Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Origin Of The "Liberal Media" Meme

Some scientists say that 98% of human thought is subconscious.

I guess they are saying that our minds have an automatic transmission, or that it is substantially "computer" controlled.

That seems, in some ways, to be scary, especially since many of our beliefs are subconsciously controlled if that is true.

For instance, you probably do not know that the "liberal media" meme originated with campaign advisers of Richard Nixon:
After the Goldwater defeat of 1964, conservatism was a dirty word and most Americans wanted to be liberals, especially working people, who were highly unionized. Lee Atwater and colleagues, working for the 1968 Nixon campaign, had a problem: How to get a significant number of working people to become conservative enough to vote for Nixon.
(Huffington Post, emphasis added). They decided to start a nuanced slander of the notion of "liberal" so as to cut it down to the lowly spot "conservative" had fallen to.

The goal was first to put "liberal" and "conservative" on an even footing by putting down the notion of "liberal":
They intuited what I have since called "biconceptualism" (see The Political Mind) -- the fact that many Americans have both conservative and progressive views, but in different contexts and on different issues. Mutual inhibition in brain circuitry means the strengthening of one weakens the other. They found a way to both strengthen conservative views and weaken liberal views, creating a conservative populism. Here's how they did it.

They realized that by the late 60's many working people were disturbed by the anti-war demonstrations; so Nixon ran on anti-communism. They noticed that many working men were upset by radical feminists. So they pushed traditional family values. And they realized that, after the civil rights legislation, many working men, especially in the South, were threatened by blacks. So they ran Nixon on law and order. At the same time, they created the concept of "the liberal elite" -- the tax and spend liberals, the liberal media, the Hollywood liberals, the limousine liberals, and so on. They created language for all these ideas and have been repeating it ever since.
(Id, emphasis added). It was pure propaganda, but it was based on a cunningly powerful understanding of real human reason.

Real human reason is always composed of emotion in part.

Real human reason is not fully liberal nor fully conservative.

Your emotions and how your mind is framed are subjects that are studied furiously so that you can be manipulated more effectively.

Who would have "thunk it" ... Nixon political operatives created the powerful false notion of the liberal media, and far too many Americans still believe that falsehood to this very day.


  1. Excellent post. Yes, that's definitely in character for Nixon, who was one of the smartest paranoid and totally deranged pols to ever come down the pike (if Bush/Cheney had been as smart we'd all be in chains by now). Frank Luntz has paid homage to all this through his work ever since, and might be one of the most powerful figures you've never heard of behind the current conservative agenda. Mark my words, the conservative "defeat" in 2008 was anything but. They'll be back stronger than ever in 2010 and 2012. Just as one example, the anti-tax backlash has already begun in earnest, and no taxes have yet gone up! The smearing of the word liberal has got to be one of the all time great purely political accomplishments in American politics. It has literally changed the face of the American map, based on the fact that environmentalism has effectively become a dirty word. These guys are insane, but brilliantly so.

  2. disaffected,

    The article made me want to buy the book, or check it out with my library card for a closer look.

    It has much insight on human reason, pointed out by a guy who voted for Obama.

    He says Obama and the dems do not understand the way conservatives reason.

  3. The repetition part is key as well. You can sell almost any message, no matter how inane, as long as you focus your message and hammer it relentlessly over and over, no matter how many "facts" accrue to the contrary. Propaganda 101 really, but a simple strategy that paid off in spades for the Bush administration in particular. That's why Karl Rove is regarded as such a genius. He realizes that political communication in particular is NOT complex, its really very simple. Most people won't actually listen to 90% of what you say anyway, so simplify it down to 1-3 basic themes, then repeat those themes using very basic language over and over again.

    Very quickly, name three core beliefs of Democrats that are known widely and that can be stated in a simple declarative sentence. Can't do it can you? For the GOP, not hard at all: Security at home through military strength abroad and border control at home, conservative Christian religious values, and (always) lower taxes. Those three alone are enough to win every national election in the 21st century, absent an occasional hiccup due to to disastrous regimes like Bush (and then, only barely, after nominating possibly the worst ticket ever conceived, which makes me suspect the election was actually thrown).

  4. disaffected,

    The conservative election campaign wizards, and I mean that in every sense of the word, are real world examples of the bad guy wizard type in Batman movies.

    They are not above throwing an election, and they have the main stream media as their sword, the lack of understanding of the many that any nation can become evil as their shield, and blind faith as their helmet.

    Those who pull their strings are the ones light needs to be shined on IMO.

    You know, that sexy vixen MOMCOM.

  5. You know, I don't even think shining light on these rascals is doing any good. We've already seen the deeds of Luntz, Norquist, and Rove exposed on such MSM outlets as 60 Minutes, and no one seemed to care at all. Rove, in particular, is known far and wide, and yet he's revered and respected as much as despised by political operatives, and most of the public could just plain care less.

    The Dems are just gonna have to get about the business of actually defining something LASTING that they believe in and forging a message to communicate it. On the issue of national Defense alone, they simply don't have a clue. Everything you say about MOMCOM is absolutely true, but no legitimate Dem candidate would touch that stuff to save their life. That's why they can only win in GOP down years, and then by running as virtual GOP candidates themselves. It's completely laughable to think that Obama is ANYTHING BUT a traditional old-school Republican politician. It speaks VOLUMES that the GOP message machine has so skewed the political road map that Obama and actual Republicans like him are now considered the far left "socialist" fringe.

    ACTUAL liberals are not even on the political radar anymore, and have not one hope in hell of ever being elected again. Ron Paul is the perfect example. He's as close to a genuine out of the closet free thinking liberal as you'll find, and he's widely and openly viewed as a lunatic and laughingstock. What little popularity he has is simply because he's the ONLY ONE saying anything controversial and different at all.

  6. I forgot to add, the three basic beliefs of Democrats that ARE known widely, have effectively been defined FOR them by the GOP message machine. See if you don't agree?

    Tax and spend Democrats, soft on terror/defense, abortion lovers/baby killers. All of which has been so well codified, that it can be evoked by the utterance of a single word: LIBERAL.

    Until they can take the sting out of those messages, we'd be better off starting another party and hoping that it doesn't get tarred with the same brush, or all start voting Republican in the better hope IMO that the GOP can be changed from within.

    I think the Dems are permanently cooked, starting with this year's midterms.

  7. Hey, have you guys seen Boogie Man, the film about Atwater? It explains a lot of this stuff. Fascinating. Their web site is: www.BoogieManFilm.com

  8. Sam Aiken,

    Thanks, good link.

    I will make it active: Bogie Man Film about Lee Atwater, conservative political strategist.

  9. disaffected,

    If you read the substance of Lakoff's "The Political Mind" together with his widely accepted theory of "Frames" (e.g. frames of mind) it supports the constructs set forth on the Toxins of Power blog.

    We are dealing with a social sickness brought about by toxins of power, seeping into government until it becomes dysfunctional, then affecting / infecting the populace.

    A sickness that certainly can affect / infect societies with delusion (non-psychotic delusion like children have: santa, easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc).

    Once cannot deny that the essence of delusion is being out of touch with what is really going on, "reality"; the degree determines whether is is psychotic, socially unaware, or just plain vanilla juvenile.