Media Control is perhaps the best short introduction to Chomsky's thought on politics and propaganda around. Whereas books like 9-11 and "What Uncle Sam Really Wants" are choppy and prone to misunderstood interpretations by readers not already accustomed to Chomsky, Media Control is coherent, in depth and very easy and quick to read. The essay is from the time after the U.S. invasion of Iraq known as "Desert Storm" and traces the uses of propaganda and misinformation from that era back to the Wilson era and Walter Lippmann's theory of media control. Chomsky perhaps displays his dry wit in this short volume more than anywhere else, with his comparisson of the typical slogan "support our troops" to the absurd slogan "support the people in Iowa." What this makes clear, is the emptiness of the slogan. The question "do you support our troops?" cannot be answered with a "no" unless one is completely depraved. That question however masks the underlying question "do you support our policy?" which is something that elites in the govt. and media would prefer you not think about, because the answers would be more ambiguous and require real democratic discussion. The rulers and media heads would prefer to make those decisions for you, through what Lippmann dubbed "consent without consent". The mass media (now controlled largely by six major firms who all have holdings and enter into joint ventures with one another.) constrain debate on issues to within a moderate range, so of course most of the media will look to be at the "liberal" end of the allowed spectrum, but that only has the effect of cutting anything further to the "left" out of the discussion, so arguments many tend to go between something like the "hawks" who are for immediate war, unilaterally, and the "doves" largely represented in the media, who may tend to stand for "multi-lateralism" or waiting for more info. Thus, many who have other ideas on the subject are left out of mainstream debate, and thus seem to not exist. What we are left with is a host of false-dichotomies and debates that we don't even want to be in.
... Also, this new edition of Media Control is expanded to include transcript of a talk, previously printed in FAIR, which is a little thought experiment about how a journalist from Mars (which is what journalists who work with a critical edge are often treated like), who is highly trained at the best journalism schools in the U.S., would cover the "war on terrorism." It is interesting to read the current essay in light of the essay on the Iraq conflict ten years past. (and the new cover and print is much more attractive than the 1st edition).