Propaganda and the National Enquirer nation

Forrest Johnson

Remember the good old days when fake news was the National Enquirer claiming that Elvis married a martian? Stacked up there at eye-level at the grocery checkout counter was “Two-headed man found locked in church basement after 27 years. Survived on communion wafers and wine so the ordeal wasn’t as bad as it sounds.”
Yes, just make it up and it’ll sell. The First Amendment will always allow money to be made by trashy magazines selling fiction and conspiracies to the gullible masses. 
Now we have a National Enquirer president who just happens to be pals with the fellow who owns and publishes the magazine, you know, the guy who bought the prostitute’s story so he could hush it up for Mr. Rumpt. What a circle. The only problem is that the magazine never claims to be reputable, it’s a shill for making money and bamboozling people out of their money. All lies and we know it. Well, I suppose there are plenty of people who thumb through the pages and really do believe that Elvis married a martian or that Charlton Heston claims to have met Moses at the butcher shop.

And then we have Rumpt. Shiny shoes and a flap of hair. Claims to be reputable and smart, a genius maybe. 
In this crazy, mixed-up world people believe he’s a president, not fiction, not a celebrity reality TV personality, but a real president. Presidential. No National Enquirer here. No thousands of lies since the lie-o-meter has long since broken. No circle of felons headed to jail. No fear-mongering about immigrants and people of color and building a great big beautiful wall that will stem the fears and anger of the portion of the population that has been led to pasture like cows.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rumpt is a symptom of the National Enquirer nation. Oh, he’s the problem, don’t get me wrong. But the real problem that turned people into cows easily led to pasture began long ago as it has in the past, cycles of propaganda that play over and over and over. The commies are everywhere. The white population is under siege. Crime is threatening the nation and the government wants your guns. Religious liberties are being denied!

Cycles of propaganda. People are fearful and angry! 
How else can you describe a story now told as people try to figure out where to put John McCain in the realm of our nation’s history. A maverick. A conservative out of the mold of Barry Goldwater. A hawk in fiscal and military policy. A reformer to keep big money out of politics. A guy who voted against the Affordable Care Act but voted against it’s repeal. A believer in human rights. He picked Sarah Palin for a running mate for crying out loud.

There is this story that took place in Lakeville , Minnesota during a 2008 presidential town hall meeting and folks are using it to try to describe McCain as a decent man or a man who didn’t go far enough in condemning racism and xenophobia. McCain was holding a campaign stop at a high school auditorium when a little old lady in red by the name of Gayle Quinnell ran up to him, grabbed the microphone and blurted out “I gotta ask you a question. I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not – He’s not – He’s an Arab and… no?”

McCain was shaking his head no as he took the microphone back and told the woman that Obama was a decent family man and citizen, that they had disagreements on fundamental issues. No matter McCain’s response, the old lady wasn’t persuaded. After the meeting she told reporters “You can’t trust Barack Hussein Obama because he is a Muslim and a terrorist.” The little old lady has since dodged all questions about where all that anger came from.

As Jennifer Brooks of the Star Tribune wrote recently, there was ugly racism coiled behind the question.    
As I said, some writers are saying in was a defining moment in McCain’s character but what I’m saying is that it defines the cycle of propaganda that’s been playing out in our National Enquirer nation in recent decades. The old woman, like so many, have been made fearful and angry by propaganda aimed directly at a group of people who are vulnerable for whatever reason. Yes, most of the vulnerable are white and most listen to Fox News and most seem to have voted for Rumpt and make up his loyal following. 
Where else do you get that kind of anger and fear except from well-orchestrated propaganda, repeated over and over and over again.

The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yes, the First Amendment will allow trashy magazines to create fiction and conspiracy. How does the First Amendment deal with decades of propaganda and more recently the thousands of lies from a man masquerading as our president?