How Media Distortions Promote Wars
Kosovo, Iraq, Mid-East
Tens of millions of human beings have died starting with World War I, because well meaning Americans were taken in by public relations atrocity campaigns to get us to go to war for the benefit of other nations. See How to Get America to Go to War. Below are links about the Kosovo war as much as about Iraq.
We urge conservatives to look beyond the conservative media (NATIONAL REVIEW, WASHINGTON TIMES, HUMAN EVENTS, WALL STREET JOURNAL op-ed (the worst of all), FOX NEWS most of which are dominated by the Neo-conservatives, the War Party, and Empire wanters.. We refer you to Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting for updates on Middle East news distortions, the area of greatest propaganda and lies. Note also that American TV usually does not show the mangled bodies if caused by U.S. actions, which most of the rest of the world’s TV does show. That’s a major reason anyone seeing foreign TV broadcasts gets another view. U.S. networks are afraid to lose audience if they show pictures critical of suffering caused by U.S. policies. See also an excellent update on National Review and the “War” Street Journal
6/01/08 CNN/MSNBC reporter: Corporate executives forced pro-Bush, pro-war narrative by Glenn Greenwald
5/30/08 Was Press a War ‘Enabler’? Several Journalists Agree, intimidation by war wanters and fear of appearing unpatriotic
4/20/08 FOX, CNN Generals Promoted War Lies Many had financial ties to military industrial complex, promoted earmarks for “their” companies, “Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.” Video Report NY Times Boston Globe commentary San Francisco Chronicle
3/27/08 The Ongoing Exclusion of War Opponents fFrom the Iraq Debate excellent evidence of how big media excludes non-leftist critics of the war and of original attack on Iraq–Who gets on Charley Rose show, etc.
3/24/08 Why Did American Public Believe So Many Lies? Editor & Publisher analyzes how Administration spread its lies and how media promoted them and failed to verify and question
8/14/07 The Truth Behind the Pollack-O’Hanlon Trip to Iraq a set up–they were always war supporters
6/26/06 Al-Jazeera Can’t Find Carrier for new English language programming, one problem–showing dead bodies and misery from U.S. bombing –Americans don’t like to see on TV — reason most of world sees different news
4/30/06 “The Satanic Christians of the USA” A Russian view from Pravda RU, “American fundamentalists are mirror image of Taliban”
4/3/06 Study Questions Israeli Lobby Control over U.S. Foreign Policy Univ. of Chicago & Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government leaders- very unusual to dare to do so Media Distorts Paper on Israeli Lobby Wash Post publishes commentaries and more —-so many American Jews opposed to war
1/21/06 Author Who Got Boost from Bin Laden “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” by William Blum
11/30/05 U.S. Attacks on Al-Jazeera various details
10/25/05 It Wasn’t Just Judy Miller — details of NYT and Wash. Post dis-information stories on Iraq
10/17/05 Fourth Estate & Warfare State —Judith Miller as spreader of government lies (during war–not everybody was wrong)
10/3/05 Rumsfeld says with investigate army’s killing of journalists Reuters’ chief says U.S. military “out of control”
8/26/05 War Made Easy by Norman Soloman –how the media promote going to wars
8/3/05 Shiite Police-Iranians-Gangsters Murder American Reporter a brave man who was telling truths
7/17/05 Media Sources –secrets work both ways– Judith Miller of NY TIMES promoted lies of Chalabi to support attacking Iraq
5/30/05 Journalists and Wars –Memorial Day Thoughts
4/18/05 FOX News Effect a Threat to all Honest Reporting –by William Rasberry –makes other news suspect also
3/20/05 75% of Bush Voters Still Believe Lie that Iraq helped Al Qaeda and had WMD Americans can’t believe that America is not good, fair and just; consequently contrary news is simply not believed or shut out of mind
3/13/05 U.S. Government Fakes TV Propaganda as News Reports Networks don’t tell public made as Government information, e.g. propaganda (and pays some journalists)
2/26/05 Russian Government Treads on Freedom unpopularity of U.S. gives Putin room to curtail freedoms, e.g. appointing state governors
12/5/04 Different Images of War (see links in report) marines in Falluja video and weblog IRAQ IN PICTURES with images not shown on American big media–How a weblog offsets government presentation see Iraq in Pictures
11/12/04 U.S. Media and Propaganda War — innocuous descriptions of phosphorous or cluster bombs, careful words of U.S. commanders
11/11/04 WALL STREET JOURNAL’s one sided Editorial Slant for Wars now also infects news pages–11/1 Report on Guantanamo “trials” makes light of hearings using secret evidence accused can’t know, massive violations of Geneva Convention and even Nuremburg precendents, etc. About same trials NY TIMES reported gross violations and most prisoners inconsequential–WSJ makes them all appear as criminals. Federal Judge ruled that trials violated Supreme Court Ruling
