In case you’re not familiar with the Propaganda Model, have a quick read here.
I will be looking at headlines on today’s BBC News website, that is Saturday 3/10/2015.
Here is a screengrab of the first of a paired example:
The headline is clear and unambiguous: Russia is the bad guy and good guy Cameron is berating them for their air strikes in Syria.
Okay, yes, seems fair.
Now, let’s look at headline screengrab two:
What can you glean from this? Firstly, the bold headline calls it an ‘Afghan hospital bombing.’ If you read no further, you might assume that Al Qaeda or other fundamentalists had bombed a hospital, after all, that’s the majority of stories we get from Afganistan, evil Taliban stuff.
But wait – the second paragraph says ‘Air strikes.’ Air strikes by whom?
WHY, BY THE USA!!
Well now, isn’t that a surprise? Why didn’t the headline say:
UN Denounces US Air Strikes On Afghan Hospital
as that would have been the exact equivalent of the Russian headline.
Furthermore – where is Cameron’s outrage about the US murdering doctors in a hospital? Oh, hold on, he’s said nothing.
Because only the crimes of our official enemies count. The crimes of our official friends are not crimes. Those murders are not murders, they are ‘regrettable’ and ‘collateral damage’ and justifiable. Only the lives taken by our enemies are mourned and raged over by our politicians.
In a bourgeois democratic society, unlike a fascist or Stalinist society we rarely have the press being outright censored. What we have instead is a daily blizzard of bias, like the paired example above. The average person with not much time to delve beyond the headlines might conclude that today the Russians are baddies and some Taliban bombed a hospital. They would remain ignorant of the US’ war crime against a hospital.
And that’s how propaganda, thought control in democratic societies works. By the normalising the discourse to certain boundaries; Cameron’s economic policy is fair, Corbyn’s is lunatic, Russia’s air strikes are evil, the US’ are good.
You don’t have to censor the truth, you just have to place it where most people will not look.