Unlike certain communication experts, I wouldn’t rank media propaganda as an art. It does certainly not reach the creative level of any of the noble fields we traditionally classify as such, not to mention the extremely low ethic code required for its regular use. Furthermore, it is truly remarkable how talent never seems to be a key aspect in its successful application. Or in other words: the basic point in the promotion of media propaganda is to clearly identify a sufficiently large group of people eager to believe whatever you have to say; and the more primary your messages are, the more deeply they will be believed.
This definitely has nothing to do with developing communication strategies aiming at creating a favourable reception to your messages among the target audience. No, propaganda is gross by definition and requires, not a target audience, but rather a bunch of fanatics awaiting some leadership.
I recently stumbled on a Youtube video that very clearly displays the basic propaganda features previously mentioned. This video has been made and broadcasted by CBN (The Christian Broadcasting Network), and deals with different interconnected areas of public interest: environment, politics, economy, social issues…
Here goes the link, judge for yourselves:
Video: Spain’s Green Disaster, a Lesson for America
In order to carefully scrutinize the content of this “journalism” masterpiece, we should start by explaining what The Christian Broadcasting Network is. According to Wikipedia, CBN is “a fundamentalist Christian television broadcasting network in the USA”. Any surprise in that after seeing the video?
All right, let’s now have a critical look at the different parts of the content:
- According to the narrator, Obama expressly mentioned Spain as an example for the USA in terms of promoting renewable or green technology. However, at no point are we provided with Obama’s footage making that presumable statement. Wouldn’t it have been relevant, considering the content of the coverage, to here Obama’s very words -if they were ever pronounced-?
- The video specifically mentions something called “Spain’s Green Technology Program”, something I have never in my life (as a relatively well-informed Spaniard) heard about. Moreover, if you Google the Spanish translation of that supposed program you will get zero results. So if that specific program has ever existed, its relevance in the government budget (which has to be approved by the Parliament) has been virtually none.
- “President Obama may like Spain’s Green Technology Program, but the Spanish not so much. At least one study has declared it a colossal failure”. Impressive statement indeed by the Barcelona correspondent: Since he introduces an alleged Spanish expert criticizing Spain’s investment in green technology, the Spanish population is necessarily against it. Plainly false.
The fact is that the Spanish and European population are, in general terms, extraordinarily aware of the need of encouraging a complete and global change as regards the traditional energy sources. And this for one simple reason: they understand that there is no other sustainable option in the medium term and time is running out.
- “The Spanish recently threw out their socialist government over the terrible economy and a 22 per cent unemployment rate”. A change in the governing party is perfectly normal with the ongoing economic collapse. But, to be more precise, it was the Popular Party’s (PP) conservative government (which took place for eight years before being replaced by the socialists for these last eight years) that set the basis for the large-scale effect of the global crisis in Spain, by promoting all kinds of neo-liberalist policies in a context of global growth and cohesion funds pouring in from the European Union. The socialists were guilty though to have kept up this model of fictitious speculative growth till it violently burst with them in the government. So one of the reasons for their recent electoral defeat is the contempt of many of their potential voters towards their economic policies, which were just the same as their predecessors’.
- The so-called “Spanish expert” who has been the author of the afore-mentioned report is called Gabriel Calzada Álvarez. This scoundrel belongs to a powerful lobbying group which promotes the worst governing principles embodied by the former conservative Spanish president Jose María Aznar. Those principles mainly consist in limiting the government’s intervention in Economy to insider trading. And, as far as I know, that is the one and final reason for the global economic collapse and not the Greenpeace protests. The lobbying group he belongs to has close connections with some of the most reactionary political sectors in the United States. Those connections are part of the disgraceful legacy left by the friendship between Aznar and Bush Jr.
