Bernice Lipkin discusses oft-used propaganda techniques Some of the text is based on work by Dr. Steve Turley and by J. Peder Zane, who have written on how the media distort basic facts in both their text and in the headlines.
AUTHOR: Bernice Lipkin is managing editor of Think-Israel. This article was published December 21, 2021 by Think-Israel.org
by Bernice Lipkin, December 21, 2021
is a video produced June 29, 2021 and featuring Dr. Steve Turley of TurleyTalks.com, who emphasizes that the media is perceived as dead last in trustworthiness internationally. Yet the media never introspects on how to change this. Instead it functions as “the international glue that holds the international globalist order together.” It is a telecommunications part of a “worldwide political and economic system.”
Turley explains that the media engages in several consecutive processes in presenting the news: Framing, Priming, and Confirming Bias.
Framing encompasses selecting events, giving them weights and organizing them into a coherent narrative that has emotional and often, unfortunately, political overtones.
Priming is feeding the articles to the public with headlines that hint at a topic, its importance and how it should be viewed. This is of underestimated importance, in that many readers only read the headlights, thus making assumptions the authors wish to promote but can’t put into the main text because many of the details are blatantly incorrect. Headline writing has become an art in and of itself.
Add to this Confirmation Bias, where, in a sense, the media works backwards. The media knows the end goal; it has a ‘believe this’ message to sell and so it cherry picks talking points that support the predetermined conclusion. Mathematically, the game is equivalent to writing a regression equation where all the facts, events and observations are written as a set of variables. These variables are given weights determined by the author or more likely by the owners of the media corporation that hires him. Many facts will be unstated (i.e., they have a weight of 0) or they will be mentioned but treated as insignificant (i.e., given low weights in the equation.). There is seldom doubt as to what the reader is expected to absorb as the truth.
I wish Turley had also discussed a technique which allows the newspaper to seem to have presented the facts properly. When the article is published, it often contains ‘evidence’ to rebut eventual charges that it was unfair and distorted or ignored important issues. The New York Times is a whiz at this. It will have a huge headline and statements pointing the reader to a particular conclusion; the important issues are treated as unimportant. Contradictions to the main focus and important nuances are relegated to end of the article many pages away. Often, assuming he’s got the complete message on page 1, the reader has given up long before reading far into the article. Thus, the NYT can in retrospect say truthfully that it wrote much about the holocaust, yet the obliteration of millions of Jews wasn’t known widely until after the War. How could it happen that news that appeared in the ‘newspaper of record’ was barely known? As Laurel Leff wrote — here, the NYT did write about the holocaust — in vague terms and almost never was it a front page story. THE NYT didn’t spell out the significance of the fact that, despite its growing wartime demands, the German State continued to devote major resources to specifically target Jews for death solely because they were Jews. The NYT preferred calling the victims ‘refugees’. The horrors of the concentration camps were understated so they appeared to be just bad things we expect to happen in wartime.
And there’s ‘ye old reliable’, the half-truth. Often, the media will cite a quote which is accurate but they blur or change the timing or context in which it was said. Larry Horist in “The Media Lies in Half-Truths” ( here provides us examples that bolster his assertion that ‘[t]he lie-by-half-truth has been the key strategy in the left-wing media’s attack on Trump, the Republican Party and conservatives.’ As one example, ‘Morning Joe’ show host Joe Scarborough raised an old favorite to prove that President Trump was a racist; i.e., Trump did not really criticize the neo-Nazi faction at the Charlottesville turnout. In fact — and this is the ignored half-truth — Trump said ‘there are good people on both sides.’
As Horist writes, ‘What the media shamelessly omits is that Trump DID specifically condemn violence AND specifically the neo-Nazi type. The ‘good people on both sides’ was a later reference to the people who believe we should remove Confederate statues and those who believe they should remain.” As Horist writes, “The granddaddy of all half-truth propaganda was the four-year claim by Democrat leaders and their media cronies that Trump and his campaign conspired with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. They bolstered their bogus bullsh*t by never reporting the facts that questioned the validity of the false narrative. They were facts that ultimately led to Trumpâ€™s total exoneration by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But that was only after Democrats and the media inflicted enormous political damage on Trump and others.”
We might add, that after the Steele document, which purposed to detail Trump’s collusion with the Russians, was completely exploded, readers needed to search hard to learn that the gross and ugly lies about Trump and the Russians were manufactured by Hillary Clinton’s associates. One would think that the bits of evidence that have been coming out for a while now about the outrageous falsehoods invented about the President of the United States would be a large part of the daily news – remember how vague possibilities and suppositions, not facts, were headlined when the Mueller Investigation was active. Instead, we have witnessed another way the media suppress news by giving it the silent treatment. The story just disappeared from the news. What is ironic is that it was Hillary that colluded with the Russians, giving Russia control of a large supply of uranium.
Condemnation by context-free details is a popular propaganda technique but the impact of supposed analyses by often credentialed experts may be more lasting. The boldness of the ‘there’s no need to question me’ tone and the assurance that ‘what follows is the analysis’ often make these articles compelling. The ‘last word’ comes from an expert, who is kind enough to instruct us peons. So sure is he of his verdict, he seldom needs to provide details. To be more precise, what pass as details are incorrect, one-sided conclusions or telegraphic mantras, which we are not to question.
The biggie newspapers such as the NYT and no-longer-funny magazines such as the New Yorker and propagandistic TV newscasts present such articles with a straight face. In turn, these write-ups are accepted uncritically by many who assume they must be true because, after all, would the NY Times lie? J. Peder Zane’s article entitled ‘Conspiracies Pass as Wisdom on the Left’ here points out the results of this collusion of superior publisher and expert author often are “paranoid and often apocalyptic delusions.” He uses as “an instant classic of derangement passing as wisdom” an essay called “Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here” by Robert Kagan in the Washington Post (see here).
