How Mass Media Manipulates Public Opinion

Newspapers-20080928Exposing the bias inherent in all media is always a priority for disinformation editors, so we really enjoyed this roundup of examples of media manipulation by Fred Burks at :

“Media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything.”
— Forbes magazine article on mass media influence, 7/16/2012

The influence of the mass media on public perception is widely acknowledged, yet few know the incredible degree to which this occurs. Key excerpts from the rare, revealing mass media news articles below show how blatantly the media sometimes distort critical facts, omit vital stories, and work hand in hand with the military-industrial complex to keep their secrets safe and promote greedy and manipulative corporate agendas.

Once acclaimed as the watchdog of democracy and the political process, these riveting articles clearly show that the major media can no longer be trusted to side with the people over business and military interests. For ideas on how you can further educate yourself and what you can do to change all this, see the “What you can do” section below the article summaries. Together, we can make a difference.

U.S. Suppressed Footage of Hiroshima for Decades

2005-08-03, New York Times/Reuters

In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. authorities seized and suppressed film shot in the bombed cities by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams to prevent Americans from seeing the full extent of devastation wrought by the new weapons. It remained hidden until the early 1980s and has never been fully aired. “Although there are clearly huge differences with Iraq, there are also some similarities,” said Mitchell, co-author of “Hiroshima in America” and editor of Editor & Publisher. “The chief similarity is that Americans are still being kept at a distance from images of death, whether of their own soldiers or Iraqi civilians.” The Los Angeles Times released a survey of six months of media coverage of the Iraq war in six prominent U.S. newspapers and two news magazines — a period during which 559 coalition forces, the vast majority American, were killed. It found they had run almost no photographs of Americans killed in action. “So much of the media is owned by big corporations and they would much rather focus on making money than setting themselves up for criticism from the White House and Congress,” said Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent. In 1945, U.S. policymakers wanted to be able to continue to develop and test atomic and eventually nuclear weapons without an outcry of public opinion. “They succeeded but the subject is still a raw nerve.”

Note: As this highly revealing Reuters article was removed from both the New York Times and the Reuters websites, click here to view it in its entirely on one of the few alternative news websites to report it. And to go much deeper into how the devastating effects of the bomb were covered up by various entities within government, click here

[there are plenty more examples at]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

31 Comments on "How Mass Media Manipulates Public Opinion"

  1. Ultimately, a mature adult is responsible for the opinions they hold. This isn’t meant to be accusatory or cold, but merely pointing out that to say public opinion is ‘manipulated’ is a case of putting the cart before the horse. It implies that the individual has no control over their own thoughts. This is not a metaphysical stance that I accept, because I know my Self. Any sentient being should understand that there are consequences for shirking their own personal responsibility to learn about the world around them.

    • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm |

      I think the problem lies with the information we receive to form the very opinions you speak of. How can an individual form an intelligent opinion about something if all they have heard about the subject are lies and disinformation? And unfortunately the vast majority of -Americans at least- put an incredibly small amount of time and effort into actually thinking for themselves and doing any kind of research about a subject. So when the places these hordes of people do go to for information purposefully lie and distort the facts to fit an agenda- they are most definitely manipulating people. Also to underestimate the level of manipulation that is taking place is a great folly. There’s far too much at stake for our government and corporations not to be putting ungodly amounts of time and money into exactly how to manipulate us best. It’s a shame that such powerful tools as T.V. and the internet have been turned into such ugly things… such a shame…

      • ishmael2009 | Feb 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

        LucidDreamR – the idea that most Americans “put an incredibly small amount of time and effort into actually thinking for themselves” is clearly your own judgment on the people around you. Do you really have so little faith in humanity that you believe that you’re much more intelligent than “the vast majority of Americans”? Or do you have some evidence to substantiate your statement that most people don’t do any real thinking?

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

            How they can even live with themselves still calling that “The Learning Channel” is beyond me…. But then again it’s completely beyond me how anyone could not see and be fully aware of the incredible dumming down that has taken place in this country…..

          • Anarchy Pony | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

            TLC, national geographic, discovery, the history channel, they’ve all devolved into mindless schlock. History channel used to show documentaries like Ken Burn’s The West, now it shows Swamp People.

          • Completely agree with Anarchy Pony on that point. The American TV channels are crap. In fact, most TV is crap.

