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A note about practical propaganda

22 March 2010

Summary:  A brief note foreshadowing the next post.

Propaganda has become a powerful tool used by both Left and Right to shape American’s views about the world.  Slowly we recognize this.  Republicans do so by their adoption of it as a primary policy tool, as seen in the health care debate.  Political commentators do so by evaluating the efforts of opinion-manipuators, and their effect on the American people — as Yglesias does here:

{C}overage of the actual content of the bill is by necessity more favorable to the bill than the hokum that’s dominated the conversation thus far. After all, most of what people have been talking about is either straight-up lies — death panels — or hystical mewling about the death of freedom and the gulag. Any time you have medical doctors on television talking about new insurance rules, or newspaper writers drawing up charts showing what kinds of people will be impacted in which ways, you’re into the universe of sober-minded discussion of an importance series of tweaks to people’s existing care, and the expenditure of a bunch of money to make insurance affordable to those who don’t have it.

Now realistically, the evidence suggests that once misconceptions get into people’s heads they’re hard to dislodge. So I wouldn’t count on enormous changes in public opinion ensuring from this shift in coverage. But it’s bound to help at the margin.

— “The changing tide“, Matthew Yglesias, posted at ThinkProgress, 22 March 2010

The next post discusses this theme in greater detail.

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