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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.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 19, 2018 at 9:59pm

Ian Sinclair interviews Dr Florian Zollmann, a Lecturer in Journalism at Newcastle University and author of the recent book Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention (Peter Lang, 2017). Zollmann starts by setting out the main findings of his study.

Florian Zollmann: Leading news organisations in liberal democracies employ a double-standard when reporting on human rights violations: If countries designated to be ‘enemies’ of the West (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012) conduct human rights violations, the news media highlight these abuses and report demands for action to stop human rights breaches. Such measures may entail policies with potentially serious effects for the target countries, including sanctions and military intervention. If, on the other hand, Western states or their ‘allies’ (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the US-led Coalition in Iraq in 2004 and Egypt in 2013) are the perpetrators of human rights violations that are similar or in excess of those conducted by ‘enemies’, the news media employ significantly less investigatory zeal in their reporting and virtually no measures to stop abuses are suggested.

My study shows, on the basis of an assessment of extensive quantitative and textual data, that the news media utilise different journalistic norms in terms of how they convey emotional sentiment, handle facts and evidence, use sources and perspective and classify events. These journalistic double standards, then, translate into a radically dichotomised news framing of problem definitions, responsibility of actors and policy options in response to what constitute relatively similar human rights violations: Official ‘enemies’ are depicted as pariah states, facing international condemnation and intervention. Western states and their ‘allies’ are depicted as benign forces, which may at best be criticised for using the wrong tactics and policy approaches. The dynamics of such dichotomised propaganda campaigns have had the effect that only some bloodbaths received visibility and scrutiny in the public sphere.


The propagandistic nature of the liberal media: Interview with Florian Zollmann


http://truepublica.org.uk/global/jonathan-cook-the-corporate-medias...

Jonathan Cook: The corporate media’s world of illusions

German Journalist Who Spilled the Beans on CIA Media Influence Has Died at 56 of Heart Attack

 

“Non-Official Cover” – Respected German Journalist Blows Whistle on How the CIA Controls the Media

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2018 at 1:44pm

#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-breastfeedin...

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.

----------

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.

--------------

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 21, 2019 at 10:42am

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-pr...

by Kathryn Shihadah

https://www.mintpressnews.com/new-study-finds-50-year-history-of-pr...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 1, 2019 at 7:31am

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-...


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.

-------

"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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 7, 2019 at 2:19pm

#Trump told #Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in 2017 that he was not concerned about Russian meddling in #USA #elections because the #UnitedStates did the same in other countries https://reut.rs/2lQDTRK

President Donald Trump told two Russian officials in a 2017 meeting that he was not concerned about Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. election, which prompted White House officials to limit access to the remarks, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

A summary of Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the U.S. was limited to a few officials in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, the Post said, citing former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

A whistleblower complaint about a July phone call in which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden is at the heart of the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry launched this week.

A member of the U.S. intelligence community who filed the complaint against Trump said notes from other conversations the president had with foreign leaders had been placed on a highly classified computer system in a departure from normal practice in a bid to protect information that was politically sensitive, rather than sensitive for national security reasons.

Trump’s 2017 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak was already considered controversial after it was learned that Trump disclosed highly classified information about a planned Islamic State operation.


On election interference, Trump told Lavrov and Kislyak he was not concerned about Russian meddling because the United States did the same in other countries, the Post reported.

CNN, citing people familiar with the matter, said efforts to limit access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that procedures for handling records of Trump’s conversations with world leaders had changed early in his tenure after calls with Mexico’s president and Australia’s prime minister were leaked.

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