How America Promotes "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

In a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview with President Donald Trump,  Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly authoritatively declared  Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.”  Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump did something similar more recently after his Singapore Summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim JongUn.  When Fox News' Brett Baier  raised the question  in an interview about "Kim's oppression of his own people", Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things.”

American Narrative:

Both O'Reilly and Baier were essentially repeating the standard American narrative that wants the world to believe that "we (Americans) are the good guys and those opposing America are the bad guys".

Trump, an unconventional American leader, displayed rare candor in his responses.  The American  media and "research scholars", managed by the "Deep State", sharply criticized Trump and continued to parrot the standard American narrative asserting that "we're the good guys" while vilifying Vladimir Putin, Kim JongUn and other leaders and countries designated as "enemies".

Young and Barbaric:

Trump appears ready to drop all pretenses of US being "the good guys" standing for "freedom, democracy and human rights".  He is not alone in his assertion that "our country (United States) is not so innocent".  George Friedman, the founder of  Stratfor which describes itself as "American geopolitical intelligence platform", is the ultimate "Deep State" insider in America.  Friedman acknowledges that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric, a description, not a moral judgment. Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions."

Friedman argues that "perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

More recently, the United States' interventions in the Middle East have destabilized and devastated Libya and Syria and created a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have died and millions rendered homeless and trying to flee hunger and violence.

Narrative Promotion:

So how does America create and promote its "good guys" narrative in the world and demonize others? How do American image builders gloss over its past characterized by the genocide of the indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and a history of assassinations, invasions, atrocities, proxy wars, and coups in the developing world? How do their actions escape the "terrorism" label that is liberally applied to others, particularly Muslims?  What modern image-making and promotional tools and techniques has Uncle Sam borrowed from the world of brand creation, promotion and management?

The first thing in creating a narrative is the basic story supported by effective language and vocabulary. It is fleshed out by writers, poets, musicians and artists.  The basic American narrative  goes like this:  America stands for freedom, democracy and human rights. It is a force for all that is good in the world. Those who oppose America are the "bad guys".

The narrative is then widely disseminated, promoted and incessantly repeated by Washington think tanks, book authors, major newspaper reporters and editors,  mainstream journalists, television channels and popular entertainment platforms.

Talking points are developed and shared to defend against any criticisms. Inconvenient truths are obfuscated.  Those who accept the talking points are rewarded and those who persist in criticisms are isolated and punished. Rewards come in the form of funding and access. Punishments are handed out by orchestrating attacks by peers and by denying funds and access.

Controlling the Narrative:

The United States government funds think tanks, hires consultants and directly and indirectly influences mass media and popular entertainment platforms to control and promote its "good guys" narrative and to vilify those seen as competitors.

1. Think Tanks:  Woodrow Wilson Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Rand Corporation and a several others are partially or fully funded by the US government. These are supplemented by dozens of other think tanks funded by major US corporations which have a stake in promoting a positive global image of the United States. These organizations organize conferences, publish books and "research papers" and offer scholarships to promote the American "good guys" narrative globally.  They have both resident and non-resident "scholars", including some from developing countries like Pakistan. Some of the Pakistani "scholars" working for Washington think tanks also work for major media houses in Pakistan. These "scholars" are widely quoted by the media on issues relating to US-Pakistan relations.

2. News Media:  Veteran American journalist Carl Bernstein, famous for his reporting on Watergate along with Bob Woodward, investigated CIA's use of the American media and wrote a piece describing "How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up". Here's what he said:

"Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Associated Press (AP),  United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune".

3. Popular Entertainment:  It has been suggested that Hollywood has been working with the United States government for a long time.  Some have said that Hollywood is "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".  Information obtained under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) confirms that thousands of Hollywood films have received backing from the CIA and the US Department of Defense and other US agencies to promote America's "good guy" narrative. These include 24, Army Wives, Flight 93, Homeland,  Ice Road Truckers, NCIS,  Transformers, Iron Man, Terminator, etc.

Documents obtained recently under FOIA show that the relationship between the US national security establishment and American entertainment businesses is much deeper and more political than ever acknowledged.

