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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 05:46 am:   

The media coverage of the war situation is driving me crazy (and I'm a person who really wants to believe in the myth that great reporting will save us all). Here are three things I've observed about the coverage. I'd like to see what other people think on this subject.
1. All of the mainstream press, TV, and radio coverage appears to assume that war is a foregone conclusion. Why aren't the reporters questioning this? It seems that fewer and fewer reporters are doing anything besides just reporting as fact whatever an official says.
2. There's something extremely disconcerting about listening to an American reporter interviewing ordinary Iraqis in the street about what they think about the approach of war between the US and Iraq. Just a real disconnect for me here.
3. The only mainstream publication that seems to be doing the kind of reporting and questioning that ought to be done is (amazingly enough), the New Yorker. It's been publishing Seymour Hersh on both Afghanistan and Iraq for some time.
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 07:49 am:   

Our Rulers, especially the Republicans, have done an amazing job of vitiating journalism in the past fifteen years, from the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine to the media bans in Bush I to the practice of refusing to call at press conferences upon reporters with a history of criticizing the Administration. And now they're going to kill reporters in the war zone: <http://www.gulufuture.com/news/kate_adie030310.htm>. So it's a lot safer for a journalist to be no more than a stenographer.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 04:05 pm:   

I agree, but I think it tends to work more in the opposite direction. If you want power in America, and in the world, you don't go into politics (not directly) - you go into media. In other words, it's not that the media is being censored or controlled by the government or by the shadowy fixers who run the parties; it does it by itself, and largely for its own reasons. To wit: no advertiser wants his product associated with images of American bullets pulping bodies. Hence, no such images reach the screen. Extend the principle, and in no time you have an all-the-more-effective-for-being-unofficial ban on any disturbing information, including things like "the government may be doing evil things," or "people disagree about this war."
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 06:00 pm:   

That's what makes the New Yorker publishing Hersh's articles so interesting. The magazine is thick with upscale ads, but Hersh is writing very provocative articles. He is doing basic investigative reporting: getting the story behind the story.
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 07:18 pm:   

Hersh goes back to the day when the press and the broadcast media were considered a "public trust," as it were; and his enmity with the people who inhabit this administration didn't start with Perle's comparing him to a terrorist but goes back to 1969 --Powell couldn't have been happy with Sy's having broken the My Lai story. I don't see him as the only voice of opposition at the magazine: Hertzberg does a pretty good job in The New Yorker too; and they did a pretty devastating profile of Condi a while back (by Lehman? I forget). But Remnick, being pro-war and conservative in some other respects too, sets some limits for what can be said there, according to Art Spiegelman, who recently resigned from a high position in the magazine's art department. That makes Hersh's ability to get his work through even more amazing: a less established journalist, however good or idealistic, might not be allowed that opportunity.

Are there other voices in mainstream media who regularly and aggressively challenge the mendacity of the administration? One word: Paul Krugman. That still leaves the number pretty low.
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Luís
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 07:22 pm:   

Things happen the other way around with the media in Portugal. The more blood and scandal, the better, especially if it involves the government. Dissing the government is a time-honoured Portuguese tradition, and our elected leaders have been so incompetent that you'd have to be deafblind and autistic not to dislike them, really.

Best,
Luís
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 11:32 am:   

Foreign policy adviser Richard Perle called Hersh a terrorist, on Sunday, on national TV. This after he was lobbed a softball question about the article in the New Yorker. This is the type of shit that investigative journalists face in this country... Outright slander if they dare to say the Emperor had no clothes. (Full transcript at http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2003/03/10/hersh/index.html)

If Hersh hadn't been a respected 20 year veteran, he would never work for a major newspaper again... Oh wait... He ISN"T working for a major newspaper, He's writing for the New Yorker. The journalism Black List guarantees that only "journalists" who say and report the correct things get promoted, over even printed. Mass Media is simply a propaganda arm for corporate/political interests. It has as much credibility as did the state run soviet media during the cold war -- zero. I keep wondering how journalists with any kind of conscience can remain part of such an obviously corrupt institution... Do they REALLY believe that they are having an impact by working for change from inside? Personally, I think they are making things worse... Every time a square jawed news anchor repeats the latest Karl Rove talking points/propaganda, they add credibility to the lie.