- Mr. Calzada: “The politicians told us, some years ago, that they had found a way of doing public investment in a new sector, that was the renewable energies, that would create a sort of new economy with new jobs, so-called -green jobs-”. When Mr. Calzada speaks of “some years ago”, he is referring to the period of time when Aznar’s conservative Popular Party was in the Government. So he obviously uses the expression “the politicians” in order not to link his beloved party to any wicked socialist green experiment. The fact is that the only period of time when we have insistently heard speak about “green jobs” in Spain was during Aznar’s government. But what is even more curious is that what was widely promoted by then was the professional training to perform those new jobs in the near future; and never the jobs in themselves, as those new work opportunities were due to come shortly after with the normal course of events. This widespread offer of green professional training, openly endorsed by the governing authorities, generated huge revenues for many businessmen of the education sector well-connected with those very authorities, from which they received public subventions in addition to the high cost assumed by the students of those courses that were not cheap at all.
- Before going on with Mr. Calzada’s fascinating speech, it is important to point out (especially for non-European readers) that any environmental large-scale initiative that takes place within the European countries is usually adopted beforehand by the European Union governing bodies, which establish common compulsory guidelines for all the member countries. So, in this respect, there is little room for national imagination, regardless of the country and the party governing it.
- In the middle of Calzada’s intervention, the narrator goes on explaining that the presumptive Spanish green experiments have eventually meant “a lot of tax-payer money down the drain and jobs that cost a fortune to create”. This message is reinforced by a quick shot displaying what seems to be a Spanish newspaper with a full-page article titled: “Spain admits that the green energy sold to Obama was a disaster”. Two large pictures stand out in it: one shows Zapatero and Obama shaking hands, and in the other one we can see a wind power complex.
I propose you readers to zoom in on that shot with your browser. No matter how close you get, you will never get to make out the name of that hypothetic newspaper. The explanation for this is obvious: either that article was never published in any newspaper, either it was published in an extreme-right one. Moreover, such an article would never be credible for any critical well-informed Spanish reader: it is perfectly known that the direct contacts between these two presidents have been extremely scarce, and that any serious talk on “renewable energies” between the US and Europe exclusively takes place through the European Union Institutions.
So, once again, these extremists make it obvious that they are not only against “sustainable development” in any of its forms, but they also try to directly associate this concept with some kind of socialist conspiracy against God’s will.
- This pathetic trick of inserting quick shots of supposed serious journals whose name we never spot, conveniently seasoned with surrealistic headlines and prominent pictures that seem to confirm CBN’s thesis, is repeated on several occasions along the broadcast. There is however an exception: when the headline reflects a true fact, then they have no problem in allowing us to clearly spot the name of the journal. A good example of this comes at 4:07: BBC/ Business Section. Headline: Spain’s cost of borrowing increases sharply. Well, that’s completely true. The problem is that the narrator is simultaneously linking that headline to a false cause, because Spain’s public debt crisis has just nothing to do with any environmental investment.
- The figures provided by Gabriel Calzada’s report are so insultingly ridiculous that it is not even worth wasting a line commenting them. I hope that at least it didn’t take him too long to elaborate such a pathetic report.
And, by the way, all the figures provided all throughout the video are as reliable as Bush’s speeches on Sadam’s weapons of mass destruction.
- Mr. Calzada: “When President Zapatero came into power, he said that he knew that solar energy was the future, so he put all the public investment resources in this model”. I don’t remember having ever heard Zapatero make such a categorical statement, but Calzada’s words sound as if the Spanish president repeated that assertion every morning in front of the mirror after getting up from bed. Regarding the part of: “…so he put all the public investment resources in this model”, this statement is so gross, ridiculous, thick-witted and devoid of the slightest sense of accuracy that it deserves no further comment.
- The narrator moves on with: “Marta Sabina lives on the outskirts of Barcelona, in one of Spain’s new –green technology apartment buildings-…”. All right, once more: what the hell is a “new green technology apartment building” in Spain? Because I have never heard speak of them, and the narrator refers to this ethereal concept as if that type of buildings proliferated all over the country. Furthermore, what does green technology have to do with insalubrity and the use of chemicals at a disturbing and risky level?
