Note:  The following was originally published as a Facebook note November 20, 2009

Am I claiming that Fox News or Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh are going to do as Josef Goebbels did, working their way to a position where they can order the extermination of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people? No.

Rupert Murdoch - Caricature
Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Should these people have the freedom to offer their thoughts and opinions? Yes.

Should these people offer opinions based on facts? Yes. Remember Goebbels saying that propaganda doesn’t need to be intellectual … in other words, it doesn’t need to be based on facts, it can be purely that person’s opinion or ideological belief. Was Goebbels’ opinion right?

Do we have the freedom to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded building, when there is no fire? What would happen to us if, for no reason whatsoever other than to just do it, we decided to yell “BOMB!” in a crowded airplane thousands of feet up in the air? We’d be punished severely. Why? Because we’d be inciting fear and panic where none should exist. The things that Fox News does is often no different, at least when it comes to their “opinion” shows and too often when it comes to what’s supposed to fall under their “straight news” programs.

Do the Murdochs and Ailes and Becks and Limbaughs of today show concrete proof to back up their claims? Not very often, and if they do it’s all too often proof that’s taken out of context when it comes to people’s actual thoughts or actions.

I’ve been listening to Glenn Beck’s radio show on a daily basis for quite a while now. It never ceases to amaze me how he can whip his audience into a mad frenzy, telling his audience, “Just you wait! Just you wait! If you think that bombshell about Obama I just dropped in your lap was bad, if you don’t think what I’m telling you doesn’t spell the end of our nation as our forefathers designed it … just you wait until you hear what I have to tell you next! But first, this message from BG Oil Change Service (an actual sponsor, by the way, I’m not making this up) …”

The reigning prophet of gloom and doom has an amazing ability to build up the announcement of apocalyptic events about to occur, keeping us on the edge of our seats, just before stopping on a dime to completely change his tone while giving ad-libbed commercial breaks for BG Oil, or some identity theft protection service, or some other such sponsor. After all, the bills — and his multi-million-dollar salary — need to be paid.

The ultimate showman!

The voice of America?

I’d like to know how people who rake in millions of dollars per year – working for giant corporations that help to benefit other giant corporations with lobbyists devoted to walking the halls of Congress with the sole purpose of benefitting the giant corporations who employ them – can claim that they speak for millions of middle class Americans who struggle to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck, who have seen their earnings stagnate year after year while the cost of living rises year after year, who worry about the effects of some catastrophic illness on their families’ physical and financial well-being, who worry about just hanging onto their jobs.

Rush Limbaugh booking photo from his arrest in...
Image via Wikipedia

This is not to say that people like Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc., are each a modern-day Goebbels or Hassan Ngeze in that they will bring about yet another modern-day Holocaust. But an examination is desperately needed of how much of what we see coming from them is pure propaganda, not drastically unlike the things that came from the masters of pure propaganda … like Josef Goebbels.

If it’s not costing millions of people their lives over ideologies, what is it costing us? Is it costing us in terms of how we deal with each other — relatives, friends, strangers — who might not see eye to eye on issues that impact their lives? Is it damaging personal relationships? Is it damaging our ability to work out differences in a civil manner? Is it costing us anything in terms of how our government functions, or fails to function? If it costs us in terms of our government failing to function, how does that impact our daily lives? Is it costing us jobs? Is it costing us in terms of promoting the general welfare of the people of this nation? Promoting the general welfare of the people … where have we heard that before?

Mentioned in the United States’ Preamble to the Constitution, “Welfare” means health, happiness, prosperity or well-being. The country has an interest in promoting or maintaining the well-being and liberty of its people. Or am I wrong?

Murdoch and his wealth of media companies and his “soldiers” in those companies might not be promoting dangerous ideas such as the slaughter of millions of people for no other reason than different ideologies, but it’s dangerous propaganda nonetheless. It gives rise to the level of thinking that goes into the video referenced in this article.

After the Salt Lake Tribune article in that link was published, Paul Simon Music had the YouTube video taken down for violation of copyright laws. I saw the video before it was taken down. It defies common sense and logic.

There are good, fair, accurate, balanced journalists out there. I have a few of them in my Facebook friends list, people I’ve known from my own days as a journalist. They have a very hard, very stressful job. They are to be saluted for the important work they do. Our nation’s freedom and future liberty depend upon them to do their job correctly, accurately, objectively, courageously.

There is truth out there. You just have to work harder these days to find it, because we are being saturated by propaganda today from both sides of the political aisle. If it isn’t through Fox News or MSNBC, it’s in the countless web sites such as the one discussed in the Salt Lake Tribune column. In your quest to find the truth, do as Glenn Beck says repeatedly: “Question with boldness.” But those questions need to be posed to both sides.

The Pandora’s Box of propaganda can never be closed. But it can be rejected. You just have to know how to recognize it when you see it.

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