Is war profitable? you bet. Is war good for ratings? You bet. Is the news media salivating at the prospect of brining "LIVE BREAKING NEWS FROM BAGDAD" every 15 minutes? Of course they are. Solution? They are irrelevant, so ignore them. Target the worst of them (faux news, etc) for advertiser boycotts, and simply tune out the rest. Use alternate forms of media. My two favorites are www.salon.com, and www.smirkingchimp.com. From there, you should be able to find many other sources of reliable, accurate news. Encourage everyone you know to do the same. Forward news articles from these sights and others via email to EVERYONE you know, not just the ones that agree with your political viewpoints. The more apolitical a person is, the more they should be targeted with mailings like these. When the deaf/dumb/blind/silent majority finally acknowledges the madness, it will stop.

Take part in any organized protest that happens in your town. As was shown by Feb 15th, even the propaganda rags can't IGNORE events when that many people participate. They may lie about the numbers... but they are, for the first time, talking about people who are against the policies of the bush regime. It's all about achieving and maintaining a critical mass that they can't ignore. And always remember. If you engage in the above activates, you probably will be labled a terrorist, or traitor, or worse. Don’t be intimidated. That’s what dirt bags like Richard Perle, John Ashcroft, and other members of the Bush Regime want.
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 11:55 am:   

I wonder if any of you have read Eric Alterman's recent book, whose title, unfortunately, I can't quite bring to mind right now. Alterman argues that the traditional conservative complaints against a liberal media are in fact fabrications deployed by conservative power brokers who largely know better. Alterman makes two main points: 1. The conservate viewpoint is not marginalized; in fact, a conservative viewpoint dominates TV and radio news shows, as well as the editorial page of many major newspapers. 2. The conservative viewpoint thus represented tends to be an extreme one; certainly far more extreme than anything coming from the Left, which is still troubled by issues of fairness and objectivity. Alterman also argues that the mainstream media have bought into the Right's critique, a 'problem' it has tried to correct by moving ever further to the right. It seems like this might go a long way toward explaining why there is such reluctance on the part of major news outlets to subject White House claims to rigorous examination.
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 12:06 pm:   

Alterman's book is called What Liberal Media?
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 12:19 pm:   

I have not read that book, but I have read numerous pieces that examine that issue. The "big lie" that "The Media has a liberal bias" was formulated back in the 70's, from conservative think tanks that also suggested getting rid of the "fairness doctrine", which happened under Ragen. The subversion of the U.S. media has been planned since before Watergate, as a response to the progressive successes of the 60's and early 70s. We are seeing the fruits of that campaign right now. Another great article about The White house press corps, and a recent "Press conference" at:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10547&mode=nested&order=0
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 01:42 pm:   

Jeremy,

Great article and an interesting site. Thanks for the link.

JT
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 03:16 pm:   

Alterman is kinda centrist: Norman Solomon's books present a more radical crtique of the U.S. press. Both guys make good points. Oh, here's some scary news: hoping to take advantage of the generous U.K. libel laws, Perle is now suing Hersh in Britain for that New Yorker article in which Hersh said that Perle stood to benefit financially from the Iraq war. Recall the chilling effect on the press effected by General Westmoreland's lawsuit against Time and CBS in the Eighties?
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 04:13 pm:   

thats great... can Hersh sue Perle for calling him a fucking terrorist on national television? Seems like libel to me. Was the show broadcast in Britan? If so, use those same generous Libel laws. Gawd that shit makes me angry.

-JL
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Timmi D.
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 01:23 pm:   

Commentary on media coverage of the first Gulf war in an article by Mark Poster published in Fall, 1991 is probably appropriate for talking about media coverage of this war, too.

