Friday, May 27, 2005

Propaganda Machine tools: Testimonials

The use of testimonials is probably one the most observable and therefore one of the easiest propaganda tools to identify. The use of a testimonial is a way a propagandist builds credibility for his message. A testimonial tries to attach the emotional ingredient of a trusted life figure to build creditability and acceptance for the non-logical, non-intuitive messages of propaganda. Trusted life figures are religious leaders, entertainment celebrities, sports stars and high profile social or political leaders. A trusted life figure has a high degree of emotionally based credibility that adds a powerful ingredient to the propagandist's message. The GOP and current administration's propaganda machine use testimonials on both the national and local level with calculated precision. They are particularly effective in their use of fundamentalist religious leaders in combination with single-issue, fear orientated propaganda messages. The use of testimonials was instrumental in the vast mobilization of the Christian Right in the last election. Many a devout Christian was told by their pastors or their church elders that a vote for the Democrats was a vote for gay marriage or abortion. The Karl Rove propaganda machine had to only produce the tailored messages of deception, which were then repeated hundreds of times in churches across America.

"This is the classic misuse of the Testimonial Device that comes to the minds of most of us when we hear the term. We recall it indulgently and tell ourselves how much more sophisticated we are than our grandparents or even our parents. With our next breath, we begin a sentence, 'The Times said,' 'John L. Lewis said...,' 'Herbert Hoover said...', 'The President said...', 'My doctor said...,' 'Our minister said...' Some of these Testimonials may merely give greater emphasis to a legitimate and accurate idea, a fair use of the device; others, however, may represent the sugar-coating of a distortion, a falsehood, a misunderstood notion, an anti-social suggestion..." (Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 1938)

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