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Morrison’s misinformation campaign is his greatest weapon

STEVE BANNON, sometime White House Chief Strategist in the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, coined the term “flood the zone with shit”.

This strategy, succinctly identified by Bannon though not created by him, involves disseminating masses of disinformation intended to seed public mistrust and erode the public’s ability to determine what is true. Overwhelmed by disinformation, it becomes impossible to identify one coherent narrative and the search for truth becomes too exhausting to pursue.

When the public is exhausted, the zone has been flooded with shit. There is confusion, anger, insecurity and fear, and having concluded that there is no knowable truth in politics, people instead yearn for an authoritative leader, someone who appears to cut through the shit for them, as the only feasible alternative.

In Australia we are desperately dog-paddling through the shit-flooded zone, trying to keep our heads above the solids. With a Prime Minister who is recognised as a liar internationally and domestically and a Government that is prepared to support him despite his mendacity, thus participating in it, we have no hope of determining what is true in the political narrative they currently dominate.

With a largely captive media who no longer act as gatekeepers speaking truth to power, we have lost our most important defence against the deceit and duplicity of those for whom power is the only goal.

The need for clicks is a primary determinant in what is published and how, to an extent inconceivable before the internet and social media. Add to this the flagrant preferencing of the Federal Government by the majority of the mainstream media and you have the perfect conditions in which to flood the zone.

There are still voices that speak the truth in a valiant attempt to outswim the tsunami of lies, but they are too rarely in the mainstream.

And so it is that in a time of pandemic, when we are fast approaching a Federal Election, the outcome of that Election is likely to be determined not by the neglect unto death of elderly people in aged care facilities and not by the catastrophic failure of the Federal Government to manage the pandemic and its effects, but by leaked text messages and the scandals of personal betrayal.

Why? Because leaked text messages and the soap opera of individual psychodramas get more clicks than policies, even when those policies have been proven critical failures with horrendous consequences. These scandals offer titillation, light relief from the futile daily struggle to determine what is true and the despair that comes with being overwhelmed by lies.

The scandalous can make us laugh, albeit bitterly. It is amusing to mock the powerful who control our future and in the mocking, we can forget for a moment that however ridiculous, brutal, amoral and unethical they are, they still control our future.

We are only human and we must forgive one another, declares Prime Minister Scott Morrison who, over a long political career, has shown not a moment’s concern for anyone’s interests other than his own while overseeing brutal policies that have brought death and despair to Australians and refugees alike.

That Morrison’s efforts to humanise himself and his colleagues have accelerated in sync with the scandals is telling. We’ve all made mistakes so we should be able to forgive them in our leaders, is his spin. No matter the incommensurate nature of those mistakes and the power differential between them and us. We all screw up. It’s human to err and to forgive is divine. You can read this as another level of shit flooding, in which corrupted power tries to fool you that we’re equal.

To some degree, however, everyone is complicit. When the ruling class floods the zone with irresistible scandal, of course we’re going to pay attention and they know this. It’s the equivalent of throwing us cake for an immediate sugary fix, as opposed to providing the more substantial bread we need to survive. We become so hooked on cake that bread doesn’t satisfy our cravings, even though without it we will weaken. It takes an effort of will to resist the cake and demand the bread, and we’re already dealing with a pandemic.

The flooding strategy is intended to produce a maze of narratives and counter-narratives so complex and confusing that we have neither the time nor the energy to find our way through them. A pandemic offers the ideal opportunity for this manipulation.

This time in our history is sometimes described as the “post-truth” era, however, it isn’t so much “post” (the truth is out there somewhere) as truth sunk five fathoms deep in a sewage pond of disinformation by people who’ve understood that making truth impossible to find is the most useful propaganda tool of all time.

So far.

 

 

This article was originally published on Independent Australia.

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18 comments

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  1. GL

    The faecal tsunami that is Scummo and Crony Co. Inc. is still making its way towards us and as soon Merdeock (we know that he always gets advanced warnings of when elections are called) unclenches his sphincter we’ll have to start running for the hills or drown in the lies, dirt, and filth that will wash over us in a wall of stinking night soil.

