Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

How Propaganda is Made 

Watch the video above. It’s an excellent example of how news agencies like CNN tend to mold a news story to fit a predetermined narrative. In the video above, at about four minutes in, you see and hear a doctor (with his back turned to the camera) who is describing how almost all villagers have shown COVID symptoms. But then he says, “but now everything’s fine.” Why didn’t they translate that?

Later, they visit a hospital and find a local lady who is willing to talk to them. She tells them that lots of people got sick, but the symptoms were mild, and they recovered quickly. It is to their credit that they were able to find and interview this lady. But then thy basically discount her statement with these words: “but in rural areas like this, experts say there's likely far more silent suffering.” What experts? You see, the lady’s statement didn’t fit their desired narrative, so they discounted it by presenting fabricated data they pulled out of thin air. That’s not journalism.

In fact that local lady was telling the truth. That is exactly what happened in Kunming in the middle of December. I had a mild fever for a day and a half, which I brushed off as a seasonal cold. But later I found that everybody I talked to had gotten sick at the same time. China had been hit with a new form of the virus which spread much more rapidly, but was also much milder. China’s zero-COVID policy was cancelled partly because of the riots in Shanghai, but also because the rates were going off the charts. They literally lost control of it, as my blog post from that period shows.

But it turned out that losing control of it was a good thing, because the new rapidly spreading strain seems to have created the herd immunity that China was lacking before because of the zero-COVID policy. The point is that by the time this video was made, COVID was basically over. But CNN didn’t want it to be over, so they discounted their own report and concluded with the word from fictitious “experts” that the pandemic was still raging.

Now take a look at the report below from France 24, France’s English language news channel:

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It concerns the subject of gerrymandering, which they blame for the devastation of a small town in Ohio. The video features a Democratic party chairman, who is fuming because, according to him, gerrymandering keeps the Republicans in power, so the Democrats are unable to pour lots of taxpayer money into a dying community. But the community is not dying for lack of taxpayer money. It is dying because of the closure of two local plants which were the lifeblood of that community's economy. If you weren’t paying attention, you would miss it, because it is mentioned only in passing about four minutes into the video:

In Manchester, budget cuts were coupled with the closure in 2018 of two nearby coal-fired plants.
That is absolutely the only mention of that important fact in the entire report. Instead of discussing those plant closures and the impact they had on Manchester’s economy, they focus on gerrymandering, because (they say) it has kept the Republicans in power. The Democrat solution to every problem is to throw money at it, and the Republicans aren’t letting them do that. But in this case the Republicans are right. It is sad to see a community die, but you can’t pretend it isn’t happening just by propping up that community with the money the industry used to produce. When our loved ones die, of course we are sad. But we have a funeral and bury them. We don’t hire a taxidermist to make them look like they’re still alive. That would be grotesque.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
Years ago when I was teaching in North Dakota, I went to visit my friend Roger who lived in a town called “Wheelock.” He had just purchased the town post office for $250. It was a pretty little town, but it was a ghost town. The old grain elevator stood there silently keeping the secrets of the years, and posing politely for the picture nobody was taking. I can't remember now if it was that building or the town garage where I walked in and saw job orders laying loosely on the desk from the day before. Except it wasn't the day before. I picked one of them up and looked at the date. It had been lying there for many years—undisturbed by the elements (because it was inside) and undisturbed by people (because there were literally no people).

I walked with Roger to the old Lutheran church where there was a plaque on the wall with a bunch of names. Founders of the church, I guess. To my surprise, one of the townsmen named on that plaque was my great uncle. It wasn’t really a surprise, because Uncle Tonnes was known to be a churchman. But I mean surprise because I don’t remember dad ever saying anything about Wheelock. And when I think about it, I have to laugh, because the visit I am describing took place in the eighties, which is longer ago now than Wheelock had been a ghost town at the time I visited it. Time, you see, just keeps rolling on.

Is it sad to see a little town like that die? Sure it is. But how can you turn back the clock? When homesteaders first came from Norway, there were each given a quarter section of land (160 acres). But in western North Dakota, as dry as it was, you couldn’t seed every acre. You had to leave every other field fallow. So 160 acres was actually 80 acres. Not really enough to make a living. So farmers eventually sold out to their neighbors and went to California or somewhere else, or got a job in the city. Farms got bigger. But if the average farm grows from 160 acres to a thousand acres or more, what happens to all those original farmsteads and the communities they fed? Fortunately, in flat North Dakota you could hire a house mover to move your house into town. I don’t mean a truck that pulls up to your house to get your furniture, I mean a truck that literally picks up your whole house and takes it away from the place where you had thought it would always be.

So the people left and the towns died. What would you do if you lived in one of those towns? Spend your life hoping that the government would come in and prop your town up to make it seem like it was still alive? Maybe you would feel like doing that. And maybe you would need the advice of a state senator like the one mentioned in this report, who could tell you kindly that sometimes you do have to move. It was good advice, actually.

What I am getting around to is that the process of a town becoming a ghost town is something that cannot always be avoided. And the complete failure of this report to even consider that robs it of any credibility. The Democrat party official says, "The people in Columbus literally are taking money from towns like this to give tax cuts to very wealthy people instead of investing in what would turn towns like this around." That's just not honest. Refusing to pour money down a rat hole is not "taking money." The government is not taking money from this town. They are merely refusing to give it money that would be wasted, because it's only function would be to delay the inevitable at great cost to the taxpayers. We can argue about this with respect to the specific details of a particular case like Manchester. But for France 24 not to even mention the issue is inexcusable. This is not objective reporting. This is propaganda.

At the end of the video is a brief story of a young man who wants to be a girl, and is afraid that the people in power (Republicans) will not allow him to play against girls in competitive sports. we are just supposed to assume that this would be a violation of his rights. But decent people have very good reasons to be opposed to this. If you were a father, would you want your daughter to have to compete with this guy? If that idea doesn't bother you, you aren't much of a dad.

And speaking of dads, where is the dad in this picture? Not even a mention of fatherlessness and the challenges it presents for a young man growing up into adulthood. An honest reporter would at least be asking the questions, don’t you think? But this isn’t reporting. Journalism is about asking questions and finding out what is going on. But this entire “report” is built around reinforcing predetermined conclusions. It’s fine to discuss gerrymandering, but in this video, gerrymandering is really not relevant. Gerrymandering is a smoke screen—a way of blaming the Republicans for not endorsing policies, the wisdom of which is not open to debate as far as the makers of this video are concerned.

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