Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Myth of the Liberal Media

How did Noam Chomsky become a hate figure among the liberal left?

Few question the sneering tone used by people who define themselves as leftist whenever the professor's name comes up. However, I just watched this clip and thought that, although it's five years old, it's nevertheless still accurate, still applicable, and needs saying often. "Are the media by their institutional structure free to allow expression of opinion from whatever source?" Having been banned by the Guardian as well as the Great Chinese Firewall, I say no, niet, nein, non, never, no way.

I shall have to dig out Chomsky's classic: Manufacturing Consent. Along with Edward Said's Orientalism, a must-read that gives you X-ray vision when looking at the 'natural' order of things, and makes visible the invisible. Better than spinach for strengthening your brain muscles.


Biluś said...

Thanks for this, Anna - I've never quite got round to reading Chomsky, but have always enjoyed seeing clips like this one from Youtube - I had always thought that he was an icon of the left, so I'm as puzzled as you by that sneering reaction... anybody know why that might be? Ho hum - Chomsky and Said now on my summer reading, and I'm so excited by that, ta! :-)

Dan Harper said...

Propaganda is what happens when a human being speaks. Orwell said that all art is propaganda, but all propaganda is not art. And isn't the less obvious propaganda the most successful?

mediastudiesisshit said...

I've been pressing home for a few years now that if Media Studies students read nothing else at university (and in my experience they don't read much!) they should read The Manufacture of Consent and Orientalism.

I have to say that Said gets treated with more respect than Chomsky. And I'm baffled by the criticism he takes. Strangely, the only criticism I can recall being levelled at him is that the propaganda module lacks sophistication, or isn't sufficiently nuanced enough to appreciate the complexity of media institutions and their audiences.

Nobody would deny that there are dissident voices in the media. No one would argue that audiences are passive and wholly accepting of the propaganda message delivered by the mainstream media. The demonstration and protests that we have seen recently are evidence of that But one only has to look at the media's coverage of those events and its truncated response to the current economic crisis; the narrow terms of the debate; the exercising of definitional authority by elite groups trying to persuade us that there is no alternative to the free market even when its failure is so palpable; one only has to consider this to see that Herman and Chomsky are pretty damn close to the truth of how the media work.

It's a great clip MM. I'll show it to my students.