The Story of Graffiti

It is not a rare occasion, when going along the street you clash with some puzzled and giant inscription. Vivid colors and intricacy lead you to stare, guessing and having a hunch what is written on the wall or building. That is the first impression people get about graffiti, embellishing their buildings. Indeed, graffiti style has emerged not long ago, but simultaneous simplicity and involute plot leave us nothing but astonishment and excitement. It is an issue of street-art culture, which signifies that modern art is not a prerogative of rich and intelligent people, but talented ones.

Graffiti is recognized as street art style that embraced outdoors of New York in 1920s. However, there are some ideas that it was only an outburst of this art, which has accomplished a long history of its development since ancient times.  As strange as it may seem, petroglyphic drawings in Egypt and Greece are likely to be the first steps towards graffiti, which were executed on statues, temples and even pyramids. They carried either religious or warning meaning. Medieval graffiti is associated with pre-Columbian America and the culture of Maya people and, in addition, Vikings in Northern Europe, who were engaged in runic writings. In Early Modern Period graffiti was left by soldiers in various parts of the world, who were eager to leave some written mark about their conquest or stay in the mission station.

All in all, at the beginning of the 20th century people faced graffiti style, which slightly differs from the modern version. Moreover, the culture of this street art style was enriched with new methods, terms, authors and, of course, ideas. A critic is also included, which features the question: are graffiti images an art or an act of vandalism? There is no doubt that most of the authors (so-called writers) strived for expressing own social and political perception, but it did not obstructed to make images (tags) alerting and well-performed. Mainly, they were observed on the streets of American cities, where young people “imprinted” their dissatisfaction with the President or certain politicians.

Many tags were created in order to point out musical preferences. For example, the most prominent tag of the 20th century is “Clapton is God”, which appeared in Islington station (London subway) in 1967. In this way fans of rock-musician supported the release of his new album “Bluesbreakers” and the rock-n-roll culture.  The decades of 1970s and 1980s are a period of protesting punk rock movement. Especially, it covered streets of Manhattan, where the most visible tag was an upside-down martini glass – a symbol of Missing Foundation (punk group of 1984-1992). By the way, Manhattan is also a native place of the first recognized graffiti writer – TAKI 183; his tags were all over NYC, pointing his name (Taki is simplified from Demetrius) and address (183rd street).

To date, lots of countries have admirable and talented writers, which decorate both their native streets and make great tags in different parts of the world. Some cases might be underlined. Miss Van started with painting incredible dolls on Toulouse streets and nowadays moved to Spain, sharing her art with fashion industry (Fornarina collection, particularly). Banksy is the most well-paid and the most mysterious painter of modernity. He hides real identity behind the pseudonym of Bansky and paintings criticizing politics. He alerts an attention with his nihilism and anti-capitalism views, which only encourage people to attend his gallery exhibitions all over the world.

Fahrenheit WWII 2002

Fahrenheit WWII                                        






















   There is no construction without destruction—Chairman Mao


The elements that can provide a satisfactory explanation of the actions exhibited by the police force in Ordinary Men and those of the Red Guards are strong deeply rooted motivations.  It is important to understand both the mindset of these killers as well as the process by which they acquired what we might call extreme moral flexibility, followed by the most extreme violent actions.  Through propaganda, appealing ideals, and force, Hitler and Mao made themselves into subjects of worship.  These cults of personality[1], accompanied by legitimate promises of economic prosperity were one of the most important aspects of the eventually large-scale brainwashing success.  The historical legacy of the two countries is also significant because the history and cultural myths of China and Germany were used very efficiently to influence the people who would follow the causes.  Going even deeper into the possible explanations for the actions that to most seem inexplicable, the most primal instincts of human beings cannot be discounted.  In terms of human evolution, it is only recently that man has evolved from the hunter.  This is to say that not long ago humans had to kill animals in order to eat and in order to protect themselves.  Most people to not have qualms about killing an animal if it serves a purpose and so by dehumanizing the Jews or presenting nationalists in China as a life threatening force, Hitler and Mao were playing on some of the most basic human instincts.  Germany and China created a receptive audience and using propaganda and force; controlled this audience, but more importantly controlled people by using their almost subconscious desires and fears to create a group of people who were capable and in most cases willing to commit genocide.

          There were two main ideological differences in the propaganda put out by Germany and China.  Germany romanticized the past in order to create a sense of unity among the Christian Germans and to put the blame for present problems on the impurity represented most clearly by the Jews.  China took the opposite position by presenting the old world as corrupt and unequal while presenting the revolution as the solution to the problems caused by this old system.

          China used highly effective propaganda in the form of “Big Character” posters and “Quotations from Mao” to give impressionable students a goal they could believe in and fight for.  The first important and even sensible idiom is that everyone must have faith in the Party in order for the revolution to succeed.[2]  This is a normal expectation as a component of success in any government, that the party in power should have the people’s support.  The rhetoric that follows this stipulation, however, leaves no room for dissent.  Mao states that “Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are Eliminated” and it is also made clear that people who do not support the party are the class to be eliminated.  This no doubt instilled a great fear in many people but for those who would become Red Guards, it was a rallying call.

          The most significant part of the Chinese brainwashing program was the “cult of personality” created by and around Chairman Mao himself. An important step in creating the cult of personality was the destruction of religion because there were idols that could compete with Mao.  The chairmen wanted the people of China to worship him so as to have complete control over mind and body without any interference.  This image of Mao as the great leader and even savior was carefully created and was not restrained by any dissenting realities.  Chairman Mao wanted to be the inspiration and the leader, more like Lenin than Stalin.[3]  Like President Bush’s town meetings, the Audiences for events where Mao appeared was carefully chosen so that the most enthusiastic crowd possible could be shown to the rest of the country.

