"This book centers in what we call a "Propaganda Model", an analytical framework that attempts to explain the performance of the U.S. media in terms of the basic institutional structures and relationships within they operate. It is our view that, among their other functions, the media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful social interests that control and finance them.... In our view the...underlying power sources that own the media and fund them as advertisers, that serve as primary definers of the news, and that produce flak and proper thinking experts, also play a key role in fixing basic principles and the dominant ideologies. We believe that what journalists do, what they see as newsworthy, and what they take for granted...are...well explained by the incentives, pressures, and constraints incorporated into such a structural analysis."
Noam Chomsky (MIT)
and Edward Herman (Wharton Business School)
From the Introduction
Next to the Bible, Joseph Campbell's THE POWER OF MYTH and FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, the seminal work of psychologist Alice Miller, every single American home should have this book. Perhaps to a greater extent than even much of the other work of Noam Chomsky, MANUFACTURING CONSENT reveals the irony of where a truly moral path leads in our world. Meaning, the religious/moral paradigms of Christian Conservatism, embraced in the inner world of personal integrity and "family values" and followed to their obvious conclusion--our outer world structured by commerce and international politics--leads one invariably to finding GOD somewhere on the left of America's political center; far and away from the Limbaugh-isms on American conservative radio. Anything less is either cancerous cynicism or delusional hypocrisy.
"'Genocide' is an invidious word that officials apply readily to cases of victimization in enemy states, but rarely if ever to similar or worse cases of victimization by the United States itself or allied regimes. Thus, with Saddam Hussein and Iraq having been U.S. targets in the 1990s, whereas Turkey has been an ally and client and the United States its major arms supplier as IT engaged in its severe ethnic cleansing of Kurds during those years, we find...Turkey's treatment of its Kurds was in no way less murderous than Iraq's treatment of Iraqi Kurds, but for (U.S. Ambassador) Peter Galbraith, Turkey only 'represses,' while Iraq engages in'genocide.'"
From the Introduction (emphasis mine)
This 2002 edition of the 1980s MANUFACTURING CONSENT has a new introduction written by the authors that includes some important words about the current Administration and foreign policy, as well the power of the Internet to affect the Media's status quo. But lest you think the bulk of this work is dated, trust me; their analysis has only become more accurate with the Clinton and Bush Administrations. The writers don't need to add specific revelations about, say, Enron, the true cause of 9/11 and the current secret war in Afghanistan to prove their point.
(For example, see their comparative analysis of the painfully ironicrelationship of the U.S. government with the Latin-American terrorist states Guatemala and El Salvador [we supported them militarily] and its adversarial relationship with the actual [though politically inconvenient] democracy Nicaragua during the Reagan years. Then compare this provable reality to the Media's Orwellian, fun-house mirror images and writings, as Chomsky and Herman show them to be. It is chilling. Through more than dozens of easily documented but heretofore underanalysed examples, the writers show how the dominant U.S. press (New York Times, Washington Post, CBS News, etc.) so often becomes the propaganda tool of the U.S.government that only an analysis of this degree would help you to understand what must be its obvious actual function. This work, in fact, may be the only book that could prepare you or anyone well enough to readthe revelations of investigative journalist Gary Webb in his book DARK ALLIANCE, the book that gives the full documented proof of the story that ironically ended his career in the 1990's: his discovery of the origins of America's Crack Cocaine era in "IranContra" and Reagan's CIA.)
What the book lacks can be seen as a product of its internationally political perspective. The raison d'etre of this book is indeed all but stated outright with its final chapters on Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam during and after the Vietnam War. (One could painfully envision Thomas Mann writing a similarly structured expose of the German media during World War Two, ending with documented proof of the otherwise hidden "final solution" for the Jews.) Through this they climactically prove, unquestionably, that the popular story of the Media's East-of-Eden break with Government & propaganda at this time in American history is, simply, a very useful myth. However, while Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader and several other consumer advocates over the 20th Century are mentioned by them in this introduction, the kind of "muckraking" examples you'd expect in that context, regarding the purposely unreported crimes of big business (like those of the chemical, fast food and oil industries)--despite their adverse affects on human health and American culture--are almost conspicuously missing from this work. I would suggest, as a companion book, INTO THE BUZZSAW by investigative journalist Christina Borjesson, with its powerful Introduction by Gore Vidal.
Just the same, I cannot imagine an honest critique of this book's contents that would not smack of a sincere desire (subconscious or otherwise) to belied to, such that a primitive, cultish, cynically comfortable but inevitably destructive definition of American patriotism can have some illusion of moral validity. The opening chapters set you up so clearly and powerfully for their revealing of the U.S. supported holocaust of Indochina--again, displayed as final proof of their Propaganda Model's ubiquity--that you cannot help but walk away from this book with both an enlightened mind, and a broken heart.
Agree or disagree with this book's premise, after reading MANUFACTURING CONSENT you will not be able to read the newspaper or watch CNN with the same naiveté again. That alone makes it a treasure.