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Instagram: @KI_Propaganda_416

Throughout the Flint Water Crisis, the media was a key component in progress being made. Going back all the way to April 16th, 2013, this has been an ongoing crisis (https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/timeline-flint-water-crisis). A majority of the media coverage was brought up in 2016, when the crisis was at its worst. Major news channels, such as CNN and Fox News, spent a great deal of time and resources in to covering this crisis, and allowing the general public outside of Michigan to see just how bad this issue has been (https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan). As a Michigan native, growing up just over an hour away from the city of Flint, it was great to see the coverage of this. All of this coverage eventually led to a massive movement from celebrities and the general public to raise funds, and goods to be donated to the citizens in the city of Flint.

Now, I have not seen any coverage of the current situation of the Flint Water Crisis from major news outlets. I have not heard of any celebrities or politicians outside of Michigan making a point to bring attention to this. Throughout the course, we have learned that having someone with a platform and a recognizable name will always be beneficial to a propaganda campaign. That is why most major brands have a paid spokesperson, it gives a sense of recognition to the brand. When this movement was at its height of popularity, stars such as Snoop Dogg and various NBA players were assisting in every way possible. Pop music star Bruno Mars pledged to donate one million dollars during a concert in Detroit.

The key to this campaign would be to create a sense of relevancy and need to both those with a higher platform than I have, along with getting the media involved with the process once again. Along with this, a crowd funded donation to assist in the short term would allow the citizens of Flint to have safe drinking water. The following website shows multiple ways to assist, and where the funds are allocated to: https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/13/us/iyw-flint-michigan-water-crisis-how-to-help/index.html.

While these short term solutions are necessary, what may be even more important would be the long term solutions. There has been a severe lack of leadership and accountability with this process. Governor Rick Snyder says “Let me be blunt: this was a failure of government at all levels. Local, State, and Federal officials- we all failed the families of flint.” (Infographic jounal). The estimated completion date of the replacement of all Flint’s water service line isn’t until 2019, so assistance will be needed until that date, perhaps even longer. The lack of accountability regarding the Flint Water Crisis is alarming, and progress needs to be made to have more criminal indictments stemming from the maladministration of the crisis.

As I mentioned, I have always been interested in this topic based on the proximity to my hometown. Although I have always kept up with it, it wasn’t until this project until I truly found how effective a proper propaganda campaign could be regarding the Flint Water Crisis. Although it was nationally covered for a decent amount of time, I am not entirely sure there was an official campaign to raise money or anything of that nature for the City of Flint. I do recall two years ago on our campus, there was a group of individuals who were raising money to assist the citizens of Flint. While this event is over, I am not aware of how successful it may have been. Creating a campaign of this nature again would not only raise money to assist families in the short term, but it would also show individuals that this crisis is still ongoing. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be in the news or anything like that at this moment, so I truly believe that the public needs to be more informed on how serious of an issue this is.

Works Cited






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Keith Inman
Michelle Pajaro
COM 416
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Propaganda in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Identifying Trends of Deception

The pharmaceutical industry is typically seen as a research driven industry that is meant to heal ailments, and save lives. This is the way that this industry shows itself through advertisements, and through the doctors who prescribe them. However, the pharmaceutical industry is filled with deception and lies. The typical perception of the term propaganda leads to thoughts of political campaigns, the Nazi regime, and terror. The pharmaceutical industry utilizes propaganda in many different forms, creating a false perception of enhancing the well being of the general public. While many drugs and medicines do good for those who are in need, this industry has preyed on the well-being of some of the most vulnerable citizens. Throughout this essay, we will be examining different ways that the pharmaceutical industry manipulates the thoughts of the public.
Case 1: Misrepresentation of Opioids
Perhaps one of the most dangerous things a pharmaceutical company could do, is misinform the users how addictive or dangerous a medicine or treatment is. One recent example leads to the company Purdue Pharma, the company who produces the highly addictive pain management drug, Oxycodone. Oxycodone is a slow-release tablet form of morphine. Opioids, specifically Oxycodone, were originally used primarily for hospitalized cancer patients, and end-of-life care.