          The appearance more than the actions of the chairman was used to demonstrate his devout following. Like President Bush’s town meetings, the audiences for events where Mao appeared were carefully chosen so that the most enthusiastic crowd possible could be shown to the rest of the country. As the most impressionable demographic was indoctrinated, a threat to the party was a threat to Mao which was in essence a threat to one’s survival. Mao became, in the eyes of the Red Guards, so important, that for him or the party to fail would be like the death of the nation created in part by these Red Guards.  If the revolution failed then the class to which the Red Guards belonged would be the one eliminated.  This perceived threat, along with the support for the Red Guards, created a group that projected their fears and even petty resentments on others with little provocation[4].

          Examining the motivations behind the police in Ordinary Men is much more difficult for three main reasons; the atrocities were carried out during wartime, there is little exposure of anti Jewish propaganda and the police being interrogated do not give many clues as to their mindset.  Nonetheless it is clear that for centuries in Europe there was an open and widespread hatred of the Jews.  Hitler and his propaganda crew capitalized on this existing animosity by presenting the Jews as not only as the enemy in the war but also as subhuman beings.

No one should believe that the large majority of Battalion 101 was simply following orders in wartime, that they were “political and moral Eunuchs”[5] and had no personal philosophies regarding the extermination of Jewish civilians.  Using more direct methods than the Chinese, the German government complimented military training with “Ideological Education” which reinforced the necessity of the extermination and the Jews’ status as subhuman.[6]  These ideas however dully presented (opinion Browning), were repeated every week and seemed to be aimed at destroying any mercy on the part of the enforcers.  Words like “soulless” were used to describe the Jews in the course of education and it was also made clear that they had started the war with Germany and so put them ideologically on the level of a pack of scavenging dogs.[7]

When the time to kill came around, Battalion 101 used their education by further dehumanizing their victims.  The Jews were shaved and stripped so their appearance could more conform to the picture painted by such informative lectures like “Maintaining the purity of German blood”.[8]  These measure were an unconscious effort on the part of the Germans to ease the moral strain that one might expect when murdering large numbers of innocent people.  The Jewish populations were transformed from normal Europeans into a uniform, naked enemy, so that looking at them would prevent the Battalion from identifying with their victims and thus being unable to carry out their orders.  This idea of aesthetic brainwashing is shown clearly in many of the cases where the police refuse to kill as ordered.  A member of Battalion 101 might not kill, at least personally, someone who came from the same hometown or who had worked for the policeman.

          The men of Battalion 101 and the youths of the Red Guards did what they consciously believed was their duty. There were so many strong and approved justifications for the atrocities they committed so as to virtually eliminate dissention even without punishment.  The German police were not disciplined for refusal to take part in genocide and the youths of China did not have to join the militant Red Guards.  Peer pressure no doubt played a part in the execution of these acts but is in reality a background motivation because in the end the actions of others can not erase one’s own moral standing.  Using different but both highly effective methods of indoctrination, Nazi Germany and Communist China influenced certain people to the extent that they abandoned original thought with regards to the humanity of their fellow man.

Word count 1417


















[1] Cheek p.206

[2] Cheek p.173

[3] Cheek p.206

[4] Cheek p.210

[5] Browning p.150

[6] Browning p.177

[7] Browning p.179

[8] Browning p.177

Lies Through the Ether: American, German, and British Propaganda during World War Two

Radio was a significant, though largely unrecognized weapon used in World War two by both Axis and Allied nations.  The medium was used effectively when targeting countries or areas that already had large internal divisions.  It was also used significantly to unify the United States and promote the war effort.

 It is important to define the different types of propaganda used during the war and who employed them.  Some people could see a broadcast as propaganda while another might consider it patriotism. The defining difference in the context of World War II is between overt broadcasts where the agenda is promoting the war effort and broadcasts that are deceptive about the source and the agenda is to provide the enemy with subversive information or influence. Black propaganda employs accurate information in order to appear credible and employs false information to undermine moral or incite rebellion within the enemy population.  It generally uses appeals to fear and stereotyping to create divisions and often claims to be broadcasting from within the county of the target audience.  White propaganda generally consists of accurate news and information that favors political agendas by playing down or omitting negative information and exaggerating positive information.  Grey Propaganda does not identify the source of the broadcast and is a more subtle version of black propaganda.[1]

Great Britain and Germany both had large broadcast campaigns to relay inaccurate information about victories, defeats, conditions as well as often being deceptive about the identity of the broadcast stations themselves.  The United States also operated clandestine stations after we entered the war but it was most effectively used in America as a way to sell the war to the American public. The emphasis was on unifying the nation to win a war against our way of life and the dangers of losing the war was very real.

 The bulk of the subversive radio broadcasts was in the European theater and was more effective in directly influencing those on the battlefield or in contested areas.  In addition, much of the American propaganda was either destroyed or banned following the war because the government did not want to be accused of misleading the public or providing inaccurate information.  The US also did not operate any black propaganda until we entered the war while these kinds of broadcasts had been going on in Europe for many years.  

An important issue at the time for both sides was the existence of a “Fifth Column” within allied countries.  The “Fifth Column” is a term used to describe a dissenting organization operating to undermine or overthrow the presiding government.  Axis powers preyed upon the fear of a fifth Column, its size and power, while the allies tried to discredit these efforts.  There were few cases of the reverse happening because of the extreme oppressive nature of the axis regimes.  This is to say that the Gestapo was extremely effective at finding and killing any dissenters.  For the most part, Allied broadcasts did not seek to achieve any military objective but instead was focused on decreasing moral among the enemy.

The United States rally-cap Radio.

