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Manufacturing Consent

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

By Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
18-minute read
Audio available
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored. 

It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.

  • Anyone who wants to know who sets the agenda of the mass media
  • Anyone who would like to know whose interests the media serve
  • Anyone who wants to understand why the mass media suppress independent voices

Edward S. Herman is an academic specialising in finance who has written many works on political economy and the media.

Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned expert in the fields of linguistics and global political culture. He is best known for his criticisms of globalisation, American power and the mass media. He has authored numerous publications including Hegemony or Survival and Deterring Democracy.

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Manufacturing Consent

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

By Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
Synopsis

Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored. 

It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.

Key idea 1 of 11

The media will never criticize the ruling elite, but may appear to do so when opinions within the elite are divided.

On occasion, the media do appear to criticize the ruling elites of society. There are numerous cases, the Watergate scandal being a fine example, where politicians or business leaders are criticized by the media and their misdeeds exposed.

Such incidents seem to disprove the idea of an inherent bias in the media toward the ruling classes. Certainly, media spokespeople do proudly proclaim that they act as the defenders of free speech and the wider community against the wealthy and powerful. Yet, in these cases, the mass media’s so-called criticism merely consists of representing the interests of one group of the elite against another, never of a non-elite group versus an elite group. When criticisms come from outside the elite, the media will suppress or ignore them.

The Watergate scandal exemplified such a split in elite interests. The media were fully willing to investigate and pursue Richard Nixon and his accomplices, because the victims of their crime were the powerful Democrats, a political party who represented a section of the elite. When the Socialist Workers Party, a small party representing no elite interest, was illegally spied upon by government agencies, the media remained silent. 

The media will never criticize the ruling elite, but may appear to do so when opinions within the elite are divided.

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