The media will not deviate from the elite consensus except to expose a contradictory position of another elite
The hypothesis advanced by the propaganda model, excluded from debate as unthinkable, is that in dealing with the American wars in Indochina, the media were "unmindful", but highly "patriotic" in the special and misleading sense that they kept -- and keep -- closely to the perspective of official Washington and the closely related corporate elite, in conformity to the general "journalistic-literary-political culture" from which "the left" (meaning dissident opinion that questions jingoist [ed. characterized by extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy] assumptions) is virtually excluded. The propaganda model predicts that this should be generally true not only of the choice of topics covered and the way they are covered, but also, and far more crucially, of the general background of the presuppositions within which the issues are framed and the news presented. Insofar as there is debate among dominant elites, it will be reflected within the media, which in this narrow sense, may adopt an "adversarial stance" with regard to those holding office, reflecting elite dissatisfaction with current policy. Otherwise the media will depart from elite consensus only rarely and in limited ways. Even when large parts of the general public break free of the premises of the doctrinal system, as finally happened during the Indochina wars, real understanding based upon an alternative conception of the evolving history can be developed only with considerable effort by the most diligent and skeptical. And such understanding as can be reached through serious and often individual effort will be difficult to sustain or apply elsewhere, an extremely important matter for those who are truly concerned with democracy at home and "the influence of democracy abroad," in the real sense of these words.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
But entertainment has the merit not only of being better suited to helping sell goods; it is an effective vehicle for hidden ideological messages. Furthermore, in a system of high and growing inequality, entertainment is the contemporary equivalent of the Roman “games of the circus” that diverts the public from politics and generates a political apathy that is helpful to preservation of the status quo.