4. Books and Literature:  Starting with the Cold War, the American CIA has infiltrated and influenced books and literature to promote the American official "good guys" narrative. "Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers" by Joel Whitney reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway were recruited as soldiers in Cold War.

Editors of top literary magazines were used as a vehicle for this infiltration.  The first time the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines came to light was in 1966. The CIA used multiple guises to financially support young, promising writers as part of a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world.

Summary:

The United States government has developed and aggressively controls and promotes America's standard narrative that "we are the good guys and those opposing us are the bad guys".  This narrative glosses over the history of native American genocide, enslavement of Africans and the CIA sponsored assassinations, coups and proxy wars in the developing world. In a couple of recent interviews, US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the problems with the American narrative. Nevertheless, the American narrative is promoted using a multi-pronged strategy that includes the use of think tanks, popular entertainment, books and literature and the mainstream media.

Related Links:

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Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Trump administration opposes #breastfeeding resolution, defends formula makers' corporate interests, intimidates sponsoring nations at the @UN affiliated World Health Assembly in #Geneva. #Ecuador #breastmilk https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

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When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

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The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s.
Riaz Haq said…
US funding for Pakistani journalists raises questions of transparency
US State Department funding, supplied through a nonprofit intermediary, supports the presence of two Pakistani journalists in Washington. Some observers say the relationship should be more transparent.

By Issam Ahmed, Correspondent SEPTEMBER 2, 2011

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2011/0902/US-funding-for-Pakistani-journalists-raises-questions-of-transparency

Two Pakistani journalists filing reports home from Washington are quietly drawing their salaries from US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary, highlighting the sophisticated nature of America’s efforts to shape its image abroad.

Neither of the two media organizations, Express News and Dunya News, discloses that their reporters are paid by the nonprofit America Abroad Media (AAM) on their websites or in the reports filed by their correspondents. Though the journalists have worked under the auspices of AAM since February, AAM only made their links to the news organizations known on their website Wednesday, after being contacted by the Monitor.

The lack of transparency by the Pakistani organizations involved could heighten Pakistani mistrust of the US government, which is seen as having an undue level of influence in their country’s affairs.

“If an American journalist working as a foreign correspondent in Pakistan was paid in a similar manner, would it be morally or professionally acceptable for his news organization or audience?” asks Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s prestigious English-language Herald magazine.


The amount currently allocated for the project is some $2 million over two years from the public diplomacy funds allocated by the State Department, according to State Department officials in Washington familiar with the project. That includes salaries for the two correspondents – Huma Imtiaz of Express News and Awais Saleem of Dunya News – and a bureau for both TV channels.

Aaron Lobel, president of AAM, says his organization receives donations from a number of private funders, too, which it mainly spends on its programs on international affairs that run on Public Radio International in the United States.

The timing of AAM’s website disclosure – after contact from the Monitor – was a coincidence and the update had been planned for “several months,” he says. “We are a small organization with two web guys. They are really working hard on the new site – not just about the Pakistan project but on everything we do. Yes, it would have been better to have a lot of information [before]. We have been preparing this site for a long time to provide that information.”

“The content production is done first and foremost [by] Pakistanis who are here and work with their channels back home to produce content,” says Lobel.
Riaz Haq said…
New Study Finds 50-Year History of Anti-#Palestine Bias in Mainstream #News Reporting. The study, conducted by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, is the largest of its kind. #media #MiddleEast #Israel #MediaBias https://www.mintpressnews.com/new-study-finds-50-year-history-of-pro-israel-bias-in-us-media/254049/#.XEYPJeLL8wg.twitter

by Kathryn Shihadah

https://www.mintpressnews.com/new-study-finds-50-year-history-of-pro-israel-bias-in-us-media/254049/?fbclid=IwAR2MgQAcd1LDDwvutdouYyJEmJm8O95btIZlKhycxH-drdxz90nmEaAJsn0

recent media study based on an analysis of 50 years of data found that major U.S. newspapers have provided consistently skewed, pro-Israel reporting on Israel-Palestine.

The study, conducted by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, is the largest of its kind.

