Oligarchic Media Repetition and Diversionary Consequences

Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda during the Third Reich, infamously said that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” and “the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

The unceasing repetition of certain terms in the media has become fair fodder for critiques by comedians such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Watch Colbert’s quick deconstruction of the “wave” metaphor in the midterm elections:

Colbert Midterm Election Coverage

One of my students forwarded me a recent Rachel Maddow segment similarly fact-checking an assertion that’s been propagated through many platforms about Obama’s expenses during foreign visits:

Maddow on the Media

It’s a sad day when some media commentators like Maddow have to turn from their jobs reporting and analyzing on all the happenings of governments, businesses, etc.—to spend their time fact-checking and trying to prevent corruption in other media. Stewart and Colbert have been our primary media critics of the past decade, and that these roles are being taken over by Maddow and others tells us just how bad the repetition problem has become in an oligarchic news industry.