  2. Phil Pryor

    “They” are there in huge numbers these days, controllers, bosses, organisers, executive ordergivers. Dinosaur sized, pigsized, ratsized, maggotsized, microbe sized, they exist and get active in shops, staffrooms, boardrooms, offices, everywhere where this shitpushing exists. To stay superior, profitable, “elite” (hah), exclusive, winners.., this class must inform, misinform, noninform, whatever, just to stay in front of the rigged system. Lies don’t really exist, it is just the one way traffic of the story, the position, the doctrine. Fear and guilt is at the core of political, religious, and social organisation, with the upper predators making it work ONLY for them. It seems to be an endless shitsandwicheatingfest for us, the ranks of peasants and mugs. To have an ugly, lazy, incompetent lying flea like Morrison, and a horde of similar followers, is appalling for most of us and the planet, yet enough punters get on the conservative liar’s tram rather than walk in truth, for poverty, outsider status and nervy attacks are not palatable. Yet we must fight, for sanity and decency. Otherwise, the liars, the distorters, the uncivilised savages and predators will win, again. (consider reading “the death of expertise”, Tom Nicholls.) Leaders lie, followers trail along, convoys of protest appear, no-one knows why..?? Sickening.

  3. Terence Mills

    We need to be clear on what Joyce said last year about Morrison before the spin doctors completely turn the thing around :

    “He [Morrison] is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time,” Joyce said in the message, dated March last year.

    “I have never trusted him, and I dislike how earnestly [he] rearranges the truth to a lie.”

    You can’t get much clearer than that can you ? But now Joyce appears to be saying that since he got back into the position of Deputy Prime Minister ( and his salary doubled ! ) he now sees Morrison as :

    “a person of high integrity and honesty in what is possibly the most difficult job in the nation.”

    Personally I don’t believe that Joyce has changed his opinion of Morrison but I do understand that he really, really likes the perks of office : your salary going from $211,000 to $433,000 tends to do that.

    Earlier in the week, we should not forget, that Barnaby called on his anonymous colleague who had the text exchange with Gladys Berejiklian to reveal their identity :

    “I would suggest that if you know anything about this don’t wait to be outed,” Joyce told reporters on Wednesday.

    Still the minister in question – now thought to be Spud Dutton – has refused to reveal themselves and the Liberal machine is trying every diversionary tactic to bury this.

    I mention this now because I am disturbed at the way these things are buried by these crooks – we still don’t know where Porter got his anonymous donation, estimated to be in the region of a million dollars, to fund his defamation case against the ABC. The guy was an attorny general, he is a public servant, we employ him ; we must insist that he come clean.

    Steve Bannon is right, these people are flooding the zone with shit to protect themselves . We can’t let them get away with it !

  4. Regional Elder

    A great post Jennifer.

    To re-frame a long held aphorism attributed to Karl Marx, ( ‘Religion is the opiate of the masses’ ) in our contemporary and largely post-religious Australia, mainstream media has emerged fill the gap that religion once played, and has indeed now become the opiate of the masses. And it is built on the First Commandment for selling newspapers that Keith Murdoch followed more than 100 years ago : that is, sensationalism (inclusive of reporting on wars), always sells newspapers.

    So now we have a unholy trinity, the three generation dynasty of Murdochs, Keith, Rupert and Lachlan working to shape public opinion in this nation that will best advantage their commercial interests. It is no co-incidence that the Murdoch dynasty descends from a line of 18th and 19th century clergymen.

    For Rupert, though he has been an American citizen since 1986, still regards Australia as his special commercial feeding ground, and the Australian people, a special congregation for the dissemination of sensational stories, quarter-truths, misinformation and lies. Meanwhile, the inheritors of the ‘ God is on my side’ view of the world as Morrison certainly is, along with his political fellow travellers are seeking to raise the status of religiosity in this country, and the appalling Religious Discrimination Bill they are seeking to pass, is just part of this.

