Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

by Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307801623
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/06/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 241,110
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

EDWARD S. HERMAN is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

NOAM CHOMSKY is Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read an Excerpt

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 which they operate. It is our view that, among their other functions, the media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. The representatives of these interests have important agendas and principles on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. The representatives of these interests have important agendas and principles that they want to advance, and they are well positioned to shape and constrain media policy. This is normally not accomplished by crude intervention, but by the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors’ and working journalists’ internalization of priorities and definitions of newsworthiness that conform to the institutions policy.
Structural factors are those such as ownership and control, dependence on other major funding sources (notably, advertisers), and mutual interests and relationships between the media and those who make the news and have the power to define it and explain what it means. The propaganda model also incorporates other closely related factors such as the ability to complain about the media’s treatment of news (that is, produce “flak”), to provide “experts” to confirm the official slant on the news, and to fix the basic principles and ideologies that are taken for granted by media personnel and the elite, but are often resisted by the general population. In our view, the same underlying power sources that own the media and fund them as advertisers, that serves 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 as premises of their work are frequently well explained by the incentives, pressures, and constraints incorporated into such a structural analysis.
These structural factors that dominate media operations are not all-controlling and do not always produce simple and homogeneous results. It is well recognized, and may even be said to constitute a part of and institutional critique such as we present in this volume, that the various parts of media organization have some limited autonomy, that individual and professional values influence media work, that policy itself may allow some measure of dissent and reporting that calls into question the accepted viewpoint. These considerations all work to assure some dissent and coverage of inconvenient facts. The beauty of the system, however, is that such dissent and inconvenient information are kept within bounds and at the margins, so that while their presence shows that the system is not monolithic, they are not large enough to interfere unduly with the domination of the official agenda.
It should also be noted that we are talking about media structure and performance, not the effects of the media on the public. Certainly, the media’s adherence to an official agenda with little dissent is likely to influence public opinion in the desired direction, but this is a matter of degree, and where the public’s interests diverge sharply from that of the elite, and where they have their own independent sources of information, the official line may be widely doubted. The point that we want to stress here, however, is that the propaganda model describes forces that shape what the media does; it does not imply that any propaganda emanating from the media is always effective.
Although now more than a dozen years old, both the propaganda model and the case studies presented with it in the first edition of this book have held up remarkably well. The purpose of this new Introduction is to update the model, add some materials to supplement the case studies already in place (and left intact in the chapters to follow), and finally, to point out the possible applicability of the model to a number of issue under current or recent debate.

Table of Contents

1A Propaganda Model1
2Worthy and Unworthy Victims37
3Legitimizing versus Meaningless Third World Elections: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua87
4The KGB--Bulgarian Plot to Kill the Pope: Free-Market Disinformation as "News"143
5The Indochina Wars (I): Vietnam169
6The Indochina Wars (II): Laos and Cambodia253
Appendix 1The U.S. Official Observers in Guatemala, July 1-2, 1984309
Appendix 2Tagliabue's Finale on the Bulgarian Connection: A Case Study in Bias313
Appendix 3Braestrup's Big Story: Some "Freedom House Exclusives"321

