Jump to content


Blame the Media!


Lcyberlina
 Share

Recommended Posts

Media takes heat from administration over Iraq

When the going gets tough, the messenger gets shot

 

By Michael Moran

 

On one thing Iraq war supporters and opponents agree: The news from Iraq beamed, served and delivered to Americans since the beginning of the year has been abysmal. Soaring U.S. casualties and costs, abuse in U.S. jails, assassinations of top Iraqi allies, the dual Sunni and Shiite risings, a scandalous lack of armor for American vehicles, defecting coalition allies and, most ignominiously for those who designed this war, a sheepish collapse back into the arms of the United Nations. Oh, and did we mention: Osama bin Laden is still at large.

 

Confronted with this drumbeat of dismay, senior administration officials are lashing out at American journalists, adding their official voices to the chorus of talk radio, conservative Web site and newspaper columnists for whom there is no more filthy three syllable word than ?media.? From seemingly casual asides in remarks by President Bush to outright attacks and boycotts orchestrated by Bush administration allies, a strong subtext is being transmitted with the normally optimistic line of the day ? that the media is undermining support for the war. *rolls eyes :rolleyes: *

 

?Call it a fallback strategy: the media lost the war,? says Tom Rosenstiel, a former Los Angeles Times correspondent who now runs the non-profit Project for Excellence in Journalism. ?It?s very convenient politically for an administration that?s under fire for its war policy to blame the messenger. But realistically, what is the problem now? It is the increased violence in Iraq, the prison scandal ? which is no media creation ? and the huge question of whether the entire policy was wrongheaded from the start.?

 

In recent weeks, several top officials joined in this campaign.

 

To date, there has been nothing like the broadside unleashed in 1970 by Nixon?s vice president, Spiro Agnew, who decried the ?doom and gloom? over Vietnam and said: ?We have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. The [media] have formed their own 4H Club, the ?Hopeless, Hysterical Hypochondriacs of History?.?

 

But high-level talk of the media as a force undermining the war effort can be viewed as something of a right-wing ideological hedge against geopolitical disaster in Iraq or political disaster at the polls in November.

 

With a mix of spontaneous remarks, carefully crafted press releases and interviews with friendly outlets, the quiet, private disdain for the media has come out of the White House closet.

 

Last week in interviews granted to an administration friendly paper, The Washington Times, White House chief of staff Andrew Card and Secretary of State Colin Powell attacked the media?s frequent references to Vietnam in stories about Iraq.

 

"The press is fixated on Vietnam," Powell said. "Everybody says, 'Powell and all those generals still suffer from Vietnam Syndrome.' No, I don't."

 

Card went further, claiming that ?the media, in my opinion, kind of wants to relive the Vietnam experience."

 

This echoed Bush?s own remarks in early March when he answered a reporter?s question about the Vietnam comparison by saying, ?I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy.?

 

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, being interviewed by the notoriously anti-Bush lefties at FOX, lashed out at Brit Hume for suggesting that Iraq was on a downward trajectory.

 

?Look, we're in a war and it?s tough, and it?s dangerous, and no one?s trying to put a smiley face on anything,? he said. ?But by golly, when you've got that many Iraqis, 100,000, now providing for their own security, where you have a Governing Council and a bunch of ministers, and you have a central bank and you have a new currency, and you have all the universities and colleges open, and the hospitals are open, and there was not a humanitarian crisis ? sitting around wringing your hands and saying, ?It?s horrible, it?s horrible, everything?s terrible,? is nonsense. It isn't all terrible. There's some darn good stuff happening.?

 

Similarly, Vice President Dick Cheney recently offered the news media some advice of his own with regard to coverage of the Iraq prison abuse scandal: ?Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had,? Cheney said in a written statement as pressure for Rumsfeld?s resignation built. ?People ought to get off his case and let him do his job.?

 

No news is good news

Ironically, as conservatives denounced the new scrutiny being applied to the administration, the increasing friction between the White House and the media ? particularly inside the cozy world of Washington press corps ? is viewed as long overdue in the industry.

 

A report released Monday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that most journalists feel the Bush administration got a free pass after the attacks of Sept. 11. In a poll of journalists and news executives, Pew reports that ?the poll finds that many journalists ?? especially those in the national media ? believe that the press has not been critical enough of President Bush. Majorities of print and broadcast journalists at national news organizations believe the press has been insufficiently critical of the administration.?

 

Conservatives, no doubt, will merely regard this as more evidence that the media is, in the words of John Hawkins, the founder of the conservative Web site Right Wing News, ?so biased that they've essentially allowed themselves to become the most powerful weapon in our enemy's arsenals.?

 

But journalists see this quite differently.

 

?Blaming the media is a tried and true method charlatans use to distract from bad news,? says Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics & Public Policy. ?They certainly were not complaining when the media was reporting nothing but good news. But the good news turned bad and we?re reporting it and now they don?t like it.?

