Nothing altogether new in the style and substance, these techniques have been around for a century, utilising different media forms to reach and influence as wide a population as possible, but it was downright jarring to realize how many of these techniques are in use on a daily basis now by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, and much of his tabloid media:
Nietzsche said it first: “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Like so much electronic chaff dropped out of the back of a Tupolev bomber to confuse an incoming missile, the idea that there are multiple interpretations of the truth has become the founding philosophy of state disinformation in Putin’s Russia, designed to confuse those who would seek out the truth with multiple expressions of distracting PR chaff. The tactic is to create as many competing narratives as possible. And, amid all the resultant hermeneutic chaos, to quietly slip away undetected.
It is a tactic straight out of Mr Putin’s KGB playbook from the 1970s. Generate a plurality of narratives, so the truth can be obscured. In such circumstances, the very idea that there is such a thing as “the truth” can itself be called into question. “There is no objectivity – only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible” is how Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of state-backed Russia Today, puts it. This is weaponised relativism.
...all news is comment, all truth little more than opinion. There is the BBC view. The Fox News view. The Russia Today view. All are expressions of special interests, not so much attempts at the truth as individual perspectives and localised narratives.
...relativism leads inevitably into nihilism. “What is truth?” said Pontius Pilate, trying to befuddle the issues of innocence and guilt with high-sounding Putin-like misdirection. No news organisation should be sympathetic to this strategy. For while comment is free, the facts are sacred.
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