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September 22nd, 2021

Insight

The Propaganda of Silence

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Dec. 10, 2020

The Propaganda of Silence


As any student of history knows, in matters of politics and the press, that which is not said is as important as that which is.

Often, it is more important.

Oppressive regimes (the former Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China) uniformly exert control over all forms of communication, demanding that the only information disseminated to the people is what the government approves in advance. Those who bravely defy those edicts risk not only their jobs but also their freedom and their lives. Penalties for violating government prohibitions include shutting down disobedient media outlets, imprisoning uncooperative editors and reporters (and/or their families) and even execution.

The United States is unusual, however. Our national media, including the social media multinationals (Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), are engaged in a wholly voluntary effort — one not mandated by any government official or agency — to both pump out a torrent of disinformation (created largely but not exclusively by the Democratic Party) and choke off the flow of facts and accurate information the press finds politically inexpedient.

The press's campaign to sucker the public into believing the lies it peddles has been going on for decades. A complete list would take volumes, but a few notable examples include the following:

— Walter Cronkite's deliberate misreporting of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War as a victory for the North Vietnamese (it was a resounding defeat). This was intended to turn the public sentiment against the war, and it worked. Whatever one might think of the wisdom of being involved in wars in Southeast Asia, this was a horrific lie that cost our South Vietnamese allies dearly.

— Amplifying hysterical accusations by the Democratic Party that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was responsible for a woman's death from cancer, and that he and running mate Paul Ryan wanted the elderly to die. Lies.

— Publicizing outrageous claims that now-Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh gang raped women while in high school. Lies. The press cuddled up to the accuser's attorney, Michael Avenatti, giving him literally hundreds of TV appearances and even touting him as a potential Democratic presidential contender. Those pipe dreams died when Avenatti was subsequently convicted of extortion.

And, of course, there were the ridiculous accusations that President Donald Trump was "colluding" with Russia in ways to affect the 2016 presidential election. This confabulation was created out of whole cloth; paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign; propped up by fabricated FBI applications for FISA warrants used to spy on Trump and his campaign staff; and used as the basis for a $32 million boondoggle of an "investigation" that produced zero evidence of collusion.

As consistently as the press lies about conservatives and Republicans generally, Trump has unquestionably received the worst of its hysteria. One of the reasons our media love to call Donald Trump a "fascist" and an aspiring dictator is because it feeds their fantasies that they are being "brave" and "fearless" in the face of his potential persecution. In fact, they are a group of manipulators who bask in the glow of one another's praise in response to their own confected accusations.

But as bad as the media's lies are, its suppression of information is an even graver threat. This tactic, too, goes back decades. In the 1930s, New York Times reporter Walter Duranty covered up the starvation and slaughter of millions of Ukrainians by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

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More recently, NBC refused to let reporter Ronan Farrow publish his exposés on Hollywood producer (and major Democratic bundler) Harvey Weinstein. ABC squelched reporting on Jeffrey Epstein that would have put some prominent Democrats (including former President Bill Clinton) in an unfavorable light.

Today, the propaganda of silence continues apace. It was announced this week that putative President-elect Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden is now under investigation for potential tax issues. How convenient. During the presidential campaign, as Project Veritas' undercover investigation revealed, CNN outright refused to cover the story of Hunter Biden's alleged peddling of access to the Obama administration in exchange for millions of dollars. Twitter reportedly censored the New York Post's account after the paper reported on the Biden scandal. Facebook also throttled content.

These omissions matter. Many Democratic voters claim never to have heard about the story, and 1 in 6 have said those revelations would have affected their vote. That's unsurprising; of those who did hear the story, a majority believe Joe Biden knew about his son's activities.


Huge numbers of Americans — 70% of Republicans and even 30% of Democrats — believe that election fraud this year took place leading up to, on and after Election Day. The press wants everyone to believe that the only causes for that widespread sentiment are Trump's bombastic allegations. As a result, there has been virtually no coverage of the hearings in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia at which hundreds of eyewitnesses testified to suspicious and even potentially illegal conduct on election night and thereafter.

And despite ongoing litigation — including at least two cases still pending before the United States Supreme Court — the press's narrative is that this is a done deal and Trump just needs to concede. (Odd how the press didn't take that attitude when Democratic nominee Al Gore was challenging the election results in 2000.)

YouTube announced on Wednesday of this week that it will begin pulling down any videos in which the authors claim voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. This is without regard to whether or not those claims are true.

But that's typical. Censors are nearly always trying to keep the public from learning the truth. The press complains that it has diminishing credibility. Unfortunately for the press — and for the country — it has a long history of deceit and denial. There is no reason to think it is doing anything different now.

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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