9/01/04 Hollinger Investigation of Conrad Black and Richard Perle– Black bought London Daily Telegraph, Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun Times–turned them into propaganda promotors for Sharon-Likud–report shows how looted shareholders. Details of Findings & AP Report
8/12/04 Washington Post on its WMD Coverage — why questions were downplayed
8/03/04 CNN Following Fox Fox viewers most dis-informed on Convention – Fox viewers most likely to believe lies about Iraq-Al Qaeda connections
7/3/04 Al Jazeera: Out-Foxing Fox comparing U.S. to Israel, Al Jazeera appeals to Arabs just like Fox appeals to Americans
6/09/04 Homeland Security Slaps Visa Restrictions on Foreign Journalists strip searches land handcuffs for Australians, English
5/28/04 NY Times and Nat. Public Radio Iraq Reports NYT Judith Miller as promoter of war using Chalabi as main source –editors apologized (very late)
5/26/04 NY Times Analyzes its news before Iraq war says it gave credance to unproven charges about Saddam, didn’t expose past lies in prominent news stories
5/11/04 Papers Run ‘Attack Dogs’ Prison Photo, But Not on Front Page Editor and Publisher
5/9/04 FOX NEWS SUNDAY ran a long list about how Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam. Typical of their distortions, Fox’s list ignored the fact that Iraq had been blockaded by America for some 11 years. For example, Fox said that now Iraqis had medicines and cell phones. We remember how even chlorine to purify water and school child pencils used to be forbidden imports. See our Sanctions page for data on this.
5/6/04 A leading conservative comments to our editor on best TV News, “I’m a devoted fan of MSNBC. More than any other TV channel, they are hardhitting and not in anyone’s camp, letting the sh-t fall where it may. CNN is boring. And Fox News is a 24-hour Bush reelection commercial. In an era of 24-hour news we no longer have network signoffs, but if Fox had one, the only appropriate one would be, “I’m George W. Bush, and I approved this message.”
5/5/04 NATIONAL REVIEW comes out for pure imperialism — kill and beat enough of them and then Iraqis will become subservient to America
4/22/04 NATIONAL REVIEW recants some of its mistakes, stupidities, distortions editorial staff of neocons and wantabe ex British imperialists
3/8/04 Conrad Black, Sharon propagandist, out at DAILY TELEGRAPH made paper distort news into favoring Likud
2/16/04 “We Were Not All Wrong” David Kay Statement –Scott Ritter details and quotes those who were right before the war including UN inspectors
1/20/04 Clear Channel Gags Anti-Empire Journalists — largest network of radio stations-who says liberals control media?
1/3/04 Growing Harassment of Journalists in Iraq Soldiers Destroy Unwanted Pictures, threaten newspersons, Pentagon stonewalling
11/23 PIPA (at Univ. of Maryland) Finds Fox TV Viewers Most Uninformed — more believe the lies AND 12/30 Detailing of lies, half truths and distortions on Fox News
10/15 Most Ignorant Americans Get Their Info from Fox News – statistics
8/29 Scarce Reporting about thousand (s?) wounded TV does not want to appear disloyal and Americans don’t like to see victims
7/31/03 U.S. Threatens Al-Jazeera –– ever since bombing their office in Afghanistan and Iraq
6/30/03 Israel Boycots BBC News for TV program
6/10/03 Devine Answers NATIONAL REVIEW –since Neo-con takeover little concern for constitutional freedoms
6/10/03 Lies About French Giving Visas to Escaping Iraqi Leaders put out by Bill Gertz at Washington Times-spread all over conservative media
5/02/03 Interesting Analysis of TV War coverage –media bosses admit move from news to propaganda
Some words about lies on FOX TV– NEW FOX LIES REPORT http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/steinreich8.html very detailed on various news and talk show reports
We listened to neoconservatives such as Fred Barnes on his FOX TV show (2/8/03) saying Saddam gets pleasure in gauging out the eyes of children in front of their parents. I don’t know if this is true, but earlier lies about the “incubator babies” were used to start the first Iraq war and blockade after which half a million children died of disease and starvation. Remember too the lies promoted by the British before World War I (German soldiers eating Belgian babies), so lying Americans into war is nothing new. FOX NEWS discredits its many honest reporters in the field, because so many of its commentators intermix their reports with often untrue, simplified commentary.
2/15 FOX NEWS 5:08 PM EST 2/15/03 LIES –commentator saying that most Europeans support U.S. to eliminate Saddam by war, a lie. Also that 68% of Americans support war (without explaining any of hedges, e.g. most Americans want it with UN backing) On 3/16 Fox TV graphic spreads fear of a “Dirty Bomb” as being able to contaminate the major part of an entire city. In reality only a few blocks would be effected and that non-fatal. FOX TV 3/22 at 11 AM had an Admiral lying about Saddam using UN money for weaponry instead of feeding his people. In truth UN personnel controlled bank accounts and food distribution. Typical of FOX, the hosts rarely challange any lie which promotes their agenda. I remember during the Kosovo war one of their “experts” saying that the Albanian Moslems were Arabs. No other speaker corrected her.