             Prior to the United States entrance into the war the information given to American broadcasters from Britain was intended to sway the US neutrality.  It is important to note the British broadcasts to the United States and the influence they had.  Collaboration with American journalists like Edward R. Murrow, the BBC experimented with many forms of news broadcasts before finding one that kept the American audiences listening.  This became easier during and after the battle of Britain because the BBC got rid of most restrictions and started to broadcast directly to the American people instead of broadcasting to a general public that the Americans might be a part of.[2]  American broadcasters reporting on the war were in general vehemently anti-Nazi and began identifying with our soon to be allies through emotional appeals, “the defense of Britain will be something of which men will speak with awe and admiration so long as the English language survives” (Murrow)[3].  Broadcast air raids and battles from London with running commentary by American journalists soon followed and these journalists learned the selective broadcast technique that would later prove instrumental on the home front.  The experiences of these journalists is significant in that they lived in London for the most part and were injured and exposed to attack like any other Londoner.  These events often gave an emotional and sometimes fearful tone to the radio personalities listened to by American audiences. After we entered the war, the focus of wartime broadcast shifted to patriotic appeals.

 The collaboration of the four networks after America’s entrance to the war to relay information, accurate or not, was instrumental in influencing the general opinion about the war and its progress.  This was done through films, TV and most significantly radio because at that time 80% of American households had a radio. For example, the program “This is War” aired during primetime on Saturday night reached an estimated 20 million people each week between February and May 1942[4]  One of the first and most effective programs was a 13 show series called “This is War, which turned dry statistics into moving tales of world war and national mobilization…depicted the war as a truly global event, one that required all Americans to support their nation’s crusade against fascist tyranny”[5]    The Office of War Information set voluntary wartime guidelines called the Network Allocation Plan which was tacitly approved by network producers. These guidelines called for providing truthful information and censoring information that would help the enemy.  Advertising was also linked to the war effort with government tax breaks for informational ads. Officially there were never any conscious lies told to producers or broadcast to the public but as radio was largely an entertainment medium, accounts of battle were often severely fictionalized.  The broadcasters found an effective mix of fact and fiction to both show the dangers of losing and also to promote the idea that we were winning.  The other staples of these kinds of broadcasts were a promotion of sympathy for the allied powers and moral appeals. Accounts of brutality by the axis powers against the allies were often very graphic and served to show the evil nature of the enemy and the plight of our allies.[6]

 Though these accounts were certainly not even handed with atrocities no doubt occurring on both sides, it would not have taken a lot of rhetoric to show moral superiority over the Nazis.  One important reason for this was the fact that America’s own significant racial divisions were never mentioned and neither were moral or ethical excesses in countries like Russia and China.   In contrast to how people like the Chinese were depicted in media prior to the war, the pigtailed laundrymen became noble warriors.[7] Underlying these dramatized messages appealing to emotion and patriotism was always encouragement of war production through war bonds etc.  The creator or “This is war” Norman Corwin states in the first episode “the fight is on, and you are in it, whether you handle a bayonet or a monkey wrench” (Corwin, February 14, 1942)[8]  this subjective interpretation of news and constant flag waving significantly aided the United States in the war effort at home.  The United States would also contribute important Radio technology, including a giant transmitter from RCA to help with the clandestine operations already going on in Europe.   

                                    Techniques of Black Broadcasts

Many different techniques were used by all sides to reach their respective subversive aims.  The most common method was to pose as a group that is very close in ideology to the target audience most of the time and sneaks in almost subliminal appeals to fear and authority.  They commonly claimed to be a part of the minority political party.  These types of broadcasts were intended to sway political beliefs but were often recognized as being supported by the enemy.  Other broadcasts tried to imitate or even impersonate the official government broadcasts.  A skilled British broadcaster might make a speech purporting to be Hitler or the Germans would use a technique called snuggling to insert their own information over a BBC broadcast by broadcasting at an adjacent frequency but with more power.  During battles, verifiable military information was supplied to establish credibility and was supplemented by false information to ultimately confuse the enemy.

                                                Nazi Radio

The propaganda employed by Britain and the US was a reaction to the Nazi tactics and was an imitation of what the Germans did to influence their own people and possible allies outside Germany.  Propaganda in general was highly regarded by Adolf Hitler and he even devoted portions of Mein Kamf to extolling its virtues.  As his preferences and ideals had to be the same as everyone else’s, propaganda was a large and important part of the Nazi war machine.  The use of Radio in particular was successful in reaching and influencing Germans and non Germans alike.  Broadcasts were given within Germany and occupied countries along with flyers, newspapers and film, but to more effectively impair their enemies, the Nazis put out a lot of radio broadcasts directed at dissenting groups.

  The propaganda minister of the Nazi Regime, Joseph Goebbels, also attached great significance to radio, calling it the most influential invention since the printing press.  Goebbels also states, in a radio address, that “It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio and the airplane. It is no exaggeration to say that the German revolution, at least in the form it took, would have been impossible without the airplane and the radio.”[9]

 The Nazi Government began by fostering the manufacture of more than 10 million receivers for issue to the general public.  They then nationalized all broadcast stations and set programs to focus on German unity and anti-Semitism.  Shortly after this Broadcast nationalization in 1933, the propaganda ministry set up black and grey station to undermine the moral of the enemy and encourage already present divisions.  This technique was used most notably in France and Great Britain, exploiting communist and racial divisions as well as nationalistic ones.  One of the first uses of Black propaganda by the Nazis was during the Spanish civil war to create confusion in Spain to Franco’s advantage.  It also played a part in the annexation of Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938.[10]  The RRG (German Broadcasting Company) set up many stations with several target audiences.  These audiences or broadcast zones were set up according to the agenda at the time. For example, broadcasts to France were numerous and frequent immediately prior to the invasion.  Broadcasts were targeted at France, Great Britain, British Colonies, The Balkans, the Soviet Union (post non-aggression pact), the US and the Netherlands.[11]

