Help! Our Nation Is Drowning in Right Wing Lies and Propaganda. Here’s How to Change That

Julie Hotard
12 min readApr 16, 2018

I wrote this essay before the news broke that Sean Hannity of Fox News turns out to have the same attorney as President Trump, or that Trump speaks with Sean Hannity nearly every week night. But this is exactly the kind of news we should expect in the Right Wing propagandocracy in which we live. Right Wing media own and control our government now.

I also wrote it before historian Nancy MacLean was interviewed, discussing her amazing book, which is opening people’s eyes to the Right Wing’s plan for the U.S.

These factors illustrate what it is like to live in a propagandocracy. That is, Right Wing propaganda media call the shots, deciding what kind of government we get, by persuading voters to vote against their interests. These propaganda media also influence and advise politicians like Trump, once they are in office. There is little separation between propaganda media and government.

After Bill Maher’s April 6 show, Sinclair Broadcasting came out in support of Maher, agreeing with his view that boycotting TV advertisers is bullying.

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Maher, this is an important issue.

Maher and his guests had discussed how people were boycotting advertisers of Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox, for the purpose of trying to get her fired for comments about one of the Parkland kids, survivors of a school shooting.

Sinclair doesn’t like boycotting, because it is being used against them too.

Here’s an article about Sinclair’s agreement with Maher. It has a clip from the TV show where Maher gave his opinion.

If Sinclair, the largest TV station operator in the nation, feels “bullied” by an action from the public, you know that this action must be powerful. Media companies that spread propaganda, of course, would prefer to keep all the power for themselves, rather than allowing the public to have some power.

Just so you know what Sinclair Broadcasting is doing, and so you can have a basis for deciding who is the real bully, here is a video showing what Sinclair is doing to large numbers of local TV news stations in the U.S.

Here is a study of Fox, another part of Right Wing propaganda media, that shows that even that one network alone may have the power to sway elections.

The question here is: What do we do to combat Right Wing propaganda? Many have tried but few have had much effect. Fact checkers and columnists type their fingers off, trying to correct all the factual errors. Some progressive TV hosts are constantly protesting the incessant Right Wing lies of their interviewees. It’s right to do that. They they have some impact, but it’s limited.

Still, propaganda media have influenced voters to give the Right Wing control of all three branches of the federal government. In addition, our president watches Right Wing propaganda media for advice and “information”, and hires personalities from such media in his administration.

Consider the total number of Right Wing media consumers. Include consumers of Fox, Breitbart, Sinclair, Right Wing social media and Internet sites and podcasts, Right Wing talk radio, Right Wing biased newspapers that reprint “news” from Right Wing sources. Parishoners influenced by pastors of Christian Right Churches, who claim that Trump was anointed by God to be president, are also consuming Right Wing propaganda. There are enough Right Wing spin consumers that they elected a Republican dominated federal government, as well as Republican governors and legislatures in most states.

This already means that the Supreme Court and district courts will likely be Right Wing dominated for generations to come.

Here are some actions we can take to fight the lies. We can pressure advertisers on traditional Right Wing hate media, like radio and TV, to withdraw ads, so as to stop supporting hatred. We can also pressure social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, to stop allowing themselves to be vehicles used to spread hate group propaganda a and lying propaganda “news” items.

If social media keep refusing to stop being vehicles for widespread disinformation, we may need a different solution. For example, to counteract the spread of disinformation on social media, people could create and finance “troll farms” of people who spread the truth, in order to counteract the widespread lies.

People wonder why Trump’s approval rating is so far above zero. It’s because Right Wing propaganda media outlets cover Trump in the most flattering light, leaving out all the facts about the destruction he causes, and scapegoating Democrats or minorities for problems.

In addition, there are numerous Right Wing pundits and columnists in mainstream media, because mainstream media have a longstanding habit of “covering both sides” even if one side is nonsense or lies. Mainstream media give platforms to some Right Wingers who lie constantly.