Using computer analysis, researchers evaluated the headlines of five influential U.S. newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal from 1967 to 2017.

The study period begins in June 1967, the date when Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – now officially termed the Occupied Palestinian Territories – following its Six Day War against Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

The methodology involved the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a type of computer analysis that sifts through large amounts of natural language data and investigates the vocabulary. NLP tabulated the most commonly used words and word pairs, as well as the positive or negative sentiment associated with the headlines.

Using NLP to analyze 100,000 headlines, the study revealed that the coverage favored Israel in the “sheer quantity of stories covered,” by presenting Palestinian-centric stories from a more negative point of view, as well as by grossly under-representing the Palestinian narrative, and by omitting or downplaying “key topics that help to identify the conflict in all its significance.”

The Fifty Years of Occupation study reveals a clear media bias first in the quantity of headlines: over the half-century period in question, headlines mentioned Israel 4 times more frequently than Palestine.

The study revealed other discrepancies in coverage of Israel and Palestine/Palestinians as well.



Sentiment
For all 5 newspapers studied, Israel-centric headlines were on average more positive than the Palestinian-centric headlines.

Sentiment analysis measures “the degree to which ideological loyalty colors analysis.”

In order to measure sentiment, the study employed a “dictionary” of words classified as either positive or negative; each headline was scored based on its use of these words.

The report explains that journalistic standards require news stories to be “neutral, objective, and derived from facts,” but the reports on Israel-Palestine “exhibit some form of institutionalized ideological posturing and reflect a slant.”



Underrepresented Palestinian Voices
The study also found Palestinians marginalized as sources of news and information.

A simple case in point: The fact-checking organization Pundit Fact examined CNN guests during a segment of the 2014 Israeli incursion into Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. Pundit Fact reported that during this time, 20 Israeli officials were interviewed, compared to only 4 Palestinians, although Palestinians were overwhelmingly victims of the incursion with 2,251 deaths vs. 73 Israeli deaths.

The study’s data reveal what it calls “the privileging of Israeli voices and, invariably, Israeli narratives”: the phrases “Israel Says” and “Says Israel” occurred at a higher frequency than any other bigram (2-word phrase) throughout the 50 years of headlines – in fact, at a rate 250% higher than “Palestinian Says” and similar phrases. This indicates that not only are Israeli perspectives covered more often, but Palestinians rarely have an opportunity to defend or explain their actions.
Riaz Haq said…
More than 16,000 men fought in the Cuba campaign, but for much of the American public, there was only one regiment that mattered. A dozen correspondents, including Stephen Crane, the novelist already famous for “The Red Badge of Courage,” chronicled the campaign across southeastern Cuba. In New York, customers flocked to Wanamaker’s department store to snatch up the “Rough Rider,” a rakish new style of hat available in a variety of materials, including nutria fur.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/opinion/sunday/spanish-american-war-power.html


Above all, the Rough Riders became instant celebrities because they embodied the public’s newfound, idealistic militarism. “Whether Fifth Avenue millionaires or Western cowboys, they fought together and died together in Cuba for the great American principles of liberty, equality and humanity,” an editorialist for The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote.

Though America’s engagement with the world would wax and wane over the subsequent decades, that same Rough Rider spirit defined the coming American century. It led millions to enlist in the fight against Germany in World War II, to join the Marines landing at Danang in 1965, to volunteer to invade Iraq in 2003. It justified the permanent expansion of the American military after World War II as a bulwark of democratic freedom in parts of the world most Americans could not locate on a map.

Sometimes, American idealism is in the right place; often it serves as window dressing for baser national designs. But good intentions don’t help Americans know what to do next. The ideals that underwrote the American century also undermine the promise of American power as a transformative force.

The Rough Riders landed in Cuba on June 22, 1898; by August, Spain was suing for peace. Along the way, the United States captured Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, where its troops next fought a three-year counterinsurgency using many of the same brutal tactics the Spanish had employed in Cuba.

