The Planted Lie

Then, very much alive, he quickly picked up from his desk a sheet of paper covered with fine handwriting and a batch of newspaper clippings. “Well, here are the items that Mr. Penneyman would like to see. I have called this report the History of the Planted Lie….

It was in French, very closely written, precisely detailed. Fenner read it carefully, condensing, selecting the main points that were the skeleton of the report. In brief, it began with the date of the Generals’ Revolt—April 22, 1961. Within a few hours a story was circulating that the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States had instigated and aided the revolt against France. Within a few days the story was printed as uncontrovertible fact in the Roman newspaper Il Paese. Immediately, Pravda, Tass, and Radio Moscow were quoting Il Paese to Europe and the Middle East. By April 27 the London Daily Worker was denouncing America. A non-Communist French newspaper followed suit. So did other French papers. So did some officials in the French government, who talked cautiously, with shrugs and pursed lips, to foreign journalists. The news was even beginning to be accepted by some friends as well as enemies. The storm was rising to hurricane proportions. Americans protested their innocence, but how do you prove innocence? Even the usually accurate, and conservative, newspaper Le Monde could begin an attack on the CIA with the damning phrase “It now seems established…” But it wasn’t. An Australian newsman, reporting for a British paper, challenged a French official at a public luncheon, and the French government issued a statement that no evidence had been discovered that could support the story. The report became what it always had been, a planted lie….

“The memorandum is divided into four sections. First, the purpose behind the planted lie. Second, the means and methods used to spread it. Third, the reason for its failure. And fourth—the next attempt.”

Fenner stared. “You think they will try something like this again?” The question had been jolted out of him.

“I don’t think. I know,” said Vaugiroud very quietly.

Propaganda is a planted lie used to shape perception of an individual or group or event. The lie is substituted for reality, and this maligning of truth is designed to be the first domino to fall and begin a cascade of planned consequences.

Propaganda is a theme of Helen MacInnes’ books. She began writing espionage novels during World War II, and reached her peak during the Cold War. I first learned the word disinformation from reading Helen MacInnes, and so she is a natural connection for me when I think about propaganda. Her books are being reprinted, so you don’t have to scour used book stores or libraries to find copies. Read her books and give your favorite ones away, because in the thrill of the chase she provides an education on power, lies, and their deadly consequences.

Past generations felt the onslaught of German and Russian propaganda during the twentieth century, and growing up during the Cold War I was taught some of the basics on its distortion of reality. Since the Berlin Wall fell and the old U.S.S.R. broke up, that knowledge as a common part of our thinking seems to have gone by the wayside. As I’ve looked on the internet for sources I’ve been surprised to find that many of those who write on it scoff at its application to the Left. The topic itself has become a source of propaganda against the Right.

The extent to which the American people today are swayed by their emotions to believe lies and make irrational choices detrimental to their own well-being reveals how much we need to revisit some of those old tricks of the propaganda trade and recognize those tools of deception.
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Helen MacInnes, The Venetian Affair in The Deadly Decisions (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. New York NY: 1963) 464–466.

Rehashing The Content Of Rubio’s Speech

So this is the moment they said would never happen.

This has to be the oddest beginning to a speech ever given by a guy who came in third. Rubio was not the upset victor, nor was it surprising that he came in third. As a native Floridian who is now in Texas, I’ve found it amusing and dismaying to see the swooning over Marco Rubio’s speech Monday evening as he tried to flip third place in the Iowa caucus into a win.

Before I go further, I’ll say that Rubio is not my choice for the Republican candidate. People need to stop take him at the face value of soaring words, and look at who he is. I voted for Rubio in Florida, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in Texas (and not because I live here now!). More to come later on why, but for now I want to point out something that Maggie Gallagher noticed after she took a dispassionate look at the transcripts of the speeches given by Rubio and Cruz. (She doesn’t give one, but here is a link to Cruz‘ speech). She writes, The One Surprising Thing Missing From Rubio’s Great Third Place Iowa Victory Speech.

Here is the number of times Marco Rubio mentioned life, marriage or religious liberty in his high-profile 3rd place Iowa victory speech: zero.

She provides a contrast with a video of Cruz when he said:

If you want a candidate to support life and marriage and religious liberty, then support a candidate who spent decades of his life fighting to defend life and marriage and religious liberty.

I want to add that earlier in his speech Cruz had also said:

And tonight is a testament to the people’s commitments to their yearnings to get back to our core commitments: free market principles, Constitutional liberties, and the Judeo-Christian values that built this great nation.

Question markIt’s highly improbable that Rubio didn’t know exactly what he wanted to say. His introduction and the tenor of his speech indicate how carefully crafted it was constructed to spin third place. The question to keep in mind is why did Rubio not mention these issues that are vital to Christians and social conservatives? This was Iowa. Was he pitching himself to a national audience? If he was, why did he omit any mention of them?

Watch for trends of topics.

Rhetoric v. Reality

We may not be able to stop the onslaught of manipulation from politicians and bias from the media, but we can grow in our ability to perceive differences between words and deeds. We can also learn to explain to others how we sort through truth and lies.

Truth & Research Library of CongressOver three years ago I did a series on propaganda, and I’ve found that posts in the series consistently remain among the most frequently read. Links to those posts are in the header, but I haven’t looked back at them in a while to check links or to see if any need editing and updates. Because we’re in the throes of presidential primaries, I’ve decided to revise and republish them, and write a few new ones along the way.

Being able to withstand the use of propaganda isn’t a superfluous skill. Sorting rhetoric from reality helps us to recognize attempts to manipulate us and maneuver past scrutiny. It’s vital to our well being as individuals and as a nation to learn, discern, and then vote.
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The south set of bronze doors at the main entrance to the Library of Congress depict “Truth” and “Research.”