The practice of boycotting advertisers of the most dishonest media companies, seems to be one of the very few strategies that can work to stem the tide of the propaganda in which we are drowning. It would be foolish to throw this tool in the trash.

For your information, here are some organizations that are at the forefront of the boycotting movement.

https://grabyourwallet.org/ web site

the www.mediamatters.org web page below for Sean Hannity’s advertisers

@slpng_giants on Twitter

@DesignationSix and @consumerfx on Twitter also maintain some lists of advertisers to complain to and/or boycott, in order to fight fake news.

Here is a place that lists advertisers on Fox News.

https://www.foxnewsadvertisers.com

Feel free to list any other organizations or names of aps that do this kind of work well, in the comments section below.

Here’s what we’re fighting, in terms of Right Wing propagandists’ control over our nation. In 2016, these propagandists influenced voters to elect Trump and the Republican dominated Congress. We found out recently that Cambridge Analytica selected likely Trump voters through social media and fed them misinformation to get their votes.

Right Wing propagandists targeted voters who might vote for Trump, through traditional media too. But the biggest effect of Right Wing propaganda may have been the results of their targeting of likely Democratic voters. Bannon and Cambridge Analytica played mainstream media, Right Wing media and social media like fiddles, immersing them in propaganda that bashed Hillary Clinton. Right Wing propagandists got many likely Democratic voters to stay home from the polls.

Bill Maher has personal experience with the situation of viewers trying to get a TV host fired. He was fired from a TV show in 2011 for saying something politically incorrect. Ironically, the name of his show that was cancelled was Politically Incorrect. Here’s a clip of it.

Maher was fired for telling the truth. The 9/11 hijackers may have been evil, but they were not cowards. Also, he was fired for violating political correctness according to Republicans and the Right Wing.

Maher often talks about how Republican politicians narrowly focus on their own personal experiences when they make policy. For example, many of them are against equal rights for gay people. Then they suddenly change their stance when one of their own kids comes out as gay.

Maher could take this chance to show that even if he once had a bad experience of getting fired for telling the truth, it still DOES make sense for the public to try to get people fired for telling lies. As Eliott Spitzer said on Maher’s April 6 show, there are good boycotts and bad boycotts, and that doesn’t change the fact that consumers have a right to boycott, as a part of freedom of speech.

It’s clear from the gag Maher did about Sinclair TV shows, on his April 13th show, that he doesn’t approve of Sinclair’s spreading of propaganda.

www.real-time-with-bill-maher-blog.com/index/2018/4/14/sinclair-tv-shows

But what would he be willing to do to stop it?

Maher does often stand up for the truth on his show, as do many other courageous progressives on TV. That doesn’t change the minds of any Right Wing guests. On Maher’s April 6 show, he interviewed Geraldo Rivera. Maher showed himself to be like most of us Americans, in that we don’t really understand what it means to live in a propagandocracy, or to be an employee of one.

Maher acted as if he thought he might change Rivera’s mind. However, there is no way anyone in Rivera’s job can tell the truth, if he wants to keep his job. If you don’t understand why, then read the book The Loudest Voice in the Room, about Roger Ailes and the kind of organization he built at Fox.

Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting and Trump’s White House are similar in demanding extreme loyalty. Less than perfectly loyal employees are fired. Since Fox News acts like Republican state media, it follows that it is Rivera’s job to not only defend Fox, but also to defend the Republican president.

Maher didn’t “get” that. Almost no one does. But now is the time to start getting it.Both ordinary citizens and people working in mainstream media have been naïve about power politics. It’s time for us to rise up to the challenge and face this reality.

Who’s Your Daddy? Time for Democrats and Mainstream Media to Grow Up

Part of our problem, as political scientists Gilens and Page found in 2014, is that ordinary Americans have almost no influence on government policies.

Special interest groups, most of them representing corporations — not ordinary Americans — control government. Corporations control government by contributing money to politicians, which politicians then spend mostly on media for marketing and/or propaganda. Alternately, corporations may invest directly in media, as the Mercers invested in Breitbart to help Trump.

