, April 22, 2024

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Masters of Perception Management -- Whether You Like Them or Not

  •   4 min reads
Masters of Perception Management -- Whether You Like Them or Not
by Vincent R. Pozon

Ailes, Goebbels, Lansdale. Practitioners confess to a begrudging doffing of the hat to these masters, for they understand the science of perception management better than anybody.

The first of the three, Roger Ailes, designed FoxNews to be what it is today: the superstructure that sold presidents and cemented the conservative mindset that protects the wealthy of America. "Ailes wasn’t just a problem for liberals. He was a problem for anyone who cares about truth and, by extension, the role of a free press in a democracy," wrote Bill Wyman in the Columbia Journalism Review... Ailes didn’t create Fox to be conservative in the normal sense of the word. He created it to be partisan—to support whoever was wearing the Republican jersey—and that’s a key difference."

You may hate the man, but his propaganda skills are supreme.


“You don't get elected on details, you get elected on themes.” -- Roger Ailes, Chairman of Fox.

The mind-bending magic of Fox News goes beyond the borders of the USA. I have seen Filipinos my age become as angry as the American Fox News consumer, clutching rifles and bibles, discriminating against gays and Muslims, repudiating global warming and anxiously waiting for the end of the civilized world.

Everybody knows Joseph Goebbels of course, Hitler's genius, "The Malicious Dwarf", "The Nazi Megaphone", the man who shaped and controlled the minds of millions. He is described by IMDb as "the man who almost single-handedly developed the field of propaganda into an art form".

His communications skills were noted even by his enemies. The Jewish Virtual Library, an archive of information about Jewish history, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and Judaism, describes Goebbels as having "a deep, powerful voice, rhetorical fervor... with the gift of paralyzing opponents by a guileful combination of venom, slander and insinuation." The Library quotes Hitler as having observed that “Dr. Goebbels was gifted with the two things without which the situation in Berlin could not have been mastered: verbal facility and intellect."

The JVL asserts that it was Goebbels who invented Hitler, or what we know of Hitler. "He was the true creator and organizer of the Fuhrer myth, of the image of the Messiah-redeemer, feeding the theatrical element in the Nazi leader while at the same time inducing the self-surrender of the German masses through skillful stage management and manipulation... orchestrating a pseudo-religious cult of the Fuhrer as the savior of Germany from Jews, profiteers and Marxists."

Of the three, it is Lansdale who influenced the direction of our country. History credits Col. Edward G. Lansdale, former advertising agency copywriter and account executive and the Central Intelligence Agency's master manipulator, for the well-wrought packaging and election of Ramon Magsaysay.  Time magazine reported that "the Magsaysay victory was a U.S. victory. The new President was 'America's Boy,' manufactured, packaged, and delivered by U.S. diplomatic and military officials and the CIA's master manipulator, Edward G. Lansdale."

Lansdale’s ways were severe, his views ugly. In fact, he was inspiration for the celebrated book "Ugly American", the supposedly fictional character being "Colonel Edwin Hillandale”. "‘The Ugly American’ was a scathing critique of our bad behavior abroad—and it became a best seller. The book inspired JFK to start the Peace Corps," wrote Allen McDuffee in Timeline.

“To the superstitious, the Huk battleground was a haunted place filled with ghosts and eerie creatures,” said Lansdale. "The psywar squad set up an ambush along the trail used by the Huks. When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man of the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail. When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade... When daylight came, the whole Huk squadron moved out of the vicinity.”

Jonathan Nashel's book 'Edward Lansdale's Cold War' has this writ on the cover: "A former advertising executive turned undercover CIA agent, he was credited during the 1950s with almost single-handedly preventing a communist takeover of the Philippines and with helping to install Ngo Dinh Diem as president of the American-backed government of South Vietnam. Adding to his notoriety, during the Kennedy administration Lansdale was put in charge of Operation Mongoose, the covert plot to overthrow the government of Cuba's Fidel Castro by assassination or other means."

Lansdale, by the way, is mentioned extensively in one major theory of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

There are present day geniuses in perception management, of course, evil and otherwise, but it is safer to talk about the past.

After a year of college, Koyang entered advertising, and there he stayed for half a century, in various agencies, multinational and local. He is known for aberrant strategic successes (e.g., Clusivol’s ‘Bawal Magkasakit’, Promil’s ‘The Gifted Child’, RiteMED’s ‘May RiteMED ba nito?”). He is chairman of Estima, an ad agency dedicated to helping local industrialists, causes and candidates. He is co-founder and counselor for advertising, public relations, and crisis management of Caucus, Inc., a multi-discipline consultancy firm. He can be reached through vpozon@me.com.

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