In “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), authors Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky identified what they called the “five filters of editorial bias”: Size, Ownership and Profit Orientation; the Advertising License to Do Business; Sourcing Mass Media News; Flak and the Enforcers; and Anti-Communism.
While the Soviet Union has since been relegated to the dustbin of history, Herman and Chomsky’s text has proved indispensable, with multinationals like Google, Amazon and Facebook tightening their stranglehold on the news industry and the economy at large. As Chomsky warns, these corporations’ eagerness to appease their advertisers and manipulate their users’ behavior has “very serious distorting effects” on the stories we consume. “I don’t think that’s a healthy development, but it is happening,” he says. “And that means essentially dividing much of the population … into cocoons [or] bubbles, into which they receive the information conducive [only] to their own interests and commitments.”
Last week, Chomsky explored this topic and more in an exhaustive interview (“American Dissident”) with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill. What follows are just a few of the activist author’s more trenchant observations and digressions.
On the Republican White House
There’s an authentic constituency of corporate power and private wealth, and they’re being served magnificently by the executive orders [and] legislative programs that are being pushed through. [These] represent the more savage wing of the traditional Republican policies catering to private interests, private wealth, and dismissing the rest as irrelevant and easily disposed of.
At the same time, [Trump] is managing to maintain the voting constituency by pretending, very effectively, to be the one person in the world who stands up for them against the hated elites. And this is quite an impressive con job. How long he can carry it off? I don’t know.
On Trump’s handling of North Korea
He’s being lambasted for taking positions which, in my view, are pretty reasonable. So, for example, in the case of Korea: The two Koreas, last April 27th came out with a historic declaration, in which they laid out fairly explicit plans for moving towards reconciliation, integration, and denuclearization of the peninsula.
They pretty much pleaded with outsiders—that means the United States—to permit them to proceed,