Always Fox commentators would say that Saddam expelled UN weapons inspectors. A lie. They were withdrawn by the UN for their own safety when Clinton wanted to start bombing Iraq in ’98 or ’99. Only thereafter did Saddam prohaibit their return, claiming that some were U.S. agents who selected bombing targets.
FOX News filled the airwaves on Saturday 3/22, showing Iraqi POWs, up close and looking humiliated. Military handlers guided the camera crew through the groups of POWs. This story was shown at least 5 times on Saturday on Fox.
Geneva Convention article 13 forbids the displaying of POWs for the purposes of “public curiosity,” exactly what Fox News did on Saturday. One wonders whether there will be equal prosecution of this violation for both sides, that is Washington’s protests about the showing of U.S. prisoners of war.
All morning (3/22), Fox News has been parading commentators who are outraged by this “war crime.” Centcom has issued a statement condemning the actions of al-Jazeera TV for showing the footage of American POWs. One after another, the Fox News anchors and correspondents are talking about how upset they are and how the US would never do such a thing, ignoring the fact that they did exactly the same thing 24 hours earlier.
All during the bombing of Iraq Fox reported that coalition forces (meaning U.S.) were “softening up” Iraqi military units and rarely showed Iraqi dead to make it all look like few people were actually killed. A U.S. General is quoted, “‘We’re Not softening them up, We’re killing them’ (Wash. Post 4/6/03) See also Pentacons (Pentagon Neocons) Favor Fox
4/16 Ha’aretz on Fox News –Hypocrisy, Lies, Disinformation
4/29/03 How Most Media Played up the Lies and played down the refutations
4/17/03 Accusations of Photo editing in British paper on Statue Pull down –technical duplications plus lots of reports on little known news about Iraq
4/9/03 Pentagon Killing Journalists? – Al-Jazeera in Kabul too and surprise missile killed Serb TV staff –can’t all be unintentional—————-
“Al-Jazeera’s correspondent was killed in an attack on the organisation’s office in Baghdad – even though one of his colleagues at the Central Command office in Doha gave the Pentagon the co-ordinates of their Baghdad building and received a promise it would not be attacked. The US also attacked al-Jazeera’s office in Kabul in 2001 and destroyed it with a cruise missile – an event for which it provided neither explanation nor apology.
During the Afghanistan bombardment, the Kabul office was broadcasting Osama bin Laden tapes around the world. This time, the Baghdad office was providing the most devastating account of Iraqi civilian casualties in the war to a vast Arab audience – thus fuelling the anti-American sentiments that the United States says it cannot understand.
A few hours later, an M1A1 Abrams tank on the Jumhuriya Bridge aimed at a room in the Palestine Hotel and fired a single round that killed two cameramen and wounded four other Reuters staff. The Americans said nothing until it became known that journalists from France 3 television had filmed the tank firing. General Buford Blount of the 3rd Infantry Division claimed the tank had come under sniper fire and had fired at the source of the shooting, which then stopped. But the French cameramen started filming minutes before the tank fired at the hotel and there was silence on the soundtrack.” http://argument.independent.co.uk/commentators/story.jsp?story=397647
A study of more than 40 hours of coverage on the broadcast and cable networks early in the war “found that about half the reports from embedded journalists showed combat action, but not a single story depicted people hit by weapons.” AMERICAN JOURNALISM REVIEW, May, 2003.
3/31 “After the first Gulf War of 1991, it took five years for some journalists in the West to admit that they had bought into the war propaganda and told ‘American lies’. It wasn’t until 1995 that Guardian journalist Maggie O’Kane admitted that during the Gulf War ‘we, the media, were harnessed like beach donkeys and led through the sand to see what the British and US military wanted us to see’ (13). Today, suspicion about American and British claims makes the front pages within 24 hours.” Propaganda Defensive by Brendan O’Neill
3/31/03 Al-Jazeera TV Reports Are Different What the rest of the world sees
3/28/03 Pro-war Rallies promoted by pro-Bush Radio Network –New, concentratied ownership of radio all over U.S.– A reader writes us, “I’ve been telling you… this is the propaganda machine–not just for pro-war elements but for the Israeli government. Try calling Limbaugh or one of their columnists with a criticism of the Israeli government and they simply hang up on you…” http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/31/business/media/31RADI.html
3/22/03 U.S. TV Won’t Show much of Iraqi Wounded —YELLOW TIMES.org —common report of those who see European TV is that pictures of Palestinian and Afghanistan bodies not shown to Americans –
3/18/03 How WEEKLY STANDARD promotes wars, promoted conflicts with Serbia, China, Palestine, Iraq
02/03/03 Journalists in Danger in Palestine
11/21 Administration prepares Censorship for War–only Powell open with media
11/17 Voice of America credibility and government radios compared
10/16 Iraqi Children Deaths –updating on reports
10/3 Drudge Censors Wanniski Example of Conservative hunger and rush for war
9/19 Rush Limbaugh Radio. He used to do his homework, but is now a propagandist for war with ignorance or lies. Today he argued that the United Nations approved attacks on Serbia becuse they were “white” people implying that the UN favors the dark skinned. (This a lie because the attack on Serbia was not approved by the UN–Washington used NATO precisely because it could not get UN approval for its war on Serbia). Then he argued that Iraqis consider themselves among the dark skinned. His program is one mass of uninformed or lieing propaganda. Then he cuts off or denies callers who disagree with him.
