【Inquisitive Mind] Fake News and Propaganda: Shut Up and Consume

By MOS Finance Group – Hetangyuese_JZ

Imagine you are in North Korea and you see a classroom full of children pledging their allegiance and loyalty to their supreme ruler, Kim Jung Un. You may think that is pretty weird and think it is part of some propaganda and manipulation scheme to get children to start pledging their loyalty to the top leader of their country at a young age, which is considered as a form of patriotism in totalitarian countries. However, a similar phenomenon happens in America also, although it is not practiced to show their loyalty to any top leader. For 12 years, at the beginning of the school day, almost every kid in the US states the pledge of allegiance while holding their right hand to their heart and facing the flag. This is a form of propaganda we just do not realize, we do not see this as weird but we see it as weird when we see citizens of another country do something similar. Propaganda can be everywhere in someone’s everyday life in addition to those in advertisements and news. Propaganda plays an important part in our everyday lives and it takes different forms. The book, “1984”, by George Orwell, portrays a great example of what a dystopian, totalitarian government can do with propaganda. 

Although propaganda can take different forms, there are some common features. Propaganda conveys ideas quickly and to a broad number of people, and hits the target audience’s general populace. It also makes use of simple messages, like “No new taxes”.  They will also reiterate the message over and over again so it becomes a non-conscious thought in the back of your head. Propaganda targets emotions, often striking at strong feelings like love or fear of losing a loved one. It can also be associated with well-known symbols such as a peace sign or the communist hammer and sickle. In his book “Mein Kampf,” Hitler concluded that successful propaganda appeals “to the public’s emotions rather than their ability to reason,” relies on “stereotyped formulas,” which are replicated over and over to drive concepts into the citizen’s minds, and uses simplistic “love or hate, right or wrong” formulations to attack the enemy while making intentionally biased and one-sided” statements (Kakutani, New York Times). 

There is so much propaganda in the advertisements we see. Companies use certain words that help them lie a little called weasel words. Weasel word is a colloquial term for terms and phrases used to give the impression that something concrete and substantive has been said when, in reality, only a vague or ambiguous assertion has been made. There are at least 7 ways advertisements use propaganda to get you to buy: Bandwagon Propaganda, Plain Folks Propaganda, Testimonial propaganda, Card Stacking Propaganda, Transfer Propaganda, Name-calling technique, and Glittering generality propaganda. Bandwagon propaganda exploits this concept by appealing to certain groups’ views and encouraging them to do or imitate what others are doing. Plain folks propaganda is when ordinary people are used in propaganda to advertise a product. The goal is to demonstrate that the product is beneficial to all. Testimonial propaganda is a tactic in which a celebrity endorses a positive or bad idea or product in order to sway people’s views without allowing them to investigate the truth faster. Card stacking propaganda is the most commonly used campaign technique. In this strategy, the advertiser highlights the positive aspects of their product while concealing the negative aspects by saying half-truths about the product’s possible flaws. Transfer propaganda is when advertisers use symbols of objects about which we have convictions, such as the national flag, religious beliefs, and prominent figures, to persuade us to support his concept by referring to it. Name-calling propaganda is when an individual or a commodity is associated with a negative symbol. The terms extreme, cowardly, environmentalist, and special interest groups are often used. Glittering generality is a propaganda tactic that mixes terms that don’t mean anything but sound good to the reader and listener, similar to how name-calling propaganda used to portray a good idea as a bad one. To elicit a positive answer from consumers, advertisers use powerful and appealing terms such as improve, cheap, hope, and safe. 

The news is a great example of propaganda. Not all news is propaganda but there is a lot of fake news. American news, for example, three media companies own over 600 local news stations in the United States, which have scripts and employ local anchors to read them, explaining why all news around the country sounds the same. On a national level, outlets such as USA Today and CBS depend on the Associated Press for their stories. What is newsworthy and what isn’t is decided by the Associated Press. Julian Assange, for example, is one of the most important stories in media, but the Associated Press disagrees, which is why everybody in America knows who George Floyd is but not Julian Assange. CNN and Fox are mere extensions of the Democratic and Republican parties; their role is to preserve party unity and loyalty and give you reasons to dislike the other side, not to cover the news.  Behind closed doors, the network executives are friends who attended the same Ivy League schools and lived in the same multi-million dollar communities.

Propaganda can be everywhere and plays an important part in our everyday lives, and often we do not even notice it. The book “1984” by George Orwell shows a great example of what a dystopian, totalitarian government can do with propaganda. We cannot escape propaganda, but we can educate ourselves to discern fake news and better defend ourselves from propaganda. 


Gupta, S. (2021, January 13). Types Of Propaganda Used In Advertising. https://www.incrementors.com/blog/types-of-propaganda-used-in-advertising/. 

Kakutani, M. (2016, December 26). ‘How Propaganda Works’ Is a Timely Reminder for a Post-Truth Age. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/books/how-propaganda-works-is-a-timely-reminder-for-a-post-truth-age.html. 

ORWELL, G. E. O. R. G. E. (2020). 1984. ARTE Y LITERATURA. 

Proofread and posted by: Malaca

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3 months ago

someone has absolutely no idea what goes on in the US, OBVIOUSLY. Children in public schools do NOT recite the pledge of allegiance as stated in this article

3 months ago

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