Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2004 » And I still have to confess amazement....

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12/26/2004: And I still have to confess amazement....

Not that the average American doesn't know jack shit about how the Iraq war is going, but that the wingnuts who are still enthusiastic about the war are convinced that the U.S. media are suppressing the "good news" from Iraq. Given the information infrastructure in place there, as detailed by Doug Ireland of The L.A. Weekly, it's amazing that as much negative news as we have gotten gets through the filters:

Coverage of Iraq made this an annus horribilis for America’s major media. If you want to know why public opinion in Western Europe has been so overwhelmingly against the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq, there’s one obvious answer: the difference in television news between theirs and ours. You can easily determine this for yourself: Spend a week watching the news broadcasts and TV magazines of the BBC, France2 and Deutsche Welle, all available on many U.S. cable systems. The footage of dead Iraqi babies and children — victims of U.S. attacks on "terrorists" — that you will regularly see on European public television is rarely aired on U.S. networks. The regular interviews in Iraqi hospitals with doctors recounting the slaughter of the innocents that show up on European news broadcasts aren’t often seen on the all-news cable networks here, let alone on the Big Three broadcast nets’ newscasts. Iraqis, of course, know this daily reality all too well — which explains their overwhelming hostility to the U.S. occupation.

An on-the-ground study of Iraqi casualties between April and September by Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder newspapers demonstrated that "Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis — most of them civilians — as attacks by insurgents." But you’re not told this by U.S. TV’s "embedded" reporters, who’ve traded their reportorial independence for access to the boom-boom footage that drives what
Time magazine has labeled the "militainment" proffered by American television. In fact, embedded reporters are enrolled in what the Pentagon calls "information operations" — a counterpart to military operations designed to exact the rosiest possible picture of the U.S. occupation from accredited reporters. Those who don’t toe the Pentagon line, and who report negatively on the occupation of Iraq and the indiscriminate effects of U.S. forces’ combat there, are simply blacklisted.

The demagogic nationalism of Fox News, the ratings king, has dragged the other networks down to its level as they seek to win back lost viewers. In a must-read article on "Iraq, the Press and the Election" in the December 16 issue of
The New York Review of Books (available online at www.nybooks.com), the Columbia Journalism Review’s Michael Massing dissects U.S. media coverage of Iraq with devastating effect. CNN, for example, he portrays as "careening wildly between an adherence to traditional news values on the one hand and a surrender to the titillating, overheated, nationalistic fare of contemporary cable on the other. In the end, CNN . . . offered the superficiality of Fox without any of its conviction."

The degree to which coverage of Iraq reflects the structural corruption of U.S. major media is even more damningly portrayed in
Weapons of Mass Deception, the superb new film by Danny Schechter. Schechter, a TV veteran of three decades, is an Emmy-winning former investigative producer for ABC and CNN (he calls himself a "network refugee"), and the founder of the independent TV production company Globalvision and also of MediaChannel.org, the Web site where his sharp-eyed, acid-tongued media criticism punches gaping holes in official newsdom’s coverage of Iraq. In this film--which is much more meticulously documented and more accurate than Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, and therefore infinitely more devastating--Schechter shows with precision how U.S. mass media have been recruited as part and parcel of the Pentagon’s war-propaganda machine.

There is no end in sight in Iraq. Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, reported recently from Iraq that he hasn’t talked to a single U.S. military commander who doesn’t believe the U.S. occupation will last "three, or five, or seven years more" at least. So, to penetrate the fog of propaganda relayed by our major media, you’ll need to be well-armed.

Len on 12.26.04 @ 02:29 PM CST

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