    And it is not just Murdoch. As I peruse the now Nine News newspaper ‘ The Age ‘ each day, I cannot help but observe the number of time a photo of Morrison looms out at me, and I am reminded that former LNP Treasurer Peter Costello has caved out a lucrative career for himself ‘post politics ‘ ( I use that term ironically), and heads the Nine Media company as Chair of the Board. Labor as an alternative government, seems to almost come from Mars, such is dearth of good policy information being reported on in this newspaper these days Despite this despairing history, and despite the massive mainstream media support in 2019 ( inclusive of Clive Palmer’s many millions), we need to remind ourselves that Morrison gained power with just a handful of seats, and is much more on the nose this time round. Independent media sources such as The AIMN are steadily making inroads into the dominant political epistemological of our times.

    Should Labor win, as they should, the real battle will be for them to hold power for a second term, as the forces promoting the opiate of the masses will be vigorous.

  5. wam

    A splash of truth in the papers a couple of days before the election will be decisive, as will political gutless behaviour. The latter was tanner whose internal polling in 2010, suggest a possible loss so he took the pension, bad mouthed the PM and left his job. Even with this behaviour cath bowtell was first past the post but lost to the liberal preferences. In longman, jon sullivan with a couple of days of the election was disparaging to a family with a disabled son and the paper’s story led to a loss to wyatt roy. In solomon the clp released a truth, out of context, and hale lost to griggs. The laugh was roy and griggs were candidates, simply because the party favourites ‘knowing’ there was no chance declined preselection. The crying was having to spend 3 years watching the grinning face of griggs sitting behind the rabbott. Longman and solomon went back to labor but booby sent longman back to the libs. It is too late for labor in QLD and Melbourne but they should be working on them for 2025.
    ps
    if scummo couldn’t convince the house on the merits of the bill the speaker should have followed convention and sent it back by voting against

  6. New England Cocky

    if the media refuses to be the Fourth Estate overseeing the abuse of political power because over 50% of mastheads are foreign owned, then the legislation must be changed so that only Australian borne natural persons with no other allegiances ar eligible to own media in Australia.

  7. leefe

    wam:

    A semi-believeable lie will do just as well. It worked last time.

  8. Terence Mills

    As expected Spud Dutton is ramping up his dangerous and very foolish scare campaign somehow linking China with support for the Labor Party :

    We now see evidence that the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government has also made a decision about who they will back in the next federal election.

    Desperate stuff from Spud : does he want us to immediately stop iron ore and coal shipments to China ? Better have a chat with Gina and ‘Twiggy’ about that and the Australian people may have something to say about that too.

    The new Chinese ambassador to Canberra has a already extended the hand of friendship in an effort to get our relationship back on track : that is absolutely the last thing that the Morrison government want to hear as their re-election platform includes a Reds under the Beds China scare campaign.

    The people of Australia are to be commended for not being drawn into Dutton’s stupidity !

  9. leefe

    GL:

    According to the latest reports, the misgovernment has now dumped the bill because they don’t see a reasonable prospect of forcing it through the Senate. Besides, what’s the point if you can’t bully trans and or gay kids, right?

  10. Kaye Lee

    leefe,

    That’s really what I don’t get. Is this really the hill that religions want to die for – the right to discriminate against people “on the ground of the other person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy”?

    The section in the sex discrimination act that the amendment got rid of says that is ok if the person/institution “discriminates in good faith in order to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion or creed.’”

    Does that mean they think being gay or divorced or pregnant rubs off on other people if you get too close? I’m confused.

    How about instead of laws to protect the rights of bigots, the church moves on from the cultural values of 2000 years ago when men were trying to build up numbers in their tribe.

  11. Zhou

    Some weeks ago there was a similar bout of angst re China but then up he popped the next day, Dutton, sitting in Question Time wearing a red peak cap, a garish overt message to friends in a distant realm perhaps? China Inc – Australia is theirs for the taking, all for little more than the cost of doing business with elected snouts in the trough. We are The Great Southern Farm and Gateway to the Antarctic, wave a red flag.

