Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Media Collaboration

I'm getting FAIRly frustrated.

The piece I wrote below about The Per-Kee Kay-teee Couric made me realize something: there is no mass media journalism anymore.

I mean, you know how you know something, but until you're truly reminded of it (you miss your dead cat one day, because it's a bright spring day and a butterfly lands on your knee), you don't really notice it. You've been hangin by your thumbs for months, years, even decades, and you only notice that your thumbs ache a bit.

Take Iraq. I happened to catch (on FreeSpeechTV, and oh, by the way, did you order your DISH yet?) "Weapons of Mass Deception," report by former ABC News producer Danny Schecter about the failures of the mass media, television in particular, to cover the Iraq war honestly. How was the Bush administration able to co-opt the four major networks (along with the major print media, radio networks, and for the most part, the worldwide press) into spinning the story of the Iraq invasion their way?

Schecter shows some interesting facets: embedding, for one thing. What reporter in his/her right mind will criticize the very soldiers who are protecting him/her? Or fear-mongering, where the Army "trained" embedded reporters in the art of putting on a gas mask and injecting themselves with anti-toxins, all for the "WMDs" they were sure to be hit with.

The Pentagon provided the networks with cool graphics and animations of how missiles did their jobs and provided analysts, former generals, who drew on maps of Iraq like football analysts draw on Telestrators: "See, here, Dan, the Third Army knifes off-tackle, I mean, behind the Fifth Cavalry, and *BAM!* take out Tikrit and sack the quarterback...." In fact, there's a cut of a Fox News commentator talking about the "MOAB" (Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but colloquially known as the Mother Of All Bombs) as if it was the ace kicker to an inside straight in Texas Hold 'Em!

A study done by FAIR showed that, of some three thousand journalists, panelist, and analysts to appear on news shows in the run-up and first days of the Iraq invasion, only eight, count 'em, eight, opposed the war.

If this war rang hollow (I know it did to me) from the first days, when we savagely, brutally attacked people who had not even made aggressive moves against our country (OK, maybe they fired a cap pistol or two at planes patrolling the "No Fly Zone"...), there's why: we were SO certain we were right, what with the Al Qaeda connection (debunked), the Weapons of Mass Destruction (debunked), the "45 minutes to nuking New York City" (laughable AND debunked), that we failed to even consider the alternative. Hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, dead because they happened to live in a country whose leader our President for some bizarre rationalization, didn't like very much.

I'm not defending Saddam Hussein. The man was a butcher and yea, the world might eventually get to be a better place without him in power. But there are tyrants all over the world. Why him? Because he was conveniently located near the Middle East? Then why not another member of that "Axis Of Evil," Iran, which HAD captured and held Americans hostage, thus proving that indeed, they could be a threat?

Tyrants in the Middle East fomenting Islamist anger? If not Iran, why not Dubai and the Arab Emirates? Or for that matter, Saudi Arabia?

Or hell, if you make the case this is about sustaining cheap oil (a real success that one was, if you buy that theory), then why Iraq at all, when you have the Saudis right there, and if not them, there's always Kuwait?

(Note: I'm aware of the interplay between the House of Saud and the House of Bush, but I'd make the case that, eventually, that's going to play itself out, and that an exit strategy has been formulated by both families already. And I wouldn't bet against a family that has ties to Hitler in its past.)

The sham reasoning, the weak excuses, and the poor management of the news divisions all combined to convince most Americans of the rightness of the cause. And they were all wrong.

Oh, I guess I should mention there were a few outlets and media folk that didn't buy into the story wholesale.

Which only makes the failure of the rest of the media that much more disgusting.

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