The New York Times has called Chomsky “the most important intellectual alive today.” He is most noted for revolutionizing the scientific study of language by introducing a theory that explains the creative and innovative nature of language. Often an outspoken critic of government policy, Chomsky has argued that as in fully censored societies the American media manipulate the population, whom he has called the “bewildered herd.” By suppressing information, selectively choosing topics, distorting political discussion, by portraying the United States as an innocent and benevolent bystander in world affairs, and by misrepresenting foreign policies, the media have prevented people from fully understanding and dealing with the “real” problems. Further, he has charged that the media perpetuate the power of the rich and sanction inequalities, oppression, and violence in American society. Rather than calling this mind-control censorship, Chomsky has called it manufacturing of consent, manipulation, and diversion of the masses, and collusion between the government and the media.
Chomsky has explained his own virtual exile from, and marginal status in, American mainstream media as part of the conspiracy to deride him as anti-American, Marxist, and a conspiracy theorist. Internationally, however, he is considered one of the world’s most brilliant intellectuals. Chomsky does not deny that the United States is an open society giving its citizens the freedom to criticize and challenge and free access to massive amounts of information. However, the public relies on mainstream news for information which has been constructed to practice ideological control. Chomsky claims that overt censorship might not exist in the United States but “the results remain much the same as if there were censorship.”