is to sedate and seduce us - a sort of one, two punch. They mostly do it with diverting and distracting entertainment. Is that what it's called? You 'coulda fooled me with what's on all my 300 + cable channels I don't watch except when I go to bed and need something mind numbing to make me sleepy. The only reason I have them all is I live in a building that subscribes to the cable service, and everyone gets them, like it or not.
Except for three classical music channels without talk or commercials I love, everything in their lineup is a vast wasteland, especially what passes for so-called "news and information" by the on-air names you know well and I needn't list. They're all an assault on our sensibilities in their all out effort to fog our minds with round the clock propaganda, lies, distortion and sanitizing. What they do isn't journalism, it's stenography. And what they don't report is usually more important than what they do. They know, as does our government, that if all or enough of us understood what's really happening, not the rot and mush they fill our heads with, there'd be a revolution in the streets. How could the public with full knowledge of what our government is up to ever go along since all of it only benefits the rich and powerful and does it at our expense.
The mind manipulation and thought control comes at us from all directions in print and on the airwaves. In the US (and really the world) the newspaper known as the "Gray Lady" and referred to as "the newspaper of record" leads the way - the New York Times. I call them a US "Pravda." They're the closest thing we have in this country to an official ministry of information and propaganda. They've been going at it for over 150 years, and nobody does it better or with more influence. Remember Judith Miller and her daily WMD scare reports.....straight from the White House and Pentagon in final copy printable form. The Times calls this "all the news that's fit to print." You don't not want to hear what I call it, but this newspaper has clout around the world. Whatever lead stories they report get picked up and are spread almost everywhere. Especially here on TV where the state of our news, information and trumpeting punditry assault our nerve endings. Those who run it and report on it never met a piece of state propaganda they didn't love and want to tell us about ad nauseam - in between frequent 5 minute long commercial breaks trying to sell us everything we don't need and never knew we wanted until they told us.
A noted US media critic once said about them "they have everything to sell and nothing to tell." And I heard noted British journalist Robert Fisk say on air to an interviewer commenting on the dismal state of our corporate media that "you really have a problem in this country." He meant the dominant media is so corrupted and complicit with US policies hostile to the public interest and welfare here and abroad that we have a desperate need for an effective antidote to their poison. Amen.
There's even a flood of material on TV called "video news releases" or VNRs. Now get this. These are all government agency produced propaganda releases or corporate commercials disguised as real news - but you're not supposed to know it. What they all are is "fake news." There's a ton of this stuff all over the airwaves. The TV networks and local stations love 'em because they all come pre-packaged and free of charge, saving all that production time and cost. Then combine that with all the rest of TV news, information and punditry and it's enough to drive a teetotaler to drink or worse. You have to get away from this stuff, and I'll tell you how. It's not that hard - just turn off your TV and cancel your corporate owned newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Call a friend instead, visit a neighbor, talk to your wife or husband, spend time with your kids. You'll discover a whole new world. You may even get to love it. Also, spend more time online in the right places, like the web site you're now reading this on, and start to read a little - most important, the right things.
THE RIGHT PATH TO FOLLOW IS STRAIGHT AHEAD
My purpose in writing this column is to provide an antidote to those of you still victimized by and under the spell of the scourge of corporate media mind control (too many I know). You're in their prison of your own mind. I've got the key, and if you want your freedom back, follow me into the light of day and fresh air with an unnamed case study example of one of the victims who wrote to the editor of another noted and superb web site I write commentaries for. The editor asked me to respond, and I did. What follows below is that response reworked to apply to all others with similar views to the letter writer.
For those of you who want to come along and happen to be ex-smokers like I am (for the last 31 years), remember how much sweeter life became once you kicked the habit and could go a whole day without coughing and wheezing. And you no longer got short of breath every time you walked up a flight of stairs either. For me it was like being reborn. For the many of you unafflicted by the poison of the media giants, read on just for the fun of it. I'll respond to my case study victim and others like him and try to save them from themselves. I'll also cover what he addressed in his letter response - what the US may be up to in the ongoing very real soap opera pitting this country against Hugo Chavez.
A CASE STUDY - I'LL CALL MY SUBJECT MR. X
This response is for Mr. X and all the others who think like him. This man wrote a critical letter about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the web site editor I referred to above. In it he claimed he hadn't run across any reports about Chavez and Venezuela for a long time, but then went on to label him with a string of vicious and baseless epithets. In my response to him, I asked where was he getting his information other than from those reports he said he hadn't run across.
