About Information Control: News Media as “Enemy”

You may have noticed that our narcissist-in-chief has decided that the media is the “enemy of the people”. Apparently, a component of his “Make America so Great!” agenda. He and his spin-spin-spinsters trot it out. You know the cast and crew — K.A. CONning-her-way, Spicey Spicer, et al. The regime keeps insisting that the president, himself, is our best news source.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but the repeated and blatant disregard for free speech coming from our “president” (oath of office defend the constitution, anyone?) continually stuns me. I asked a history professor friend to weigh in and he said: “Portugal’s Salazar and Spain’s Franco… and of course the Castro boys in Cuba. Manipulating and belittling ‘free’ journalism is a hallmark of dictatorial regimes that truck no criticism.

When I allowed “school” to slowly funnel my voice and mind into a font of cult propaganda, I experienced first hand the psychological damage inflicted when free speech erodes. The book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism — the go-to guide for cultic-study scholars and clinicians who work with ex-cult members — specifically addresses this: author Robert Jay Lifton wrote: “The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication … the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual’s communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads and writes, experiences and expresses), but also –in its penetration of his inner life – over what we may speak of as his communication with himself.”

Again, I shouldn’t be stunned, but when I see and hear Trump trolls and minions  mindlessly repeating the latest superficial, and baseless, slogan spewing forth from the White House … well, what can I say. A fairly sizable number of Trump voters believe that George Soros paid the millions of Women’s March protesters.

Hey, George, where’s my check?

 

7 thoughts on “About Information Control: News Media as “Enemy”

  1. Haven't Decided Today says:

    If you control communications, you control thought. If you control thought, you control choice. This happens with both major political parties to varying degrees (and I immodestly write as someone with high expertise in media and communications). But Trump is particularly good and relentless at it.

    He also takes the step of mass isolation. By fostering disbelief in any medium with different views, opinions, or even factual information, Trump has people to isolate themselves from other potential thoughts. Then he focuses on communicating with that particular group. Notice how he structured the inaugural. The Twitter rants. The “polls” the administration has posted, supposedly to seek input form people but really designed to reinforce desired opinions and to keep his slice of the public turned away from considering anything else.

    Of course it sounds familiar because most people reading any of this have experienced it. Sharon, et. at., went even further and took a page out of 1984 with the insistent use of a supposedly esoteric argot — their version of Newspeak. After a short while, people start to sound like parrots, using the same phrases. In one sense, there’s nothing unusual about a technical vocabulary in any subject, whether engineering, science, philosophy, medicine, sociology, music, or literary criticism.

    The difference is that to gain real expertise in any field, someone develops a personal secondary language. Underneath the technical terms the student creates his or her own understanding in words and images that make sense. It’s the adult version of when kids are told to read something and then find a different way of expressing the same thought. That secondary language is also the basis of how they can find other ways to phrase ideas and communicate them to other people.

    But under Sharon’s tutelage, the use of any language other than the officially recognized one is attacked. People are steered away from not just other sources of information, but from their own potential understanding (or considered dismissal). When you never develop your own grasp of a topic, you remain an intellectual and emotional infant who is completely dependent on others. And then when they are willing to change definitions or concepts to keep you from ever standing on your own feet, there’s no way to find steady ground.

    It’s like watching people in media and regular politics trying to comprehend what Trump does. They keep expecting rules. He simply makes stuff up as he wishes, directs his followers to hear only that, and then doesn’t give a crap that he’s off in his own reality. That’s the whole point.

    One way out is to really start to listen to what the leader is saying in the context of a different framework — like regular reality. I remember when Sharon claimed she was becoming clairvoyant, which was pretty damned funny given how much she didn’t know about those around her. Or the time she was absolutely elated as she told about being in a place where she could accost Dustin Hoffman and how he said he was willing to work with her, and you *know* the conversation was actually Hoffman trying to placate some nut case entertainment has-been wannabe so he could slip off and as quickly as possible forget her. Or when Alex was asked if he was conscious and he told the person that he wasn’t, in which case what the hell was he doing in charge?

