Posted by Anne Landman on June 22, 2011

Over and over, cable TV and Sunday news show pundits have been telling us that Social Security is going bankrupt, and we have to raise the retirement age or the economy will collapse. These two axioms have practically become common knowledge. The only problem is, there isn't a shred of evidence that either statement is accurate.

So how did it happen that these erroneous statements have become mainstream American group-think? It's the result of a sophisticated corporate echo chamber propaganda strategy funded primarily by the Koch brothers for the purpose of turning business-friendly, fringe right-wing ideas into mainstream policy arguments. The echo chamber strategy is very real, and has been perfected by corporate interests over the last several decades. It involves carefully selecting and fine-tuning a message that resonates with the populace, and then arranging to get that message repeated over and over through a variety of credible media sources.

Conservatives have been working since the 1970s to develop this powerful echo chamber propaganda infrastructure. Here's how it works: Corporate donors fund conservative think tanks which then develop position papers that argue in favor of conservative ideas. Then an armada of PR flacks arrange an deluge of media appearances for spokespeople from those think tanks to promote the ideas. These pundits repeat the same, pre-determined talking points over and over, stating them as though they were facts. When the echo chamber is fully deployed, the same points get made over and over on TV shows, radio, in social media and virtually every form of media until finally the ideas become so ubiquitous that they become accepted as conventional wisdom.

Robert Greenwald's company Brave New Films created a short YouTube video with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, explaining how this propaganda machine is structured. The video uses the two conservative axioms about Social Security to show demonstrate how the echo chamber works. Their investigative research shows that $28.4 million in Koch money has produced more than 300 position papers from think tanks like the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Reason Foundation, that distort information about Social Security.

Watch the video to understand how wealthy, conservative corporate interests are now able to manipulate the media to their advantage, and to Americans' detriment.