Of course, there's been a steady drumbeat of anti-Chavez rhetoric in the corporate media that even includes language comparing him to Hitler. When you hear that and lots more, you know things have gotten very serious and likely to be followed by big time mischief against the person named. I've quoted lots of anti-Chavez invective in other articles I've written from various high officials like Donald Rumsfeld. Now there's a credible source. Obviously Mr. X is getting this propaganda message and believes it. How else could he have become so opinionated about the man. But like all other victims of mind control he's got it all disturbingly wrong. The truth based on the facts, not propaganda and lies, is just the opposite of what he believes and is spouting. I suggested he listen up, and that truth really would set him free and all others who think like him.
Mr. X then went on to say Venezuela is insignificant to the US. I responded just like Iraq wasn't and Iran isn't? What does he think they do there? Just produce coffee and cocoa, have carnivals and hold parades? I asked him if he couldn't detect some common denominator among these three countries? Not that they're all non-English-speaking, are located on different continents from the US, are defenseless against a large-scale US military assault, and pose no military threat whatever to us or anyone else. All that's true I told him, and everyone with an unfogged mind knows it. I then asked if I really needed to spell out for him why they're important to us - I mean the most obvious reason (not the more complex ones) I literally heard a 10 year old explain right before our illegal aggression against Iraq -- IT'S THE CRUDE DUDE....O-I-L.....BLACK GOLD.....TEXAS "TEA".....THE VITAL OXYGEN THAT KEEPS THE COUNTRY AND WORLD RUNNING. Try driving to the market without it or taking the bus to work. Or growing all the food we eat either. These three countries are floating on an ocean of it, were and are governed by leaders who wouldn't and won't hand it all over to us so voila....... public enemies 1, 2 and 3.
I then explained that based on the best available estimates Venezuela ranks number one in the world in total oil reserves even ahead of Saudi Arabia if their extra-heavy reserves are added to their "light sweet" or conventional ones. The latter are easily refined while the former must be substantially upgraded before refining is possible. If both types are counted, the best estimates of total oil reserves in the world are: Venezuela - about 350 billion barrels (by some estimates it's much higher than that), Saudi Arabia - 262 billion, Canada - 179 billion (mostly extra-heavy), Iran - 126 billion (all "light sweet") and Iraq - 115 billion (also all the good stuff). I asked Mr. X if the fog was beginning to lift and if he really thought the US would ever settle for less than total control of those combined reserves and those of every other key oil producing country as well. It's called "resource wars", the stakes are very high, and we're playing for keeps including waging war on the world to get it. It's not about getting all the oil we need (as long as it lasts), it's about controlling it all to decide who else gets it, how much and at what price. Along with rising world tension, a big reason the price is high today (nearing $70 a barrel as I write) is because we want it to be high to enrich our big oil mafia buddies - you know, the Exxon-Mobils of the world. Unless you understand "the way things really are" you'll be victimized like Mr. X and believe everything you hear or read in the corporate media.
MR. X SWALLOWED THE PARTY LINE PROVING AGAIN YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME
Mr. X claimed Hugo Chavez is a "fearless, gutless little wimp of a dictator." And paranoid too. I informed him this FGWD paranoid was elected and reelected democratically by significant majorities and did it in the face of considerable US funding and support for the opposition and the fiercest, most vicious and hostile unrelenting dominant corporate media assault against him both times, beforehand, in between and still ongoing now and growing in intensity. It's so extreme in vitriol down there it makes our hostile corporate media almost look like pussy cats. It didn't work. Venezuelans aren't as uninformed as the somnambulant and mind-fogged US public. They support and voted for a man who promised them a better future and actually delivered it. Why would they ever want to give that up? Ever know a US politician who did that? A couple here or there who try, but NEVER one with any power or who could or did deliver.