 

As the administration begins the search in earnest for scapegoats other than their ideological blueprint for the Iraq war, the media clearly will give them a very large and time-tested target. As the Pew report points out, those in the national media identify themselves, increasingly, as centrist or left-of-center.

 

?In terms of their overall ideological outlook, majorities of national (54 percent) and local journalists (61 percent) continue to describe themselves as moderates. The percentage identifying themselves as liberal has increased from 1995: 34 percent of national journalists describe themselves as liberals, compared with 22 percent nine years ago.?

 

Two-way street

 

More recent criticisms of media coverage ? like the under-reporting of the use of sarin gas in a roadside bombing recently ? also will play in any future ?who lost Iraq? argument. As Rosenstiel points out, the sarin story didn't jibe with the ?master narrative? of the moment ? which is Iraq spinning out of control. ?We used to call this pack journalism, and it is a real problem. That was under-reported. There is no doubt about that.?

 

So, too, will controversial judgment calls, like the significantly higher level of play given to the Iraq prison photos vs. the beheading of American contractor Nicolas Berg, or the decision of ABC News ?Nightline? to devote an entire hour to a photo montage of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

 

If there is any hopeful sign in the recent deterioration of relations between the media and the Bush administration, it may be that while the ?media as the enemy? theory may be all the rage at the White House, the media is not the problem in the eyes of the military.

 

Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, confirms in his new book, ?Battle Ready,? what generals and other senior commanders began telling this column in the winter of 2002: Iraq was the wrong move at the wrong time.

 

?Guys like [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz were given a lot of rope on this, and somehow in this administration, they don?t manage to hang themselves with it,? says a long-time defense department official.

 

Wolfowitz, like most national security officials these days, has limited his public appearances to what is perceived to be friendly territory ? military colleges, conservative think-tanks and the pro-Israeli lobby, to name a few recent events.

 

At one such talk recently, at the National Defense University, he faced deep skepticism from a cadre of American military officers there. ?He was unbelievably arrogant,? says a senior instructor who attended the lecture. ?He refused to take any questions. He just spat his ideas at us, then left. He made it clear there is no room in their view for the idea that they have made errors. The blame, to them, lays elsewhere. My students ? and these are high ranking guys ? they were shocked.?

 

At the risk of being branded as one with an obsession, it bears noting that many senior officers who cut their teeth in Vietnam are to this day deeply disturbed about the role the media played in the erosion of U.S. public support. In Iraq, however, military officials whose jobs are not on a Washington career path are not of that mind.

 

?What's gone wrong here is not about perception,? says the Pentagon official. ?The uniformed guys warned about it and were told to can it. The problem is bigger than that.?

LINK

 

Interesting... The "media" has fallen out favor with this administration because supposedly it is "undermining support for the war". However, they are forgetting that it was the media that helped them sell this war to the American public...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


1) There is no such thing as objectivity.

 

2) Journalism 101: "The medium IS the message."

and what is that mean? Pictures tell a thousand words. Yes that is correct... Thank God for the soldier that had the guts to turn them in! Otherwise we would have never known what goes on behind the closed doors of the White House.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) There is no such thing as objectivity.

 

2) Journalism 101: "The medium IS the message."

and what is that mean? Pictures tell a thousand words. Not really.

 

The medium is the message is from Marshall McLuhan. Excerpted below is a really, really brief summary, as taken from marshallmcluhan.com.

 

On "The Medium is the Message"

 

Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.

 

The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium. (Understanding Media, N. Y., 1964, p. 8)

 

What McLuhan writes about the railroad applies with equal validity to the media of print, television, computers and now the Internet. "The medium is the message" because it is the "medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action." (p. 9)

 

Anyway, not to get too deep, but the modernized evolution of McLuhan theory is that the media itself, by its' prresence and actions, creates an effectual change in its' audience and their perspectives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) There is no such thing as objectivity.

 

2) Journalism 101: "The medium IS the message."

and what is that mean? Pictures tell a thousand words. Not really.

 

The medium is the message is from Marshall McLuhan. Excerpted below is a really, really brief summary, as taken from marshallmcluhan.com.

 

On "The Medium is the Message"

 

Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.

 

The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium. (Understanding Media, N. Y., 1964, p. 8)

 

What McLuhan writes about the railroad applies with equal validity to the media of print, television, computers and now the Internet. "The medium is the message" because it is the "medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action." (p. 9)

 

Anyway, not to get too deep, but the modernized evolution of McLuhan theory is that the media itself, by its' prresence and actions, creates an effectual change in its' audience and their perspectives. So are you saying that all the dead people and destruction in Iraq, plus the proliferation of terrorists attacks after the invasion of Iraq is all a media creation?

 

Hardly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you ever surfed the Centcom, FBI, etc sites to see what we have going that doesn't make the media?

 

If it bleeds it leads. That's been the media approach for centuries.

No! I don't go to government paid websites to get information about what the government is doing... OBVIOUSLY!

 

While you are right about the fact that the media does tend to focus too much on "blood", I have to say that if there was no blood to begin with then we wouldn't have to worry would we?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...