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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 7, 2011
Both DiMaggio and I are aficionados of Noam Chomsky, especially as Chomsky relates to the reason why the United States government goes to war. This text is a MUST read for the journalists and news anchors in American media who simply regurgitate the talking points of the U.S. federal government pertaining to the reasons why the United States goes to war (ex: to promote democracy or to prevent genocide).

Below, I have provided an outline of the material covered in the text:

CHAPTER 1: Withdrawal Pains: Iraq and the Politics of Media Deference

Socialization in U.S. journalism schools
Journalism students are being taught to think within right-left paradigm [i.e. "bipartisan framing"]

In short, journalists in U.S. journalism schools are taught to provide a balanced point of view from the American Right and Left yet do not cover the issues outside of the right-left paradigm.

CHAPTER 2: There Are No Protesters Here: Media Marginalization and the Antiwar Movement

According to DiMaggio, the U.S. media treat anti-war protesters by (1) marginalizing the protesters [p.66], by not mentioning their substantive claims [p. 68], and by focusing on the small number of violent protesters to communicate how extreme all anti-war protesters must be.

According to DiMaggio, the U.S. media play a procedural role in criticizing the War in Iraq rather than a substantive one.

Procedural role [framing of issue in procedural terms]
- Not enough troops in Iraq
- Military is running a bad war strategy

* In short, SUBSTANTIVE criticisms like {see below} are not even mentioned:
- U.S. should not be in Iraq.
- U.S. government acted unjustly in invading Iraq (ex: violation of international law)

CHAPTER 3: Worthy and Unworthy Victims: The Politicization of Genocide and Human Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy

DiMaggio's findings pertaining to U.S. media's coverage (or lack of coverage) of genocide/other atrocities around the world:

Author writes: "Reporters and editors prioritize U.S. strategic objectives at the expense of human rights concerns" [p. 84]

Media would criticize atrocities perpetrated by nations that are not U.S. allies.
- Serbian ethnic cleansing against the Bosnian people during 1990s

Media would defend (or at least not criticize) atrocities by nations that are U.S. allies.
- Turkey against Armenians after WWI
- Turkey against the Turkish Kurds during 2000s [i.e. Media claims that Turkish Kurds are terrorists and deserve to be killed by the victims who are the Turkish military forces].

* Genocide and terrorism are terms the U.S. media only uses against enemy nations who murder their people - not allied nations who murder their people. [p. 97]

DiMaggio believes all genocidal acts should be condemned because atrocity is atrocity regardless of who commits it [p. 100]. DiMaggio writes: "a genuine concern with social justice requires a consistent condemnation of terror, regardless of whether it is pursued by U.S. enemies of allies."

CHAPTER 4: Journalistic Norms and Propaganda: Iraq and the War on Terror

Chapter discusses the military elite's effort/attempts to control the media.

Journalists never question official motives for U.S. going to war:
- Journalists are committed to altruistic democracy.
- Journalists are committed to capitalism.

According to DiMaggio, media companies believe it is important to gain access to high-level official, yet DiMaggio finds this problematic because media companies believe these officials legitimate their news programs and bring more viewers. Therefore, so as not to piss off officials, journalists do not hold the officials' feet to the fire (i.e. do not question the legitimacy of the government officials' statements)[p. 122]

Ex: Media did not challenge/question Bush Administration claims that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

To Summarize: Most media propaganda is not the result of actual government repression of media [i.e. "if you print this, we will fire or imprison you"]. Instead, media members do not want to question bipartisan propaganda because breaking from the norm of bipartisan propaganda [i.e. being willing to be progressive] leads to: [p. 130]

1. Not fitting in with colleagues who fit the model [rubbing against the socialization progress] and thus not receiving large audiences

2. Not receiving the top U.S. government officials as guests, which then delegitimizes their programs in the eyes of most viewers
* because to brainwashed public, government guests = truth (i.e. since government would not lie - haha)

As DiMaggio summarizes: "Reporter take as an objective truth that the United States is a benevolent superpower, committed to promoting human rights, reducing poverty, and protecting global democracy. Debate may be pursued over how best to pursue these goals, but not over whether the United States is committed to them." [pp. 130-131]

CHAPTER 5: Iran, Nuclear Weapons, and the Politics of Fear

In terms of a potential U.S. military conflict with Iran, the U.S. media have behaved/responded by the following:

1. U.S. media has take the U.S. government's claim that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons without much dissent - without seriously questioning the claim [Ex: This is just how U.S. media acted when Bush claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.]

2. U.S. media has not seriously questioned the motivations for military conflict with Iran but instead simply regurgitates the Bush Administrations' reason (i.e. of preventing a nuclear Iran). [Ex: This is how U.S media acted when Bush claimed U.S. must invade Iraq to make world safe.]

3. U.S. media has not discussed whether the U.S. "retains the right to" invade Iran [p. 142] [Ex: This is just how U.S. media acted when Bush Administration wanted to invade Iraq.]