There's a presidential election coming up in Venezuela at the end of this year. Now get this. A new poll was just conducted and here's how Chavez did against his potential or likely rivals. It was conducted by the Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD): the score was Chavez 82.7% and closest rival (at present) Julio Borges of the Primero Justicia (Justice First) party 8.9%. I used to do marketing research and some polling right out of graduate school 46 years ago as a newly minted MBA (before they got popular) and know something about it. Unless you do it properly, you can get some awfully unreliable results, so instead of the usual + or - 3 or 4% it could be two or three times that making the numbers worthless. But with these lopsided results, why bother with any poll. Anyone following what's happening in the country knows the people love Chavez and will never democratically elect someone else if he's running. Of course, the rich hate him because he's making them pay their fair share and is using the country's oil wealth to help his people instead of handing it over to the big US oil mafia, other giant US transnationals and the Venezuelan elite. That's why the US hates him too and feels that way even more so for a bigger reason. He represents the greatest of all threats we know - a good example that may spread like a heavenly virus liberating the oppressed people of other countries in the region and beyond whose leaders sold them out to the US and our giant corporations.
So with the opposition knowing they haven't a chance in December, they've begun their latest anti-Chavez demonization campaign. They're trying to blame him for the kidnappings and brutal murders of three children of a wealthy Venezuelan/Canadian family and other social disturbances being hyped in the corporate controlled media to stir up the public, scare them and try to make them want a change in government to protect them better. It's just a new version of the same dirty business they've pulled before that failed. It won't work this time either. Chavez supporters (Chavistas) at least must suspect the US is orchestrating this mischief and has no compunction about carrying out kidnappings and brutal murders themselves or finding lots of local takers at the right price to do it for them. This isolated violence on the Venezuelan streets is just a minuscule version of what's going on now in Iraq under the US led and directed "Salvador death squad option" using Iraqi proxies to carry out car bombings, mosque attacks and lots more to foment a civil war, try to divide the country and supposedly make it easier to rule. It won't work there either where the situation is out of control, the war is lost and we know it, and in British journalist Robert Fisk's words (who I quoted earlier above): the US "must leave, can't leave and will leave." Sooner or later, likely the latter after many tens of thousands more innocent Iraqi deaths and lives and families destroyed and the devastating physical and psychological toll on many or most of our demoralized and defeated forces there. I'm writing more about that in another article I'm now working on.
US authorities and the go-along corporate media in both countries also claim Chavez is responsible for the recent pelting of US ambassador William Brownfield's car with eggs and tomatoes. I wouldn't have wasted a rotten one of either on him even though the ambassador was provokingly and literally cruising for a bruising in a poor neighborhood he had no business being in. He may or may not have gotten it from US stooges sent in to do it. The poor there certainly had every reason to do it. This is a man who recognizes the opposition and not the legitimate Venezuelan government. Chavez has threatened to expel him from the country and has every right to do it if he keeps pulling these stunts. The ambassador has said he will (meaning deliberate provocation), so look for more fireworks ahead as things heat up more between Washington and Caracas. Of course, this unambassadorial man deserves whatever he gets and more, especially in light of the growing anti-Chavez vitriol coming from high level US officials as well as the current "military exercise" provocation ongoing close by offshore as well. Things are clearly coming to a head with a showdown possible and even likely before the year end election.
Let me spell out what's happening now as the US with 100% certainty is heading toward a fourth showdown confrontational attempt to oust Hugo Chavez and possibly try to assassinate him this time. For those of you, like Mr. X, who believe what they read in the (corporate) papers or see on the evening news, let me do a little defogging and lay the truth on you. I know the playbook very well. I should, I've seen it played out enough times before and watch it every day now in Iraq in its most extreme form. It's not Hugo Chavez or his supporters creating social unrest on the streets. This is classic CIA, National Endowment of Democracy (NED), USAID and IRI (International Republican Institute) mischief likely carried out by their complicit anti-Chavez Venezuelan proxies. These are the ones with the most to gain if Chavez is no longer president and one of their own is. I'm talking about the rich and well off, the same ones who tried it before and failed.
US attorney and author Eva Golinger closely monitors Bush administration activities to subvert the Chavez government. She uncovered top secret CIA documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealing US involvement through CIA, NED and USAID complicity to overthrow Hugo Chavez in the two day aborted 2002 coup. In an interview published by Ultimas Noticias on April 10 she revealed she now has documents proving the US bankrolls the Venezuelan opposition and has tried to work with Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Austria and Spain to form an anti-Chavez alliance. Her information comes from a report published April 5 by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, an agency of the US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. The report details US efforts to fund and build Venezuelan opposition political parties. Golinger noted different strategies being planned to oust Hugo Chavez including by possible US military invasion and mentioned the presence of US military bases in the region where 40,000 troops are now stationed. She also uncovered increased US financial support for "supposed NGOs" and communications with opposition politicians on subjects like assassination and torture. Finally, Golinger explained there's a link between the FBI and police officials in the Caracas municipalities of Chacao and Baruta, both run by mayors opposed to Hugo Chavez.