  2. The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

    Thanks for your comment, HDT! You make some interesting points, stuff that I find myself mulling over all the time …
    “But Trump is particularly good and relentless at it. ”
    Here’s a guy who appears to give very little thought to anything, but also appears incredibly adept at saying and doing just the right thing, spreading a kind of malevolent fairy dust, that seeps into certain people and drugs them into a state of monkey see, monkey do. I guess that he’s wired this way – he’s had every privilege a human can have: white, male, wealthy and entitled, thus he’s wired to act like a dictator. And there are millions of people who see those traits as leadership and it seems like they’d be willing to justify anything. If, as he said on the campaign trail, Trump shot someone on 5th avenue, his supporters would blame the victim.

    That sounds familiar, too. How many times did we watch some “teacher” malign a “classmate” for no apparent reason and assume that s/he must have deserved the lashing for some esoteric reason. I guess that’s another post, though.

    “People are steered away from not just other sources of information, but from their own potential understanding (or considered dismissal). When you never develop your own grasp of a topic, you remain an intellectual and emotional infant who is completely dependent on others. And then when they are willing to change definitions or concepts to keep you from ever standing on your own feet, there’s no way to find steady ground. ”

    This is interesting to me because it’s an apt description of my “school”-ing experience. The longer my tenure, the more dependent and infantile I “became”. At the end of my tenure I was an empty, insecure, underweight, unemployable, neurotic mess — ah, evolution “school” style. Thanks, Robert, et al! You did me a favor by trying to force me to choose between my marriage and a cult. B/c the moment I chose my marriage, I took my life back.

    “He simply makes stuff up as he wishes, directs his followers to hear only that, and then doesn’t give a crap that he’s off in his own reality. That’s the whole point.”

    I 100% agree with you and … well, you can’t help but question, how did this guy end up occupying the White House. This guy is now presiding over a democracy and his psychological makeup makes him unfit in every way. He’s not wired to comprehend or even care about democracy — everything is about aggrandizing Trump, just like everything in “school” was really about aggrandizing the mysterious Sharon (she was mysterious to m as a Boston-branch attendee who came in a bit later in the game. I think Boston leadership realized that it should limit our exposure to the grande dame). Anyway, obviously, avid Trump supporters are more than willing to live in Trump’s America, taking on his narrative, without challenge. He is “the only one” who can … [fill in the blank]. But they aren’t the majority. HRC won the popular vote and by a fairly significant number. The electoral vote, which is supposed to protect us from wanna-be-dictators put a wanna-be-dictator at the helm. There’s really something wrong … perhaps its the Russia connection.

    “I remember when Sharon claimed she was becoming clairvoyant, which was pretty damned funny given how much she didn’t know about those around her.”

    This makes me laugh b/c while in my cult coma, I recall believing that our “teachers” were sprinkled with fairy dust and floating above, looking down, taking in the lowly proletariat – they “knew us better than we knew ourselves” (remember that little gem?)

    After I left and started “breaking rules” by (gasp) talking to other “disgruntled ex-students”, I learned how many of my fellow “school” mates lied about certain things — like 3rd line of work, i.e. recruitment, efforts, and our enlightened leadership had no idea. It took me a while to get over this, to tell you the truth.

    Well, thanks, again for your contribution … please keep commenting!

    • Haven't Decided Today says:

      >>I 100% agree with you and … well, you can’t help but question, how did this guy end up occupying the White House. <<

      It's complicated. There are die-hard supporters who just want to believe. There are probably many more people who voted out of desperation. Either they though the country in general was going in the wrong direction or they or their families or friends were personally affected by economic problems, worried about the potential of those problems, or thought the country was not taking care of basic business.

      The Democrats took too many groups for granted when they hadn't delivered on some basic promises they had been making for decades. There are only so many times you can say, "Vote us in and then we'll do something for you," only to not follow through. People understand that change is incremental, but they expect that change to start. There was certainly the effect of voter suppression, but I wonder how much more Democrats undermined their own stated positions and discouraged people from voting. And then there was all of the crap that came out in the DNC emails, and even if one argues about the source of their release, the contents were genuine (no matter how some loyalists tried to cast aspersions on their accuracy without ever showing proof they had been faked). That was pretty damning.

      The significant margin in popular vote was really only 2.1%, which isn't that big. Had the Democrats at the top not taken voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania for granted, I suspect the results would have been different.

