Andrew Smolski, counterpunch.org
uncaptioned image from interviewExcerpt:
In this 30-minute interview Noam brings once more to bear on current and historical events his eviscerating analysis of power systems.
This interview originally aired on Houston’s Pacifica Radio Station, 90.1 KPFT FM!
A: I am here with Noam Chomsky, longtime political activist, who over several decades has been critic of US media and foreign policy. A principal part of Noam’s media criticism has been the development of a propaganda model. Theoretically this was worked out by his co-author, Edward S. Herman, another longtime US media critic. Noam, would you elaborate on what exactly is the propaganda model?
N: I should say that my co-author, who crafted the basic framework, is a specialist on corporate power and corporate control. In fact, his book Corporate Control, Corporate Power is one of the classics in the field. What he looked at is pretty simpleminded and straight forward.
Take a look at the structure of the media system. The major media institutions are great corporations, some of them parts of megacorporations. Like other businesses, they sell a product to a market. The product that they sell is audiences. The market is other corporations, because they survive pretty much on advertising in the modern period. It wasn’t always like this. There are other external influences, primarily state power, which itself is very heavily under corporate control, and which has its own propaganda institutions, called public diplomacy or something like that. And also, a constant flow of people in top government and corporate media positions, and very close interactions of other kinds.
That’s the basic structure. What do you expect to come out as the media product of a system of major corporations selling audiences to other corporations in close interaction with a major power system, state power, that there all very much interlocked with? That’s basically common sense.
The rest of the work we have done is giving examples illustrating the way it works, and I think, you can always debate examples, that we’ve tried to pick crucial cases. Even cases that the media regard as their highest, greatest achievement. And we looked at them and argued that in fact it conforms to the common sense expectation. Actually, an interesting aspect of the book, Manufacturing Consent, which journalists and commentators haven’t noticed, is that about a third of the book is defense of the media against attack from a liberal institution, Freedom House. ...
In ever society there’s something like a general intellectual community. You know, they don’t call them intellectuals necessarily, but there are people who are privileged, educated, have some opportunity to articulate and reach the public, who deal with public affairs. What we call intellectuals, they didn’t used to call them that, it’s a modern term. Historically, what you find is overwhelmingly this group is supportive of power. There’s usually a fringe of dissidents who are treated pretty badly. ...
As I said, it goes right back through recorded history. Classical Greece, who was it that was forced to drink the hemlock? The guy who was corrupting the youth of Athens by asking too many questions. ...