Following the Nazi-Soviet pact, the clandestine station Radio Humanite was created by the Nazis to instigate French communists. This station claimed to be broadcasting from within France and at first promoted acts of sabotage against French military, “Use all your resources of intelligence and all your technical knowledge, prevent, delay, or make unusable what is manufactured for war”.[12]  There were many acts of sabotage by French Communists which were no doubt influenced by the idea that there is an already a large group of supporters for their cause.  Other black propaganda stations were set up with varying formats, the idea being an appeal to repetition in slightly different forms.  As the German army invaded France, these stations tried to create panic in the country by exaggerating the size and strength of the advancing army, appealing to fear and promising that surrender is the only way to survive against the invasion.  Voix de la paix (voice of the people) went so far as to claim great numbers of casualties and an imminent grisly fate for all French people.  These kinds of reports were always contradictory to the official French government line but it was difficult to distinguish legitimate French stations from the clandestine ones.[13]  The reasoning was that the more conflicting information people are exposed to, the more confusion there is and the more fear there is, leading to a much weaker resistance.

                                                British Clandestine stations

            British anti-Nazi clandestine stations began operating in 1940 with the “German Freedom station”, which overtly condemned the Nazis and made claims to German nationalism against Nazi oppression.  The decision to use black propaganda came after much debate as to what form it would take and was implemented only after Churchill became prime minister and directed the Special Operations Executive to “co-ordinate all action by way of subversion and sabotage against the enemy overseas”.[14] This Station, claiming to originate from within Germany was joined by indigenous anti-Nazi stations despite the fact that stations actually broadcasting from within Germany were constantly being chased around the country by the Gestapo.[15]  After August 1941, a secret department (Political Warfare Executive) was created to handle exclusively black and white propaganda and it was under the direction of this office that the most significant broadcast operations were implemented.  The director of black radio broadcasts for Britain, Sefton Delmer, is attributed with massive advancements in the effectiveness of his operation principally because he used psychology to help the audience identify with the broadcasters.[16]

            The expansion of subversive propaganda was a result of the Nazi expansion of its borders and was effective because of the number and varying tones of subversive stations.  The number of “freedom stations” or Research Units as they were called internally grew rapidly in occupied countries as well as the number of general broadcasts to Germany.[17]  Prominent German exiles found jobs with the PWE, including many who were ex-Nazi officials.  The number of anti-Nazi stations increased, but the power of the broadcasts did not.  In order to reach such an extensive area as to include the growing war zones, many small stations had to be created and placed in strategic locations throughout Europe.  This was beneficial because each station would have its own sound and slightly different political views and so would be less suspect in the minds of the listeners.  The problem with these stations was the lack of power and thus broadcast range.  With the American entrance to the war, new and powerful technology was introduced and the clandestine operations received a boost.  This boost came in the form of a 600 kilowatt transmitter courtesy of RCA and a price gouging David Sarnoff.[18]  This transmitter, called the Aspidistra, was used to boost the power of black stations and the BBC, as well as override most jamming done by enemy transmitters.  It was also used after much debate in 1945 to make a fake broadcast regarding the advancement of allied troops on Germany.

            It is also important to note that while the existence of a Nazi fifth Column in Britain was not a significant faction capable of aiding the enemy in a substantial way.  There were, however, other more serious threats such as factions like the IRA which would have supported any enemy of the British crown.  Factions like these were aided financially and militarily by the Nazi regime and many broadcasts were targeting these groups.  For example, many broadcasts recounted atrocities against the Irish and made no mention of the war, making it believable that it was indeed an IRA station coming from within Great Britain.[19]

                                    United States Battlefront Operations

            Roosevelt gave a fireside chat in which he talks about how France was defeated so easily because of a fifth column operating within the country. [20] This gave significant power not only to the idea of a unified fifth column but also showed how effective the perceived use of propaganda was by the Nazis.  Later in the war, the US was even more concerned with the fifth column fear, in particular because the Nazi broadcasts “show also the value, in the Nazis estimation, of the political warfare upon which Britain and the United States are expending so much energy.”[21]  This statement, made in the New York Times, shows how serious Americans leaders considered propaganda on either side.

            Amidst these fifth column fears and following the defeat of France, an unofficial ambassador was sent to Britain to determine her wartime capabilities and what kind of assistance the United States could offer without entering the war formally.  “Colonel” William Donovan met with Churchill and the King, was educated about the resources Britain possessed, and was also educated about subversive warfare techniques being used by Special Operations (SO1, SO2, and PWE).  Reporting back to the cabinet, Donovan recommended, with outside support, the establishment of a super intelligence agency.  Among the supporting arguments for a new agency was that “the use of Radio as a weapon, though effectively used by Germany, is still to be perfected. But this perfection can only be realized by planning, and planning is dependant on accurate information.”[22]  Donovan was appointed the head of the new Office of Coordinator of Information (later called the OSS) and within this agency, the Foreign Information Service. The FIS was concerned with monitoring Axis broadcasts and countering with propaganda.  Taking a cue from Germany and Britain before him, Donovan set out to appeal to Germans fears of a fifth column.   The most well known subversive station was Radio 1212 which broadcast to Germany and started with accurate information with a pro-German bias.  The station would broadcast military defeats that Nazi officials had kept secret from their troops.   Particularly effective were the daily air raid reports because that kind of news was almost never available to the troops and they could also be broadcast before the air raids even happened.  This kind of radio could be called tactical grey propaganda because except for the nationality of the staff, no inaccurate information was broadcast until military commanders Eisenhower and Bradley started to direct the content on the station.  When the allies began the drive to the Rhineland, radio 1212 began to broadcast false information about the position of allied troops. [23]  This change no doubt had an effect on German troops who were by that time very fatigued and aware of how the war was progressing.

