Vaccine Coverage in Mainstream Media—Variations on a Theme of Propaganda
Pharma’s Ownership of the Message, Mainstream Corporate Media’s Narrative
By José Solís, Ph.D., Guest Contributor
A few months ago, I revisited a Reddit article titled, “News outlets self-censor extremely important information because ad revenue from pharmaceutical companies can be up to 70% of their income,” — seventy percent! Now, that’s a lot of influence and power to decide what will become news and how it will be reported. Cited in the article, from a presentation at the Revolution for Truth Rally and Protest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. remarked,
I talked to Roger Ailes [then CEO of FOX News], who I have known since I was 17 years old, he’s very sympathetic with this issue and saw the film Trace Amounts. I said to him, ‘I just want to go on one of your shows. Nobody will allow me to talk about this or debate me.’ He said to me, ‘I can’t allow you on any of them. I’d have to fire any of my hosts that allowed you on my station. Because,’ he said, ‘My news division gets up to 70% of advertising revenues during non-election years from the pharmaceutical companies’.
Pharma spends billions of dollars on T.V. advertising. Mass media conglomerates rely heavily, as stated by Kennedy, on the money pharma puts into their industry and, in particular, its news cycles for the purpose of generating more profits. This reminded me of the avalanche of scientific and legal evidence that would have anyone reading the literature raise many profound questions about the theory, policies, and practice of vaccination. More importantly for the purposes of this article, I wondered, how would the “spin” on vaccines be played? Upon what context would that spin be promoted? And, how would people be made vulnerable and thus fall prey to the unfolding propaganda campaign?
The context was the recent measles outbreak. The spin was to be engineered through the propagation of ignorance on the topic of the measles, and lies about the measles, its vaccines’ history, effectiveness, and safety, all in an attempt to deepen the already entrenched super profitable and liability-free market of the vaccine manufacturing industry. And maybe more heinously, through policies that would destroy our most basic right of informed consent and exemptions.
It matters not whether the Supreme Court of the United States has declared vaccines “unavoidably unsafe” or that vaccine manufacturers indicate in their vaccine inserts that the vaccine may not protect all individuals that are vaccinated.
It matters not that vaccines have not been studied for carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, nor impairment of fertility; or that, “because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials…may not reflect the rates observed in practice.”
It matters not that the only accessible monitoring system for adverse events, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), with an average of 30,000+ events reported annually, actually represents approximately 1 percent of real adverse event numbers; or that in July of 2018, before the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admitted that they had violated the 1986 National Childhood Vaccination Injury Act, where it was stipulated, among other things, that HHS would submit biennial reports to Congress on the status of vaccine safety. The HHS admitted that no such reports had ever been submitted, not since the enforcement of the law (some 30+ years). Also ignored by the composers of dissonance, is the abundant science demonstrating that live virus and vectored vaccines can infect, transmit, and shed.
All this is accompanied by the questionable, if not overt conflicts of interest that characterize the marketing of vaccines. For example, a 2009 HHS Office of the Inspector General report on the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) found that the CDC had a systemic lack of oversight of the ethics program: 97 percent of committee members’ conflict disclosures had omissions, 58 percent had at least one unidentified potential conflict, and still the CDC continued to grant waivers to members with conflicts. The same profile of improprieties was to be found for the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), another major government committee responsible for decision-making regarding vaccine practices, housed at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the presence of the proverbial elephant in the room, our senses are bombarded by the noise jamming our reception of signals that would tell us that something is awfully wrong. So just what is going on here?
Science Takes a Backseat to Advertorials
Advertorial: An advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content. The term “advertorial” is a blend of the words “advertisement” and “editorial.”
I will never forget how a professor I had as an undergraduate stressed that the notion of genetics as a predetermining factor was a cop-out, overemphasized when we could not explain things like different conditions or illnesses. Essentially, he said, we should understand things, including science, in different contexts, never devoid of the environments in which science is practiced and scientific matter, including biology, are explained. And that contexts were not defined solely as locations but as a host of dynamics, verbs and places, a movement or activity if you will, of behaviors whose definitions include a variety of variables.
With this in mind, allow me to reflect upon context as a place as we explore how science, as I understand it, has taken a backseat to public cognitive engineering, or what Noam Chomsky called, the “manufacture of consent,” in this case, by briefly examining a little history that converges well with the development of how the mainstream media has made of so much noise a frequency of dissonance as it plays out its role in the pharma/media calculus, in the proliferation of more vaccines and more ignorance while further entrenching its reach into public health policy and destroying human rights in order to facilitate greater profits.