  12. leefe

    Kaye:

    Don’t expect it to make sense. Don’t ask for logic. Most of all, don’t ask for honesty.

    They are ignorant, arrogant bigots, too wrapped up in their own ‘righteousness’ to put themselves in another’s position for even a second. But they’ll use every excuse, every distraction, every millimetre of wriggle room to avoid saying that, because the beams in their own eyes must never be acknowledged.

    It is, in fact, a hill they’re willing to die on. Look at the Catholic church; even a supposedly modern and enlightened Pope like Francis says that abortion is worse than child abuse. Not even he will allow the paedophiles in that institution to be held fully accountable, or make full restitution for what they have done. In their eyes, their belief trumps all.

  13. Harry Lime

    Dutton has not progressed from the type of racist,bigoted walloper that enabled and decorated the reign of the corrupt and hypocritical peanut farmer.He finds himself in the familiar and comfortable territory of the greatest liar and hypocrite in this country’s history.,even as he plots to exact his revenge,like the small brained ape that he is.It would be hugely enjoyable were he to topple the Liar,because rather than save the furniture,he would ensure the incineration of the house.Is he stupid enough?..probably,has he got the guts?..probably not.

  14. Lambchop Simnel

    It’s good writing.

    Billions of folk “out there” across the polluted globe can’t find a card board box to shelter in or a cup od rice to eat in a day, but according to the PM, mortgage -belt “aussies” (read aspirationals) “only” want tax cuts to pay off their Mac mansions earlier and a stmoach full of restaurant food with prices running into the $ hundreds because they are too lazy vain and incompetent to cook their own food..

    Further up the great Chain of Being, there are the million dollar bonuses paid on top of their massive salaries paid for bypassing a community’s attempts to regulate for community safety.and overall well-being and finallyTNCs at the top who profiteered ruthlessly during Covid to the tune of $trillions

    For instance, I read today that Murdoch was calling people like Shari Markson in to bolster the LNP.. Them I think, last election and speaking of rigged, the $ 70 million paid in by Palmer alone last election for brainwashing, when he said he couldnt even pay his workers.

    But unfortunately. Dr Wilson IS right. Just about everyone is “complicit”

    Very few going forgo good food or housing let alone those little compensating luxuries, after all it is not our fault if half the world starves.

    Of course we can blame the myth making apparatus that brainwashes the proles and view at a safe distance the dopy fat sedated Brave New world in the knowledge that across the world the oligarchs conrol most of life. as we know it, with the noose tightening all the time. Thank god I am getting old and wont live to see the final results, but I experience a distrubing thought, they may finally come after me, too.

    But sitting here with a full belly and just the same, a queasy feeling emanates from my viscera, an elusive sense of discomfort. Regardless of whether I ordained this or not,or others more powerful for their own benfit with my luck as incidental, I am still one of the benficiaries.

    How far would I REALLY go to see a just world?

  15. wam

    leefe that ploy is also dependent on timing of release in relation to the polling day ensuring labor has no time to refute and cannot expose the lie.
    A similar tact is to sloganise a procedure, debt vs income that takes time to explain and effort to understand. Neither is available to the timetable of the morning show nor is the intelligence level of the audience high enough to understand the reasoning behind.
    For me a personal plausible truth:
    I have no corroborating evidence that bandt blackmailed gillard into introducing the carbon price yet my assessment of his political activity leaves me with the conclusion that he is sharp and capable of any tactic to achieve his ambition to be the ‘left’s’ nationals.

  16. GL

    Coming soon from Graft Fools: LNP. Mm, the list of ingredients include Corruption, Sycophancy, Greed, and Religious Nuttery which lasts all the way down to bottom of the new container made of anti-transperium. Recommended by all cooprations and Rupert Murdoch. Only available with donations of $5,000 or more.

  17. Angelo Dudley

    Even from where I live, misinformation is rampant and it wins elections. Sheesh! What a sick time to live in.

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