8/27 Fox News, the War Network –wars build ratings and make money
8/7 O’Reilly (and others such as Sen. Inhofe) on Fox TV –“Saddam expelled the UN Weapons Inspectors”–not true, the UN withdrew them at U.S. request so U.S. could start bombing without risking killing them.
7/13 Israelis kill Palestinian Journalist –Army often fires on journalists
5/20 Arab Incompetence at Explaining Palestinian Case Arabs don’t understand how to “sell” their case to Americans—feudal understanding of government, think of President as a king or emperor–their problem and ours
3/21 Israeli TV reports censored footage from West Bank breaks censorship–Israel has a free press
War Coverage Made in Washington –by Charley Reese, so few victims, so little misery, bombs without blood
U.S. Bombs al-Jazeera office in Kabul as Taliban leaves (to limit TV news?)
12/5 Fox TV Propagandizes the War no pretense for fair news –NY Times
11/29 Rabid columnists push Bush for total destruction-e.g. Fox O’Reilly and George Will Analyzed so rabid for more war, becomes Sharon Flack
11/11 Arab News Coverage on Afghanistan –NY TIMES report–always claim U.S. hypocrisy about Israel –equate terrorisms
10/27 Al-Jazeera Arab World’s CNN, rare source of accurate news (by satellite and re-broadcasts) in lands of kings and dictators
10/24 Washington Unable to Control War News by Eric Margolis –First Time for Arabs
How American Big Media Lies, Distorts and Covers-up Middle East News –Chicago Tribune op-ed
6-19 Foreign Journalists in Israel –pressures on reporting
Media Lies –the Biggest one of all–Palestine–by Norman Solomon
Independent (London) by Robert Fisk –How and Why journalists lie about Middle East–If Palestinians were South Africans
Iraq Lie –that Saddam could rebuild Iraq’s electricity, sanitation, agriculture if he cared for his people–Truth is that Washington blockaded everything except food and medicine until last November when Europeans shamed it into changing. See New York Times report (killing of kids from US destruction of sanitation/water/irrigation now recognized-see link)
Big TV Distortions–ABC,NBC,CBS lie about legal status of occupied territories (but didn’t have trouble calling Kuwait “occupied” by Iraq)
CNN Lies about shooting of own Reporter –only Israeli press tells truths, by Robert Fisk
Har’retz Daily –Israeli Newpaper on Palestinian Conditions–-rarely reported in American newspapers–truth is published in free Isreal
“Oddly, you can now learn more from the Israeli press than the American media. The brutality of Israeli soldiers is fully covered in Ha’aretz….. Four years ago, a former Israeli soldier described in an Israeli newspaper how his men had looted a village in southern Lebanon; when the piece was reprinted in The New York Times, the looting episode was censored out of the text. ” by Robert Fisk, INDEPENDENT
WASHINGTON TIMES –Lately, since the settlement of the Kosovo war, WT has returned to its heavy support for interventionism overseas. Almost daily, before the WTC bombing, it ran stories to inflame conservatives for conflict. Its editorial and op-ed pages were filled with denunciations of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, favoring the Israeli settlements, and promoting China as a great threat to America. Typical of its scare tactics was the report about a new Pentagon study on China. “CHINA IS PREPARING FOR HIGH-TECH WAR WITH U.S.,” ran its front page story about a new Pentagon study. The same day, 6/23/00, the NEW YORK TIMES headline about the same report was, “PENTAGON SEES CHINA FORCES AS NO FORESEEABLE THREAT TO U.S.” The actual report explained, “China’s research and training efforts are largely defensive measures “centered on countering” American technology used in the Iraq and Kosovo wars.” Now with Afghanistan it is calling for war with Iraq and running stories to support new war. But many conservatives only hear a war message. Many are not getting a fair picture, because Washington thrives on creating conflict and the fear of conflict. “War is the Health of the State,” said old libertarian, Randoph Bourne.
