One of the things I enjoy doing is analyzing propaganda and state media. It’s fascinating to learn how and why a regime will put out certain messages. If you know how, you can read the message plastered on the walls and come to know exactly what it’s really saying. When political leaders like Maduro or Kim Jong Un make statements regarding unity, it is out of concern of disunity. They emphasize and project strength in moments of instability. There’s a certain skill to reading between the lines while still being able to see the trees from the forest and avoiding the tinfoil. You need a certain level of skepticism and distrust, while also avoiding trapping yourself in your own echo chamber.
Propaganda today takes on a negative connotation. The original term referred to a dissemination of information, while today the meaning often invokes an image of dishonesty and misrepresentation. One great example of good propaganda is the art work of TEST’s Cymek on reddit. However, today we’ll be looking at some poorly done propaganda.
Aside from EN24 and CZ, TMC was the other major news outlet for Eve media. It was a unique project designed as the mouth piece for the CFC (now Imperium). Of course, great efforts were made to bring in people not associated with their coalition in order to present some kind of neutrality. Even so, throughout its existence, TMC has been used to sow discord among its enemies, such as when NCdot lost Tribute in 2012, or to report only the losses of enemies during B-R, and of course to promote the now infamous failure that was the Fountain War book kickstarter.
Influence came with TMC’s success, but also limitations. The Mittani used TMC not only as a platform for Eve, but also for advertising a number of other games, including H1Z1 and Hearthstone. Due to the Imperium’s monetary ties to such entities, their diplomat and CSM member Sion Kumitomo entered into a conflict of interests. The short version of the rule is that you cannot enter into business deals that may benefit other games while being privy to sensitive Eve material as a member of the CSM.
Thus TMC was replaced with the Imperium News Network, or INN. My theory is that it’s a combination of rebranding due to TMC initially being at least in part Endie’s idea, the former head of GSF intelligence, as well as trying to place a barrier between the money INN makes through game advertising and Mittani/Sion, allowing them to participate in the CSM. It is important to also remember that one of the main reasons stated for creating TMC was to be a hostile rival to EN24. I’m going to consider that that raison d’etre is still influential in their line of thinking, as is acting as an attack dog for any and all enemies the Imperium has. If you happen to be reading INN/TMC for the better part of the last year you’ll notice some common trends in narrative.
For example, according to them the Imperium only lost WWB because the MBC are a bunch of cheating RMTers funded by the money from child gambling addicts. No I’m not exaggerating; you can find Mittani saying as much in a May piece from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and an October article on Polygon.
Despite wanting to start his own gambling site, you can tell Mittani is very concerned about the well-being of children. Won’t anyone think of them? If you read actual news, you may know that within the last year there have been major moves against Internet gambling, primarily due to a Counter-Strike scandal. Rather than try to navigate the legal storms and complications that real world politics have created, CCP has opted to simply ban all the gambling. Pretty simple, right? Not in the Gooniesphere. Instead, this is often cited as proof that casinos were all involved in RMTing, thus incriminating the MBC as well: “We didn’t REALLY lose any war. The enemy simply cheated” goes the spin. Taking responsibility for one’s mistakes? No way. It’s everyone’s fault but our own!
I’m not one to completely deny the possibility of RMT. However, if you try to tie some casino banker’s supposed RMT practice with the MBC in order to incriminate them, you run into some issues. First off, casinos wouldn’t buy ISK, because casinos already make ISK. They would only sell ISK. And if casinos paid MBC in ISK to fight the Imperium, how would the “Dirty RMT ISK” ever get to them? The flow of the “Tainted ISK” would never reach MBC hands. I posed this question to a number of Imperium and INN affiliated people and nobody could actually come up with a reason. The best I got was someone claiming that none of that matters and that the casinos themselves were rigged for certain people to win. Color me surprised, there’s scamming in Eve?