In addition to Golinger's reports, there's credible evidence of Colombian paramilitaries elicitly entering Venezuela in provinces bordering the two countries to promote or commit violence and destabilize the Chavez government. All of this is serious and escalating mischief that's likely to get worse as the US moves ahead in its fourth attempt to forcibly remove Hugo Chavez from office by whatever means planned. At this point, we don't know if it will even get further off the ground, let alone succeed, because of Chavez's strong support among the people, his government allies and the Venezuelan military. We do know the US orchestrated anti-Chavez demonization campaign will likely fail as have other past attempts against him. Why? Because the Venezuelan people overwhelmingly support and will fight to keep him as the president who gave them extraordinary social programs that have improved their lives and given them a direct say through participatory democracy in how the government is run. Why would they ever risk giving that up or not do all in their power to prevent anyone from taking them away. So when the anti-Chavez propaganda campaign fails again, look for the mischief-makers to go back to the drawing board and try "plan two."
It may be and there's now talk the main opposition parties will pull out of the election in December and let Chavez run unchallenged - that is, if the fireworks haven't culminated before then. If it happens, it will be a replay of the December, 2005 legislative elections when those same parties quit the race because they knew they'd be embarrassed by the heavy vote against them. If there's a repeat performance this year, they'll blame it on President Chavez as they did last time using whatever concocted reasons they can come up with. But just like last December, it will again be sore looser talk, a weak-kneed effort to demonize the victor and a line of baloney the Venezuelan people won't buy. I'll give them the real reason, but they'll never use it. Chavez will win because the great majority love him and the wonderful social programs and participatory democracy he's brought them. They won't give them or him up and will fight to keep them and him to avoid returning to the past policies of everything for the rich and powerful and nothing for the poor and desperate people. Hugo Chavez is their man, their savior, and they'll keep him as long as he wants the top job.
HOW'D YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY WITH A LEADER AND GOVERNMENT WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE
The great majority of the Venezuelan people would and here's why. Any idea what it's like to be impoverished, not know where your next meal is coming from, live in a shack for a home or not even have that much, and have no access to even minimum medical care or education? These people do. Ask them, they'll explain it to you. Hugo Chavez has given them what they never had before. Think they won't fight to keep it and him? Wouldn't you in their place if the alternative was desperate poverty? That's what 80% of them had before, they're still poor and deprived, but everyone gets free: first rate health and dental care and education through as high a level as they can attain. They also get subsidized food, the legal right they never had before to own the land their homes were built on and lots more. The result is a significant improvement in the lives and welfare of the Venezuelan poor that comprise the great majority of the population and Chavez's base of support. The population is healthier, no one need go hungry, and Illiteracy in the country is almost nil. In the US it's around 20%, and millions more can barely read and write at a grammar school level.
Also in the US, our land of opportunity and richest country in the world, we have 46 million people with no health insurance, many millions more with too little and by conservative estimates 12 million American families, over 10% of all households, struggle to feed themselves and often go hungry. They can't afford the high price of insurance that keeps becoming more unaffordable or even to buy enough food for their families. They should be getting federal aid, but how can they when our government spends all it has and can borrow on imperial wars of conquest without end to enrich big corporations. The cupboard is bare for anything else, so we're all on our own, like it or not. If the country had a motto or slogan it might be you can have anything you want as long as you can pay for it. If not, you're on your own. It's called "the free market." Ask one of the millions of poor, single black mothers with young children how "free" it is and what it's like trying to figure out how to get the next meal on the table and pay the rent. She could only dream of the way things are in the land of the Bolivarian Revolution and a leader who really cares about all his people - if she knew about it.