Insight-Har’retz Report on Israeli Wiretaps –Clinton told Monica that foreign embassy might be listening
NEW YORK TIMES on Iraq Misery & Supposed Intransigence
NEW REPUBLIC’s Neo-Trash Opposing US Bombing Doesn’t Mean “Hating America”–Raimondo Answers Neo-Con Attack
The Hoax Begotten War—Accuracy in Media details the media lies to start NATO/US Kosovo war- AIM has very many reports with details about distortions in media coverage, especially now about the body counts and accused atrocities in Kosovo.–lots of U.S. media distortion
Analysis of Washington Post Iraq Coverage (thru 3/6/00)– news reports ok, editorial page lies and lies
How CNN Helped Feed the War –War is good for ratings
Demonizing Serbs by Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media –Lies about Croatian expulsions of Serbs, Croatians started the chaos (See Below)
www.truthinmedia.org lots of background information
“warture” –Washington’s way of torture for small nations’ peoples
USA TODAY on Lies About the War
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS ( www.rsf.fr) REPORTS ON NATO Press War Distortions
Branislav Andjelic Webmaster, Beograd.com 5/24/99
o, I am not talking about Serbian Television, which NATO bombs repeatedly because it is presenting its government’s side in this war. I am talking about free, independent, and objective American television.
According to the respected nonprofit media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), “analysis of sources on ABC’s Nightline and PBS’s News Hour during the first two weeks of the bombing of Yugoslavia found an abundance of representatives of the U.S. government and NATO, along with many other supporters of the NATO bombing. Opponents of the air strikes received scant attention, however; in almost all stories, debate focused on whether or not NATO should supplement bombing with ground troops, while questions about the basic ethics and rationales of the bombing went largely unasked.”
CNN, which many Yugoslavs now call Comedy News Network, recently aired a tape, supposedly smuggled out of Albania, showing an alleged Serbian massacre of Albanian civilians. CNN admitted it had no proof that the tape was legitimate, and was not a bit concerned that a public relations company working for the Kosovo Albanians mediated its delivery. A day later, Western journalists who visited the site of NATO’s massacre of the Albanian refugee convoy revealed that at least a part of the CNN tape shows these NATO victims, not some alleged victims of the Serbs. CNN did not comment.
Robert Fisk, a reporter for the British daily, The Independent, reported from NATO briefings that journalists present at these “preposterous gatherings” shook their heads in disbelief at some of Jamie Shea’s statements, but that “the television coverage never shows this, of course.”
I once remarked to a newspaper editor in Boston that the only difference between the New York Times today and Moscow’s daily Pravda under Communism is that Pravda readers knew they were being lied to. The deception on television is far more effective since, as their own promo puts it, “more Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source.”
At the end of Chapter 9 of The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain wrote: “Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception”. The only difference between Mark Twain’s time and today is that statesmen no longer need to invent cheap lies. American television is doing it for them.
5/4/99 Norman Solomon on News Coverage of Kosovo War–all the questions journalists don’t ask–the distortion about the Rambouillet Agreement, details, very interesting.
In World War I there was the propaganda that German soldiers were eating Belgian babies. In Iraq we’ve now been responsible for the death of over a million people, partly because Americans were “sold” a lie about Iraqis putting babies out of incubators in Kuwait. (See “How Hill & Knowlton “Sold” the War“). Anyway the most obvious lie today is the one about “Bombing Saddam” which really means killing Iraqis or destroying their water supplies or a refinery or otherwise their livelihood. Then there’s “Putting Saddam in his Box” which really means starving to death 5 or 6,000 children every month.
Still certain newspapers deserve special mention for their distorted, one sided propaganda, always calling for America to bomb assorted “enemies.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL (now called the WaR STREET JOURNAL with its unending demands for destruction of Serbia, Iraq and others) editorial page is the most one sided of all national newspapers. In fact the editor Robert Bartley recently on a C-SPAN interview had callers questioning and complaining about WSJ’s distorted Middle East coverage. Still one interesting report slipped through. How the world sees America was reported by the JOURNAL’S European edition editor (2/24/98), “What came up most were charges of American hypocrisy. The US wants to bomb Iraq over its violations of UN directives, but won’t take any action against the Israelis for theirs (e.g. occupation of part of Lebanon and Palestinian settlements).” Of course Israel isn’t the only example. American foreign policy “reeks of hypocrisy” in its selective condemnation of some nations and silence about others. Saudi Arabia and China have horrible human rights records, Colombia was cut off all help because of its drug smuggling while Mexico was excused and brought into NAFTA; Panama and Haiti were invaded and wrecked while Kazakhstan and others are excused, Turkey bombs Iraq and kills Kurds without a peep from Washington, and so on.
