Propaganda wars versus truth in the public interest

In the Business section of the New York Times on August 28, 2012, EDUARDO PORTER opens an article, Unleashing the Campaign Contributions of Corporations” with this statement:

Way back in February of this year, more than two-thirds of Californians believed raising more money from tobacco companies to finance cancer research was a good idea. That was before industry money kicked in.  In just over three months, opponents spent $41 million to defeat the initiative — a proposition to levy an extra $1 on the sale of a pack of cigarettes — five times what its supporters spent. On June 5, it was defeated by 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.Similar forces in the next couple of months could shape the November elections. All the funds raised for the presidential and Congressional races so far pale in comparison to the money expected to rush in after the party conventions this week and next.

This is what we all fear:  that the few who have money will control the media and other outlets of public information so they can persuade the public to think about issues their way — enabling them to benefit even if it is not in the public interest.  Some people in our society seem to have so much money they can spend profligately.
A genuine public discourse about vital issues doesn’t exist in this society.  What does exist is propaganda — lies and half-truths that are spouted by various groups and industries in their own interest.  Is a meaningful discussion about vital issues possible in this society?  I wonder.  So far, it isn’t happening.  And as long as those who have the where-with-all to dominate the propaganda wars the public is likely to be led into commitments that are quite unreasonable, unrealistic.  Train wreck is inevitable. 
Has it always been this way — that our societies are formed around fantasies invented by certain economic and political interest groups, with little relevance to the actual world they claim to deal with?   If so, take it as evidence that a kind God exists who for reasons unknown has favored this country, despite the follies of ignorant leaders.  

But if such ways of life continue, we are done for.  Already an abyss looms ahead, real and imminent.