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Shock Doctrine: A Sleight-of-Hand Trick with the Unreliable American Media

Photo credit: Sofia Gerli

Photo credit: Sofia Gerli

By Matthew Sevilla, Staff Writer

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The Shock Doctrine.

It is a name that few recognize, but countless lives have been unwittingly affected by.

The concept was explored by Naomi Klein, a Canadian author and social activist in her book The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

The book identified the political practice that is used by some politicians when attempting to push policies that would normally be rejected by the public.

Klein’s website discusses examples like the policies passed that “would allow Shell and BP to claim Iraq’s vast oil reserves.” Policies which conveniently passed in the most hectic moments of the Iraqi Civil War, limiting the media coverage and exposure they drew.

Another example could be the large-scale firing of public school teachers following Hurricane Katrina, or the declaration of war on Iraq following the 9/11 bombings, despite Bush later admitting that Iraq was not directly or operationally involved in the attack.

In essence, “The Shock Doctrine” is a technique employed to deceive the American public and —because it is used to pass policies not promised in campaigns and advertisements—affects us all regardless of creed, political standing, or identity.

This is why I believe that we, as the American Public and future generation of voters, should try our best to stay conscious of the hidden agenda behind media scandals and the chaos caused by crises.

Now this is not to say things like the “covfefe” media gaff and other attention-grabbing events are purposefully done for ulterior motives; however, there could be more savvy politicians behind Trump taking advantage.

Earlier this year, right before Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, President Trump called for accelerating major tax reforms and cuts, a request which completely bypassed the media storm that would have normally come. Instead of covering President Trump’s remarks, the media was forced to focus on the more immediate issue of Hurricane Irma.

As opposed to focusing on issues like Climate Change, which could potentially be causing the huge weather changes seen in our country as of late, tax cuts for the wealthy are being pushed with the justification of strengthening our country.

The Shock Doctrine is already being used just within a year of President Trump’s term, and little to nothing has been done about it.

Something else to keep in mind is the general one-mindedness of most popular media, which tends to favor covering more exciting stories for short periods of time, then abandoning the story when more relevant issues arise.

An easy example would be the Net Neutrality repeal debate that swept through the internet, which largely stayed out of the mainstream television news stations in favor of political developments and other scandals.

Although the issue was common knowledge among avid users of the internet, the message did not reach farther than the computer screen.

The Net Neutrality debates’ scarce media coverage was a little surprising, considering how significant it was to the quality of life for all Americans.

The repeal of Net Neutrality was controversial because it prevented internet providers from charging extra for certain websites similar to how TV providers charge for channels.

But even as Net Neutrality was repealed late 2017, there was still very little or very brief coverage by the news, showing just how unfocused and uninterested major media is in informing the American public of news that affects them.

Although the issue of Shock Doctrine politics may seem impossible to counter, the process can be fought by keeping a watchful eye in the news, joining local demonstrations and advocacy groups, and expressing your dissent peacefully.

The relationship between the media, the politicians, and the public is a complicated and tumultuous one, but the misinformation and misuse of the media can be avoided by a smart public that stays conscious of manipulation and lies.

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Shock Doctrine: A Sleight-of-Hand Trick with the Unreliable American Media