Nearly all the major papers are bad. With this section we will try to report on some. First of all one must commend the NEW YORK TIMES for just good reporting and fairness in some of its op-eds, if you don’t read Rosenthal, as fanatic and distorted as anyone can get. Also it reported extensively on foreign demonstrations and reactions critical of America quite unlike the WASHINGTON POST which explained very little. The WASHINGTON TIMES news pages were always good and fair, and, since the Kosovo war, its op-ed pages are the best place to find anti-bombing Kosovo articles. Before this war it suffered (like most major conservative publications) form “neo-con” domination and rarely published anti-bombing/blockading except by Pat Buchanan. Our column by Joseph Sobran about America making so many enemies when the bio-chem-nuclear threats are so great was spiked by WT, but carried by CONSERVATIVE CHRONICLES http://www.conservativechronicle.com/subscribe/ which present fair positions on both sides of the issue. CC also publishes Charlie Reece and Stephen Chapman against Mid-East policies.
Then there’s FOREIGN AFFAIRS, the organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, which has published some very important articles. First the one on our subject page urging restraint in Washington’s foreign meddling and now in the February issue, Squandering Triumph, about what has gone “terribly wrong” with U.S. foreign policy since the end of the cold war.
One must also note the fairness and good reporting on Middle Eastern news by NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO. It’s “funny” that the government controlled press is much more independent and even-handed than most of the “private” press. The same goes for the VOICE OF AMERICA, another government radio.
BOMBING AND BOMBAST By Norman Solomon
At the end of a year that has culminated with the bombardment of Iraq and the impeachment of President Clinton, we can draw some important conclusions about America’s news media.
* Euphemisms are as common as ever in American reporting of U.S. military actions.
Typically, on the third night of the bombing, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour repeatedly told viewers that Baghdad was having a “dramatic” night. When the smoke cleared, she was one of many journalists who spoke of “collateral damage” without mentioning dead Iraqi civilians.
* The U.S. news media, along with the White House and Congress, have no moral authority to condemn terrorism.
During four long nights, while cruise missiles exploded in Baghdad and other populated areas of Iraq, millions of children were among those who lay awake wondering if they would survive till dawn. This terrorism on a grand scale was depicted by major U.S. media as an exercise in righteousness.
* When America’s war machine roars and America’s media machinery spins, the teeth mesh.
With few exceptions, news reports portrayed the bombing as virtuous, even if a bit unpleasant for some Iraqis.
* After the shooting starts, denunciations of U.S. actions get little ink or air time.
Three months ago, the head of the U.N.’s “oil-for-food” program, Denis Halliday, quit in protest of the sanctions against Iraq. On Dec. 18, while the missiles were flying, he made a statement that wasn’t fit for inclusion in media coverage: “The military strikes constitute a futile and short-run irrational action of desperate men.”
* In the world according to U.S. mass media, the United Nations is crucial when the U.S. government says it is crucial and irrelevant when the U.S. government says it is irrelevant.
In 1991, when the U.N. Security Council authorized the Gulf War, the American news media elevated the U.N. to the status of Earth’s ultimate arbiter. But in 1998, when the United States was unable to get Security Council approval for launching missiles against Iraq, the U.N. was beside the point.
* More than ever, U.S. policy-makers and media elites agree that public debate prior to military action is a risk not worth taking.
Last February, when CNN joined with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and two other top officials to hold a “town hall” meeting in Columbus, Ohio, their weak arguments for attacking Iraq met with effective opposition. This time, they avoided any such mistake — preferring a mere pantomime of democracy — as mass media and officials went through the motions of open discourse. Likewise, in Congress, substantive debate was somewhere between muted and non-existent.
* Media outlets mirror White House efforts to portray a U.S. military assault as a conflict with one individual despot.
There was much media enthusiasm for the line that the attacks would “send a message” to Saddam Hussein. But the bombs sent the clear message that the U.S. government views civilian lives as expendable. Rather than impeding the cycles of murderous violence, Washington has insisted on leading the way.
* The news media generally confine themselves to the narrow choices presented by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Benefiting from a carefully crafted media image, Bill Clinton has become a great president for Americans who want the killing sugar-coated and sanitized by liberal piety. Meanwhile, during the six years of the Clinton administration, harsh sanctions against Iraq have been responsible for the deaths of several hundred thousand people in that country.
* Like the politicians they cover, most American journalists seem to assume that the United States is the center of the universe.
To hear the news media tell it, the recent assault on Iraq was profoundly significant because of possible impacts on partisan power struggles inside the Beltway. In sharp contrast, the people under the bombs were trivial to the punditocracy.
* In medialand, the anguish of Washington’s powerful men is much more important than the lives of the human beings they are in the process of killing.
News coverage prompted Americans to shed tears over Clinton’s impeachment or Rep. Bob Livingston’s resignation — but not over the suffering of Iraqi people.