On the other hand, the broadcast doesn’t mention the reasons that took Marta to go to live in that place, but it seems pretty sensible to think that a person who moves to live in a “green technology apartment building” probably has some environmental interests. Here comes the next question: what on earth is a person with environmental interests doing collaborating with a fundamentalist tv channel which has declared war to “renewable energies” for the sake of a privileged minority who wants to maintain its comfortable position at any cost?
- The broadcast specifically mentions the amount of money allegedly allocated by Obama for green jobs in his “stimulus package”. However, it doesn’t mention the astronomic figures of that very package that ended up shared in bonuses among the same CEOs and bankers who had caused the global financial crisis with their greed and lack of scruples.
- Seton Motley, President of Less Government: “Everything that requires government money means there is no market for it”. I think the Iraq War required colossal amounts of “government money” and, what is even much worse, thousands of innocent human lives in order to guarantee a suitable market for many respectable companies like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton.
Besides, Mr. Motley should very carefully consider that we wouldn´t have reached this colossal economic collapse if the US and the rest of the western world had had “governments” worthy of the name in the last two decades. Does he still need “less government”?
- One of the main reasons why “there is no market for green technology in the US” is that Mr. Motley’s powerful friends are deeply interested in avoiding its forthcoming. As I previously said, time is running out in terms of openly promoting “renewable energies” worldwide. And the only sustainable solution lies in achieving truly responsible and independent governments who care for the interests of the whole citizenship.
Such a change in the way societies are organized in necessarily requires public guidance and investment, as well as a large popular demand which has already existed for a long time. This is not about restraining private initiative, it is about stopping short certain people who abuse of a position of privilege they have achieved through corruption, insider trading and speculation. What the world really needs, and what has to be encouraged by governments, is a responsible and innovative form of private initiative that contributes to create wealth among the community, while preserving the environment and respecting the basic principles of social justice.
- The crisis of General Motors obviously requires a separate chapter: Most of the corporations who have faced bankruptcy after the Lehman Brothers disaster have done so with no kind of investment in green technology. Moreover, their bankruptcy has meant a financial disaster for many middle-class citizens around the Globe, whereas the top shareholders and officials have maintained and improved the immense patrimonies they enjoyed. In this context, people like Seton Motley take advantage to pin down GM’s bankruptcy on its ecological vehicles branch, a branch that had only been created in a propagandistic effort, something like: “ I want to protect the environment but, you see, this ecological branch has caused our ruin, so unfortunately we must eliminate it and forget about it”.
Mr. Motley even has the nerve to blame ecology for the Government’s financial rescue to General Motors. But the truth is that Mr. Motley knows that ecology had nothing to do with the corporation’s collapse, and that the public money injected in GM has to a great extent ended up in several of his friends’ pockets.
- The broadcast concludes colligating Spain’s public debt crisis with its investments in renewable energies. And of course, not only the figures provided with regard to those investments are declaredly exaggerated, but also the public debt crisis has nothing to do with them.
Firstly because that crisis is directly related to the use of a supranational currency, the Euro, which deliberately leaves its peripheral countries at the mercy of the speculative attacks. Secondly, in the Spanish case the public debt crisis is directly linked to the huge indebtedness accumulated by its regional and local Civil Services, most of which are governed by Mr. Calzada’s conservative friends. Those governing bodies have boosted up for years the execution of pharaonic public works, whose contracts were conveniently awarded to very good friends. I just wonder if Mr. Motley would also propose a little bit of “less government” in this case.
Much more could be said about this crappy video, but I just prefer to undergo a decontamination process as soon as possible. And, anyhow, after this great effort my diagnosis about the world we live in has not changed: the human being can be as much a source of astonishing wonders as of pure misery.
I actually feel that is exactly what Jesus Christ is supposed to have thought a couple of millenniums ago, and I also sense he wouldn’t feel too proud of certain people who represent the very worst of our species and proclaim to be acting in his name. Yes, there are Christians who can defend social abuse, sexual discrimination, racism or the use of torture as gracefully as they encourage the destruction of the environment.
God forgive them, the Planet will not.