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WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
There were two wars going on in Iraq - one was fought with armies of soldiers, bombs and a fearsome military force. The other was fought alongside it with cameras, satellites, armies of journalists and propaganda techniques. One war was rationalized as an
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Mass media, now owned by large and conservative conglomerates avoided the anti-war stories, to the point of refusing to run commercials for people who were opposed to the war. Anti-war demonstrations received marginal coverage, at best. When Phil Donahue had opposed the war, and said so publicly on his show, the network cancelled his top-rated show. His replacement? Michael Savage who lasted less than four months with ratings in the cellar. Clearly, this "liberally-biased" media did not want to rock the conservative boat.
The administration's genius turned out to be first orienting and outfitting reporters with kevlar helmets and vests, and showing them how to use gas masks for chemical attacks that would never come. This gave the media the feeling that Iraq was an enemy.
The embedding process was sheer administration genius. By placing reporters with our soldiers and marines, they identified with them to the point that their stories had lost all objectivity, and they had been reduced to a micro view of the war.
While some may complain that this production is biased, that is what the producer's slant is. It is also what he is already describing. The bias was in the media being duped by the administration and losing their objectivity in reporting the war.
Any criticism this DVD may receive, the facts are irrefutable. All these things happened. Schecter simply compiles these facts and presents them in a logical and presentable fashion.
This is recommended viewing.
He looks also at the Arab media, their perceptions, and how they broadcast death and suffering (strangely, prior to 9/11 Al Jazeera, that now famous network all Americans have heard of, was considered a tool of Israel and Washington by much of the Arab world)
A great and very informative look at the backroom dealing, wheeling, and waiting the media is forced to endure, the news conferences and release of military information in encapsulated sound bites of often meaningless double speak, and the rarity with which any hard questioning occurs of governmental decision making by major media outlets (disregarding FOX, of course) and in regards especially to the war ongoing in Iraq. A very informative look at how the media conducts its day to day business and how the Bush administration is essentially also engaged in an 'information war'.
The media turned the war into a "militainment." Bottom line, the news networks stood to make mass bucks by covering the war, by playing it up in red, white and blue sets, and playing on the public's need to escape from the usual TV fare. Exciting graphics were designed by people who worked in the computer game industry. Curiously the rule, "if it bleeds, it leads" was suspended because there was way, way too much gore to show the public, especially while they were eating dinner; and anyway it would not serve the purposes of the administration to show all those dead and dying Iraqis (especially the children) smeared with blood and gaping wounds, nor ironically would it serve to show the maimed American troops. In fact, it would be considered down right unpatriotic to do so. (You'll recall the flap over photos of flag-covered coffins of dead American soldiers.) The war had to be sanitized and made palpable. Consequently what prevailed was "best bomb" footage showing really awesome explosions--buildings blown to bits, cars flying into the air as Rumsfeld enthused over "shock and awe." The fact that the shock and awe resulted in human casualties was very much beside the point. As has been said, "In war the first casualty is truth."
The tactic of "embedding" reporters with the military was a stroke of genius by the Bush administration because it ensured one-sided and biased reporting on the war. Being embedded (not precisely to say "in bed with") the young, idealistic American soldiers for weeks at time, being supported and protected by those soldiers and sharing their experiences forced the reporters to identify with the soldiers and to assume a similar point of view. As the documentary points out there was also some "Stockholm syndrome" psychology at work.
Sadly, the media swallowed the administration's disinformation about the never-found weapons of mass destruction without noticing that the primary justification for the war was a sham. There was also no link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden hated the B'athist regime of Saddam Hussein almost as much as he hates Israel and the United States since Saddam Hussein is about as Islamic as say Rupert Murdoch. And of course Saddam Hussein had no use for bin Laden since he would be uncontrollable and dangerous to his regime. So that rationale was also a sham. The idea that we would be doing the people of Iraq a favor by getting rid of Saddam Hussein was also a sham because (1) any invasion would bring more misery to the people than the continued presence of Hussein; and (2) the Iraqis would rather be ruled by a dictator than be occupied by a foreign power (which is the case for practically any country in the world, including our own).
And finally the idea that by invading Iraq we would be fighting the war on terrorism (which became the administration's johnny come lately justification for the war) is not only a sham and a lie, but is actually counterproductive. The invasion of Iraq has been a setback in the war on terrorism, and actually a diversion from it. It could be argued that Bush invaded Iraq because after the invasion of Afghanistan he had no plan to go after Al Qaeda and so created a diversion--a very costly and stupid diversion.
The mainstream media failed not only as news sources, but editorially, and as news analysts. Like Bush and the neocons in the White House, the news media failed to look beyond "best bombs" and "shock and awe" and "mission accomplished" to the aftermath. The media also failed to educate the public on just how absurd the idea is that you can force democracy onto a mostly Islamic country, especially a country artificially formed from such diverse elements as the Shi'a, the Sunni and the Kurds. Furthermore, because the Shi'a are in the majority, even if a democracy is formed, it may be voted out with an Iranian style theocracy the likely result--not exactly what the White House had in mind. Another likely result is another dictatorship following a bloody civil war.
Director Danny Schechter also points to how the press was controlled and manipulated during White House press conferences. Any reporter who asked a tough question of the press secretary or the president would not be called upon again. In order words, the press conferences were (and largely still are) propaganda opportunities for the Bush administration.
It should never be forgotten that however mainstream or "liberal" or enlightened the individual reporter may or may not be, it doesn't matter because the media is controlled by conglomerate interests (think Rupert Murdoch) that own the stations, magazines and newspapers, and those guys are conservative and want support for their man in the White House, and they will not long tolerate anything else.
Question: with the consolidation of media into fewer and fewer hands, are we witnessing the beginning of the death of a free press in the United States?