            When the US entered the war, transmitters were set up in Europe, Latin America and Asia and scripts were written in seventeen languages.  Because many of these broadcasts relied on domestic commercial companies, FIS also had to be concerned with making sure the broadcast adhered to a script produced by the FIS or was at least consistent with government agendas.  As FIS operations expanded, Donovan came into conflict with other officials who believed that there should be more information services while Donovan wanted international broadcasts to be used as instruments of war.[24] Among the ideas proposed for radio as an instrument of war was a pro-Nazi broadcast to the United States in order to try and discredit fifth column American Nazis. 

            One of the most notable and uses of Radio in war was the use of the Aspidistra transmitter during operation “Torch”-the allied invasion of North Africa under the command of Gen. Eisenhower.  This particular invasion was chosen because it was thought that the opposing troops would be mostly French and therefore pro-American.  Gen. Eisenhower saw radio as another weapon in his arsenal and incorporated its use into his overall plan for the invasion.  He created a committee of experienced covert radio personnel and insisted that they be under military command.  The commander of the new Physiological Warfare Service (PWS), Col. Charles Hazeltine had absolutely no experience in broadcasting or psychological warfare.  Disinformation was required to confuse the enemy as to where the invasion site would be and the defensive troops had to be convinced that cooperating with the allies would aid France.[25]

            During the invasion itself, a broadcast from FDR was given supporting the French who would not resist the Allies.  This broadcast was made in French and was carried on the BBC and the voice of America station.  Another address to the French by Gen. Eisenhower stated, “Our only objective is to defeat the enemy (Italian-German military forces in North Africa) and free France. I need not tell you we have no designs either on North Africa or any part of the French empire. We count on your friendship and ask for your aid”[26]  Other appeals were made to cooperate with the invasion from transmitters on battleships.  These broadcasts triggered the movement of the French anti-Vichy underground but did not significantly affect the defensive French troops.  This could be seen as a total failure of the radio aspect of the invasion considering that the allied forces met with strong resistance.  But since almost every other aspect of the invasion did not go as planned, it would seem that the broadcasts were ineffective because they unintentionally gave lots of false information, destroying their credibility.


The use of Radio propaganda during the Second World War is significant not only in influencing the outcome of the war but also because many modern techniques of broadcasting were perfected during this time.  Radio warfare is a battle like other military battles except it is for the minds and philosophies of people and not land or lives.  The battle also must rely on intelligence and research more than conventional warfare.  We can see the value of radio broadcast as an influencing medium at this time because of the enormous resources devoted to it by capable combatants.  The money and manpower of a nation during wartime are rationed and conserved and the fact that such a significant amount was spent of propaganda is a testament to the power of the mass media.  The techniques perfected during this time were used extensively during the cold war by the CIA against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact countries as well as in Latin America.  The main difference after the war was that the CIA and KGB, competing for spheres of influence, were the most active sponsors of black and white propaganda stations.

            The impact of propaganda operations starting when broadcasting was in its infancy influenced to a large extent the global media and the manner in which they operate today.  The Nazis proved the effectiveness of radio as a way to spread ideas and as the British and Americans responded in kind, it became increasingly apparent that this medium was the optimal way to reach a mass audience.  The impact of patriotic appeals on the home front was significant in uniting the country behind one cause and against another.  This impact was not lost on the broadcasters relaying the messages and the methods used to sell the war were then used to sell products.

 Advertisements, particularly campaign ads, are extremely similar to the home front propaganda during the war. There are always appeals to national unity while emphasizing the reasons why the opponent is bad and will cause all sorts of problems for America.  Marketing methods are virtually the same as the research needed before broadcasting to another country.  Many subversive stations began establishing credibility and creating an audience by finding out what the target audience liked to hear.  The types of music, entertainment, and even the accent of the broadcasters were considered very carefully before a program came on the air.  The difference is that now broadcasters compete for market share or advertising dollars and not political opinions for the most part.  This is certainly due in a large part to a present lack of direct influence from the government in the media.

The use of radio as a weapon was an important part of the mediums evolution and its power in such a capacity is still recognized today.  The most current example of this would be the role radio propaganda played in Rwanda.  In that case, some broadcasters were tried for war crimes because they used radio to incite people to murder.  The power of subversive radio is recognized today in the US as well, exemplified by the anti-terrorist legislation that drove most neo-Nazi Radio shows off the air.  Radio in an incredibly influential medium and this was recognized largely due to its role in what we sometimes call “the good war”.




























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The BBC North American Service, 1939-1945.  P. Spence, Media, Culture and Society, vol 4, 1982, p.367-380

This is War! Network Radio and World War II Propaganda in America. Spiller, James. Journal of Radio Studies. Volume 11, No.1 2004











[1] Bergmeier, Horst & Lotz, Rainer. Hitler’s Airwaves: the inside story of Nazi radio broadcasting. Yale University Press. London. 1997. p.195

[2] The BBC North American Service, 1939-1945.  P. Spence, Media, Culture and Society, vol 4, 1982, p.367-380

[3] Radio propaganda and the art of understatement: British broadcasting and American neutrality, 1939-1941. Historical journal of film, radio, and television [0143-9685] Cull yr:1993 vol:13 iss:4 pg:403 -432

[4]Radio propaganda and the art of understatement: British broadcasting and American neutrality, 1939-1941. Historical journal of film, radio, and television [0143-9685] Cull yr:1993 vol:13 iss:4 pg:403 -432

[5] This is War! Network Radio and World War II Propaganda in America. Spiller, James. Journal of Radio Studies. Volume 11, No.1 2004

[6] Bannerman, R.L.  Norman Corwin and Radio: The Golden Years. University of Alabama Press. Alabama. 1986 p.89

[7] This is War! Network Radio and World War II Propaganda in America. Spiller, James. Journal of Radio Studies. Volume 11, No.1 2004

[8] This is War! Network Radio and World War II Propaganda in America. Spiller, James. Journal of Radio Studies. Volume 11, No.1 2004

[9] Joseph Goebbels, “Der Rundfunk als achte Großmacht,” Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1938), pp. 197-207.–