Now, media outlets are awash in drivel about the crying need for politicians to be nicer to each other.
Write to Norman Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org
PBS Frontline Paints Distorted Picture of Gulf War The War Against Iraq Continues by Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition) (March 1996)
Five years after the start of the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. media sought to glorify the military onslaught against Iraq. Recently, the PBS television series, Frontline, presented a program on the Gulf War that was consistent with the U.S. media’s reports; it was full of lies and distortions.
Numerous critical facts were not disclosed in this report, and many blatant lies were presented as truth. One of the most obvious falsehoods was the depiction of the Iraqi army as a formidable power capable of matching the military strength of the Pentagon or the military forces of the other Western powers. The Iraqi army was nothing of the kind.
Among the false reasons given by George Bush and his entourage to gain public support for this horrendous war was the threat of Iraq as a nuclear power. However, inspection teams from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have never found a nuclear bomb, or evidence that one exists, in Iraq. According to Dr. Albright and Dr. Hibbs, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, despite the large sums of money that Iraq spent on nuclear research, it was still many years away from producing even one small atomic weapon, and independent studies of Iraq’s nuclear facilities point out that most assumptions of their future nuclear plans are improbably optimistic, based on the progress of the U.S. Manhattan Project during WWII, rather than the experience of a small developing country that has had to import most of its technology from the West.
The PBS report talked about “precision bombing” and presented the Americans as only once attacking civilians, in the case of the assault on the infamous shelter. In truth, the American military deliberately targeted civilian structures. The 42 day military war against Iraq devastated more than military structures; Bush had ordered the destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic productivity throughout Iraq, a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The Pentagon said in the PBS report that “if it had known of the civilians [in the shelter], it wouldn’t have been bombed.” Is this to say that the Pentagon was not aware of the actions of their own government? A daytime air attack on a bridge in Nasiriya, in southern Iraq, killed at least 100 civilians. A similar attack on a bridge in Samawa killed over 100 civilians. More importantly, the entire city of Basra, with a population of over 800,000, was declared a target — despite the Geneva Convention prohibiting area bombing in cities, and the American alleged concern for the Iraqi civilians.
According to Ramsey Clark in his book “War Crimes: A Report of United States War Crimes Against Iraq,” “the United States intentionally bombed and destroyed civilian life, commercial and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, residential areas, historical sites, private vehicles and civilian government offices”. Even after the end of the military war, the U.S. periodically fire-bombed the agricultural fields in Iraq, as if to ensure the deaths of the civilians through malnutrition and starvation.
Approximately 150 American soldiers died during the war, most of them by friendly fire. The Iraqi victims killed strictly due to the military onslaught were more than 200,000. Clearly, this was not a war- – but a massacre. And the massacre continues.
This PBS television series failed to discuss the deathly consequences of the continued use of sanctions against the Iraqi people. The Frontline Gulf War account came at the time when the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report revealed that more than 564,000 children under the age of five have died as a direct result of the sanctions on Iraq. In addition, 23 percent of all Iraqi children have stunted growth. More than 70 percent of all pregnant Iraqi women are anemic. In all, according to the most conservative estimates, more than one million Iraqis have died due to these sanctions. More than four million people in Iraq are under imminent threat of death or severe permanent injury due to malnutrition. The victims include 2.4 million children under five, some 600,000 pregnant women, nursing mothers, and hundreds of thousands of elderly.
Prior to the embargo, which began in August 1990, Iraq used to import 75 percent of all its food products. Thus, due to the embargo, 75 percent of the country’s food products have been cut dramatically while Iraq’s economy lay in ruins. In addition, currently the food industry is operating at only a fraction of its pre-blockade level because severe constraints on agricultural machinery, food seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have resulted in a dramatic decline in agricultural output. Furthermore, both as a result of the deliberate military bombardment of the water and sanitation systems and the present lack of supplies, due to the embargo, needed for repairs, the water and sanitation system throughout Iraq has been dangerously degraded, resulting in the spread of many infectious diseases such as typhoid fever, infective hepatitis, and nutritional marasmus.
Due to the hyperinflation and high cost of basic food items, many people have been selling household and personal belongings to buy food. People in collective villages in the north were seen selling bricks and other building materials, which they obtained by pulling down their own homes. Consequently, the number of beggars and street children has increased enormously.
The situation of famine throughout the country has been prevented largely by the government system of public rationing. Due to lack of funds, this system provides only a third of the food energy available prior to the embargo. However, the whole system is unsustainable and its eventual collapse may result in a mass famine.
