(DEVELOPING STORY: I will update this post as more information comes in...JF)
The Republican marketing man behind the "Willie Horton" television ad that helped to end the presidential bid of Michael Dukakis has resurfaced in a new ad that uses World War II style propaganda techniques to create the false impression that Sen. Barack Obama supporets inner city gang violence and "urban terrorism."
The ad, sponsored by a political group called ExposeObama.com, is the latest effort by well-funded right-wing pundits and political groups to define a Democratic candidate for president as a violent threat to the American people. Violent rhetoric from the right is an ongoing problem in American democracy that remains unchallenged by the media and by government oversight.
The new ad signifies a huge step into the center of the 2008 election for right-wing pundits and political groups pushing violent rhetoric.
This is the ad:
Keep in mind that part of the strategy of ExposeObama.com is to release this ad via YouTube in hope that it will travel through the internet--thus the ad can have an impact without an actual "ad buy."
When discussing this ad in other blog posts, please do not link to the ExposeObama.com site, but to this diary or other blog posts that put the ad in the proper context.
In other words, let's use this discussion to draw attention away from ExposeObama.com and bring people into the discussion of what's wrong with the kind of politics that group represents.
Violent Rhetoric: The Right-Wing Strategy To Win in '08
The ad by ExposeObama.com is an example of 'violent language' or 'violent rhetoric' used in this case by a right-wing group linked to the Republican Party.
In this case, the goal of the ad is not to teach the American public about crime, but to associate a democratic candidate (Obama) with acts of extreme violence that would not otherwise be linked to him.
Accordingly, the ad contributes to a growing effort by right-wing pundits to define Sen. Obama as someone who supports terrorism, enemies of the United States, and racially-motivated hatred.
All these efforts represent explicit propaganda technique called 'transfer,' developed and used by World War II era agencies to wage campaigns against enemies:
Transfer is another of the seven main propaganda terms first used by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. Transfer is often used in politics and during wartime. It is an attempt to make the subject view a certain item in the same way as they view another item, to link the two in the subjects mind. Although this technique is often used to transfer negative feelings for one object to another, it can also be used in positive ways. By linking an item to something the subject respects or enjoys, positive feelings can be generated for it. However, in politics, transfer is most often used to transfer blame or bad feelings from one politician to another of his friends or party members, or even to the party itself. When confronted with propaganda using the transfer technique, we should question the merits or problems of the proposal or idea independently of convictions about other objects or proposals.
(From "Propaganda Techniques" link)
The ad by ExploseObama.com attempts to transfer the violent meaning in certain keywords to Barack Obama by repeating these keywords in proximity to his name.
These words include: murder, terrorism, kill, etc.
At no point in the ad does the narrator say that Sen. Obama committed these violent acts. Instead, the ad uses violent keywords, music evoking violence, and violent imagery to create an interpretive framework for redefining Sen. Obama in public consciousness.
Most notably, this effort at violent rhetoric propaganda comes on the morning of the Pennsylvania primary, the implication being that this ad was specifically created to give Pennsylvania voters--as well as journalists and reporters covering the Pennsylvania primary--the impression that Sen. Obama is somehow linked to gang violence.
Since the propaganda technique of 'transfer' is counter to every standard of honest journalism, the entire U.S. broadcast media establishment has an obligation to explain to their viewers why this ad is anti-Democratic and condemned it.
Floyd Brown: Violent Rhetoric Propagandist
The propagandist behind the new ad is Floyd Brown. Prior to this effort, Brown was working on a long-term effort to use propaganda techniques--including 'transfer'--to similarly define Sen. Hillary Clinton as a violent threat to the American people--a violent propaganda campaign called "Stop Hillary."
ExposeObama.com is an organization created to disseminate Brown's work and is listed as part of the "National Campaign Fund," a Washington, DC based organization.
Update [2008-4-22 12:9:4 by Jeffrey Feldman]: - Hat tip to kossack Annabella for spotting this development as it broke last night. Her diary included a link to a Newsmax article seeding the story (follow this link to get to that story). Newsmax is a right-wing front and is currently running the ad on their front page. So, annabella's diary helps us follow the early trajectory of the ad.
Update [2008-4-22 12:23:36 by Jeffrey Feldman]: - From the comments from dannyinla...Floyd Brown's propaganda firm is called Excellentia, Inc. Floyd's web page in which he confesses his recent love for the outside of horses: (giddyup). And Mrs. Brown, apparently, has written a book on Condi (no word, as yet, on her equine predilections).
**I NEED YOUR HELP**
With an eye towards the general election, I am beginning a new project focused on the problem of violent rhetoric from the Right and the problems it poses--not just to Democratic Party prospects at winning the White House, but to American democracy itself.
Last year, I began tracking the problem of violent rhetoric and violent framing as it was being used by high-profile right-wing pundits and politicians, resulting in a book exploring this problem titled Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy.
Interested in helping with this DailyKos series? To join the invite-only Google Group, send an email to:
VRW (at) frameshopisopen (dot) com
Be sure to include:
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