A Tale of Two Spin Doctors

Anyone who has studied the science of persuasion will immediately recognize the similarities between one of history’s most infamous propagandists, Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment Paul Joseph Goebbels, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Director of Intelligence,” Mark Potok.

Both men came from humble backgrounds. Goebbels, a failed novelist and playwright with a PhD in romantic drama; Potok, a freelance stringer for such hard-hitting newspapers as USA Today. Both men went to work for charismatic ideologues, becoming inordinately wealthy in the process.

Think about it. Mr. Potok has no legal or law enforcement experience, (“I’m not a lawyer, but I sure spend a lot of time around them!” Potok quips during his most recent scripted, pre-recorded “live call-in” webcast), and yet his “expertise” has earned him more than a million dollars from a law center. What services could Mr. Potok possibly offer the SPLC that are worth that kind of money?

Although more than half a century separates the careers of the two men, Doktor Goebbels would readily recognize Mr. Potok’s use of all the classic propaganda techniques, as laid down by their mutual mentor, “The Father of Spin,” Edward Bernays. Both men made millions practicing the black arts of Public Relations. As a popular television series might portray them, both are “Mad Men” of the first degree.

The key to any successful propaganda campaign, as either spin doctor could tell you, is domination of the media. Control the means of communication and you control the message. While Dr. Goebbels had to rely on compulsory enforcement, (listening to foreign radio broadcasts, from the BBC, etc., was a capital offense, at Dr. G’s insistence), Mr. Potok enjoys almost universal media access in the US and worldwide that is entirely voluntary.

The lack of any editorial oversight by major news organizations of Mr. Potok’s dubious observations is so delusional as to be collusive. What wouldn’t Dr. Goebbels give for such extensive media control? What wouldn’t Mr. Potok give for just one of Goebbels’ SS goon squads to silence the “wrong thinkers”?

While Dr. Goebbels would routinely label anyone who disagreed with his boss’ worldview as a “traitor,” “defeatist,” or “Bolshevik,” Mr. Potok’s smears of choice are “hater,” “extremist,” and the sure-fire, granddaddy smear of all time, “racist.” Same old techniques, just different labels.

Here lie the two greatest ironies: Goebbels was a hardcore Nazi who smeared his perceived enemies as “Bolsheviks,” and Potok is a life-long Leftist who smears his perceived enemies as “Nazis.” Goebbels’ duty was to convince the German people that everything was wonderful, (“Bombers? What Allied bombers? That was thunder you heard last night.”), while Potok earns his six-digit salary by maintaining the SPLC’s 40-year fear campaign, (“Hate groups are everywhere!! Send us more money, now!”)

And send more money they do. Last year the SPLC took in over $31 million donor-dollars thanks the ministrations of Mr. Potok, (of which only $1.1 million, or 3.7 cents on the dollar, were spent on “legal case costs”)

With a return on investment like that, one has to wonder if the three white millionaires who run the SPLC are actually paying their Spin Doktor enough?

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over” — Reich Minister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” Public Relations pioneer, Edward Bernays, in his groundbreaking book, “Propaganda” (1928)

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12 Responses to “A Tale of Two Spin Doctors”

  1. zachriel2 Says:

    Anyone who has studied the science of persuasion will immediately recognize the similarities between one of history’s most infamous propagandists, Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment Paul Joseph Goebbels, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Director of Intelligence,” Mark Potok.

    This must be a flimsy satire site. You had us for a moment there.

    • rkeefe57 Says:

      Care to elaborate? Or just hit-and-run? They both got rich in the same line of work. You tell us the differences.

      • zachriel2 Says:

        Comparing a civil rights lawyer to the Nazis. Gotta be a spoof.

      • rkeefe57 Says:

        Mr. Potok is NOT a lawyer, he’s a public relations man. Goebbels was a public relations man. Both made millions in the propaganda business.

        Did you actually read the post?

        And for what it’s worth, Potok’s boss, Morris Dees, was a highly paid Klan lawyer back in the 60s, so don’t act so shocked… http://wp.me/pCLYZ-F

  2. zachriel2 Says:

    Hard to believe, but you’re apparently not kidding!

    rkeefe57: Both men came from humble backgrounds.

    So did Jesus.