Convincing the American people to go to war in Europe was not an easy task for President Woodrow Wilson back in 1917. To assist him in the effort he endorsed the establishment of the Committee on Public Information (CPI). The purpose of the committee was to get the American people behind the war effort. The CPI recruited leaders in journalism, academia, graphic design, and advertising. Many of those involved were profoundly moved by the success of the CPI and began work on the development of what today we know as the field of public relations and its proliferation into the very fabric of mainstream American culture. Committee member, Edward Bernays, was particularly motivated by the success of the CPI and its ability to influence public opinion, not by appeals to the intellect, but by touching the emotions of the people.
Edward Bernays, known as the father of the public relations industry, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and while he, like his uncle, was intrigued with what Freud had identified as the unconscious mind, Bernays was interested in exploring ways of exploiting the emotions for commercial gains. He learned just how powerful images could sell. And so, he sought to appeal to the hearts of people convinced that what was done in the CPI for the war effort could be done with virtually anything. For example, Bernays was known for having been hired by the American Tobacco Company to come up with a strategy for promoting cigarettes to women by having them smoke in public as an act of defiance and in support of the suffrage movement. Cigarettes would become a “torch of freedom,” freedom from the imposition of male dominated social practices.
Propaganda, arguably Bernays’ most famous work, garnered admiration for him worldwide but particularly in the eyes of the Nazi leadership and Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. The first chapter of the book, Propaganda, opens with the following passages:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
Hitler, Goebbels, and the Nazi propaganda machine developed five basic principles upon which propaganda would ensue:
- Avoid abstract ideas – appeal to the emotions.
- Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases.
- Give only one side of the argument.
- Continuously criticize your opponents.
- Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification.
One can clearly perceive the congruity between the ideas of Edward Bernays and the Nazi Propaganda Machine. This by no means makes Bernays a Nazi. He was quite adamant about his aversion to Nazi philosophy. But it does get to the heart of how propaganda and the engineering of consent was to be incorporated into everyday life in the most duplicitous of ways and across any number of projects aimed at manipulating public opinion. This foundation, accompanied by the technologies of today, facilitated the possibilities for a more sophisticated manipulation of human emotions – visually, psychologically, and socio-politically.
After WWII, in 1947, Bernays continued developing his ideas on social engineering. In his essay, “The Engineering of Consent,” Bernays writes:
This phrase quite simply means the use of an engineering approach – that is, action based only on thorough knowledge of the situation and on the application of scientific principles and tried practices to the task of getting people to support ideas and programs. Any person or organization depends ultimately on public approval and is therefore faced with the problem of engineering the public’s consent to a program or goal… The engineering of consent should be based theoretically and practically on the complete understanding of those whom it attempts to win over.
To Bernays, the engineers of consent had the primary role of making news, and making news newsworthy,
Primarily however, the engineer of consent must create news. News is not an inanimate thing. It is the overt act that makes news, and news in turn shapes the attitudes and actions of people… The developing of events and circumstances that are not routine is one of the basic functions of the engineer of consent… The imaginatively managed event can compete successfully with other events for attention. Newsworthy events, involving people, usually do not happen by accident. They are planned deliberately to accomplish a purpose, to influence our ideas and actions.
For the CPI, Bernays, and the developing industries of advertising and public relations, the power of images, of symbols, and messages that could provide an engineered or manufactured consent, became indispensable tools for politics and the commercialization of society. Given the power and influence that the pharma industry exercises over politicians, the mass media industry, and as such, public opinion, even the most cursory look at big pharma, its version of vaccine science, how vaccines enter the market, and subsequently, how vaccine policy is made, it seems obvious, if not logical, that fundamental questions should arise. And yet again, we can observe why they would not.
Someone once said, “everything has a price or is up for sale.” Certainly, we see allusions to this message in Bernays’ theories and ideas about propaganda and the engineering of consent. For the purposes of this article, and our exploration of context as it relates to the media’s coverage generally, on the topic of vaccines, and more recently, the measles outbreaks, we should be reminded of an expression coined by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf. Known as the “big lie,” Hitler develops the idea of a lie so big that no one would believe that someone would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Hitler remarks,
All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.” (Page 185.)
Today we are witnessing the many layers of deceit, propaganda machinations, engineered consent, all rolled up into a series of big lies: that vaccines are safe and effective, that the science is settled, that measles will kill us if we do not vaccinate, that there is no link between vaccines and autism, and that people that question are to be deemed misinformed, misinforming, and irresponsible, or worse yet, criminal.
The mainstream media’s appeals are pharma constructs aimed at the emotions – disrespecting, humiliating and vilifying parents, attacking scientists that raise questions, and criminalizing a growing population of citizens in repeated bytes of incorrect and fabricated information folded into half-truths or blatant lies, where only one side is granted legitimacy, and all else is censored.
