Essay on Liberal Media Propaganda: continued

Migrant Mother and Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother's Trail of Tears

Florence Thompson had many reasons to distrust the government. She was a full-blood Native American, born in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees were not nomadic savages.

In the 1830s, the Cherokees were farmers and cattle ranchers in Georgia, having built their own roads and schools and devised their own writing. Nevertheless, Florence's ancestors were hounded and cheated by the United States government – four thousand died along the 'Trail of Tears', when they were forcefully removed by the U.S. government from Northern Georgia to Oklahoma.

Before this happened, they had tried to use the American justice system, appealing to the Supreme Court to no avail. The government destroyed their lives and culture. Her father had served time in prison and her grandfather had been killed by a government posse.

Florence now had to face the latest government assault – the New Deal.

Photos Out of Context

When Lange took the famous photograph, Florence had been waiting half a day by the side of the road, expecting her husband to return with the repaired radiator so that the family could keep moving, which they did hours later.

If she had been a modern housewife with five children, waiting eight hours at the airport after having been bumped from a flight, she might have had a similar desperate expression.

A pioneer mother on the Oregon Trail might have had the same bedraggled look

If she had been a pioneer mother on the Oregon Trail, a century earlier, gathering her fussing children around her after a weary day rolling westward in the family Conestoga Wagon, she might have had the same smudged and bedraggled look.

She had set up her tent outside of the camp, because the unusually large number of migrants caused her to fear that the local authorities might initiate one of their periodic raids in which the attacked and beat up the migrants.

She had plenty of reasons to present a grim visage to Dorothea Lange, a dapper, extremely well-connected representative of government, arriving in a polished car with camera in hand, an upper-class liberal searching for muck to rake – ready with a facile, monstrous lie that her victim’s picture would never be used and that her privacy not be invaded.

Selfish Interests

As interesting as this is, it would hardly be worthy of note in our search to understand the shortage of equities in American capital markets in the 1990s, if it were not for the fact that the economic and professional self-interest that linked Dorothea Lange (the artist), Paul Schuster Taylor (the professor-economist), and George P. West (the journalist) was seen again and again, tens of thousands of times, not only throughout the New Deal Federal One program, but in hundreds of subsequent copycat endeavors that were replicated by the American government for the rest of the century.

This simple, well-documented case explains how a permanent liberal bias has taken hold of the media and institutions of higher learning, gradually sapping away entrepreneurial motivation and finally drying up the vital source of securities in a wave of expanding demand.

Feeding the Liberal Media

The virtuosity of the New Deal propaganda program was in pandering to the natural inclinations of journalists, academics, and artists.

Journalists are in the business of selling news and bad news sells better than good news. Under Stalin and Hitler, the government needed the press to sell good news – stories of the success of the regime.

Since good news is against the natural urges of journalists, Stalin and Hitler needed to impose rigorous censorship on the press to ensure that they would print optimistic stories.

Roosevelt took a different approach and publicized bad times and despair (blaming it all on Herbert Hoover and capitalists); the press loved it.

When Dorothea Lange gave a picture of Migrant Mother to her journalist friend, George P. West, she didn’t need to twist his arm to get the picture on the front page.

Ragged …hungry … broke squalor’ – the dark gray grim image suggested the headlines and, like any professional newsman, George West knew that misery sells papers. He never checked the accuracy of the reported facts or tried to locate and interview Migrant Mother.

The story ran, “Ragged, ill, emaciated by hunger, 2,500 men, women and children are rescued after weeks of suffering by the chance visit of a government photographer (9) .” Professor Taylor, himself, as late as 1970, continued to promote this fairy tale, writing that,

“The photographer had made her way to the News office with hardly-dry prints in hand. The editor lost no time notifying the United Press. The UP immediately contacted relief authorities, who sent a representative to the pea pickers' camp at Nipomo to tell the faintly cheering pickers that food was on its way from Los Angeles.
Then the News published the story, with two poignant photographs of a starving mother and her children beside a lean-to tent shelter. Their car had been stripped of tires, which were sold to buy food.
Beside the photographs was a column detailing the story, with a cross-reference to the lead editorial, ‘Starving Pea Pickers.’ With the news in print, the editor acknowledged the photographer's effectiveness in a sincerely appreciative letter accompanied by clippings of photographs, news, and editorial columns. Nowhere in the newspaper did the name of the photographer appear; in those days photographers were anonymous (10) .”

Not everyone was fooled. A reader of the Redding, California ‘Independent’ wrote a letter to the editor on November 27, 2020, questioning the supposed ‘chance’ nature of the photo and Professor Paul Taylor’s motives and lack of scientific objectivity.

However, newspapers are not the media for reasoned discourse; the legend grew unchecked.

A Professor Hides The Truth

Professor Taylor’s account, quoted above, was written forty-four years later – more than enough time to check the facts. We now can see the scope of the deception.

By 1970, Paul Taylor, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a nationally recognized authority on farm labor history, would have known that Florence Thompson and her children had not been starving and that the tires on the car had not been sold to buy food, for the story had long since been debunked by opponents of the New Deal.

Dorothea was not, as implied, an unknown photographer who ‘made her way to the News office’. She was a well-connected friend of the editor who had been her guest for dinner months before.

Dorothea was a well-connected friend of the editor who published the picture

Professor Taylor never seemed embarrassed about twisting the truth. He saw no impropriety in handing over the photograph – government property – to a newspaper in order to advance his career.

Because the Democratic Party packaged and delivered ready-to-print despair to the media, even using taxpayers’ money to gather the muck, journalists quickly rallied to this side of the political spectrum.

Under the Federal One program, over a quarter of a million grim photographs of people at their worst moments were zealously sought out and made available to a grateful press corps.

Essay: continued >

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