      But, unfortunately that is all water now well under the bridge and down the stream. The question is how much worse can and will things get. When I was involved with the group, it was the early to mid 1980s. From the stories I've heard and read, I suspect that was a relatively quiet period when some were still smarting from the reaction in SF and not yet swaggering enough to pull out the stops back east. I've had the same impression from someone I knew at the time. But things clearly got much worse. I can't imagine how unpleasant it would be sitting through hours of the crap with all the petit bourgeois didactocrats reveling in their "position" and "power." Sad, laughable, and alarming all at the same time, particularly when I read of some names that I remember as new to the group, who seemed far more benign than it sounds like they became but who exhibited the early signs. One guy became incensed that I would sneeze loudly. He tried to tell me that I was looking for attention. I laughed at him. Maybe he had held back his sneezes so often that the pressure blew his brains out his ears. 🙂

      So, while I'd agree that the self-aggrandizement is the same, the conditions are radically different.

    • Odysseus says:

      ” I think Boston leadership realized that it should limit our exposure to the grande dame.”

      That may be part of it, but personally I think she was just too lazy to venture to Boston more often than once a year or so.

      “you can’t help but question, how did this guy end up occupying the White House”.

      That’s a big question. Part of the answer is that the right wing leadership of this country has been on a long-term, deliberate campaign to dumb down the American populace. Trump is, in part, the result of this campaign.

      There is certainly a parallel in our experiences in the cult, whereby we were brought to believe in the craziest ideas by repetition after repetition of them, by students as well as “teachers”. We were intentionally dumbed down by this repetition.

      Looking back, I can see that much of the time those repeating the ideas did not even properly understand them. But because of the constant repetition everyone was convinced of the truth of the ideas.

      • Haven't Decided Today says:

        >> There is certainly a parallel in our experiences in the cult, whereby we were brought to believe in the craziest ideas by repetition after repetition of them, by students as well as “teachers”. We were intentionally dumbed down by this repetition.<<

        Repetition is a classic propaganda technique. Governments, religions, academic institutions, and advertisers all do it.

  3. The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

    I also agree that the Dems — and I say this as someone who identifies (no, not that!) as Democratic — misread the tea leaves and really f*d up. I’m not a DC insider, so I can’t understand how they could miss, or perhaps dismiss, and even intentionally dampen the energy and enthusiasm behind Bernie Sanders. I’m not an anti-Hillary person and I’m not a political analyst, but it seems obvious to me that trends worldwide are pointing towards changing the establishment and that change can only swing right or left. Most change is swinging right at the moment, but the Bernie Sander supporters had a ton of momentum and apparently they simply couldn’t vote for Clinton. That momentum was drained by the party, to a devastating result.

    And why HRC did not campaign in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania is beyond me. Hubris, I guess. She shouldn’t have taken anything for granted.

    Personally, I really didn’t want to believe Trump could win, but I tried to prepare myself for it, b/c I wasn’t seeing enthusiasm for her and I was seeing big Trump banners all over my neighborhood in Massachusetts.

    “So, while I’d agree that the self-aggrandizement is the same, the conditions are radically different.”

    Well, we are talking about a national election vs. a secretive mom & pop cult, so the context is very different, but the “aim” (sorry, cough) is the same: a narcissist garnering self-aggrandizement and bolstering investments, lining pockets. In Trump’s case, with our tax dollars.

    And even with all the points you made about the mistakes Democrats made, who else would end up president after calling Mexicans rapists, bragging about grabbing pussy, telling Howard Stern, “yea, it’s ok for you to call my daughter a nice piece of ass”, having a pending rape case hanging over his head (media didn’t report this, why not?) making fun of a disabled reporter, calling for an unconstitutional Muslim ban, refusing to release his taxes, refusing to divest from his businesses … on and on and on and on and on … Apparently, he really could murder someone on 5th ave and get away with it. I still come back to the same question.

    • Haven't Decided Today says:

      >> I’m not a DC insider, so I can’t understand how they could miss, or perhaps dismiss, and even intentionally dampen the energy and enthusiasm behind Bernie Sanders.<<

      I think it's related to the same mechanism that drives Trump and Sharon. Their welfare is more important than the people for whom they claim responsiblity and they've too long enjoyed privilege and now think it's their due, so excuse away any action they take. Plus, being sure they knew better.

      Yes, there were Trump posters even in Mass, and yet this is the only state in which every county went for Clinton. So you can imagine the number of literal and figurative signs people ignored elsewhere.

      To your point, neither Trump nor Sharon exhibit the ability to feel shame, let alone embarrassment. They will kill before they let their images be questioned. If you're willing to do and say literally anything in your drive for power, it's scary what you can accomplish.

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