Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Goebbels’

A Tale of Two Spin Doctors

August 8, 2010

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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