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People ‘very frightened’ to learn of Nazi-style propaganda online, says culture committee chair – Politics live

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Emma Briant, the lecturer who interviewed Nigel Oakes and Andy Wigmore and who supplied transcripts to the culture committee (see 9.42am), told the Today programme that she had not prompted Oakes or Wigmore to talk about the Nazis. She said:

I don’t bring up the Nazis in my interviews. That was completely off the cuff from them. I was really shocked that this came up in two of my interviews separately. It honestly, in the interview situation, hit me like a brick wall. And I found it quite hard to continue. I think the power of those words is conveyed by themselves … I honestly felt that I had a moral obligation, and also obligation to the public interest as an academic [to reveal what was said]. I can’t sit on evidence like this when such important revelations are coming out across the media.

The transcripts published by the Commons culture committee yesterday were from interviews conducted by Emma Briant, a lecturer at the University of Essex specialising in propaganda. The transcripts are here. And there are three essays Briant has submitted to the committee explaining the context.

Here are the key quotes.

Often, as you rightly say, it’s the things that resonate, sometimes to attack the other group and know that you are going to lose them is going to reinforce and resonate your group. Which is why, you know, Hitler, got to be very careful about saying so, must never probably say this, off the record, but of course Hitler attacked the Jews, because … He didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all, but the people didn’t like the Jews. So if the people … He could just use them to say … So he just leverage an artificial enemy. Well that’s exactly what Trump did. He leveraged a Muslim- I mean, you know, it’s – It was a real enemy. ISIS is a real, but how big a threat is ISIS really to America? Really, I mean, we are still talking about 9/11, well 9/11 is a long time ago.

The propaganda machine of the Nazis, for instance – you take away all the hideous horror and that kind of stuff – it was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did. In its pure marketing sense, you can see the logic of what they were saying, why they were saying it, and how they presented things, and the imagery. And that is propaganda. ISIS interestingly … And you know this, course you do. And looking at that now, in hindsight, having been on the sharp end of this campaign, you think: crikey, this is not new, and it’s just – it’s using the tools that you have at the time. I think 2016 was unique: I don’t think you could ever repeat it, and I don’t think you could ever repeat the techniques that people had used in 2016. It was of its time. And Twitter, and Facebook, were of its time for political campaigning. You could never repeat that.

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