War Propaganda, Olympics-Style

NBC‘s Olympics broadcast last night included a profile of Grenadian runner Kirani James. The small island is peaceful now, viewers learned, thanks in no small part to Ronald Reagan’s decision to invade. Here’s the clip:

(UPDATE: As you can see, someone at NBC is keeping tabs on YouTube, and they’ve taken this down twice. You can watch the segment– along with a shampoo ad– at the NBC site.)

The U.S. invasion is described as an attempt to “put down an Communist coup and restore the Grenadian government”; the broadcast goes on to refer to the U.S. “liberation” of the country.

In reality, the Grenada invasion was something very different. Before the internal coup that was the pretext for the invasion, the Reagan administration claimed that the left-wing government of Maurice Bishop was building an airport for Soviet fighter planes. They also claimed that U.S. citizens on the island were at risk.

Media were barred from covering the early part of the Grenada invasion, so broadcasts were left airing Pentagon-supplied footage and, as is so often the case, parroting the claims of U.S. officials about the threat to national security posed by, among other things, Cuban soldiers in Grenada.

As Robin Andersen detailed in her book about wartime propaganda Century of Media, A Century of War (excerpted in Extra!, 1-2/07), most of the claims made by the Reagan administration to justify the invasion were false. Americans were not in dangers, and there was no secret Soviet military airport. But in NBC‘s propagandistic re-telling, Ronald Reagan saved a democracy.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.