In such an environment, many succumb to the noise, wishing only for the absence of dissent, a false-sense of security and reliance on the status quo to make it all “OK” again. Fear becomes at once the greatest enemy and the master tool of the pharma/media formula. Doctors, like newspaper boys, deliver the manufactured news, all too often cloaked by a white coat, a stethoscope, and a smile that would have one believe that they know so much more than we can know about vaccines.
Pharma Owns the Message, The Media Owns the Narrative: Science?… (crickets)
What makes the pharma, media, and engineered consent construct so obvious to many is the repetitive nature of the messages, also known as the “echo-chamber.” To protect against being caught in the manufacturing process, the libretto, the text of the message, cannot change. The repetition of words and messages is one of the ways used most frequently to avoid the slips. So, because they cannot rely on “gold-standard” science, or science free of conflicts in the presentation of their message, pharma has to assure the public by keeping the lie big and repeating it. This generates a kind of numbing or paralysis of thought, in some cases, cognitive dissonance.
So not knowing if, when, or where people have died of measles, their conditions of health or standards of life, how many, if any have died in these U.S. outbreaks in 2019, how many hospitalizations, how many were vaccinated, the current status of all those cases, many basic questions remain ignored, unattended, or just silenced.
This of course applies to the current measles hysteria, but also the virtual silence on the topic of the thousands of cases of mumps among populations of the highly vaccinated, the most recent lawsuits faced by major vaccine manufacturing companies launched against them on charges of corruption, and the continued compensations being paid to vaccine injured persons and their families, today surpassing $4 billion, while we’re told vaccines are safe. The paralysis has worked. Many consider and react through their primary sources of information: the mainstream mass media industry.
In 2015, The Daily Beast published an interesting article titled, “Big Pharma is America’s New Mafia.” After reading it and considering its treatise on pharma and drug manufacturing, I wondered, why haven’t these news stories on pills and medical devices addressed the vaccine industry? I mean, after all, the evidence, court cases, settlements before the vaccine court, and the growing population of voices calling for better science, safety studies that include placebos, a vaccinated vs unvaccinated study, and an honest look at how vaccines can and do cause outbreaks among vaccinated for several diseases, all point to some fundamental problems with vaccines. The Daily Beast opens its article with a paragraph on the appalling state of health in the United States and a reference to a Slate article titled, “Are Your Medications Safe?” Writes Daniela Drake, M.D. in The Daily Beast article:
In fact, the heavy influence of pharmaceutical dollars inspired the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell, to conclude, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines…” Dr. Peter Gotzsche, the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, has seen enough over the last two decades to sum up his findings in a book whose title says it all: Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare. “Much of what the drug industry does fulfills the criteria for organized crime in US law,” Dr. Gotzsche said in a recent interview. “And they behave in many ways like the mafia does, they corrupt everyone they can corrupt, they have bought every type of person, even including ministers of health in some countries…The drug industry buys the professors first, then chiefs of departments, then other chief physicians and so on, they don’t buy junior doctors.”
The pharma mainstream mass media connection is responsible for the degeneration of scientific dialogue and the spread of the big lies. The deliberate proliferation of ignorance as a strategy (agnotology) for usurping any dialogue on the many questions related to vaccines serves only one master, the bottom line for the manufacturers of vaccines, and by fiat the mainstream media industry.
Not unlike the work of the CPI, or the principles outlined by Bernays and his strategies and tactics for the promotion of propaganda and the engineering of consent, the new versions of manufactured consent are found daily in our news outlets. Appeals to emotions are most prominently underscored by headlines, tags, phrases, sound bites, and the repetition of messages. Newspeak, an Orwellian reference, with its aim to rope-in and progressively diminish the field of human thought, facilitates the cognitive dissonance and paralysis leaving many at the mercy of the pharma/media narrative. Questions, discussion, dialogue, and debate are silenced, censored, squashed, and criminalized. In this arena there is no place for science. The only legitimate sounds will be those coming from the pharma/media cartels.
The pharma mainstream mass media connection, along with politicians, health agencies and their subordinates (doctors, public health officials, etc.), continue to manage the marketplace and the narrative. While these pharma giants line their pockets and those of politicians whose careers are progressively being underscored by their own conflicts of interest and echoed by the propaganda afforded them through the mass media industry, the social, economic and political costs of allowing fear to deny an open national dialogue on the topic of vaccines are becoming insurmountable. In the end, our children will have us to blame for the failing state of health that characterizes more than half of their generation.