Aug
08
2007

Let Us Now Praise an Infamous Woman--and Our Own Possibilities

The problem with letting history judge is that so many officials get away with murder in the meantime -- while precious few choose to face protracted vilification for pursuing truth and peace. A grand total of two people in the entire Congress were able to resist a blood-drenched blank check for the Vietnam War. Standing alone on Aug. 7, 1964, senators Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morse voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Forty-three years later, we don’t need to go back decades to find a lopsided instance of a lone voice on Capitol Hill standing against war hysteria and […]

Aug
02
2007

Media Blitz for War

The big guns of August

The U.S. media establishment is mainlining another fix for the Iraq war: It isn’t so bad after all, American military power could turn wrong into right, chronic misleaders now serve as truth-tellers. The hit is that the war must go on. When the White House chief of staff Andrew Card said five years ago that “you don’t introduce new products in August,” he was explaining the need to defer an all-out PR campaign for invading Iraq until early fall. But this year, August isn’t a bad month to launch a sales pitch for a new and improved Iraq war. Bad […]

Jul
26
2007

Media Spin on Iraq

We’re Leaving (Sort of)

In mid-July, a media advisory from the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer announced a new series of interviews on the PBS show that will address “what Iraq might look like when the U.S. military leaves.” A few days later, Time magazine published a cover story titled “Iraq: What will happen when we leave.” But it turns out, what will happen when we leave is that we won’t leave. Urging a course of action that’s now supported by “the best strategic minds in both parties,” the Time story calls for “an orderly withdrawal of about half the 160,000 troops currently in Iraq […]

Jul
24
2007

Media Corrections We'd Like to See

Former readers of Mad Magazine can remember a regular feature called “Scenes We’d Like to See.” It showed what might happen if candor replaced customary euphemisms and evasions. These days, what media scenes would we like to see? One aspect of news media that needs a different paradigm is the correction ritual. Newspapers are sometimes willing to acknowledge faulty reporting, but the “correction box” is routinely inadequate -- the journalistic equivalent of self-flagellation for jaywalking in the course of serving as an accessory to deadly crimes. Some daily papers are scrupulous about correcting the smallest factual errors that have made […]

Jul
19
2007

From the Grave, a Senator Exposes Bloody Hands on Capitol Hill

It was a chilling moment on a split-screen of history. While the Senate debated the Iraq war on the night of July 17, a long-dead senator again renounced a chronic lie about congressional options and presidential power. The Senate was in the final hours of another failure to impede the momentum of war. As the New York Times was to report, President Bush “essentially won the added time he said he needed to demonstrate that his troop buildup was succeeding.” Meanwhile, inside a movie theater on the opposite coast, the thunderous voice of Senator Wayne Morse spoke to 140 people […]

Jul
09
2007

A Bloody Media Mirror

Many of America’s most prominent journalists want us to forget what they were saying and writing more than four years ago to boost the invasion of Iraq. Now, they tiptoe around their own roles in hyping the war and banishing dissent to the media margins. The media watch group FAIR (where I’m an associate) has performed a public service in the latest edition of its magazine Extra. The organization’s activism director, Peter Hart, drew on FAIR’s extensive research to assemble a sample of notable quotations from media cheerleading for the Iraq invasion. One of the earliest quotes to merit special […]

Jun
20
2007

War at the Remote

It’s a popular notion: TV sets and other media devices let us in on the violence of war. “Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens,” President Bush told a news conference more than three years ago. “I don’t. It’s a tough time for the American people to see that. It’s gut-wrenching.” But televised glimpses of war routinely help to keep war going. Susan Sontag was onto something when she pointed out that “the image as shock and the image as cliche are two aspects of the same presence.” While viewers may feel disturbed by media imagery […]

Jun
11
2007

The Silence of the Bombs

Three years have passed since most Americans came to the conclusion that the Iraq war was a “mistake.” Reporting the results of a Gallup poll in June 2004, USA Today declared: “It is the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake.” And public opinion continued to move in an antiwar direction. But such trends easily coexist with a war effort becoming even more horrific. In Washington, over the past 25 years, top masters of war have preened themselves in the glow of victory after military triumphs in Grenada, […]