4. U.S. media received much of its information pertaining to Iran from U.S. Officials and nearly all of its information from only U.S. sources (i.e. rather than foreign ones). [p. 147] [Ex: This is just how U.S. media acted before and during Iraq War.]

5. U.S. media is concerned that U.S. military might not be able to succeed militarily in Iran.^ [Ex: This is just how U.S. media acted after Bush invaded Iraq.]

^ "[Media] criticisms are not intended to question the right of the United States to attack sovereign nations, but merely the feasibility of such attacks." [p. 145]

*In short, U.S. media has treated Bush Administration's claims about Iran in nearly an identical manner to how they treated Bush Administrations' claims about Iraq. [p. 146]

According to DiMaggio, the relationship between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.S. and some British media is characterized by the following: [p. 160-161]

1. Media does not trust the IAEA or its leader, Mohammad ElBaradei and view the IAEA as an agency that should demand that Iran stop all its nuclear activity.

2. Media does not trust the IAEA conclusions that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.

CHAPTER 6: Media, Globalization, and Violence: Views from around the World


U.S. government's interest in Iraq [and the Middle East, in general] since WWII has been economic.

Dick Cheney said: "With two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest costs [the Middle East] is still where the prize ultimately lies." [p. 180]

"Countries cover the Iraq war according to their level of political and economic involvement in the conflict and their closeness to countries that are or were heavily involved." [p. 190]

"Wealthy countries that benefit the most from global capitalist expansion and are most directly involved in U.S. occupation of Iraq retain a strong incentive to defend these ventures in their media's commentary. In contrast, poorer countries that are more skeptical of privatization and U.S. neocolonial policies express criticism far more frequently and vociferously in their national media." [p. 204]

The media that are the most most hostile (and cynical) of the U.S.'s reasons for invading Iraq are media in:

1. Poor countries that reside outside the core of the capitalist order [p. 166]
2. Countries that are not involved in the occupation

CHAPTER 7: Public Rationality, Political Elitism, and Opposition to War

"The more citizens know about politics and public affairs, the more firmly they are wedded to elite and media perspectives on foreign policy issues." [p. 210] *

*My Note: I am not certain if this holds true after a particular point. Individuals like DiMaggio probably know more about politics that 99.99 percent of the U.S. population. Therefore, after a point, one does begin to question the rationale/views of U.S. government officials.

Why: Because highly educated are intelligent enough to understand the arguments presented by political leaders but not intelligent enough to point out the limitations/complications of the arguments [Ex: Domino theory leading to Vietnam War]

Because those who are poorly educated and those who do not care at all about politics will not even listen to the arguments made by the political leaders

According to DiMaggio, the following are some of the forces that led the U.S. public to shift its opinion of the Iraq War from positive to negative:

Observing the actually situation in Iraq [p. 213-214]
- Very little electric power
- Not enough food
- Not enough clean water
- 1,000,000 dead Iraqis
- Through witnessing Iraq descend into civil war

Implications to the United States
- War too costly
- Military casualties too high
- War not winnable
- War is immoral/fundamentally wrong
- Thousands of dead U.S. soldiers

Author's research suggests that the three most common reasons were: [p. 218]
1. The occupation was too costly in the midst of economic meltdown and recession
2. Military casualties were unacceptably high
3. The conflict was not winnable

CHAPTER 8: Media Effects on Public Opinion: Propaganda, Indoctrination, and Mass Resistance

Chapter examines:
1. How education influences individuals' opinions of war
2. How attention to politics influences individuals' opinions of war
3. How consumption of media influences individuals' opinions of war

DiMaggio provides examples in order to argue that what people sees on TV influence their opinions and viewpoints, especially in the short term:

People who paid attention to Bush's rhetoric in TV addresses were much more likely to support Bush's policies toward Iraq than those who did not watch his television addresses [p.247] *

* Yet, over time, especially after 2004, the public grew tired of Bush's rhetoric and promises which leads DiMaggio to conclude: "the effects on media and government propaganda are potentially powerful in the short term but limited over longer periods of time." [p. 255]

People who paid attention to TV-news-media claims about Iran's nuclear power programs were much more likely to view Iran as a threat to the U.S. than those who did not watch the U.S. media coverage [p. 249] ^

^ "Individuals who consume stories about Iran's nuclear program are more likely to perceive Iran as developing nuclear weapons and as a nuclear threat, when compared to those who do not follow Iran in the news." [p. 249]

CHAPTER 9: Propaganda, Celebrity Gossip, and the Decline of News

Question: What is one prominent means by which corporate business elites and their media `slaves' divert public attention away from political issues? [p. 267]

By relying heavily on celebrity news like Michael Jackson's death, which is also relatively inexpensive to produce [p. 271]

* Herman & Chomsky note: "Large corporate advertisers...will rarely sponsor programs that engage in serious criticisms of corporate activities, such as the problem of environmental degradation, the workings of the military-industrial complex, or corporate support of and benefits from Third World [pro-capitalist] tyrannies." [p. 267]

DiMaggio says: "To say that media corporations create apathetic audiences, and that such apathy serves their profit motives, is not a conspiracy. The goal of any corporation is to make as much money as possible, and this is increasingly done through top-down transmission of inexpensive fluff news." [p. 279]

DiMaggio responds to claims by Doris Graber and others that media is forced to run much celebrity news because this is what people want by claiming: "The public plays no active role in controlling the means of media production; it merely passively decides whether or not to consume a product that is created by media corporations"[p. 275]. Besides, celebrity news is very inexpensive to produce leading to greater corporate profits [p. 278].

