Here is the full transcript of American author Sharyl Attkisson’s TEDx Talk: Astroturf and Manipulation of Media Messages at TEDxUniversityofNevada conference.
Sharyl Attkisson – American author
Consider this fictitious example that’s inspired by real life: say you’re watching the news, and you see a story about a new study on the cholesterol-lowering drug called cholextra. The study says cholextra is so effective that doctors should consider prescribing it to adults and even children who don’t yet have high cholesterol.
Is it too good to be true? You’re smart, you decide to do some of your own research. You do a Google search, you consult social media, Facebook, and Twitter. You look at Wikipedia, WebMD, a non-profit website, and you read the original study in a peer-reviewed published medical journal. It all confirms how effective cholextra is. You do run across a few negative comments and a potential link to cancer, but you dismiss that, because medical experts call the cancer link a myth and say that those who think there is a link, they are quacks, cranks, and nuts.
Finally, you learn that your own doctor recently attended a medical seminar. The lecture that he attended confirmed how effective cholextra is, so he sends you off with some free samples and a prescription. You’ve really done your homework.
But what if all isn’t as it seems? What if the reality you found was false; a carefully-constructed narrative by unseen special interests designed to manipulate your opinion? A Truman Show-esque alternate reality all around you? Complacency in the news media combined with incredibly powerful propaganda and publicity forces mean we sometimes get little of the truth. Special interests have unlimited time and money to figure out new ways to spin us while cloaking their role.