The elites who run this country exercise power in two ways, one private, one public. Politicians and policy are manipulated through registered lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and in private meetings at lavish fundraisers. It's all about money and access. All of this takes place behind closed doors, out of the public's sight. The manipulation of American citizens is carried out through the corporate owned media (image left, click to enlarge). There's nothing private about it; it's right there in front of you on the TV. How does this work?
The primary functions of the mainstream media (MSM) are to make money by catering to their advertisers and to maintain the socioeconomic status quo. Each goal reinforces the other, i.e. they are mutually supporting. Special interests seek to maintain their privileged status. This is accomplished by 1) narrowing the frame of debate; 2) omission of crucial information; 3) taking the political system seriously when it obviously should not be taken seriously; 4) propaganda telling us how well we're doing; and 5) distracting citizens with ever dumber (and ever more insidious) entertainments of various sorts—sitcoms, "news" shows, "reality" shows, gladiatorial contests, and so on, all interspersed with advertising so manipulative and shallow that one is constantly embarrassed to be a member of our species.
But the dumbing-down process through which harmless docility is encouraged and reinforced is subtle. In this conversation with David Talbot, Salon's Glenn Greenwald explains how it works, using the Occupy protests as an example. We'll have to overlook the fact that Salon also features many glowing reviews of various TV shows which serve the functions just described, regardless of their story-telling or entertainment value.
I should also note for the record that many TV shows or movies nowadays feature—
- bloodsucking vampires or flesh-eating zombies (e.g. The Walking Dead)
There are vampires or zombies spawned by an alien invasion. There are vampires or zombies in some dystopian future. There are vampires or zombies of unknown provenance. And so on. No one seems to tire of vampires or zombies, although hoards of zombies are far more common.
You have a few bloodsucking vampires (America's elites) preying on the mass of ordinary people, who must fend them off by any means available. Just like real life. Or you have a few "normal" people (the elites again) fending off an army of marauding, mindless zombies (the American people). Just like real life. Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung would have had a field day with this stuff.
The Greenwald video is 6 minutes long. Watch it first, and then I'll make a few concluding remarks. There will of course be a short advertisement at the start.
Thus we find that those in the mainstream media are merely servants of the ruling elites. The media stars have internalized the values of those elites, thus they need not be told explicitly what to say or do. (The "conspiracy" interpretation of the MSM.) Indeed, these well-heeled folks imagine themselves to be part of the ruling class, and sometimes they are (e.g. CNN's Erin Burnett, formerly at CNBC).
The Occupy protesters are threatening to the elites, and must be relentlessly marginalized until they are rendered harmless. Alternatively, if that doesn't work, they must be swallowed up by that co-optation monster called the Two Party System. In the case of the Occupy protests, marginalizing them failed, so now every method is being applied to co-opt them. (They are the Democrat version of the Republican Tea Party.)
Bonus Video — They're Made Out Of Meat