Apparently, the Russian media are among the global security challenges, only an article away from 'collapse of the world order," says Edward Lucas.
'New Cold War'
Speaking at the panel discussion "WHO IS READY FOR HYBRID WARFARE?" on the opening day of the Munich conference, Lucas – a British journalist and the author of 'The New Cold War' – warned the audience that the West faces an imminent threat from Russia.
In a world where 50 Shades of Gray is a top selling book, a narrative that paints Russian-West relations in black and white has no edge. Solution? Publicity. Lucas choreographed a comeback, just like how Missy Elliott at the SuperBowl managed to get millenial kids to buy her tracks on iTunes. Way to shoot for the short buck, which ironically is something Lucas warns the West against in dealing with Russia.
Back in the 1950s as the cold war propaganda took off in the United States, Vance Packard published The Hidden Persuaders, warning that 'Americans have become the most manipulated people outside the Iron Curtain.' Looks like the warning went unheeded. What used to be considered outrageous became a new norm. Ultimately it spilled over from the US to the rest of the Western world and the 'us and them' rhetoric towards Moscow is now enjoying a florid renaissance.
"We have a free press, we have a free media market – truth will triumph. Well, it doesn’t. It doesn’t triumph when you’re faced with RT, the former Russia Today, or with Sputnik – the so-called media organizations which are directly plugged into the Kremlin lie machine," Lucas told his audience.
A free market that leads to the triumph of truth would hinge on an audience that shows a demand for the truth. This ultimately would lead to a situation where every media outlet provides an honest account of the day’s news — a homogeneous product sold in a market with perfect competition. The textbooks say such this situation is next to impossible. So is there no truth or simply no ground for triumph? Looks like a finer point, which requires a postgraduate degree in economics.
Another feature of a free market is no government interference. What Lucas suggests is using regulators like Ofcom to hush the Russian propaganda. Free press, anyone?
He also argued that people watch RT "because they think that the mainstream media isn’t telling them the truth and they are fed up with the political elite in our countries and the economic growth or lack of it which they are delivering." While the observation is astonishingly perceptive, Lucas suggests the world "should be able to humiliate those channels [RT, Sputnik]" and "push them out into the media fringes so they are no longer treated as real journalists and real programs but as cranks and propagandists.” That is rather than fix whatever it is that has caused the political popularity of the West's ruling class to dwindle. Totalitarian much?
Ostracizing Your Way to Freedom of Speech
Working for RT or Sputnik will never get you on Lucas' team, because it's even worse than working as a PR person for a tobacco conglomerate and "if anyone puts a CV on my desk, and on that CV I see they worked at RT or Sputnik or one of these things, that CV is going into the bin and not into the intro." Putting aside the argument that PR in tobacco is ultimately a lobby for personal choice, Lucas' metaphor is still one lucky strike. After all, an alternative look at what is happening in the world is just as addictive. You will want to hear the non-mainstream voice again.
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