There was a promo that used to run in which the announcer said, “Cutting through the bullshit.” But it was old-fashioned, over-the-air terrestrial radio, on which you cannot curse, so the word “bullshit” was bleeped. But we all knew what word was being bleeped, making you ask “why bleep it in the first place?”

That’s the weird reality in which we live.

Every day we’re bombarded by messages in our media that are increasingly focus group-tested and used to further the message of the big money behind it, often in surreptitious and deceptive ways.

I discussed this issue today with Joel Silberman as it relates to one of the most popular shows on Netflix these days, House of Cards.

Over at the Campaign for America’s Future, Richard “RJ” Eskow wrote about noticing a disturbing narrative in the Season 3 premiere of the popular show about unethical politicians (an oxymoron if ever I heard one)…

Frank’s a Democrat, like all Third Way members, and his rant is filled with exactly the kind of misinformation and manipulation that we’ve come to expect from that corporatist crowd. “Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every entitlement program that is sucking us dry,” says Underwood in his rant, “I want it on the table.”

“Sucking us dry”? That’s economic gibberish.

“We obviously have to get back to some basics,” Underwood says in his rant, “remind ourselves of some of the facts that are before us …” (emphasis ours.)


Underwood continues: “This (the number $32,781, displayed on a flip chart) is what the average senior gets in one year from entitlements …This money is a job we could be giving to a single mother or a student just out of school. Now at the moment, 44 cents of every tax dollar goes to pay for these programs. By 2030, it’ll be over half, 62 cents.”

“Entitlements are bankrupting us,” he concludes.

[Except] that they’re not. Social Security accounts for 24 percent of the federal budget, but it is forbidden by law from adding to the overall deficit. What’s more, its trust fund is currently holding $2.8 trillion dollars in reserves. The statement is meaningless.

Eskow did his research, and found out that the misleading “centrist” (read Conserva-Dem) bullshit was the product of a bullshit propaganda group trying to perpetrate this fiction on a naive public.

But who knew that the show itself – not the characters, but the show – had a hidden agenda? It’s already taken on teachers. Now comes the anti-“entitlement” tirade from Frank Underwood in Episode One of the new season. Frank, despite his evil ways and means, has an ambitious dream, which is introduced during a lengthy scene in which he lectures his staff, and the audience, on some highly misleading “facts.”

How did that happen? How did the “AmericaWorks” fictional plot point come to be built on real-world lies?

Here’s a clue: Episode One’s credits list Jim Kessler as a consultant. Kessler is, as his IMDB biography notes, the co-founder of Third Way. That’s a Wall Street-funded, so-called “centrist” Democratic organization with a mission: to promote neoliberal economics and make the world safe (at least financially) for its wealthy patrons.

Third Way has consistently misrepresented the financial condition of Social Security, misdirected the public debate about Medicare, and generally promoted the socially liberal but fiscally conservative worldview of its patrons.

Kessler and co-founder Jon Cowan carefully tiptoed their way through the minefield of public opinion for years, pretending to be technocrats rather than de facto lobbyists for powerful interests. They finally lost their balance last year. When confronted with the rise of Elizabeth Warren and the populist wing of the Democratic Party, they lashed out at Sen. Warren with an intemperate Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Joel Silberman suggested the way to counter this blatant example of propaganda is to get Hollywood’s liberal TV community to create shows and characters who can help propel our message. Good luck to us.

As it is, we’re fighting against the bullshit on so many fronts. In the first hour of the show today, I spoke with Tom Butler, the editor of a beautiful new book, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot. Through pictures, it addresses the issues stemming from overpopulation of the planet, its drain on our resources, and the necessity to do something about it now, before it’s too late. You can see (and share) images from the book and get more information, including about how to spread the word, at populationspeakout.org.

And on a sadly related note, the latest edition of the FloriDUH files is summed up in this segment of All In with Chris Hayes:

Tomorrow, Van Jones returns to the show to talk about a new bipartisan effort at prison reform, and some classic interviews from the past… radio or not!