Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century: Manufacturing Consent Revisited and Revised

First published in 1988, Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent remains the go-to book for those interested in understanding why the mainstream media act as vehicles for power-elite propaganda. The analytical heart of Manufacturing Consent lies in what it calls ‘The Propaganda Model.’ According to this model, there are five filters which all newsworthy stories have to pass through before reaching the public sphere. However, a lot has changed in the subsequent thirty-something years. Consequently, a key question that needs to be addressed is whether Manufacturing Consent is still fit for purpose.

The conceit underpinning Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century: Manufacturing Consent Revisited and Revised is that the election of Trump in 2016 constitutes the proverbial ‘year zero’ for fourth estate journalism. As a result of the ‘journalistic’ cultural revolution that ensued, it argues that the Propaganda Model needs to be overhauled if it is to retain its epistemological bona fides. To this end, this book is a radical—in the true critical sense of the word—intervention into the propaganda/fake news debate. For students (in the broadest sense of the term) of media studies, journalism, communication studies and sociology, it provides both a compelling critique of Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, while at the same time proffering a new explanatory model to understand why MSM output typically replicates the ‘stenographer for power’ playbook.

Dr Simon Foley, of Queen’s University Belfast, has taught Sociology and Media Studies in various universities throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland over the past 10 years. He has published widely on issues of sexuality, social theory and social change.

“Despite the abundant evidence of media scholarship over many decades—famously presaged by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their 1988 study, Manufacturing Consent—the majority of citizens in the NATO orbit, and too many beyond it, subscribe to a picture of the world that depends on mainstream media presumptions, fallacies, and fantasies, pedalled to journalists by people in power, usually including State intelligence agencies whose very business is deception. With forensic precision, Simon Foley dissects the consequent journalistic perfidies perpetrated in media coverage of some of the most egregious “Big Lies” of our time, including the fables of Russia-gate, allegations of Syrian chemical weapons attacks, the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, “Russian Bounty” payments and others. To sum up, Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century: Manufacturing Consent Revisited and Revised is a hugely important addition to the critical literature on mainstream journalism.”
Professor Emeritus Oliver Boyd-Barrett
Author, Media Imperialism and Russia-Gate and Propaganda: Disinformation in the Age of Social Media

“Simon Foley’s Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century: Manufacturing Consent Revisited and Revised offers an excellent and much-needed critical examination and analysis of how the mainstream media function as a vehicle for official propaganda in our increasingly corporation-dominated post-Cold War world. Covering Russia-gate, the Trump-as-Literal-Hitler narrative, the Skripal affair, the Syrian gas attacks, the official COVID narrative, among other subjects, it is a welcome reappraisal of Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and an essential tool for anyone interested in understanding the production of official ideology and propaganda today.”
C.J. Hopkins
Award-winning playwright, novelist, and political satirist

“This timely book sets out and then tests Chomsky’s propaganda model through careful analysis of the reporting of seven complex events of international relevance by two left/liberal newspapers: The Guardian and The Irish Times. Foley does not tell you what to think about the events themselves and offers no right/wrong verdicts. Instead, he systematically demonstrates how we can subtly be denied the tools to see beneath the presentational surface, to entertain alternative ways of thinking, and so have more open debates. He exposes and explains how the reporting consistently falls short of ostensive aims to speak truth to power. The mechanisms employed include selection, omission, conflation, and contradiction, as well as the persistent use of interpretation masquerading as fact. Foley shows the ongoing value of the propaganda model, some revisions, and a clear-eyed application.”
Professor Alison Edgley
Author, The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky

“Simon Foley’s Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century is a worthy successor to Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. The book meticulously traces the origins and arcs of recent instances of “fake news” such as Russia-gate, the gas attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian government and the alleged poisoning of the Skripals in order to demonstrate how the new media propaganda system works, and the role it plays in perpetuating political and economic power relationships. The result is an illuminating and important study of the contemporary media landscape.”
Dr George Szamuely
Journalist; author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia

“Simon Foley professionally and systematically critically tackles the issue and effect of mass organised persuasive communications by elite political establishment politics on global publics. This is a must-read book for those in need of a critical evaluation and analysis of the contemporary level of cognitive deception and manipulation presently used in Western democracies. The book is every bit as frightening as it is illustrative in its findings. The engineering of public consent is laid bare for the reader.”
Professor Greg Simons
Author, The What, How, and Why of Fake News

“Great to see this wonderful new book by Simon Foley examining the media as vehicle of elite propaganda question. In line with Herman and Chomsky’s methodology the case studies chosen by the author are suitably taboo-breaking. Similarly, the analysis Foley engages in, via his augmented application of the Propaganda Model, throws up an array of fascinating and illuminating insights into the propaganda role played by the contemporary mainstream media.”
Dr Matthew Alford
Author, Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You about British Foreign Policy

“Challenging liberal assumptions, especially in the media, is always a valuable exercise. Here Simon Foley turns the Herman/Chomsky propaganda thesis round from its more usual targets and deconstructs the Irish Times and the Guardian’s coverage of recent foreign policy controversies. Some of the conclusions about, for example, Syria will ruffle feathers. This book provides a counterpoint to challenge lazy thinking about who is right and who is wrong on coverage of some of the most controversial foreign policy issues of the last decade. Even if I do not agree with many of Simon Foley’s conclusions it had made me reassess the rigour of my own thinking. A most interesting use of the Herman and Chomsky model.”
Dr Paul Lashmar
Head of the Department of Journalism, University of London; investigative journalist; author of Spies, Spin, and the Fourth Estate

“Simon Foley’s Understanding Media Propaganda in the 21st Century: Manufacturing Consent Revisited and Revised provides a tour-de-force of the numerous propaganda narratives of the last five years, ranging from Russia-gate to Syria and COVID-19. If you’ve ever wanted to see corporate press narratives debunked and thoroughly analyzed as to the how and the why of their operation and intent, look no further. Foley provides a bird’s eye view of multiple hot-button issues and dissects the operation and motive behind multiple propaganda campaigns of recent memory: that he does so effectively, without engaging in partisanship, is a testimony to the quality of his analysis.”
Elizabeth Vos
Investigative journalist; co-host of Consortium News Live

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-7356-7

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-7356-7

Release Date: 20th September 2021

Pages: 245

Price: £61.99


ISBN: 1-5275-9981-7

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-9981-9

Release Date: 24th April 2023

Pages: 245

Price: £30.99