Purdue Pharma knowingly misinformed doctors, who in turn then misinformed patients about the possible risks surrounding the use of Oxycodone. Purdue Pharma persuaded doctors aggressively, by, among other things, offering free trips to various seminars, along with assigning them with paid speaking engagements. These doctors were marketing Oxycodone as a “smooth and sustained pain control, day and night” according to Purdue Pharma. The vast mistreatment of Oxycodone through their use of propaganda and over-prescription of this drug lead to a huge increase in the companies profits, meaning that the company purposely misrepresented their drug in pursuit of their own personal benefit.
According to a report by Esquire titled “The Secretive Family making Billions from the Opioid Crisis”, over two hundred thousand people in the United States have died directly from overdoses of Oxycodone, and other prescription painkiller. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over fifty-three thousand Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Many of these overdoses begin with individuals who were originally prescribed a pain management medication, such as Oxycodone, then became addicted to the pill and having to switch to a much cheaper alternative, such as heroin.
While the opioid epidemic is still in full swing, progress is being made towards a solution. In 2007, three executives at Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal charges for misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about Oxycodones addictiveness. Purdue Pharma ended up having to pay $600 Million in fines to resolve various criminal charges for misbranding the drug through the use of propaganda to mislead doctors and patients. While the fine was important, it seems to be a minimal fine for the amount of money being brought in by the company for assisting in creating the opioid epidemic in pursuit of personal benefits. The Trump Administration has made the opioid epidemic a huge priority. Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is led by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, made a shocking comparison, when he stated that opioids were killing 142 Americans every single day. He then stated that the epidemic equates to a September 11th attack, every three weeks.

One of the reason the opioid crisis continues to rise can be attributed to the misdirection of funds and misplaced frustration. In his speech at an event last March at Manchester Community College while discussing his plans for the opioid epidemic, Donald Trump shifts the conversation and responsibility from the pharmaceutical industry to drug dealers. According to a breakdown report from Vice News “Trump unveils plan to end opioid crisis with an ad campaign”, President Trump says “If we don’t get tough on drug dealers, we’re wasting our time… and that toughness includes the death penalty. Some of these drug dealers will kill thousands of people, thousands of people, and destroy many more lives than that.” Although, giving drug dealers the death penalty sounds like a viable solution to President Trump, that would not fix the solution.
Since in a report by the Vox “Want to understand how big pharma helped create the opioid epidemic?” and Annual Review of Public Health’s “The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Public Health Approach to an Epidemic of Addiction”, it mentions that the increase sales of opioids has a direct correlation to the opioid overdoses and drug treatment admissions. This is a clear example of Donald Trump trying to mislead his audience into believing that opioid crisis is a result of drug dealers rather than pharmaceutical companies. However, this is not the first time the American public has been misinformed about opioids and certainly not its first epidemic.
America’s first opioid epidemic crisis can be traced back to the late nineteenth century and there were many underlying reasons that caused it. According to the Smithsonian’s “How Advertising Shaped the First Opioid Epidemic”, since regulations then were relatively loose, the use of morphine was generously used to treat all sorts of ailments from wounds inflicted from war, constipation to menstrual cramps. In the report David Courtwright, a historian of drug use and policy at the University of North Florida, says that middle aged white women from the upper or middle class had the most rates of addictions since they were kind of audience that seeked doctors with the latest tools. Once the pharmaceutical industry took notice, they became to marketed it to doctors via advertisement in medical journals, pamphlets and other various papers. Due to the influence from pharmaceutical companies physicians were prescribing morphine for just about any illness. Ultimately, by the late 1890s, there were about 150,000 “medical addicts”, “those addicted through morphine or some other prescribed opiate rather than through recreational use such as smoking opium” or in other words about 1 in 200 Americans were addicts.
However, since pharmaceutical companies did not market their message or product to patient but rather physicians they were not ultimately seen as responsible for the opioid crisis, which is one drastic way in which both opioids epidemic differ since today pharmaceutical companies tend to use direct to consumer strategies whenever possible. Luckily, around the height of it, physicians noticed severity of the opioid epidemic slowly started to limit the overuse of opiates. One of the reasons for this was doctors gained more knowledge on the side effects and there was also introduction of more technology in the field. This is another aspect in which both epidemic vary because it was unclear if physicians knew that they were misinforming patients since they did not have the proper tools to properly diagnosed patients. They also had limit choices in medication. While doctors and physicians today have seemingly an abundance of tools and resources today, therefore should not really need to prescribe such a strong painkillers. However, no matter how both epidemic differ one thing that is true is that they were both caused by over prescribing painkillers.

