Edward S. Herman on Ideological Hegemony in Contemporary Societies

Before his passing in November 2017, Edward Herman graciously gave a final interview to various media scholars in the preceding month of October. Herman was the main architect of the Propaganda Model (PM) put forward in the benchmark book on media bias he wrote with Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Herman discusses the applicability and utility of the model in the 21st Century. The interview covers a range of topics: social control and inequality, and how these are normalized and maintained; the usefulness of the PM in understanding patterns of media behavior in non-US countries; and how the PM positions television and the internet in relation to social and political change. Use of fear as an ideological control mechanism; ways in which media foster indifference, use of the PM to understand media coverage of Donald Trump’s election campaign and first months as President; and how academia fits within the framework of institutional and ideological power are also explored. The interview has been published in an Open Access collection titled The Propaganda Model Today: Filtering Perception and Awareness that has been edited by Joan Pedro-Carañana, Daniel Broudy and Jeffery Klaehn.

Has social control always been naturalized?

In modern societies, surely. People with wealth and political and social power want to protect and expand their interests, and this requires command over the means of communication that will allow these privileges to be sustained and grow. The growth of inequality enlarges the need and ability to dominate the flow of information and inculcate proper values.

The PM is concerned with the question of how ideological power and material power intersect and reinforce one another and assumes interrelations between state, corporate capitalism and the corporate media. How does academia factor into the…

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