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Subduing the Media for Dummies

Naniette Coleman's picture

“Propaganda must be centralized, planned, and executed by a single authority.

To get attention, propaganda is best distributed through an entertaining communication medium.

Propaganda must be carefully timed for maximum effect.

Propaganda is a tool of social control, designed to comfort the public in times of stress."

--Goebbel's Principles of Propaganda-- 

I admit it, I may be holding Julian Assange to a higher transparency standard than others since he runs WikiLeak's an organization that, well, outs bad people and promotes transparency. I admit it; is that so wrong? I expect that he will not use the same tried and true tactics that “politicians” are commonly accused of using with regards to the media. I expect that he will be a bit more of a moral giant.

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the melodrama that has unfolded over the last few weeks reminded of a book I read in policy school, “Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media.” Craig Crawford suggests, via a number of US focused political examples, that attacking the media has become a simple yet effective way to shield “politicians” from uncomfortable lines of questioning – his examples range from extra marital affairs to the use of force and war. This particular book came to mind because it seemed to me, in retrospect, that Assange used most of the tactics in this book during his, now famous, media wars and walkouts. Just to make sure I was not applying my own bias about the situation, I decided to re-read Crawford and see if he offered any tips (inadvertently) on how to silence the media. I found a few which you can find at the close of this paragraph. After that I went back and viewed Mr. Assange’s interview with CNN correspondent Atika Shubert (video) to see how many of those things, he did. I found the results surprising. What do you think; can Julian Assange operate within the media realm, call his organization a news outlet and refuse to answer questions that he would, probably, support being asked of the evil doers in the organizations he leaks information from?  What do you think?


  • Take the offense at the start of the interview
  • Do not answer inconvenient questions no matter how they are phrased or how many times they are repeated
  • Attack the journalist when you are asked inconvenient question (N.B. Journalists generally will not defend themselves its unprofessional)
  • Talk over the questioner and stand up to them (literally and figuratively)
  • Shift blame to the questioner and make the reporters disrespectful line of questioning about your personal life or inconvenient question the issue
  • Make news media bias the issue – cast doubt on their motives and either their personal credibility or that of their news agency
  • Bring up the previous failures of the reporter in their own professional life
  • Plan to walk out of an interview, if possible make sure the camera is positioned far enough away so that your departure is caught on tape

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 Photo courtesy of Flickr user Darryl Yeoh





Submitted by Zeeshan on
Great post! Just shared it via twitter, but the "old-fashioned" way. By clocking "share" above, it actually gives you garbled text which one has to fix and then post. Look forward to more discussion on this. Thanks!

Submitted by Tanya on
Quite a thought provoking and interesting post! And now that you mention it, several politicians have used this tactic in recent time

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