According to DiMaggio, most of the world views the United States as the leading threat to world peace and stability. Most Americans are shocked by this because they do not receive news coverage of how many people in the world greatly distrust the motivations of the United States [p. 283]

DiMaggio explains that most Iraqis have negative views of the United States in Iraq because [pp. 285-287]

1. U.S. soldiers will not make Iraq safer [i.e. Most Iraqis trust their own people more than they trust U.S. soldiers]
2. Most Iraqis believe U.S. corporations want to make profit from Iraq's resources [i.e. U.S. business interests want Iraq wealth]

Postscript: Media Coverage in the Age of Obama

According to DiMagglio, the U.S. media responded to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's electoral victory over Mousavi by
assuming that Ahmadinejad must have rigged the election without providing any substantive evidence (i.e. only providing circumstantial, speculative evidence)[p. 293].

DiMaggio points out that the U.S. media's response was hypocritical because the U.S. engaged in very undemocratic election behavior in 2003 Iraqi election. [p. 298]

DiMagglio conclude his argument pertaining to the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan by writing that the U.S. media has not critically accessed [p. 304]:

1. U.S. motivations for continuing military intervention in Afghanistan.
2. Afghanistan's ability to meet U.S. demands based upon its fourth world status.
3. The probability that Al-Qaeda even remains in Afghanistan.
4. U.S. soldiers' frequent killings (whether intentional or not) of Afghani people. ^
5. That these killings of civilians are a violation of international law. [p. 305]

^Note: 94 % of deaths reportedly committed by the U.S. military were innocent civilians. [p. 305]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2010
Anthony DiMaggio teaches American Government and International Relations at Illinois State University. In this well-researched book, he aims to "examine how the U.S. media frame foreign policy in accord with the views of political officials. I demonstrate this point by examining media coverage of U.S. relations with Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan."

Chapters 1 and 2 examine U.S. and British media coverage of the question of withdrawal from Iraq. Chapter 3 asks whether the media cover human rights violations differently in allied and enemy states. Chapter 4 studies journalistic norms and practices. Chapter 5 examines U.S. and British media coverage of Iran and its civilian nuclear programme. Chapter 6 reviews reporting on Iraq across the world. Chapter 7 asks whether the public responds to changes in information about U.S. acts in Iraq. Chapter 8 looks at the media's effect on public attitudes towards war. Chapter 9 looks at propaganda, celebrity gossip and the decline of news. A postscript reviews media coverage during the Obama presidency.

DiMaggio examines Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's propaganda model. They alleged that the US media serve, and propagandise on behalf of, society's power holders. Its main features were: growing ownership concentration; advertising as its main source of revenue; reliance on government, business and approved `experts' for information and opinion; and anti-communism as the overriding ideology.

The media select topics, distribute concerns, frame issues, filter information, limit debate, `give little voice to civil society', and marginalise and demonise anti-war protestors. For example, The New York Times never mentioned any critics who called the war illegal, imperial, or as a war for oil.

The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 that there was `no evidence' that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme. 2007's National Intelligence Estimate, by 12 US intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The New York Times admitted in late 2003 that it had been wrong about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2002-03. But this did not stop it making the same mistake about Iran's WMD, as when it editorialised on 13 January 2006 that Iran has `no other plausible intent' than `to produce nuclear weapons'.

By October 2004, 75 per cent of Americans said that if Iraq did not have WMD, or back Al Qaida, then the USA should not have gone to war. By late 2004, most Americans opposed the war as not `worth it' and backed withdrawal. But The New York Times backed the war for another three years.

The author sums up, "an increasingly critical public set the conditions for eventual media opposition to war, rather then the other way round." He concludes, "Members of the mass public reject official spin when it conflicts with their own experiences."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2010
The media is more powerful than any point before in history. "When Media Goes to War: Hegemonic Discourse, Public Opinion, and the Limits of Dissent" discusses the media and its impact on the political opinions of he country, and in essence, its impact on the political direction of the country. Stating that much of today's news blurs the line between news and propaganda, he provides an intellectual and scholarly argument that is sure to make readers think when watching the news. "When Media Goes to War" is a solid addition to any social issues collection.
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on February 19, 2013
Much supporting data with vivid comparisons across the varied streams of consumer media will open your eyes to not only the expressions of propaganda, but also its roots. Yes, media is supported by major capitalistic movers and shakers, but it also serves political agendas. What are you being fed? Read the book and find out.
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