[10] Marlin, Randel. Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuation. Broadview Press. Ontario, Canada. 2002. p.85

[11] Bergmeier, Horst & Lotz, Rainer. Hitler’s Airwaves: the inside story of Nazi radio broadcasting. Yale University Press. London. 1997. p.197

[12] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989.p.15

[13] Howe, Ellic. The Black Game: British subversive operations against the Germans during the Second World War. Michael Joseph Ltd.  London. 1982. p.62

[14] Cruickshank, Charles. The Fourth Arm: Psychological Warfare 1938-1945. Davis-Poynter Ltd. London. 1977. p.17

[15] Soley, Lawrence C. & Nichols. John S. Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A study of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary electronic communication. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1987. p.28

[16] Howe, Ellic. The Black Game: British subversive operations against the Germans during the Second World War. Michael Joseph Ltd.  London. 1982. p.19

[17] Howe, Ellic. The Black Game: British subversive operations against the Germans during the second world war. Michael Joseph Ltd.  London. 1982. p. 80

[18] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989. p.31

[19] O’Donoghue, David. Hitler’s Irish Voices: The story of German radio’s wartime Irish service. Beyond the Pale Publications. Dublin. 1998. p.60

[20] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989. p.47

[21] New York Times(1857-current file); December 20, 1942; ProQuest Historical Newspapers; The New York Times(1851-2002) p.39

[22] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989. p.56

[23] Soley, Lawrence C. & Nichols. John S. Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A study of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary electronic communication. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1987. p.43

[24] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989. p.64

[25] Stenton, Michael. Radio London and Resistance in Occupied Europe: British political warfare 1939-1943. Oxford University Press. Oxford. 2000 p.211

[26] Soley, Lawrence C. Radio Warfare: OSS and CIA subversive propaganda. Praeger Publishers. New York. 1989. p.88



Government and Media : A dependant relationship

Government and Media: A dependant relationship

RQ: How has the relationship between the Government and the Media changed over time with regards to covering military conflicts? 

 Information is power and it is safe to say that the United States wishes to be the most powerful country in the world. The most dangerous and coveted kind of information at this time is military information and given it’s ambition for global preeminence, the United States has made an art of selectively presenting military information so as to advance the goals of the administration. This in turn powerfully and effectively influences the news media in America as well as the public opinion concerning the actions of the government. The literature on the topic can be categorized by conflict, with the major changes occurring after the Vietnam War. After Vietnam the government changed its relationship with the press because it was thought that unsupervised journalists had had a negative impact on both the progress of the war and the perception of it back home.  The White House in particular made it’s relationship with the press “more adversarial, making presidents more certain than ever that reports from the battlefield will do damage to their own efforts as well as the national interest…this fear has motivated the White House to seek greater controls over what the media reports” (Thrall, 2000, p.47). Military actions in Grenada and Panama reflected the change as US reporters were restricted from access to the short conflicts.  The media during the first gulf conflict reflected another change in the relationship with the White House.  George H.W. Bush used the press to bolster support while at the same time imposing greater restrictions and censorship on battlefield reporting.  During the US invasion of Afghanistan and the current war in Iraq, the administration also used the press to create support for the military actions. This was very effective in the early stages of conflict immediately following the attacks of 9/11 but lost public support when many of the administration’s claims concerning Iraq turned out to be misleading.The most extensive literature has been written about Operation Desert Storm because it was the first large scale US military conflict that could be covered using modern media techniques and the administration did not want the coverage to mirror that of Vietnam. Many of the strategies on selective information release and censorship were also developed during this time and were extended into the currant conflicts.  The most significant theories used to create this government-military-media complex are framing, agenda-setting, and representation. It should come as no surprise that the most prolific author on the subject is Lance W. Bennett.During the Vietnam conflict, journalists were given practically unfettered access to the battlefield. They could go anywhere they wanted at their own expense and when traveling with an army platoon, there were no guidelines as to what could or could not be reported on, the decisions being left to the unit commanders (Barber, 2002).  The result was that Americans at home saw actual death on TV almost daily and also watched the growing body count come home in coffins. “War has always been beastly, but the Vietnam War was the first exposed to television cameras and seen in practically every home, often in living color” (Lewy in Huebner, 2005 p.2). This realistic/ “negative” coverage led many to conclude that this kind of unrestricted reporting was undermining the war effort and retroactive studies have also blamed the media for losing the war (Hiebert, 2003).  As a result, we do not see firefights or American bodies on TV (unless as a romanticized reenactment on the military channel) and the daily death count is relegated to a blurb in the international section in most major papers.During the Reagan administration, significant restrictions were placed on the press in the invasions of Grenada and Panama.  At the time Bennett agreed that “The art of message management was never carried to a higher form than during the Reagan years” (Bennett, 1988 p.90).  The press was banned outright from the two day invasion of Grenada and so all news of the invasion was gathered by military officials and released to the media by the White House. The media was granted slightly more access during the invasion of Panama although the newly elected president Bush ensured that there would be no images of war and information about the conflict would be carefully managed.  Then secretary of defense Dick Cheney was a vocal proponent of press restrictions,“About half the time, the White House press corp is going to be pissed off, and that’s alright. You’re not here to please them. The most powerful tool you have is the ability to use the symbolic aspects of the presidency to promote your goals and objectives…You don’t let the press set the agenda. They like to decide what is important and what isn’t important, but if you let them do that, they’re going to trash your presidency.”  (Thrall, 2000 p.134)Here is the former Secretary of Defense and current Vice President admitting that the White House needs to use agenda-setting and representation tactics to control the information released to the media.