"[T]he television image combines simulation with verisimilitude, irreality with intimacy. Comfortably ensconced in one's home, the viewer listens on a small pretty-colored screen to familiar figures who speak in reassuring tones. The TV, with its image, becomes a piece of furniture, friendly and familiar, if not part of the family itself, then a friend who visits frequently. The activity of watching television, repeated so often for so many years, is a habit that contributes to its reality effect. And the images themselves, so lifelike and convincing, so much like what the eye perceives, and therefore so authoritative, so easy to believe. Faces of Israelis and Saudis and Iraqis, detailed charts of military hardware, reports from overdecorated generals, from people with strange accents and from points all over the world, a barrage of images and information, packaged in easy-to-take portions, punctuated by commercial breaks where powerful fantasies flow by too quickly-- the world has truly been faxed, cabled, express-delivered.

"But then the screen flashes with `Scud' rockets exploding over Tel Aviv and one has a sense of deja vu: this is just like some Nintendo game one has seen one's nephew play. And then a week or two later, a deep voice intones something about an actual destruction of a military installation while the screen becomes a bomber's view of its target, with the hairlines homing in on some building, concluding with a flash on the screen. Another deja vu: the computer game of flight simulator and the air war in Iraq are much the same. The heightened realism of seeing the war from the bomb's point of view and the idle fantasy of a computer game merge into the same image. Or better, as television attempts to convince the viewer with absolute certainty of the efficacy of the air war, as it places him/her on the nose of the bomb and takes him/her on its flight to its target as if you the viewer, with Superman's fists, were smashing the enemy to bits, as, in other words, the information you are given is overwhelmingly convincing down to the last detail so that belief in the government's policy and the military's effectiveness is totally beyond doubt, just when you are taken to the place of impact, the intensifying rhetoric of realism implodes into the hyperrealism of computer games. After all, you really were not at the point of impact; the target on the screen did look like a building, but what sort of building? The voice-over called it a military target, but it could have been a school or a warehouse full of computer games. And of course there is no way to know when the footage on the screen was taped or filmed. It could have been made in a military training camp in North Carolina or in a Hollywood studio. The more television images attempt to convince the viewer of the reference to reality, the more the image itself becomes the reality. This is the simulation effect of television, its iron law that no general can dislodge from its rhetorical position."

Poster briefly discusses the US military's satisfaction with their "television strategy" (which included daily "briefings" of the public), & concludes, "The army's television show, with its daily segments of sorties and Patriot antimissile successes, with its sortie counts instead of body counts, has created a soap opera war where `information' is the leading character and support for the war is the discursive effect."

My personal solution is to avoid television coverage altogether & to seek out the company of people who haven't been taken in by the media's regime-supporting propaganda (company which is most easily found at anti-war protests).

Timmi
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 01:33 pm:   

Have you seen this?

http://dear_raed.blogspot.com/

A good rebuttal to the idiots saying the Iraqis welcome this.

Jeff V.
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 03:00 pm:   

Oh my god, they've taken Timmi's first initial.

Reading those excerpts from Poster's rather Baudrillardish article --which is an important reminder that we shouldn't walllow in nostalgia for an imagined pre-Fox News media ideal-- I couldn't help thinking that it's important as a description of the pilot's experience as well as the tv-viewer's. Indeed, the recent news story about a National Guardsman who changed his name to "Optimus Prime" before being shipped to the Gulf says a lot about how soldiers are conditioned to view such a war (or about what kind of conditioning militates for a person's becoming a soldier). Superman's fists indeed.

Poster's description also dovetails with the televisual strategy described by Mark Crispin Miller as "The Hipness unto Death." The viewer in Poster's scenario is offfered the "information" with which to feel a sense of expertise, or mastery, over the events of the war, which parallels the pride and authority one might feel in having a rigorous knowledge of baseball or opera. I remember the eerie confidence and pedagogical pride with which my classmate years ago corrected my misimpression that Reagan was bombing civilians in Libya: "Josh just didn't realize," he told a bystander, "that the bombs falling on civilian neighborhoods came from the Ay-rabs' own anti-aircraft guns, fired at ninety degrees from the ground 'cause they don't understand gravity."

