WASHINGTON — A vast majority of Americans remain far too clever and well-informed to be manipulated by divide-and-rule tactics, a recent Georgetown University study finds.
Georgetown professor of social policy and former CIA analyst Alfred Dulles studied the media consumption habits of more than 2,000 Americans since the 2016 elections, and concluded that Americans are more open-minded and tolerant of opposing political opinions than ever before.
“The charge that Americans are polarized into conservative or liberal media ‘echo chambers’ is not supported by our analysis.”
“FOX News devotees are famously open-minded about other positions and seek to expose themselves to other sides of the political spectrum and to flex their fabled critical thinking skills. And viewers of CNN and MSNBC are extremely tolerant of conservative opinions and uphold others’ free speech, even for so-called ‘politically incorrect’ speech,” said Dulles, appearing on CNN last week.
“Our study finds that most Americans still agree with Voltaire’s dictum that ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’”
Appearing on CNN’s program “The Objectivity Room,” host Wolf Blitzer asked Dulles to expound his thesis of media diversity.
“Americans are media-savvy like never before,” said Dulles. “With the rise of social media, most Americans are privy to a wealth of diverse opinions. Facebook’s algorithms ensure that everyone is exposed to ideas across the entire political spectrum rather than some narrowly tailored newsfeed. We found no evidence that Facebook posts serve to merely to “preach to the choir.”
“Google would never let politics influence its search algorithms. Even their motto says: ‘Don’t be evil’. Google isn’t evil, OK?”
Blitzer, playing devil’s advocate and flexing his Latin skills, asked Dulles, “Has America, ever, ever resorted to divide et impera techniques to control the population, as some conspiracy theorists have alleged?”
“Never. Never. Americans are simply too intelligent, well-informed, and broad-minded to ever be manipulated by divide-and-rule tactics, which admittedly worked so well in the Roman Empire and British Empires,” according to Professor Dulles, a direct descendant of former CIA Director Alan Dulles. “America is different. It’s a democracy.”
“Maybe those tricks still work in Russia — Putin of course is capable of anything — but in America, with our sacred traditions of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, those tactics could never be effective,” concluded Dulles.
“And what about Noam Chomsky’s theory of ‘manufacturing consent’?” asked Blitzer.
“Chomsky’s idea of ‘manufacturing consent’ has always struck me as a ridiculous ivory tower fabrication,” said Dulles. “Chomsky should just stick to linguistics. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s still alive. He’s most likely senile by now.”
Dulles also rejected the idea that American media is dominated by major news corporations peppered with friendly intelligence assets, dismissing this as a “conspiracy fantasy.”
“The idea that major news organizations are working hand-in-glove with the government to push imperial agendas and divide the population with manufactured controversies is totally absurd,” said Dulles.
“Anybody who claims some kind of government-media collusion should rightfully be silenced — or at least excluded from speaking on major media,” concluded Dulles.
“I agree,” said Blitzer.
Dan Geddes is the editor of The Satirist. In addition to satire, Geddes’ serious criticism in The Satirist online has been widely cited in books, English courses, academic papers, newspapers, and websites. Geddes has written for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Dry Bones Review, and The Modern Word. His satirical work has also appeared in GlossyNews.com. He lives in Amsterdam.
Originally published at www.thesatirist.com.