Friday, June 15, 2007

Tony Benn on the Media

The press and the broadcasters can also build up a certain viewpoint by a sustained campaign after which they can commission a public opinion poll to capture, by carefully phrased questions, public support for that position. They then use the poll to claim this to be 'public opinion', and so give bogus authenticity to the editorials which created the view in the first place. This is one more way in which the media are gradually ceasing to be an information service, and more and more are becoming openly propagandist in tone and content and getting ever more strident in language and emphasis.”

“All ruling groups know how important it is to see that their arguments for staying in power are regularly presented through the means of mass communication. Today it means influencing the mass media through its commentators or columnists who dominate the world of print, radio and TV. Those with power must be able to rely upon the media to construct a framework of conventional wisdom which supports the status quo by the selection of news and opinions either favourable to it, or only mildly critical. Therefore anyone who campaigns for freedom or civil liberty must start by studying how public opinion is influenced.”

“The British media largely reflect the view of the British establishment... Through the media, the establishment then goes on to identify all those who oppose [its] policies and resist job losses, wage cuts, educational or health economies, or rearmament, as militants, extremists or subversives, who represent a threat to law, order and freedom. This analysis, buttressed by endless news stories about rising levels of violence, falling moral standards and the risks of anarchy and chaos, is then used to justify tighter and tighter security at every level. We are told we need expanded and better paid military and police forces, and a bigger and more elaborate secret intelligence network able to maintain a comprehensive surveillance of all persons who are, or might be at some later stage, engaged in some activities that threaten our freedom.Through the British media the establishment makes out a picture of the situation confronting the British people designed to condition us all into accepting the policies that flow from its own one-sided analysis.

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