At ePluribus, in Viral Propaganda in the Rovewellian Age (originating here) Jeff Huber writes about a chain e-mail he received. It JUST HAPPENS to coincide with the White House’s new campaign to blame the press for bad news out of Iraq.
The subject is “Too Graphic for the ‘Main’ Stream Media.”
The opening paragraph says “Here is an important message you are not likely to get anywhere else, particularly from U.S. News sources–Pictures From Iraq That Are Too Shocking & Graphic for The Mainstream Media.”
Below that is a series of digital photographs depicting “positive images” from Iraq. Several show U.S. soldiers visiting Iraqi kids at their schools and playing with them on the street. In one, an Iraqi woman holds up two handwritten signs that read “Iraqi people happy today. Thank You Thank You U.S.A.” In another, an Iraqi boy in a car holds out a sign that says, “Thank You Very much Mr. BUSH.”
Go read the rest. It has so much of the usual obvious professionally-crafted propaganda that I’m surprised it didn’t start with “I used to be a Democrat, but…”
Viral propaganda works much like viral marketing. Viral marketing is a pyramid advertising scheme in which “genuine” word of mouth personal testimony about a commercial product’s virtues is spread by “plain folks” who have been paid and trained to spread it but who don’t let their target audiences know that. It’s normally conducted in conjunction with more overt, traditional advertising campaigns. “Viral marketing” is an Internet age term that reflects the language of the contemporary information age–covert “testimonial” advertising can literally be spread like a computer virus.
But covert viral marketing isn’t limited to the electronic information sphere. Viral marketers arrive at parties, cookouts, school and church functions, and other social events with free samples of the products they’re hawking. They engage family, friends, and acquaintances in conversations into which they interject carefully prepared and easily remembered slogans, buzz phrases, mantras, memes, and talking points.
Pretty soon, the viral marketers’ targets are repeating the marketing rhetoric, unknowingly becoming unpaid non-salaried employees of a sophisticated advertising firm.
The Right understands how people get information, and what factors are involved in credibility and retention.
The question is, was this government-funded?