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Democracy’s Invisible Line

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Noam Chomsky by Daniel Mermet, in Le Monde Diplomatique:

The US writer Noam Chomsky talks about the mechanisms behind modern communication, an essential instrument of government in democratic countries – as important to our governments as propaganda is to a dictatorship.

DM: Let’s start with the media issue. In the May 2005 referendum on the European constitution, most newspapers in France supported a yes vote, yet 55% of the electorate voted no. This suggests there is a limit to how far the media can manipulate public opinion. Do you think voters were also saying no to the media?

NC: It’s a complex subject, but the little in-depth research carried out in this field suggests that, in fact, the media exert greater influence over the most highly educated fraction of the population. Mass public opinion seems less influenced by the line adopted by the media.

Take the eventuality of a war against Iran. Three-quarters of Americans think the United States should stop its military threats and concentrate on reaching agreement by diplomatic means. Surveys carried out by western pollsters suggest that public opinion in Iran and the US is also moving closer on some aspects of the nuclear issue. The vast majority of the population of both countries think that the area from Israel to Iran should be completely clear of nuclear weapons, including those held by US forces operating in the region. But you would have to search long and hard to find this kind of information in the media.

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Categories: Media, Politics
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