I told Mr. X above and then reminded him again that the "US boggie man" he made light of has already tried three times and failed to oust President Chavez and is clearly now planning a fourth attempt that may include a military assault with depleted uranium (DU) weapons that would contaminate a vast area with toxic, deadly and irremediable radiation where they're used. They might even decide to up the ante and try out in real time their newest toy - so-called "bunker-buster mini nukes" that aren't mini but sure are nukes - anywhere from one third to two thirds as potent as a Hiroshima bomb. They've planning to test these new weapons in the Nevada desert shortly or are already doing it without telling us. When they do, I wouldn't want to be standing around in the next county or maybe even next state. And that's even without the devastating fallout that will contaminate a vast area beyond the test site. That's the kind of "boogie man" I'd be "paranoid" about. I'm already paranoid about it, and I live in the heart of the beast and am one of the privileged. I also live downwind in both directions - from those bomb test sites and all the horrendous policies coming out of the Capitol.
HERE COME THE MARINES AND MAYBE A LITTLE "SHOCK AND AWE"
Want more evidence about what may be in the works. It's come to light that the US has plans called "Operation Bilbao" that look like, walk like and make sounds like a plan to forcibly overthrow the Chavez government. Want more? I briefly mentioned an ongoing close by US military exercise above. The US Navy sent an aircraft carrier strike group of four ships, 60 aircraft and 6,500 marines to the Caribbean and South American waters for a "major" training exercise. It's holding it now about 50 kilometers from Venezuelan territory (about 30 miles). All four ships are capable of launching cruise missiles that may be armed with nuclear warheads. I told Mr. X this is a deliberately provocative and hostile act and to imagine the reaction here if China or Russia were doing this 30 miles off the California coast. I added I could include more examples of how the US is stepping up its efforts against Hugo Chavez but hoped what I detailed above was enough. I also explained that I hope I've provided enough documented proof that once again the US government is improperly and illegally acting to subvert a foreign leader and his government and, in this case, doing it to a twice democratically elected leader loved by the great majority of his people.
IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE POWER OF THE MESSAGE
Now let me bring this full circle and go back to my opening salvo against the dominant US corporate media. I told Mr. X that if he or anyone else relies on them for their news and information, they're guaranteed not to get any. That's not their job. Their job is to set you up, play you for a fool and make you a patsy (and a pretty dumb one at that) to believe even the most outrageous rot they put out. Like those "now you see 'em, now you don't" WMD or Saddam being linked to al Queda (he and bin Laden are mortal enemies and hate each other). I knew there weren't any WMD in the mid-90s. How? It was reported in the news most people didn't listen to or forgot that Saddam's trusted son-in-law who was in charge of all his weapons, including those WMD, defected to the West, was debriefed and spilled the beans that they were all destroyed around the time of the Gulf war. It was a tactical decision since they were useless anyway against the overwhelming US force Saddam was helpless to defend against. What about Saddam knocking over the "twin towers." I like that one even more, but a legion of chumps called the gullible public will believe anything the corporate media feeds 'em - even the need to check under your bed every night 'cause Saddam (or Hugo) may be there ready to pounce as soon as you doze off. People will believe anything.
IT REALLY HAPPENED ONCE - A REAL LIFE CASE STUDY
Real life case in point. In 1938 a now famous science fiction radio program was broadcast in the US called War of the Worlds starring Orson Welles. There was no TV then so the effect it had was amazing even without the visuals the corporate media now know are so essential. It was about a Martian invasion of the earth that included a fake news bulletin that a "huge flaming object" landed on a farm near Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Orson Welles was a terrific actor and so weren't the others apparently. They were so good it created a mass panic among those listening who really believed the Martians had come and would do them in. People actually packed the roads, hid in cellars, got out their guns if they had any and even wrapped their heads in wet towels to protect themselves against "Martian poison gas." This now famous broadcast that also created a national scandal proved an important point. The very sophisticated folks who run the dominant media can even make a lot of seemingly intelligent people believe almost anything made up out of whole cloth. That media and its PR cousins have honed their craft and are now so expert at it that if the best of their past counterparts were still alive, like Nazi Joseph Goebbels, he and they would be aghast to see how amateurish they were compared to the "geniuses" now doing it -- to Mr. X and all the others like him out there with their minds thoroughly fogged and programmed. He and they are all victims of sinister mind control, and I've been trying to remove the spell, bring you all into the light and deliver you into the glorious world of knowing the truth and being free at last from the poisonous and hypnotic power of the dominant and complicit corporate media.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog address at sjlendman.blogspot.com.