            Leading up to Operation Desert Storm, the first Bush administration used framing and representation techniques to gain support.  Saddam Hussein was likened to Hitler frequently, most often citing his use of chemical weapons on civilians as a comparison point. A pre-WWII frame was introduced as comparisons were made between the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (Bennett, 1993).  The press largely ignored some pertinent facts about Hussein, such as our very recent support of the country against Iran and the existence of terror cells based in Kuwait and instead reported on the rhetoric delivered by the administration.  

          When the actual attack took place, a short-lived and unique situation occurred that ironically changed the source of information about the initial bombing. During the initial bombing, the only source of information coming out of Baghdad was from CNN. Senior military officials on both sides admitted that on that night, the most valuable information pertaining to the conflict was on TV without the administration as middleman (Wiener, 1992).  

          Some scholars have argued that during the fighting, the media had the opportunities to report on the war objectively but most major media outlets chose instead to romanticize the conflict.  There was large support for the conflict initially and so the media focused on human interest stories with all the elements of good drama. The media amplified the idea that this was a just cause and that the US was quickly and effectively achieving victory (Hallin & Gitlin, 1994).  This can be viewed as a success story on the part of the US administration because the media did not ask for anything other than what the government gave them.  

          The agenda setting function of mass media was evident in Operation Desert Storm largely because the public supported the conflict. The effect is that increases in news coverage bring about increases in the salience of particular issues or events.  Given this effect, stories about the war were framed to be event driven and were often structured like episodes. (Iyengar & Simon, 1994).  This technique was effective in presenting the war as positive while at the same time limiting potentially confusing background information.  It seems that the media felt that the American people were not capable of understanding or not interested in historical implications or tangential information. 

           We can see the agenda setting function at the end of the conflict as well in that once US soldiers left Iraq, media coverage of Iraq ended. President Bush urged the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam but without the backing of the United States, the opposition was slaughtered. Following the news during this time, one would not have seen this as a salient issue because there was little news coverage devoted to it.  

          The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are still very much ongoing conflicts and as such, the effects of government-press-public relations can not be seen fully without the benefit of hindsight. In this case, the most significant discussions have to do with the release of information leading up to military operations and the findings after “Mission Accomplished”. Particularly evident and significant in the literature is the conflict between motives and actions. Often it seems that the administration will have an undisclosed plan and waits for an event that can be used to justify the plan. 

             To build the case for a unilateral “War on Terrorism”, President Bush used similar framing and representation strategies.  The attacks on September 11 were likened very quickly to the attack on Pearl Harbor, framing any response to such an attack as justified. Many still refer to the event as the first attack on American soil since World War Two (Mohamad, 2004).  This kind of statement strikes an emotional chord with many Americans despite the fact of its complete falsehood. There have been many attacks on American soil since WWII, some coming from international sources and some coming from domestic ones, Oklahoma City and the 1993 WTC bombing to name a few. 

           Making the case for invading Afghanistan immediately following 9/11 was fairly easy for the administration because they had actual evidence that the terrorist group responsible was based there with the support of the local government. This was compounded by the brutal and psychotic actions of the Taliban and as a result the bill passed with only a single dissenter in the House of Representatives (Snow & Taylor, 2006).  There were concerns based on the failure of the Soviets to gain control of the country but with a quick defeat of the opposition, these fears were alleviated and for the purposes of public relations, the war was won.   

         It is important to note that the names of military actions and congressional acts were important as part of the representation strategy.  Voting against the Patriot Act is obviously unpatriotic, just look at the name. Dissenting on the matter of Operation Iraqi Freedom means one does not want the Iraqis to be free etc.  This transparent representation is so overt, there is little written on the subject, the effects being fairly obvious.            Making the case for war in Iraq was far more difficult because there was no actual evidence that the country was a threat to the United States.  The invasion was already predetermined, however, so justification had to be created.  The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a group consisting of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby wrote a report in September 2000 that stated that “while the unresolved conflict with Iraq [referencing failed UN inspections] provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force in the gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein” (Joseph, 2007 p.43 & Kumar, 2006 p.54).   

         With the plans for invasion already in progress, intelligence had to be gathered that showed a link between Hussein and Al Qaeda and that Iraq itself was a threat to the US. While the claims would later be revealed as false, the idea that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and also possessed WMDs was repeated over and over by senior government officials across major American media outlets, who in turn amplified the fear created by these assertions. George W. Bush explained the goal in 2002, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda” (Joseph, 2007 p.45). It seems clear that the rhetoric coming out of the administration was important for the media because it was the only source of information concerning the intelligence. This kind of absolute reliance on elite sources with regards to information effectively made the White House the ultimate gatekeeper and framer of the motivations for war.   

         Looking at the conflict currently, there is a new development that threatens to erode the government hold on military information.  Embedded reporters can only see what the government wants them to see but recently there has been a rise in soldiers reporting their experiences directly to the internet. As the technology spreads, it will not be long before ordinary civilians in a war zone can release perhaps vital information instantly to the world.  The question is whether or not the major American media outlets will continue to rely heavily on elite sources and nationalistic considerations when reporting on military conflicts?  Evolving video and picture technology also raises the question of how much longer will warfare continue to be sanitized and romanticized on American TV?  The government no longer controls the release of intelligence as it would like to and this can be seen clearly in the decline of presidential approval ratings.  The outcome of the Iraq conflict will be have to be determined by actions based on facts and not rhetoric based on unseen motives.  

          Since “losing” the Vietnam War, American administrations have changed their policies with respect to information management in order to retain control of what the media reports and its impact on public opinion. As media technologies evolved, so did strategies for gathering and delivering information to the media on the part of the government. The common goal across the various conflicts is to present the positive news as most significant and to downplay or bury negative news. At times the news media has been collaborators in this process and at other times they simply lacked access to unbiased, non-elite sources.   

