Are you being manipulated by a statist machine?


Agenda Setting Theory suggests…

Virtually the only issues people are passionate enough to follow or discuss are chosen by the partisan, mainstream media. In fact…

  • The degree of public interest in an issue is proportional to the coverage it receives
  • The importance of an issue simply doesn’t matter when compared to the level and type of coverage it enjoys

Thus, a debate in Congress may deeply impact you and your friends. Instead, you’re both watching and debating the trivial issue the media chose for you.

In addition, when the media engages in Agenda Setting, the range of debate narrows — usually to just two partisan sides. That signals the public that outside ideas aren’t worth considering.

Agenda Setting controls both what people think and how they think about it.

Agenda Setting is…

  1. Manipulative. It leads people around by the nose.
  2. Bad for the post-statist cause. The dominant partisan factions divide and conquer the news cycle. Both sides are statist, so libertarian ideas are excluded.

But there is a cure! Manipulation doesn’t work well once people become aware of it, so…

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

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Show Comments 8


  1. As a freethinker from childhood (atheist at 8, anarchist at 12 without any outside influence) I have been conscious of the biased media. However, I was unaware of how powerful the influence was on my unconscious and how skillfull the manipulation was. In 1980 I returned from South America where a major event was developing. I had been watching it live and watching coverage on TV. On returning I saw coverage by US media and watched for about 5 minutes before I realized it was the same event. The “report” was so skewed I hardly recognized it. I was astonished. I began to analyze how some facts were ignored, some facts distorted, and generally the whole event was used to convey a political myth. Had I not had first hand knowledge I would have been fooled. At that moment I decided to boycott MSM.

    I have benefited greatly on an unconscious level also. My conscious mind can only filter partially. Some lies get through, especially when tired/sleepy. Those shape conscious thoughts. I now realize how dangerous and powerful the manipulation by MSM is. But it will still get to me if I consume it exclusively. I need to counter it with alternative media, alternative ideas, even if they are biased. Then it is easier to sift and find the truth. Opposite views stimulate thought.

    1. Post

      “Opposite views stimulate thought.” A powerful idea for insight and personal creativity, as well.

  2. I have noticed that there are very few sites that are truly ZAP consistent. Reason does come close, but they have only one ‘token’ Pro-Life Libertarian who is regularly featured.. World Net Daily has a few Libertarians (John Stossel, Illana Mercer) on board, and are fairly balanced in their coverage. (although libertarians and Libertarian leaning Republicans are better represented than Democrats) WND had Libertarian Christian Vox Day for quite a while, I hope they will consider adding another one.

  3. I notice this all the time. Story and after story comes on and I think, “Hmmm…” or “Oh, I see…” but then they run a piece on something I know a lot about and I almost always think, “That’s not how this works at all, they got it completely wrong!” Then I wonder how much of the rest was also completely wrong…

  4. That’s the problem with most sites.(and TV networks, including the Big 3, ABC,NBC, CBS) They have their own bent and bias. Some state it right up front, others don’t . For all Fox news’ Fair and Balanced guests, the hosts usually are Neo-con advocates. CNN does the same thing, as a Neo-lib site, as does MSNBC. Now I’d read the Christian Libertarian Institute’s information before any of the above, I’d also read Reason or the other sites Jim mentioned before I’d read typical MSM (and yes, I include FOX, MSNBC and CNN as part of the MSM.)

  5. I had never heard the terms Viquerie Rule or Agenda Setting Theory, but am more than familiar with the principles. I watch people react like puppets when corporate media pulls their strings. Those are people who diligently follow the news and think they are informed. But they also limit their information sources to those that claim a shared ideology. As a result, the consumers believe what they are told. They no longer think for themselves but become victims of manipulated group think. I watch them squander their energies on useless actions, their subconscious minds ruled by the “regime media” whose purpose is to divide people, keep them squabbling with each other, and waste their energy in order to keep them from uniting against the true enemy.

    Don Ducan’s comment expresses my own experience and sentiment. I wholeheartedly endorse his closing words: “I now realize how dangerous and powerful the manipulation by MSM is. But it will still get to me if I consume it exclusively. I need to counter it with alternative media, alternative ideas, even if they are biased. Then it is easier to sift and find the truth. Opposite views stimulate thought.”

  6. There are to many people that can not keep their noses out of other peoples business in America.

    So what can we do about.?

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