Before the lies of Donald Trump

Sam Smith – Long before the arrival of Donald Trump, America was into lies. For example, Wikipedia reports:

[][][] In Propaganda (1928), [Edward] Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy. In public relations, lobby groups are created to influence government policy, corporate policy or public opinion, typically in a way that benefits the sponsoring organization.

In fact, Bernays stresses that we are in fact dominated in almost every aspect of our lives, by a relatively small number of persons who have mastered the ‘mental processes and social patterns of the masses,’ which include our behavior, political and economic spheres or our morals. In theory, each individual chooses his own opinion on behavior and public issues. However, in practice, it is impossible for one to study all variables and approaches of a particular question and come to a conclusion without any external influence. This is the reason why the society has agreed upon an ‘invisible government’ to interpret on our behalf information and narrow the choice field to a more practical scale….  Politicians also employ public relations professionals to help project their views, policies and even personalities to their best advantages. [][][]

One of my most stunning experiences with this is when, some three decades ago, I began looking into a guy who was running for president named Bill Clinton.  What I found about him and his home state of Arkansas was stunning. You can read a detailed report here. It included items like this:

[][][] Paul Bosson, Hot Springs Prosecutor – In Hot Springs, growing up here, you were living a lie. You lived a lie because you knew that all of these activities were illegal. I mean, as soon as you got old enough to be able to read a newspaper, you knew that gambling in Arkansas was illegal, prostitution was illegal. And so you lived this lie, so you have to find some way to justify that to yourself and, you know, you justify it by saying, “Well,” you know, “it’s okay here.”

Arkansas becomes a major center of gun-running, drugs and money laundering. The IRS warns other law enforcement agencies of the state’s “enticing climate.” According to Clinton biographer Roger Morris, operatives go into banks with duffel bags full of cash, which bank officers then distribute to tellers in sums under $10,000 so they don’t have to report the transaction. [][][]

A significant job of an Arkansas governor was to serve this culture. Yet to this day the major media has ignored the Arkansas story, giving Clinton the sort of coverage that Trump would have loved.

I feel that today we are experiencing a major payoff for all our decades of ignoring the role of lies in our news and the rest of our culture. People like Edward Bernays were talking about it almost a century ago, but  we chose to give it the kind name of “public relations” and ignore the pain it could cause eventually by someone like Donald Trump.