Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) is a multi award-winning documentary film that explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, a linguist, intellectual, and political activist. Created by two Canadian independent filmmakers, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, it expands on the ideas of Chomsky’s earlier book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which he co-wrote with Edward S. Herman.
The film presents and illustrates Chomsky’s and Herman’s propaganda model, the thesis that corporate media, as profit-driven institutions, tend to serve and further the agendas of the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society. A centerpiece of the film is a long examination into the history of The New York Times’ coverage of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, which Chomsky says exemplifies the media’s unwillingness to criticize an ally of the elite.
Until the release of The Corporation (2003), made by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan, it was the most successful documentary in Canadian history, playing theatrically in over 300 cities around the world; winning 22 awards; appearing in more than 50 international film festivals; and being broadcast in over 30 markets. It has also been translated into a dozen languages.
Chomsky’s response to the film was mixed; in a published conversation with Achbar and several activists, he stated that film simply doesn’t communicate his message, leading people to believe that he is the leader of some movement that they should join. In the same conversation, he criticizes The New York Times review of the film, which mistakes his message for being a call for voter organizing rather than media critique