Case 2: Political Lobbying
Another form of propaganda that is utilized by large pharmaceutical corporations is lobbying with government officials. It is no secret that pharmaceutical companies donate large amounts of money to government officials in order to keep things quiet, or lobby for what benefits the company. According to the United State Senate’s Office of Public Records, various pharmaceutical research and manufacturing companies have donated over $2.5 Billions dollars to lobby with, and fund various members of Congress. In addition, a staggering 9 out of 10 members of the House of Representatives, and all but three of the United States’ 100 senators have taken some form of donation from a pharmaceutical corporation. These companies contribute to various political campaigns, seeking to affect votes on legislation. These votes, coming from appointed officials in the United States, are being swung by massive pharmaceutical corporations.
These large pharmaceutical corporations lobby with political figures in order to keep their drug prices high, and maintain or gain as much profit as possible. For example, President George W. Bush created the Federal Prescription Drug program for seniors in 2003. Various companies involved in the pharmaceutical industry spent over $116 million lobbying with politicians to ban Medicare from negotiating better prices for the drugs (Durden, 2003). It is estimated that $90 billion a year could have been saved on prescriptions, had this been allowed.
In regards to the opioid crisis, lobbying from pharmaceutical companies really influenced the extent of epidemic. According the Guardian’s “How Big Pharma’s Money and its Politicians feed the US opioid crisis”, Chris McGreal writes “pharmaceutical industry poured resources into attempting to place blame for the crisis on the millions who have became addicted instead of on the mass prescribing of powerful opioids”, in other words completely attacking their opponents instead of admitting guilt. In addition, McGreal further elaborates on how pharmaceutical companies then try to evoke sympathy for their cause by reminding how many people who actually need it for chronic pain will be deprived. Although pharmaceutical companies do pay millions to government officials, lobbyists still tend to use basic forms of propaganda to get their audience on their side.

Bernays, E. L. (2005). Propaganda. New York: Ig.
Kelvey, J. (2018, April 03). How Advertising Shaped the First Opioid Epidemic.
Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-advertising-shaped-first-opioid-epidemic-180968444/
Lopez, G. (2018, February 12). The maker of OxyContin will finally stop marketing the
addictive opioid to doctors. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/2/12/16998122/opioid-crisis-oxycontin-purdue-advertising
McGreal, C. (2017, October 19). How big pharma’s money – and its politicians – feed
the US opioid crisis. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/19/big-pharma-money-lobbying-us-opioid-crisis
PROPAGANDA AND ITS TECHNIQUES. (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2018, from
Silva, C. (2018, March 19). Trump unveils plan to end opioid crisis with an ad campaign.
Retrieved from https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/vbxgpb/trump-unveils-plan-to-end-opioid-crisis-with-an-ad-campaign
Trickey, E. (2018, January 04). Inside the Story of America’s 19th-Century Opiate
Addiction. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/inside-story-americas-19th-century-opiate-addiction-180967673/

LEAP – Six Aspects of Propaganda in daily life


Being able to see multiple forms of media just through your phone can be great, but also a great burden at times. With news reports, comes fake news reports. With breaking stories, comes false alarms. With propaganda seemingly covering almost every aspect of our lives, it is interesting to break it down into six different areas. These six areas – Advertising, Entertainment, Government and Politics, Journalism and Public Relations, Advocacy, and Education – each come with specific forms of propaganda.


Advertising – My hometown of Midland, Michigan is the home of the World Headquarters for Fortune 500 Company, Dow Chemical. As a chemical development company, the environmental effects throughout the history of Dow Chemical have been well described. Dow does have products that are not chemicals, but as the base of the company, that is typically what they are known for. Currently, Dow Chemical is a sponsor of the US Olympic Team.


So far, I’ve seen multiple advertisements created by Dow promoting the “Green initiative”. This is clearly an attempt to change the public’s opinion on a company that has been known for their harsh environmental impact in the past.

