Friday, March 3, 2017


The New York Times is now quietly editing articles to better promote the Narrative.
They reported it — and then, when they figured out it was wrong, they simply vanished it. Whoosh. Presto-change-o! It was never there. Did you hear me? It was never there.
You've heard the phrase so funny it hurts. As of the current year the phrase should be superseded by so ironic it hurts. Or maybe it's so hypocritical it hurts. I vowed to cut back on obsessing over hypocrisy in Hypocrisy and the 4 Stages of Anti-Progressivism, so let's just call it irony.

The irony is that the book 1984 has had a surge of sales in response to Trump's election. And here we have the paper of fucking record doing just exactly what Winston spent his days doing: quietly modifying the public record to legitimize the party. People are buying the book, but they don't seem to be reading it. Perhaps they just think it looks impressive on their bookshelves. [Confession: I bought A Tale of Two Cities for just that reason.] In this case edits were made to further the narrative that Attorney General Sessions lied under oath about meeting with the Russian ambassador (he didn't) when in fact Senator McCaskill actually did lie about meeting with the Russian ambassador. Oh look, that's even more hypocrisy irony.

I contend that the propaganda today is even worse than that portrayed in 1984, for reasons proposed by Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent, which outlined how a voluntary and independent media can promote propaganda more effectively than state propaganda. In the Soviet Union, and in Oceania, everyone knows the media is controlled. At some level they understand it is propaganda. In the Soviet Union the saying went, "we pretend to work, they pretend to pay us." The people weren't excessively naive. But in our system the media is independent. There is plausible legitimacy. Even though people often state their opinion that the media is rubbish, they tend to believe what they hear anyway. That is the Gell-Man amnesia effect in action. What has surprised me in recent months more than anything is the number of people I know who are smart, who are independent and relatively non-conformist, who nevertheless swallow down the media narrative no matter how ridiculous. I see a lot of smart people falling for this Sessions-Russia thing. Intelligence is no immunity from propaganda, and I wonder if it isn't a net vulnerability.

At any rate, I reckon today's propaganda is at least twice as effective as that found in a blatant autocracy, like seen in 1984, which puts us at 3968. How progressive.

Update: they're at it again! This time modifying a headline that was being used to ridicule the media for ridiculing Trump's wiretapping claims.

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