Zane provides multiple examples of Kagan’s pronouncements. Here is yet another example of Kagan’s style that wasn’t mentioned: Kagen wrote: “the amateurish ‘stop the steal’ efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican State officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to ‘find’ more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office.”
Kagan dismisses ‘Stop the steal’ with its more than a thousand signed affidavits of witnessed fraud, with its details of specific violations of the Constitution and multiple examples of computer forgeries and miscounting as ‘ameraturish’. But he had no problem with the Mueller 3-year investigation of President Trump that had zero evidence at its start and after 3 years of intense searching the investigation ended with no evidence. He apparently believes state officials are being turned out of office for “refusing to falsely declare fraud”, ignoring that the authority assumed by these official close to the 2020 election was directly against the rules written in the Constitution. He wisely doesn’t mention the computers that allowed external input in direct violation of the law and flipped Trump votes to Biden. It should also be noted that the ballots counted by the computer — and this wasn’t open to tampering — were often far fewer than the number of paper ballots. And I’d love to know how he explains the mail-in ballots that had to be folded twice to fit the legal envelops yet miraculously, when counted, had no creases.
Zane’s estimate of this article that has won the hearts of many on the far left is spot on target: “[H]ard evidence is beside the point as Kagan is manufacturing propaganda, not analysis.”
And, most bothersome, there is a new phenomenon — at least for me. I don’t remember this being used seriously until recently: you give a bad project or procedure a wholesome description and then you assault your detractors by claiming they are the ones who don’t want to see justice or fairness or goodness done. Let me see if I can make this clear by an actual example. Most people would agree that the goal in voting is this: with voting regulations in place, every living adult citizen who is registered to vote should have the opportunity to vote, (once and once only), and have the vote be what was initially marked on the ballot. But these far left congressmen purport to be fearful of what they call ‘voter suppression’. They want to pass a bill which would stretch out the voting period from a day to a week or more. It doesn’t take much to understand that the more time you allow for shenanigans, the more fraud you will have. The 2020 election showed us that. Then they accuse those who object to a stretched out voting period of curtailing people’s right to vote. Now that’s what I call chutzpah. It does seem that if people can stand in line to get into a store having a sale or to buy tickets tor a popular concert, they can stand in line to vote. Moreover, we already have a fairly secure system in place for people to mail in their vote if they aren’t able to vote in person.
As another example, the same group of congressmen want to spend $4 trillion dollar to repair our roads and bridges and tunnels. And certainly, too many of these structures are in bad shape. What they don’t tell you is, in the words of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), that “[h]undreds of billions of dollars in Bidenâ€™s infrastructure scheme would be used to pay for handouts to big labor unions, implement the Green New Deal, and fund a huge wish list of Socialist programs and policies. It would even redefine ‘infrastructure’ to include public housing and childcare, among other completely unrelated programs.” Opponents of course are accused of not caring for repairing.
Judging what is truth and what are lies has become increasing difficult. We’ve always had the problem of judging text, particularly when important information is left out or downplayed. Now, our faith in pictures is being shaken because scenes taken from particular angles can suggest interpretations that don’t fit the facts.
Videos seemed trustworthy, especially those taken in ‘real time’. Within the past decade, however, even this is starting to fail us. Tucking snippits into a new script has been has been easy-to-do for some time. But now, we have new technology soldered onto older software that has the chilling ability to mimic truth, both in voice and in action. These faked videos are called deepfakes. There is now the ability to create moving images that meld the face of the person being maligned and the behavior of someone with a somewhat similar body type, and this can be made into an elaborate movie. See an article entitled “Defamatory Political Deepface And The First Amendment” by Jessica Ice in Case Western Reserve Law Review, Vol 70, Issue 2, Article 12, 2019. Ice concludes that “It is clear that defamatory political deepfakes could cause serious harms to individuals and society. Such harms, however, must be balanced against protecting freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Courts have rightfully been skeptical of restraints on expression, especially if they have the possibility of restricting protected speech. But in the case of deepfakes, courts have an opportunity to specifically define the form of expression that is defamatory. Courts also bear a far lower risk of misclassifying speech as defamatory because deepfakes are purposefully designed to be false. Thus, courts should draw lessons from both obscenity and copyright law to allow some narrowly crafted permanent injunctions against deepfakes. Such narrowly crafted injunctions will help prevent the spread of misinformation that might undermine elections or trust in public officials while providing the least restrictive means possible of limiting expression.”
It is cheering that such fakes are easy to identify. It is depressing that taking the fakemakers to task might become a matter of deep expense and a huge amount of time. Moreover, it won’t be effective until long after the damage has been done.
Altogether, propaganda writing, whether by textual or by photographic means, by blunt instrument or subtle suggestion, has always been able to take many forms. But as time passes, some differences between then and now are now showing up clearly. For one, there are fewer topics that are off limits. My impression is that once upon a time, one needed to be more careful or more clever in phasing or more circumspect or appear to be so erudite people just knew you were right, whether they understood what you were saying or not. Now, just have the right political opinion and almost anything will do. And there is less fear of telling outright lies. Writing propaganda is becoming easier all the time, more stark and more the echo output of a limited number of original sources.
Bernice Lipkin is managing editor of Think-Israel.
This article was published December 21, 2021 by Think-Israel.org and is archived at https://www.think-israel.org/lipkin.propagandatips.html/.