    While Geobbels was an active participant in waging a war that led to tens of millions of deaths, Potok works for a legal organization that uses the law to press Civil Rights cases, including a recent complaint concerned with the rights of the disabled.

    Just the same.

  3. rkeefe57 Says:

    Okay, so now you’re comparing Mark Potok and Joe Goebbels to Jesus?

    What I’m saying here is that a) the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” still refuses to hire any persons of color to its top ten, highest paid board of officers.

    But you’re okay with that. http://wp.me/pCLYZ-3r

    And b) that Mark Potok’s public relations campaigns, which smear MILLIONS of hardworking decent Americans who only ask their ELECTED OFFICIALS to ENFORCE EXISTING IMMIGRATION LAWS, take in tens of millions of donor dollars a year, yet spend less than 4 cents on the dollar on “legal case costs,” and you’re okay with that too?

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-34

    I also have a problem with the fact that SPLC founder Morris Dees not only worked on George “Segregation Forever” Wallace’s gubernatorial campaign as his “Youth Coordinator,” (like the youth of Alabama really needed to get THAT message…), and that he brags on page 80 of his autobiography of being a highly paid Klan lawyer. http://wp.me/pCLYZ-F

    If YOU are not offended by ANY of these facts, maybe you should take a long, hard look at your own motivations.

    Just think about what you are saying. Try saying it out loud before you type it. You might not like what you hear.

  4. zachriel2 Says:

    rkeefe57: What I’m saying here is that a) the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” still refuses to hire any persons of color to its top ten, highest paid board of officers.

    Oh?

    rkeefe57: Okay, so now you’re comparing Mark Potok and Joe Goebbels to Jesus?

    Now you got it. Such comparisions are fatuous.

  5. rkeefe57 Says:

    ” the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” still refuses to hire any persons of color to its top ten, highest paid board of officers.

    Oh?”

    Oh, indeed. If you click on the Financial Information link from the “Who We Are” page you’ll find the SPLC’s IRS Form 990.

    http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/SPLC_990_2008.pdf

    Pages 7 & 8 list the SPLC’s ten highest paid executives. Our Miss Brooks is not on that list.

    If you do a Google Image search on the highest paid executives, as I have, you will come up with a list of smiling White faces that look like this:

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-3r

    That’s my methodology. If you run the same SPLC provided data and come up with different results, let me know and I will recant and retract on the spot.

    And as for fatuous comparisons, Mr. Potok has made over a million dollars by denouncing people as nazis, extremists, nativists and even neo-Confederates, (whatever that means), for over a decade.

    Potok does so to scare the SPLC’s mostly elderly donor base out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and he has done so to denigrate and stifle hundreds of millions of decent, hardworking Americans.

    At least Joe Goebbels had the testicular fortitude to include “Propaganda” in his title.

    If Mr. Potok is offended by the comparison, he need only tell me so himself.

  6. zachriel2 Says:

    So Julian Bond (listed as a director, but clearly a white supremacist) hates black people.

    In any case, you directly compare an organization that uses the legal system for the benefit of minorities to Nazis. There’s just no way to justify that.

    • rkeefe57 Says:

      Why does Julian Bond hate black people? Morris Dees writes that when he first opened the SPLC in 1971 he hired Bond as a publicity stunt.

      He needed a “civil rights name” to sign at the bottom of his first batch of fund-raising letters, so he offered Bond the “largely ceremonial position” of President of the SPLC.

      Bond gets exactly two and a half paragraphs out of Dees’ 365 page autobiography. Bond must have made one hell of a difference at the SPLC as its “honorary president,” so one can just imagine how much influence he has as one of ten unpaid “advisers.” http://wp.me/pCLYZ-p

      And I’ve never compared the SPLC with the Nazis; I’ve only compared their two propaganda ministers. Do try to get the facts right.

      Admittedly, I have tried to compare the “leading civil rights organization” with other civil rights groups that actually hire minorities to executive positions of power, but we all know how that turned out…

      “I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me!”

  7. zachriel2 Says:

    rkeefe57: And I’ve never compared the SPLC with the Nazis; I’ve only compared their two propaganda ministers. Do try to get the facts right.

    That’s hilarious. This has got to be a spoof. Is that you Loki? Well, good luck with that.

    • rkeefe57 Says:

      Cool, when you’re all done chuckling to yourself, just show us all where I ever compared the SPLC to the Nazis?

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