I have quite literate friends who have actually been celebrating the demise of newspapers and magazines in our country. “They’ve shown themselves to be little more than propaganda organs,” they say, “so it’s good enough for them.”
But the fact that young people are turning away from the traditional media hardly means that they are not being propagandized. They’re just getting their poison through other venues, primarily the Internet. For every expensive and widely cited print publication with no visible means of support like Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, there are dozens of such web sites, with big teams of regular writers who must live on something.
We have also had a ringside seat to watch the transformation of a leading propagandist, Christopher Ruddy, from print journalist to a major force on the Worldwide Web, and he now has his own cable TV channel. We describe it in great detail in “Double Agent Ruddy Reaching for Media Pinnacle.” It would be no skin off him or his handlers should the newspapers he used to write for dry up and blow away.
Google’s Pernicious Power
There is one clear way in which the potential for spreading propaganda is now even greater than it was when a few major newspapers and television and radio networks dominated the molding of public opinion. A great deal of Internet power is concentrated in the hands of one company, Google. So dominant is its search engine that its name has become a verb meaning to search for something on the Internet, “to Google.” So far this month, of the people coming to my web site by use of a Web search, they arrive through Google at a rate about 24 times as great as through the search engine that is in second place, Yahoo’s.
Google also keeps track of everything you search for and makes profitable—and apparently propagandistic—use of that information. On the first point, how often have we seen pop-up advertisements appear on our computer screens for products or services for which we have recently conducted a Web search?
The second apparent use of its tracking information is a good deal more insidious. Working on an upcoming article on the establishment’s favorite putative racist, Jared Taylor, I have searched his name a number of times, each time in conjunction with other names or concepts. Now when I go to Google-owned YouTube, right at the top I have as my “Recommended channel” Taylor’s shadowy white-pride organization, American Renaissance, complete with a whole row of videos to click on. This presentation by Taylor is one of the videos they offered for my enjoyment and edification. Based upon my Googling record, they think I’m one of those people who equates “real American” with “white person.” No mainstream print organization could get by with touting such a person with such a message to a general audience.