But facts like that don’t matter. It’s the narrative that’s important and needs to be held up, and the Imperium coalition has descended into further and further ideological isolation. It’s natural for alliances to have their own perspectives on events. However, they’ve gone far beyond that. They exist in a parallel universe where it’s not WWB but “The Casino War.” Parallel terms are used that no one outside uses, all for the sake of narrative and propaganda. It’s very much a North Korea-style perception of reality, where the glorious leader doesn’t have a butthole for pooping because he’s a god. Looming conspiratorial entities exist all around, complete with key talking points and terms handed down from above such as “Dark money.” This isolation, coupled with a strong paranoid conviction of conspiratorial designs, severely skews their perspective.
NETC is one such group that has been in the sights of the Imperium and INN recently. This is a group headed up by Lenny and Chribba with the goal of placing neutral Fortizars and Keepstars throughout space for the purpose of easing logistics and trade. They rely on relationships with local entities for their protection. When NETC approached the Goons offering to ease logistics through Aridia, Mittani turned them down, and has since carried out a narrative of hostility against them. A slew of tinfoil ‘hattery’ has popped up on INN, implicating NETC in all kinds of conspiracies. However, much of it is making a mountain out of a molehill. The latest “Revelation” has been that a few former Co2 members used an NETC citadel to move some capital ships before leaving. Nothing’s ever really clearly stated. Instead, the writers touching upon the subject just sort of give a literary wink and a “Well you can imagine how awful this is” without ever stating specifics. It only really makes sense if you’ve been living in the echo chamber Gooniesphere of conspiracy and paranoia, furthering the same repeated narrative.
Naturally, Circle of Two, and by extension TEST alliance have also come into the speculative sights of INN. TEST is usually portrayed as a duped party, naïve yet well-meaning allies of the treacherous Co2. TEST are hard at work giving it their all for their friends, while Co2 is kicking it back stroking fat stacks of RMT dark money. The recent loss of Tribute is another “proof” for the Goons that Co2 were fools for leaving the Imperium, and that all this is bad karma for leaving the coalition. Maybe they would have a point if it was just Co2 leaving, but SMA, EXE, RZR and FCON also left the Imperium. Rather than considering some introspection and the possibility that the way the coalition ran was not the best, they’ve decided to project propagandist attacks instead. The current theme is trying to instigate drama between gigX and other people who INN members think are in leadership. “Oh haha Tribute was lost because of X and Y people being involved.” The people to blame varies and phrasing such as “Dark money casino war criminals” is unironically repeated again and again. Clearly there are still some very strong feelings involved.
I was thinking of just closing out the piece and letting it sit where it is but then I thought, hold on, I can do even better for my readers. I’m going to show four different articles from INN and place editorial site notes to reference as you read along. The identity of the author is completely irrelevant… However I’ve been advised to cite “Moomin Amatin” as the writer for legal reasons.
When propaganda is done poorly, as the four articles I reviewed, it relies on the baser, lower qualities of humanity; envy, anger, distrust. It sees the success and advancement of others and focuses its negative energies into attacking it through distortion and misrepresentation. When propaganda is done right, as in the case with TEST Alliance’s art, it can be charming and appealing. It inspires people and binds them with their own identity and culture. It’s clever and playful reminding the observer of the past while pointing toward the horizon of the future. When properly done it’s also very approachable. Everyone can relate to it. You don’t need to be in the “In group” in order to appreciate it. Best of all it can also draw admiration from opponents and endear them toward you. Pay attention to how each entity uses propaganda throughout this war. Do they use it to unite people or divide them? Does it rely on objectivity or the baser aspects of the human condition. Question everything, take nothing for granted.
Below are the articles cited for this work, if you wish to view the original pieces they can be found in the following links. Both INN and archived versions are available.
– INN: Co2 at the Crossroads
Archived version can be found here.
– INN: Tribute War Intensifies
rchived version can be found here.
Archived version can be found here.
Archived version can be found here.