May
01
2003

Brushing Aside the Pentagon's 'Accidents'

U.S. media minimized, sanitized Iraq War's civilian toll

It's no secret that U.S. media outlets--particularly television news shows--did not devote anywhere near the same attention to civilian casualties and suffering in the Iraq war that overseas outlets did. But the nuances of how U.S. media framed war's impact on civilians are worth a closer look. Generally, the problem was not a total blackout of civilian suffering, but that the few stories that appeared tended to minimize and rationalize it. Death and disaster were often discussed as impediments to political strategy, rather than as matters of concern in and of themselves. Overall, reporting served to sanitize the U.S.'s invasion […]

May
01
2003

Where Did All the Weapons Go?

Before the war, media overlooked a key story

If the media seem surprised by the U.S. military's failure, as of this writing, to find any hidden chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, maybe it's because they virtually ignored a critical story that was lost in a flood of stories about the dangers of a chemically armed Saddam Hussein. Weeks before the war began (3/3/03), Newsweek's John Barry published an account of a secret United Nations transcript recording the 1995 interview between U.N. weapons inspectors and Iraq's highest-ranking defector, former weapons chief Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel. For years, the story of Kamel's defection had been used by reporters, pundits […]

May
01
2003

That's Militainment!

The Pentagon's media-friendly 'reality' war

The media build-up to war presented a military attack on Iraq as an overwhelming natural force whose momentum could not be stopped. "The clock is ticking," NPR reported in early March (3/8/03), with soldiers in Kuwait complaining that there was "too much waiting around." Military preparations were like a "huge gun and every day you cock the hammer back a little more." February 15 marked the first time in history that millions of people around the world demonstrated against a war before it started. But Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw were already wearing khakis in the desert, driving humvees, profiling […]