            But, LucidDreamR – My answer to your point would be to suggest that what you’re pointing to is a dumbing down of the media to the lowest common denominator, which says something about the media and the way monopoly capitalism works, but not about the general level of intelligience.

            Personally, i think all the media is doing is going for the easiest sell, which is to serve up the most inoffensive, bland fare that will appeal to the broadest spectrum of people. It’s sad that there’s little alternative for you Americans, but that’s the economic system in your country, not the people. I’ve travelled to the States and found most people reasonably intelligent and hospitable, yes even in the “redneck” states.

          • my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $76 every hour on the computer. She
            has been without work for eight months but last month her paycheck was
            $17149 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this
            web site View More

        • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

          Just look around you… I by no means claim any super human intelligence, but I do feel safe to say I have much more than the average American. I’ve traveled around the world, and in comparison to the majority of people I met- from all walks of life and corners of the globe- Americans are exponentially more ignorant. You ask for evidence: how about all the people who blindly supported our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? Or how about all the people who own T.V.’s and allow their brains to be manipulated and turned to mush. Or all the people who still fall for the idea of our government being a true democracy, or even having the best interest of it’s citizens at heart? Just look at our school system and what it produces. There was a very interesting speech by Michiu Kaku talking about how we don’t produce ANY high level thinkers anymore, and the only people we have in this country that fit that description have all come from other countries. …I could go on all night. Frankly I’m very surprised at your comment, as I think you’ll find just about anyone with an ounce of intelligence would wholeheartedly agree…. :/

        • I should also clarify that I’m not saying people ‘think’ or ‘don’t think’, because I don’t have access to that information. It’s beyond me. However, I do know that I think, and have always thought. However, I think much differently now than I did 10 years ago, when I might have been labeled as someone who was ‘manipulated by the mass media’. So what’s changed? Well, obviously, my worldview as I ran 10 years further through this simulation, but that’s not the point. The point is that I _have_ changed–I have proven to myself that consciousness can change directions, and I would be morally inconsistent to deny that other people have that same capacity, if they are truly sentient. And from what I gather about the world, all the humans around me have consciousness. So I wait for others to change as well…

  2. Anarchy Pony | Feb 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

    The mainstream media’s most common tactic is to simply lie by omission, as well as to frame all stories from a specific perspective, or perspectives that are only marginally differing from each other.

  3. ishmael2009 | Feb 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

    Like Adam Goodwin said elsewhere on this thread, mature adults must be expected to form their own opinions. If the media is lying, then people will seek alternative sources of information, as they do now.

    For what it’s worth, Karl Marx and other revolutionaries saw the media as the instrument of democracy. It was and is always the reactionaries and the pseudo-liberals who accuse the media of degrading and shaping people’s opinions. Ultimately, to argue that the media gulls people into voting for a system or party that is against what they would otherwise desire is to show utter contempt for the masses.

    • Anarchy Pony | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

      But the question is; do average americans know the media is lying to them? Are they equipped with the critical analytic skills to make that determination? If not, why not? Is it because they are simply too stupid? Is it because such skills aren’t actively encouraged by the american education system? Who does the education system ultimately serve? The average citizen, or the corporate overlord? Can the media be a tool of democracy? Of course. But can it be co-opted and corrupted by entrenched powers that may seek to undermine democracy? Of course. The entire public relations industry’s function is essentially to do just that. Is it ultimately an individual’s responsibility to determine the value and accuracy of the media? Certainly. Can the deck be massively stacked against them, even from the time they are a child? Certainly.

      • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

        Very well said.

      • The power of deck-stacking is facing the law of diminishing returns, though, Pony. The excuses for the continued ignorance of people are beginning to dry up. This is not a statement of contempt against anyone, but simply a metaphysical statement. We (especially limits literates like you and I) should all now realize that we alone are responsible for our actions. We can’t rely on these bastards to change, because they’ve proven time and again they won’t. The change starts with the individual–but the kicker is that it’s always been that way. We’ve been fooled into thinking that we don’t control our own consciousness. Madness, really.

        • Anarchy Pony | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

          I know, it’s getting harder for them to pull the wool over the eyes of the filthy masses(to quote Anti-Flag). And I’m glad that it is. But it’s still taking time.

        • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

          I’ve a problem with being a bit too cynical when it comes to my opinion of the average majority of Americans… Could you please give me some examples of how it’s getting harder for the wool to be pulled over our eyes? Or examples of how the masses are getting more intelligent? I’ve unfortunately come to the opposite conclusion from what I’ve seen… and I’d absolutely love to have my opinion changed, even if just a bit, on this one…

          • OK, well, firstly, there’s the Transition Network. That’s a huge one. Right along with that are the permaculturists, the growing political dissidents visible in protests, the burgeoning alternative media sources available on the interwebs (everything from RT, to personal commentary on Youtube), the Ron Paul/libertarian/economic collapse analysts who aren’t being fooled by the mainstream media (try reading Zero Hedge sometime, that site and the comments there will rock your world if you can get through the financial jargon). And, from personal experience the growing circle of critical voices in the social sciences in academia. Now you may not hold the same views as any of these people, but that’s the point. Diversity in viewpoints is the only thing that matters—it’s the fruit of consciousness.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm |

            I agree completely with all you’re saying here; I just wonder if it’s that our numbers are actually growing- or if it’s more a case where population booms and technology have allowed us to be more aware of each other? You must admit we are still grossly outnumbered by those who refuse to think for themselves. And while it seems some of us are making steps forward for the evolution of man; for every one there seems to be ten who are regressing in the opposite direction… From my extensive traveling it really seems to me that it’s a particularly big problem in the states. So much of it to me is about the manipulation; it would be one thing if people were simply ignorant by choice, but I’m inclined to believe that there are forces hard at work making sure the masses don’t get too smart for their own good. Heck if we had any kind of numbers whatsoever there would have been a revolution in this country already. 😛

          • It’s my belief that material prosperity temporarily beckons complacency and satisfaction among any naturally pleasure-seeking naked ape. But such material prosperity is dependent on constantly increasing inputs of energy. Look at any chart on energy consumption per capita in the world, and you’ll quickly see that this energy–>prosperity–>social complacency model fits so yummily well with your observations in the states. But as Buddhism and the Second Law of Thermodynamics teaches, nothing lasts forever. Once it becomes more widely known that net energy in the states is now in decline (thanks to peak oil), our eternal friend, entropy, will snap us into our senses. This has to have happened so many times before. Cycles in history. But with each cycle, Consciousness ever readies Itself for the next stage of Its inevitable development. I consider myself fortunate to bear witness to this Becoming. Sometimes, I think I must have chosen to be born now…probably like you as well. That’s how I see it, anyways.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 12:04 am |

            Cheers to that good sir. Here’s hoping we do “snap into our senses” as you say, and don’t just become another failed experiment in evolution. I think that’s where much of my cynicism comes from: the idea that if we were left to out own devices, and not continually being manipulated- physically, mentally and spiritually; that we could or would already have evolved to something better. We consciously use so little of our brains as it is… if we had been in an environment that feeds and nurtures our intellect and curiosity for the past thousand years or so just imagine where we’d be. As a believer in shared consciousness, I think that those of us that are willing and capable of evolving and exploring the outer edges of our reality are seriously held back when the majority of the populace (especially those geographically closest) are simply coasting through life like zombies.

          • Since I’ve discovered the disinfo site (thanks to Pony), I often lament that you people don’t live on my street.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:12 am |

            🙂 I definitely hear you there. I live in Maine; one of the most rural states, in a town of less than 4k people… needless to say finding like minded people in person is a rare experience.

          • Kevin Leonard | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:57 pm |

            I like what you say.
            Only, I fear that those who are Willfully conscious are still in the significant minority.

            Consciousness is not the same as Will.

            And engaging Will is more than choosing between vanilla or chocolate. You are still eating ice cream. (substitute appropriate political affiliations or major media outlets)

  4. I thought this was a given this day and age. However there are people who know not to take things at face value and do their own research into matters.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm |

    wee actually have no idea WTF “public opinion” is
    or why it’s supposed to matter
    but it’s frequently used to calibrate the System’s level of influence & control

    the first rule of mass media & pubic opinion
    don’t stampede the sheeple while you fleece them

    • Exactly…. woe betide the One who thinks she understands the many.

      • LucidDreamR | Feb 12, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

        …far from understanding. But it’s incredibly easy to see peoples actions, and 9 times out of 10 the motivations behind said actions. I for one would never in the life of me even think to come close as to knowing what makes most tick… I’m just frankly concerned about how they act and what they do or don’t do. :/

  6. Veego Cobblepot | Jul 2, 2013 at 8:27 am |

    Everything the liberal progressive media touches has cult of personality written all over it.

Comments are closed.