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Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention

Florian Zollmann

Prominent media scholars have argued that the dissemination of propaganda is an important function of the news media. Yet, despite public controversies about ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’, there has been very little discussion on techniques of propaganda. Building on critical theory, most notably Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, Florian Zollmann’s pioneering study brings propaganda back to the forefront of the debate. On the basis of a forensic examination of 1,911 newspaper articles, Zollmann investigates US, UK and German media reporting of the military operations in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Egypt. The book demonstrates how ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘R2P’ are only evoked in the news media if so called ‘enemy’ countries of Western states are the perpetrators of human rights violations. Zollmann’s work evidences that the news media plays a crucial propaganda role in facilitating a selective process of shaming during the build-up towards military interventions. This process has led to an erosion of internationally agreed norms of non-intervention, as enshrined in the UN Charter.

«Florian Zollmann’s Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention presents a thorough, amply documented extension of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s original Propaganda Model (PM) of the British and German press while also adding findings for the American press. Not only does Zollmann extend the PM geographically, he also updates it with detailed examination of double standards in elite newspaper reporting of recent atrocities in Syria, Libya and Egypt, as well as less recent ones in Kosovo and Iraq.»
(Tabe Bergman, European Journal of Communication 33(2) 2018)

«[...] I would strongly recommend peace activists get hold of a copy of Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention as it is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the media’s propagandistic role in the West’s often deadly and counterproductive foreign policy.»
(Ian Sinclair, Peace News June-July 2018) Full review