     Alexseev, Mikhail A., Bennett, Lance W. (1995). For Whom the Gates Open: News Reporting and Government Source Patterns in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia. Political Communication, 12 (4), 395-412. Barber, Ryan, Weir, Tom. (2002). Vietnam to Desert Storm: Topics, Sources Change. Newspaper Research Journal, 23, 88-100. Bennett, Lance W., Livingston, Steven. (2003) Editors’ Introduction: A Semi-Independent Press: Government Control and Journalistic Autonomy in the Political Construction of News. Political Communication, 20 (4), 359-364. 

Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L., Eds. (1994). Taken by Storm. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

 Bennett, Lance W. (1988). Politics of Illusion. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers Bennett, Lance W., Manheim, Jarol B. (1993). Taking the Public by Storm: Information, Cuing, and the Democratic Process in the Gulf Conflict. Political Communication, 10 (4), 331-351. 

Greenburg, Bradley S., Gantz, Walter, Eds. (1993). Desert Storm and the Mass Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, INC.


Hallin, Danial C., Gitlin, Todd. (1994) The Gulf War as popular culture and television drama. In Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L. (Eds.). Taken by Storm.(pp. 149-166). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

 Hiebert, Ray Eldon. (2003). Public relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: A preliminary review. Public Relations Review, 29 (3), 243-256. Huebner, Andrew J. (2005). Rethinking American Press Coverage of the Vietnam War, 1965-68. Journalism History, 31 (3), 150-161. 

Iyengar, Shanto & Simon, Adam. (1994). News coverage of the gulf crisis and public opinion: A study of Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Framing. In Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L. (Eds.)  Taken by Storm.(pp. 167-185). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press


Joseph, Paul. (2007). Are Americans Becoming More Peaceful?. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers

 Kumar, Deepa. (2006). Media, War, and Propaganda: Strategies of Information Management During the 2003 Iraq War. Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies, 3 (1), 48-69. 

Mohamad, Goenawan. (2004). War, Words, and Images. In Van Der Veer, Peter & Munshi, Shoma. (Eds.). Media, War, and Terrorism. (pp.187-197). New York, NY: Routledge

 Snow, Nancy & Taylor, Philip M. (2006).The Revival of the propaganda state. International Communication Gazette, 6 (5/6), 389-407. 

Thrall, Trevor A. (2000). War in the Media Age. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, INC.


Van Der Veer, Peter & Munshi, Shoma, Eds. (2004). Media, War, and Terrorism. New York, NY: Routledge


Wiener, Robert. (1992). Live from Baghdad: Gathering news at ground zero. New York, NY: Doubleday


Cognitive Dissonance Theory

                                    Cognitive Dissonance Theory


Mass Communication Theory


Auster, Donald (1965). Attitude change and cognitive dissonance. Journal of Marketing Research (JMR). Vol. 2 Issue 4, p401-406


Using an experiment designed to evaluate the persuasiveness of ideological vs. technical propaganda; the author finds that the ideological propaganda is more effective in influencing the participants. “Further analysis provided empirical support for cognitive dissonance as an explanation”(abstract). The study showed that despite being less liked, the ideological propaganda was more effective because it correlated more closely with the participants’ preconceived attitudes and beliefs.

This study was significant in that it shows how cognitive dissonance theory can explain the increase in the effectiveness of communication messages.  This study contributed to the theory by applying it to propaganda and showing how the concept can be manipulated to influence opinion.


Morwitz, V. G.; Pluzinski, C (1996). Do polls reflect opinions or do opinions reflect polls? The impact of political polling on voters’ expectations, preferences, and behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 23, no. 1, 53-67


            Using evidence from the 1992 Presidential campaign and the 1993 New York city mayoral campaign, the authors examines the effects of opinion polls on the decision making process of voters. The author finds that “voters use political polls to maintain or move to a state of cognitive consistency” (abstract).  The authors use “cognitive dissonance theory as the basis for their predictions” (Morwitz, 1996 p.55)

            This study uses cognitive dissonance theory to show that voters may change their minds to closer reflect the perceived public opinion. The major contribution of this study to the theory is to show how easily people can be influenced by concepts related to the theory, even regarding to very important decisions.


DeSantis, Alan (2003). Sometimes a Cigar [Magazine] is More Than Just a Cigar [Magazine]: Pro-Smoking Arguments in Cigar Aficionado, 1992-2000. Health Communication [1041-0236] vol:15 iss:4, 457 -480

            By examining the pro-smoking messages in the magazine Cigar Aficionado, the author shows that up to seven different message types “serve to relieve the cognitive dissonance associated with consuming a potentially deadly product and maintain a loyal readership” (abstract). The author finds that the magazine has been successful in reducing cognitive dissonance associated with cigars and as a result, the popularity and usage of cigars has increased.             This study extends cognitive dissonance theory by examining how a positive cognitive dissonance (cigars are harmful) can be reduced by using messages that run counter to the preconceived dissonance. The study shows how cognitive dissonance can be intentionally manipulated and dismantled using conflicting messages.  The study also contributes to the theory because it shows a substantial effect on the cigar market, indicative of the power of cognitive dissonance. 

Chyng Feng Sun, Karin Scharrer, Erica (2004). Staying True to Disney: College Students’ Resistance to Criticism of The Little Mermaid. Communication Review, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p35-55


Using a college media literacy program, the author examines students’ perceived differences between Disney’s The Little Mermaid and the original fairytale upon which the film was based.  The purpose was to see how students would react to a negative comparison and critique of the film bearing in mind the lifelong positive exposure to the film and Disney in general. The author found that students generally did not change their positive attitudes towards the film, despite criticism and negative comparison to the original fairy tale.

            This study is significant with respect to cognitive dissonance theory because it focuses on the difficulty of dismantling preconceived attitudes and opinions, “our first observation was how deeply penetrating Disney’s influence had been.”(Chyng, 2004 p.53) The contribution of this study to the theory is in showing how deeply influential messages received in childhood remain strong many years after the exposure.