So the issue of Big Money in politics is essentially the same issue as propagandocracy, because that is what most of the Big Money is spent on.

Ordinary Americans haven’t yet been able to influence the government much. But maybe we can do it indirectly, by influencing the corporations which control the media, which in turn control government.

Speaking the truth on mainstream media has no impact on the Right Wing. It may help progressive TV viewers to stay grounded in the reality of what’s true. But it won’t stop Right Wing propaganda media from lying constantly. And it won’t stop people from consuming and trusting Right Wing media.

Many in Right Wing media cater to people’s vices, for example by stoking fear, rage and racism. They often scapegoat Democrats and minorities. It works. It’s even addictive.

Some powerful tools we can use to fight lies are to complain to advertisers on TV shows whose TV hosts often lie, and then to boycott advertisers if they continue to advertise on those shows. We’ve tried and failed to solve this problem in other ways for decades now.

When media constantly lie, scapegoat minorities, and intentionally deceive the public, it’s time to fight back.

If we want to know whether we should use boycotting — the most effective tool in our arsenal to fight propagandocracy- the answer is simple. It’s the same as the answer to these questions:

Do we want to stop our nation’s march toward authoritarian government or not?

Do we want to get Social Security and Medicare off of the budget chopping block where it is now?

Authoritarian government and decreases in Social Security & Medicare, are the destinations we’re headed toward, if we continue to ignore propagandocracy rather than to find and apply effective ways to fight it.

There is a view that Maher and many others hold, that you have to vote out Right Wingers — not try to influence politics in other ways, like boycotting sponsors.

And he’s right that we do have to vote out Right Wingers. But Right Wing propaganda directly blocks our ability to do that, by lying to millions of voters constantly, getting them to vote Right Wing on the basis of lies.

There are other ways to fight propagandocracy. If they work, we should keep doing them. We could reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, though we would have to wait until we have voted in a Democratic administration for that.

An example of a solution we can apply now, and that is already being applied, is the use of mobile billboards. Regular billboards can be good too, as well as other methods of spreading the truth repeatedly to those who might otherwise not have access to truth.

Here is someone making large outdoor signs.

standoneverycorner.com is a campaign in which people use signs to highlight issues and truths on local street corners.

http://MadDogPAC.com makes signs too, plus other items for the Resistance.

Programs that meet the needs of our communities, where people of any political stripe can work together for the good of their communities, can also bring people together to solve problems and eventually pull some of them away from Right Wing media influence.

Also, GOTV efforts organized by political activists can help to counteract the Right Wing propagandists’ efforts to get likely Democratic voters not to vote. Those efforts may be the largest effect disinformation has on elections. When people don’t vote, Republicans win.

Here’s an example of how people in Switzerland are successfully fighting Right Wing propaganda right now.

The Right Wing propaganda that tells likely Democratic voters “Both parties are the same; all politicians are corrupt; your vote doesn’t matter” has been highly effective in the U.S. in the past. However, when Democrats’ GOTV efforts counteract that by getting people out to the polls to vote, things can change quickly.

Here is a GOTV shirt that has reportedly gotten 10,000 people to register to vote already.

Many people want to personally try to persuade Right Wing voters to become open to the truth. I’ve not had much luck with that, or heard of many people who have. However, if you are one of the very few people who have success with it, don’t let me stop you from pursuing that method.

Talking With Trump Supporters — Don’t

Propagandocracy is a large problem, one that pushes us in the direction of fascism. We need to use every effective tool to reverse the tide and get citizens focused on truth rather than lies.

One new circumstance that could make a big difference is the bright side of having so many candidates running in the Democratic presidential primary. Because there are so many, there will be more people traveling around the nation spreading the truth about what Democrats can do for people — in contrast to the the lies people are hearing from Right Wing media.

For further information, see the other essays I’ve written here at Medium.com on the subject of propaganda, both in Right Wing media and in mainstream media — and about how to understand it and what to do about it. For example, I’ve written about of Right Wing lies that even most Democrats and most mainstream media folks believe.

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