It's worth taking time every once in a while to compare the mainstream view of a major media story with reality, to renew your appreciation for the scale of disinformation we're subjected to; even for people who pay attention to the way an official storyline is established and propagated the results can be impressive. As a case in point, let's look at the narrative that's been planted in the minds of Americans who've been casually following the Wikileaks story over the past month, with markers on the lies, partial truths, or distortions:
U.S. citizen (false) Julian Assange has put thousands of innocent people at risk (false) in the past with the publication of documents on Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he's stolen (false) hundreds of thousands of top secret (false) State Department cables, and singlehandedly (false) dumped them all (false) on the Internet without even bothering to redact sensitive information (false). The cables do prove that Iran obtained long-range missiles from North Korea (false) but are otherwise mainly old news (false), which nonetheless critically threatens US security (false).
Assange had been hiding out from the police (false) in England since he's been charged with rape (false) in Sweden. He was finally apprehended (false) in his secret hiding place (false) after a manhunt (false) by English authorities.
That's over a dozen half-truths, outright falsehoods, or omissions so major that they twist the remaining facts out of all recognition (and there are more I haven't included—but you get the idea). One of the critical underlying bits of misinformation here is that Wikileaks is Julian Assange. Not only is that false, it's obviously wrong on even the slightest reflection: if Wikileaks is just Assange, how could the organization have continued publishing documents while he was in prison? But basic questions like that don't even arise for casual media consumers, since the other lies lead them to believe that Assange just dumped all of the unredacted documents en masse anyway.
This is a real achievement given how straightforward the story actually is and how readily available the facts are. Thanks to this ball of lies, nimrods can get away with absurdities like saying that Assange should be tried for treason against the United States. It's the reason why Joe "my ass is my major source of information" Biden can call Assange a high-tech terrorist without any fear of being laughed into submission. It's why you can watch entire debates about Wikileaks and barely be troubled by any inconvenient facts. And as impressive as this achievement is, it's nothing at all compared to the towering edifice of deceptions the media dutifully constructs when the US is intent on killing foreigners.
AND ON THAT NOTE: I was in Yugoslavia just after the US attack in 1999, and friends there asked me: how can Americans believe the lies they're fed about the situation here? They were genuinely curious, not trying to put me on the spot (though I was embarrassed for us all just the same). And I explained that all of the major media in the US—TV, the Internet, newspapers, radio, talking dogs on street corners—constantly repeat the same core message with only cosmetic differences. So when you switch from CNN to Fox to PBS you may sincerely believe you're hearing different perspectives, but you're really just getting minute variations on the same perspective; it's a pervasive manufactured reality that creates a convincing illusion of multiple viewpoints, when there's actually unanimity on all but the most trivial details of the storyline. And it takes a concerted effort to break through all of that, and to keep it at bay even after you've broken through it.