Entertainment – Due to the large and unusual amount of political ties this past season, the National Football League has been in the public eye even more so than usual. The NFL is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, bringing in an estimated $14 billion dollars in 2017 (Forbes). Many of the players are using their platform to promote equality and other topics, even going against some of the most powerful people in the world. While the NFL itself will typically shy away from any sort of political involvement, the owners of these teams have been able to use their voice in any form that they please. Outspoken Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, said in a statement in October of 2017, “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. Understand? We will not… if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period”. (ESPN).

Government and Politics – One word – Twitter. The link between Twitter and Politics seems to be engraved in stone now. Checking your Twitter timeline at any point of the day, you’re almost guaranteed to see some form of political propaganda. Whether that comes from President Trump’s verified twitter account, a Fox News or CNN Analyst, or one of your friends trying to prove a point behind a keyboard, you’re bound to see some form of propaganda. Sure, you can consider some of this to be good propaganda, but the more publicized tweets are of the harmful variety.

Journalism – The Journalism and Public Relations aspect can be linked directly to the Government section. Imagine being in the Public Relations group in charge of cleaning up the mess for a person of political power in the day of Social Media?! It seems like it would be a never ending job, cleaning up what someone meant when calling one of the world’s most powerful men “Rocket Man”, or simply just talking about a politician’s day to day life. There seems to be no end to this.

Advocacy – Advocacy is an interesting section, and it is tough to make the differentiation between the good outcomes of advocacy, and the harmful effects of propaganda. For example, in our text, there was an example of Bernays and his attempts to build revenue for the Tobacco business. Bernays came up with a plan to have more women smoke, by having women march in a parade while smoking. Bernays worked with The American Tobacco Company on this project. His plan was to promote tobacco as a way to stay thin, targeting women by having thin, fashionable women being shown smoking cigarettes. Typically, the term “advocacy” has a reputation of doing something good, but Bernays has shown that advocacy can do the exact opposite. .

Education – The liberal arts college that my girlfriend attends, Connecticut College, had a courses syllabus go viral. In an intro to economics class, which is already political, the professor warned students about his political beliefs. These types of warnings are not uncommon in classes like this. However, the professor crossed the line in to propaganda by stating that “Moreover, I think our current President is mentally ill, a pathological liar, and a very dangerous aspiring dictator; a pathetic racist too.” The professor then goes on to state that if your views disagree with his, it may be beneficial to take that course with a different professor. As explained in our text, this would be considered to be harmful propaganda, especially in a learning environment where being open minded and having the ability to speak freely is encouraged.





Bernays, E. (2010). Propaganda. Barcelona: Melusina.

ESPN. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will bench any player who disrespects flag. October, 2017.

Forbes. NFL Revenue Report, 2017.


Bernays Propaganda

2. Without these invisible rulers, he states that American’s could vote for hundreds of candidates for a position such as the presidency. This would lead to mass confusion, as there may end up being no clear winner, and a largely divided opinion on who is in charge (as if there isn’t already). “…the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.” (P. 10). The creation of political parties, such as the republicans and democrats, created a much more simple way, and more decisive way to find a person of power that a larger group could agree on.

4. The author clearly states that he believes that woman follow a sorority like following, in which woman follow a singular leader in terms of a fashion sense. In modern times, this could be seen as individuals looking up to figures such as the Kardashian’s, and buying items that they promote. While the author only really relates this to women, it clearly relates to men as well. For example, athletes may wear a specific brand of shoe or protective gear because one of their favorite athletes promotes that product.

  1.  “A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable.” P 61. Its actually crazy to read this coming from a book from the 1920’s, as this statement is probably much more true today than it was in 1920. Since the means of production and supply chain management are much better than they were nearly a hundred years ago, along with the heightened abilities of advertising, it is important to catch the attention of the consumer when there are so many options available.

9. The author believes that propaganda is actually necessary for our society to function on an economical level. He states “In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.” P 11. Essentially, propaganda creates a much more simple way of consumerism, by promoting products among a large amount of society that will narrow choices down to what the consumers think are the best options. This creates an aspect of democracy within the economy as a capitalist society. Products and services that are seen as “the best” among a large group of people will become successful, and propaganda has a great influence on this.

  1.  In general, my attitude towards propaganda has changed durastically. Prior to the start of this course, I made the assumption that propaganda was generally left for political positioning and promotion of political ideas. Now, I have begun to realize that propaganda surrounds us on a daily scale.