With reports that President Joe Biden’s administration is planning for imposing a vaccine passport mandate in America, expect to see in the media a deluge of vaccine passport propaganda. What will that propaganda look like? A template illustrating several elements you can expect to see in the propaganda push was provided several weeks ago in a CNN interview.
In the first week of March, host Fareed Zakaria and his guest Arthur Caplan provided at CNN a textbook example of how to present vaccine passport propaganda to the American people. Let’s look at some of the major elements of the propaganda template as demonstrated by Zakaria and Caplan.
1) Include some short expression that the idea of vaccine passports can be troubling, but make sure to only bring this up superficially. This is accomplished in the CNN segment by starting with a clip from a short scene from the movie Casablanca. In the clip, a policeman asks to see a man’s “papers,” the man says he does not have them, and the policeman responds, “in that case we’ll have to ask you to come along.” Not shown is the remainder of the scene in which the accosted man, after presenting apparently expired papers, attempts to flee only to be gunned down. Not showing the full scene demonstrates the care demanded in the propaganda to not allow any depiction of potential dire consequences from imposing vaccine passports.
2) Frame the imposing of a vaccine passport mandate as something that is both inevitable and threatens only minimal, if any, harm. Zakaria accomplishes this task with the first sentence he utters to begin the media segment. Zakaria states: “From Casablanca to today, a demand to produce personal documents can be uncomfortable, but, post-pandemic, it’s something we’ll all likely have to get more and more comfortable with.” Masterfully, Zakaria, in addition to minimizing the problems with passports as just causing discomfort, asserts that even that discomfort with time will disappear, suggesting objecting to vaccine passports is just an irrational or silly reaction.
3) Bring on a guest who, despite his description making him sound like someone who would be looking out for the interests of people concerned about vaccine passports, pretty much says that vaccine passports are the best thing since sliced bread. In the CNN interview the guest performing this role is Arthur Caplan, who Zakaria introduces as a “medical ethicist” and “professor at NYU.” A medical ethicist will surely provide some warning about dangers from vaccine passports, right? Yes, in many cases. But, Caplan is not that sort of medical ethicists. He is the one picked to be interviewed in a media segment designed to promote acceptance of vaccine passports.