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"When Americans think about the Spanish-American War, if we think about it at all, we imagine a short, unnecessary and largely irrelevant conflict, hatched by a cabal of hawkish imperialists and yellow-press barons. But the war, however brief, was in fact a defining moment in America’s emergence as a global power. It captured the imagination of millions and changed how everyday citizens saw their place in the world. No longer content to merely inspire freedom for the world’s oppressed, people like Colbert decided they had a personal obligation to bring freedom to them....Rarely have these efforts ended in success. America’s righteousness can be blinding; the virtue of the cause prevents the country from seeing the challenge clearly, whether it is rebuilding Cuba or defeating the Taliban. There is a lot to say for America’s commitment to use its power for the good of the world, but also a need to understand its limits — a lesson that begins with Colbert and the Rough Riders...Aside from ejecting the Spanish, it is hard to argue that the American presence made any of these places better off. But these experiences, and countless others, have done little to tarnish the belief that good intentions can justify rash decisions and disastrous outcomes. America likes to assign the blame for its “bad” wars — the Spanish-American War, Vietnam, Iraq — to devious schemers who trick the public into supporting them: William Randolph Hearst, Lyndon Johnson, neoconservatives. But that lets the public itself off the hook. Underlying all these wars is the same broadly held, deeply committed missionary zeal that drove men like Benjamin Colbert and the Rough Riders to war. Until Americans learn to balance their commitment to global justice with an awareness of the limits to military prowess, the country will continue to make these mistakes.
Riaz Haq said…
The New York Times casually acknowledged that it sends major scoops to the US government before publication, to make sure “national security officials” have “no concerns.”
By Ben Norton

https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/24/new-york-times-media-us-government-approval/

Indeed, the Times report on the escalating American cyber attacks against Russia is attributed to “current and former [US] government officials.” The scoop in fact came from these apparatchiks, not from a leak or the dogged investigation of an intrepid reporter.

‘Real’ journalists get approval from ‘national security’ officials
The neoliberal self-declared “Resistance” jumped on Trump’s reckless accusation of treason (the Democratic Coalition, which boasts, “We help run #TheResistance,” responded by calling Trump “Putin’s puppet”). The rest of the corporate media went wild.

But what was entirely overlooked was the most revealing thing in the New York Times’ statement: The newspaper of record was essentially admitting that it has a symbiotic relationship with the US government.

In fact, some prominent American pundits have gone so far as to insist that this symbiotic relationship is precisely what makes someone a journalist.

In May, neoconservative Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen — a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush — declared that WikiLeaks publisher and political prisoner Julian Assange is “not a journalist”; rather, he is a “spy” who “deserves prison.” (Thiessen also once called Assange “the devil.”)

What was the Post columnist’s rationale for revoking Assange’s journalistic credentials?

Unlike “reputable news organizations, Assange did not give the U.S. government an opportunity to review the classified information WikiLeaks was planning to release so they could raise national security objections,” Thiessen wrote. “So responsible journalists have nothing to fear.”

In other words, this former US government speechwriter turned corporate media pundit insists that collaborating with the government, and censoring your reporting to protect so-called “national security,” is definitionally what makes you a journalist.

This is the express ideology of the American commentariat.

NY Times editors ‘quite willing to cooperate with the government’
The symbiotic relationship between the US corporate media and the government has been known for some time. American intelligence agencies play the press like a musical instrument, using it it to selectively leak information at opportune moments to push US soft power and advance Washington’s interests.

But rarely is this symbiotic relationship so casually and publicly acknowledged.

In 2018, former New York Times reporter James Risen published a 15,000-word article in The Intercept providing further insight into how this unspoken alliance operates.

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Risen detailed how his editors had been “quite willing to cooperate with the government.” In fact, a top CIA official even told Risen that his rule of thumb for approving a covert operation was, “How will this look on the front page of the New York Times?”

There is an “informal arrangement” between the state and the press, Risen explained, where US government officials “regularly engaged in quiet negotiations with the press to try to stop the publication of sensitive national security stories.”

“At the time, I usually went along with these negotiations,” the former New York Times reported said. He recalled an example of a story he was writing on Afghanistan just prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Then-CIA Director George Tenet called Risen personally and asked him to kill the story.


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