Those reminiscinces aside, media critics like Solomon and Alterman (and Miller, when he can find the wherewithal to write a commentary) have a lot to say about how much worse the press coverage has gotten. But the best critiques that I find come in daily on this very screen, which is where I "seek out . . . people whohaven't been taken in" (yes, I attend protests too: but they happen outdoors, where it's too cold to have much of an extended conversation). I just read a report, for example, of Peter Jennings (who I thought knew better) marveling at the presence in the military of translators who know Arabic, "A language that few people speak." That tells me who counts for PJ as "people," no?
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Timmi D.
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 04:16 pm:   

Thanks, Jeff, for passing along the link to that blog. I especially appreciated his "rant"--

"No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying “come on bomb us” it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be
jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case."

Whenever I think about how the US has continually claimed that the Iraqi people are not the primary victims of their Iraq policies, I recall how one official (I think it may have been Madeleine Albright) once snapped, in exasperation at someone's bringing up the half-million children that had at that time died from sanctions, that if the Iraqi people didn't like the sanctions & wanted them lifted, then they could damn well get rid of their dictator.

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 01:03 pm:   

There may not be a media conspiracy... But there certainly is a large number of Texas good-old-boys setting corporate policy that supports the Bush Regime.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10725&mode=nested&order=0

It seems the Vice Chairman of Clear Channel has a long and Colorful history with the bush family (he bought the Texas rangers from Bush back in the day, amongst other things). Is it a coincidence that Clear channel radio stations are organizing Pro war rallies around the country? Is it a coincidence that since they have a monopoly in concert venues around the US, they are threatening to "unplug" performers if they engage in political speech during their concerts?

If you thought Faux news was bad, wait until 3/4 of all the radio stations in the country become non-stop propaganda mouthpieces for the Bush Regime. Any performer who speaks against the war, or bush could get banned from radio play lists, effectively destroying their commercial music carreer. It is already happening to the Dixie Chicks.

I'm fucking terrified of what is happened to my country.

-JL
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 09:17 pm:   

I'd note, Jeremy, that it hasn't happened yet. Dixie Chicks album sales are rising, and that can't just be the result of people buying their albums just to bulldoze them. Ani Di Franco was told by Clear Channel not to engage in political speech at a concert (!) but was not unplugged for defying the policy.

But I share your fears as to what might happen in the immediate future: the situation you describe reeks of textbook fascism. I don't recall if anyone's said it on this board yet, but a second attack on U.S. soil could lead to a regime that would make Joseph Stalin look like Spider Robinson. Not that Karl Rove or any of our rulers are necessarily worse guys than Uncle Joe, but they seem to have a lot more tools and resources.

Okay, maybe I didn't pick the ideal brutal dictator and gentle libertarian for my analogy, but you get the picture.
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 05:15 am:   

Gentlemen, have no fear. Attorney General Ashcroft will protect us all from the attempts of religious fundamentalists to impose their views upon us.
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 10:34 am:   

Apparently the BBC is getting a lot of criticism because it's trying to cover all sides of the war, according to an article in today's Washington Post. I wish more of the press would follow their example. I hope they continue to take that approach, regardless of the flak.
Of course, what I'd really like is for reporters to ask tough questions and dig for the real story instead of just reporting what some official person said. Balancing a statement from the White House with a statement from Saddam is still not giving anybody the real story.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 11:37 am:   

The BBC is one of the better ones - which is pathetic because their reporting is still totally biased. How many pictures of wounded civilians do they show? How much real news do they actually report? I have sat watching BBC for hours on end and left without seeing anything.

Brendan
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 11:48 am:   

I've been checkout out various altnernate websites for news although I have to say they're not great either:
http://www.arabnews.com/
http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/
http://electroniciraq.net/news/

As far as I can tell there have been no updates since last night.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 11:49 am:   

On the sites above there's really less news than opinion but at least there's some alternative opinion to what we get on the US sites.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 11:26 am:   

Nice little bit about an NBC journalist being fired for spouting the right propaganda line...

I like the quote from the reporter "I just said what everbody knows about this war..."
t

http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2003/03/31/nbc_arnett/index.html
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Jeffry
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 07:56 am:   

Speaking of game systems: I know that Halo 2 just came about but I can't believe how many Halo 2 cheats are at Xbox Cheats

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