Propaganda definition from Wikipedia:
Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.
As a recent graduate of Pepperdine’s business school, I still get email and other correspondence from the university and its alumni program. So when I received an email from Pepperdine’s PR department on October 2 with the subject line: Clarification re: Proposition 8 Ad, I was curious. The email said it was getting calls about a Pepperdine professor who was featured in an Proposition 8 TV ad.
What did Pepperdine have to do with a Prop 8 ad and was it for or against Prop 8?
If the ad was for Prop 8 (ban gay marriage), then undoubtedly alumni were calling to complain (Pepperdine could lose its tax-exempt status for taking sides in politics like this). OR had a Pepperdine professor advocated against Prop 8 (keep gay marriage), and now the conservative supporters of this Christian university called to voice their objections? I figured the former was more likely, but the latter might have been possible, as well.
(More after the jump)
Here is a the full text of the email (emphasis is mine):
Dear Pepperdine Alumnus:
Many members of the Pepperdine community have voiced opinions over a TV ad regarding Proposition 8. The ad features a Pepperdine professor and currently includes reference to his affiliation with the University.
We’d like to stress that the professor does not represent a Pepperdine University-endorsed position, as the University does not advocate for/against political candidates or ballot propositions.
The professor in the ad was not advocating a Pepperdine position, but his own personal position.
We have received confirmation that our request to have the reference to Pepperdine University deleted from the ad will be honored. We have been assured that the ad will be revised, perhaps by today.
Later that day, I did see the offending ad in question on TV, showing a Pepperdine Law Professor named Richard Peterson frightening California voters into voting “Yes on 8” – making same sex marriages once again illegal in the state of California. Robertson says that if same-sex marriages remain on the books, people could be sued over personal beliefs, churches could lose their tax exemptions, and gay marriage could be “taught in public schools.” (These things he states are straight-up lies; propaganda specifically designed to scary people into voting for Prop 8. Get the facts at NoOnProp8.com)
Well today I saw the ad again, and guess what?
Despite the Pepperdine PR email saying that “the reference to Pepperdine University [would be] deleted from the ad,” it has not.
What they have done is added in a tiny subtitle saying “Title for identification purposes only.” You can see the offending ad at ProtectMarriage.com.
I think this “revision” is disingenuous and absolutely has not fulfilled Pepperdine’s request to DELETE the reference in this ad. In fact, what they have done is used the Pepperdine name AS A REFERENCE in the ad to “identify” the speaker. If the speaker was speaking on his personal beliefs and not on behalf of the university, his employment at Pepperdine should not be referenced AT ALL. The Pepperdine PR department has assured its alumni that the Pepperdine name would not be used in the TV ads and yet a week later, it still is in the ad.
Furthermore, this new subtitle does NOT disclaim by clarifying that the opinion expressed in the ad is solely that of the professor and does not reflect the opinion of Pepperdine University.
I found a Facebook Page called PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY ALLOWS THEMSELVES TO BE PART OF YES ON 8, which states that:
CALL TODAY AND VOICE YOUR OPINION. The calls are coming into Pepperdine 20 to 1 thanking them for their heroic stand by SAYING YES ON 8, tell them there is nothing heroic about hatred.
So here are my calls to action for any Californian, or anyone who has ties to Pepperdine University in particular:
- Call Jerry Derloshon 310-506-4000 or email [email protected] and ask why Professor Richard Peterson is on the YES ON 8 commercial against Gay and Lesbian marriage after telling alumni that the Pepperdine University name would no longer appear in the ads
- Send an email to Mr. Peterson himself, ask him to explain how people could be sued over personal beliefs, churches could lose their tax exemptions, and gay marriage could be “taught in public schools.”: [email protected]