Disinformation and the Overton Window

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The Perfect Marriage, Part I

 “Nothing is in the political reality of a country that was not before in your literature. ” (Hugo Von Hofmannsthal) Starting with that perfect sentence, we see a reality that we cannot escape, but that we can now perfectly understand. I will put it here so that we can better understand how the KGB, now called the FSB, used so-called disinformation and a technique called “framing”, along with the Overton window, to be able to incriminate many people, including an attempt to incriminate Pope Pius XII.

Quoting an article by writer Olavo de Carvalho for the newspaper Jornal do Brasil in February 2007, we see the following: “The former head of Romanian espionage, Ion Mihai Pacepa, recently confessed that the wave of accusations against Pope Pius XII, where it started with Rolf Hochhuth’s play, The Vicar (1963), and culminated in John Cornwell’s book, Hitler’s Pope (1999), was a KGB creation from start to finish. The operation was launched in 1960 by personal order of Nikita Kruschev. Pacepa was one of its direct participants. Between 1960 and 1962 he sent hundreds of documents about Pius XII to Moscow. In the original form, the papers contained nothing that could incriminate the Pope. Made up by the KGB, they made him a virtual collaborator with Hitler and an accomplice to the least passive of the Holocaust ”.

Today we can also see this happening to two very unusual victims, in fact, the two conservative presidents, Donald J Trump and Jair Messias Bolsonaro. They are obviously victims of the school of disinformation started by the KGB. In the book Disinformation, the Lieutenant General of Securitate to the Romanian KGB Ion Mihai Pacepa, who later resigned from his post and obtained political asylum in the US, talks about how a scheme worked to incriminate people and the attempt to change the course of history using a technique they called “Framing”.

Pacepa also mentions in the introduction to his book that the “Framing” technique was used to rewrite history and manipulate records, documents, etc. in order to precipitate events. In Russia, the technique was called “Dezinformatsiya”, which was also used by the press as the KGB leaked documents to the press to destroy the reputation of a national or religious leader. Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB from 1973 until 1982 and Pacepa tells his readers that Andropov was fond of the “Dezinformatsiya” technique.

They’re Using the Same Technique

Can we see any relation to this practice today? What the media does today is exactly the same thing that the KGB did in the past, but today we have a network of journalists who invent anything to be able to sell their newspapers, whether hard copies or online. Here in Brazil, we see the so-called mainstream media, virtually a cartel, as they daily spread lies. We know it here as the television network Rede Globo.

Since the elections in 2018, they have spun their web of deceit to try to invent some story or situation to defame Bolsonaro and his government, even sending reporters to his hometown to try to find something to defame him. There is a YouTube channel in Brazil called Communication and Politics that you can check by clicking HERE. Its creator and presenter Fernando Mello does a program every Sunday at 9:00 pm called Serial Denials (Desmentiras em Série). During each program, he exposes the lies that the media invents and spreads either through television or newspapers, and spread to the far corners of Brazil. With an average of 7 to 10 lies exposed per week, he has produced almost 100 shows, almost 100 weeks of an average of 10 lies per week.

That is a lot of misinformation caused by the media, rife with defamation, attempting to demonstrate that Bolsonaro’s government is doing poorly. They talk about the fires in the Amazon or in other regions of northeastern Brazil. They feature Leonardo Di Caprio and activist Greta Thumberg on live programming talking about issues, but all misinformation. However, Brazilians know that this is all a lie. They have stopped watching the country’s mainstream broadcasters, causing a more than 70% loss of viewers for Rede Globo during the almost two years of the Bolsonaro government.

Persecution of the Right by the Brazilian Supreme Court

The alternative that remains is to follow the right channels on YouTube and the partner networks. However, persecution and defamation by the media also accompanies this sphere of action. We also cannot forget the persecution caused by the Supreme Court of Brazil and some parliamentarians of the Senate and the Federal Chamber. But since the right-wing YouTube channels do not receive any funding from the government, they can speak and criticize at will. Their funding comes from the people who got tired of the lies of the mainstream media and migrated to YouTube.

We also see continued persecution of the Bolsonaro government in the partner networks. Facebook was exposed by the former content moderator of the platform, Ryan Hartwig, when he came to Brazil a few days ago. He exposed the Facebook policy that allows any content against Bolsonaro, his government, the conservative public, and Christians. To the contrary, anything that was favorable of that content was withdrawn or not posted on the platform.

Just days ago we saw a picture of the severed head of Bolsonaro and Twitter has not taken action to remove the offending post. Imagine someone who supports Bolsonaro creating a similar post. Twitter would remove it. We saw this happen to President Trump himself where his tweets were removed or the president was suspended by Twitter. So, where does the Overton window play a part?

The Overton Window

The Overton Window works as an indicator of a situation that was not accepted by society at one time, but after some time, becomes the norm. We can use pedophilia as an example, noting the way in which it was always condemned and never discussed in the past. Now, with changes in the culture, the idea is presented in a way that seems to be acceptable, using the sensualization of children in films and books.

When discussed in the media, they portray it as normal. They make excuses for the person who sexually abuses a child by saying they have mental problems or had problems during their childhood. This, supposedly, has a calming effect on something that could not formally be discussed under any circumstances.

We’ll cover more on the Overton Window in the Part II of this series as we look into the way in which today’s media follows the modus operandi of the KGB.

 

Augusto Oliveira

Augusto Oliveira

Augusto Oliveira is a writer and Brazil correspondent for NRN and a contributor to NRN+ Magazine. Residing in Brazil, he's a recent civil engineering graduate who enjoys reading, writing, and editing videos.

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