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Manufacturing Consent 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well it is no news that mass media of USA have always been a propaganda machine in hands of big cooperations and pentagon. But examples in this book really can change the mind of those that disagree. Great book for those wanting to know that TRUE.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book was recommended to me by a history teacher and i have been reading and skimming through it. the book is about the filters information has to go through before it becomes the final product you see,hear, read in the media. its what you get when you rely on the government usually nothing but nothing. Can't wait to crack on NPR, Fox News Network, and CNN
Archibald5555 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The classic elucidation of the propaganda system. A must read for anyone interesting in understanding how propaganda in free societies works.
jcook818 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's more substantial written contributions, Manufacturing Consent details a framework dubbed the "propaganda model," which can determine or explain many factors of media reporting found deficient, biased, or just plain incompetent. I found this book to be a poignant and effective review of a period in which media was supposedly keeping an "adversarial stance" towards those in power -- while the contrary continued to be the case.Even for those who do not believe in the "propaganda model" as explained by the authors, Manufacturing Consent remains an important work for pointing out many circumstances of media bias and societal constraint during the turbulent times of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. For those who understand the model to be a reliable framework for viewing the behaviour of the media, it is easy to find many circumstances of institutional malfeasance throughout recent decades and up to the current day. For example, while the anti-communist filter, as mentioned, has evolved somewhat into being a general "anti-socialist" dogmatic brick wall, it continues to show itself in media across the spectrum, notably at outlets like Fox News.I found the principles outlined by the authors described very well and backed with an exhaustive investigation of evidence, in all circumstances evaluated. Furthermore, the book's framework continues to show its relevance. Even though the rise of the internet has 'cracked' corporate media's grip, it still holds fast, as the vast majority of news consumed around the world is produced by corporate media. The version with the updated acknowledgement includes additional information to keep the text relevant in the modern day, including references to internet use, media consolidation and additional examples of the model's effectiveness.For these reasons, the book is a very compelling read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in broadening their knowledge of how their world really works.
ElectricRay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you think there's a huge, overwhelming right wing conspiracy out there, then this is the book for you. If you've a sceptical bone in your body, consider spending your money somewhere else. This book is one part theory, five parts anecdotal evidence judiciously selected by the authors in support of their theory. Anecdotal evidence has next to no intellectual value when used to support generalisations of the sort made by Messrs Herman and Chomsky. In buying this book I was principally interested in Chomsky and Herman's arguments, which are set out in the first chapter and a half of the book. They are conveniently set out on page 2, and I can further summarise them: Before being published, all news in America is run (consiously or subconsciously) through the following five "filters": 1: The size, concentrated ownership and profit orientation of the Mass Media: economic barriers to entry into the media market are high, the class of media organisations is small, concentrated and cross-owned, and all media owners are driven by profit: that is, they have to print something that will sell. A less conspiracy-laden rendering of that assertion is this: if you publish something the public think is a load of rubbish, you'll go bust. 2: Advertising as a main source of income for print media. Messrs Chomsky and Herman believe it isn't so much "what will sell" as "what is will be agreeble to advertisers" which is important. They clearly think these two concepts are substantially different, but they provide no arguments at all to support that conjecture, except a single (anecdotal) instance of the failure of an apparently widely read socialist worker's paper which, for all we know, could have gone bust for any number of reasons (for example, the arrival of another, better newspaper in the market, or that its readership began to think it was publishing a pile of rubbish). 3: The reliance of the media on information provided or sponsored by government, business and other "agents of power". 4: Public and official complaint on press content as a way of disciplining the media; and 5: Anti-communism as a national religion and control mechanism. Filter 1 has been largely eroded by this wonderful thing called the internet that has evolved since Manufacturing Consent was written. Now anyone can publish; thanks to (er... multinational corporations like) Google, anyone's views (even mine!) can be readily accessed, for better of for worse. The profit motive remains, but I don't think that having to print what the public wants to read is especially insidious, especially given how much the US public likes poorly conceived conspiracy theories. Nor should Chomsky, since that's what's made him a global superstar! Filters 2 and 4 are pretty unobjectionable, and wouldn't be news to anyone who spent more than a moment reflecting on what the media does in any community. Filter 3 ignores "official sources" includes things like opposition political parties, competing businesses, public interest groups, consumer organisations, and dissident commentators of extraordinarily large pulling power like, well, Noam Chomsky. Filter 5 is comical. No reason is advanced for why anti-communism should be thought of as any more of a filter - let alone a "national religion" than anti-nazism, anti-racism, anti-muslim fundamentalist, pro-NRA, pro-abortion etc etc. The rest of the book comprises anecdotal evidence carefully selected by the authors to support their claims. As mentioned, I don't have much time for anecdotal evidence as a basis for making enormously sweeping generalisations, so I skipped them. Manfacturing Consent was a quick read, therefore. My advice would be to skip the book altogether, in fact.
Gramsci on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an eye-opening critique of the American mass media. Chomsky asserts that media select what to mention and what not to mention in order to reflect the interests of what he calls the "buyer, the seller, and the product." In his propaganda model, the buyer is not the consumer, rather, the "buyer" is the advertiser who pays for the newspaper, and the mass media generally. The "seller" is of course the news organization itself. The "product" is the audience itself. The interests of these groups will be reflected, and anything repugnant to this view, sans a few exceptions, will be excluded somewhere along the way by the "filters." It is a true institutional analysis of the mass media, not a conspiracy theory about media bias. Whether the media are liberal or conservative, the media work within the "framework of assumptions" and favored doctrines. This framework is exemplified in his other works where he discusses how even the harshest liberal doves actually reinforce militarism and state power through their narrow, tactical criticism.This is a must read.
Daedalus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rarely have I read something that so completely shifted my social paradigms.
MarieFriesen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An absolutely brilliant analysis of the ways in which individuals and organizations of the media are influenced to shape the social agendas of knowledge and, therefore, belief. Contrary to the popular conception of members of the press as hard-bitten realists doggedly pursuing unpopular truths, Herman and Chomsky prove conclusively that the free-market economics model of media leads inevitably to normative and narrow reporting.
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Sample insufficent to show any interest for reader mom
garcho More than 1 year ago
Gee, ya think this guy read the book? ################################### Anonymous Posted May 3, 2012 Lunacy Lunacy ###################################
Anonymous More than 1 year ago