The United Nations FAO report concluded that both the cause of Iraq’s problems and the solution to those problems are clear. The problems are that without hard currency, the country cannot purchase food, medicines, spare parts, machinery, fertilizers, seeds, herbicides, and other agricultural supplies. Without spare parts for pumps and other needed materials necessary for the water supply and sewage disposal system, impure water and sewage backups produce severe health risks for the population. The combination of decreased food availability and the occurrence of infectious disease results in increasing malnutrition, especially in children.
And what is the solution? End the war on Iraq. End the sanctions on Iraq, and allow Iraq to resume trade. There can be absolutely no justification for the deaths of children, and children are dying from malnutrition and infectious diseases caused by the lack of food, medicine, hard currency, and spare parts needed to repair essential life-supporting systems.
More than eighty years ago, Gibran Khalil Gibran wrote of the famine in Lebanon in W.W.I. Unfortunately, today his words apply again to the famine imposed upon Iraq.
“The death of my people is a silent accusation; it is a crime conceived by the heads of the unseen serpents…They died silently, for humanity had closed its ears to their cry. … What can be done for those who are dying? Our lamentations will not satisfy their hunger, and our tears will not quench their thirst; what can we do to save them from between the iron paws of hunger? My brother, the kindness which compels you to give apart of your life to any human who is in the shadow of losing his life is the only virtue which makes you worthy of the light of day and the peace of night.”
“Slaughter” Is Something Other Countries Do
EXTRA! May/June ’91, Best of EXTRA!
The end of saturation coverage of the Gulf War has left some journalists feeling nostalgic. “Mark Thompson, defense correspondent for Knight-Ridder Newspapers, says his days feel shapeless without the comforting rhythm of the morning briefing from Riyadh and the afternoon session at the Pentagon,” according to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz (3/25/91).
“There’s nothing better for a journalist than to know what the story of the day is,” Thompson told Kurtz. “The worst thing for reporters is to mope around sifting through ashes looking for a story, and that’s what everyone is doing now.”
Thompson should be pleased with coverage in March and April: Reporters were generally able to avoid ash-sifting in favor of dutifully reporting the story of the day. The main theme was the violence being inflicted on the Iraqi people by the Iraqi government — somehow a more interesting subject than the violence inflicted on the Iraqi people by the U.S. government.
“Americans are appalled by the spectacle of Iraqi forces slaughtering Kurds and Shiites,” wrote New York Times columnist Leslie Gelb (3/31/91). Why were they appalled by those killings, and not the several-times greater death toll inflicted by U.S. bombing? Was it because mass media outlets played down reports by refugees fleeing U.S. bombs, and played up those featuring Iraqi guns? Or because commentators like Gelb scrupulously avoided using words like “slaughter” to describe damage caused by their own government?
NBC’s John Chancellor (3/20/91) similarly lamented that Saddam Hussein was “slaughtering his own people” — an act presumably much worse than slaughtering someone else’s people, since Chancellor managed to not use the word “slaughter” during the six weeks that U.S.-led forces were killing as many as 30,000 Iraqis per week. CNN Crossfire co-host Patrick Buchanan displayed concern for Iraqi victims only after the U.S. quit doing the killing: “Is George Bush going to stand by while Saddam Hussein kills tens of thousands of Iraqis?”
A news analysis in the New York Times (3/31/91) carried the headline “‘Clean Win’ in the War With Iraq Drifts Into a Bloody Aftermath”. “Clean win,” a quote from Colin Powell, was not used ironically — the lead used the phrase “clean win” as an accurate description of a victory that “was being soiled by the bloodbath it had unleashed inside Iraq.”
Reporting on atrocities by Iraq has been specific and graphic, while accounts of damage caused by the U.S. were vague and abounded in euphemisms. Maintaining the embargo with the aim of causing famine and epidemic in Iraq was described by the New York Times (3/22/91) as a policy of “making life uncomfortable for the Iraqi people,” in order to “encourage them to remove” Saddam from power.
A chart titled “Re-examining the Toll” (New York Times, 3/25/91) included detailed breakdowns on Iraqi losses of tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers — but no mention of human life. The Iraqi people also disappeared in a Washington Post chart listing U.S. casualties (Americans killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner) along with “Iraqi losses” (2,085 tanks, 962 armored vehicles, 1,005 artillery pieces, 103 aircraft destroyed).
To find the human toll caused by U.S. weapons, one often had to look in the nooks and crannies — like U.S. News & World Report’s “Washington Whispers”page (4/1/91), which featured this one-paragraph item, captioned “The Grim Math”: “Although top U.S. commanders last week estimated that Iraq suffered at least 100,000 military deaths during the war, other sources in the Gulf say the final total — including civilian fatalities — will be at least twice that. These sources say the allied aerial attacks inflicted far more casualties than previously thought.”
The report of a possible 200,000 dead took up little more than an inch of space. At that rate, the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews would take up about 30 inches — and could almost be contained on one page in U.S. News & World Report.
by Reed Irvine (Accuracy in Media May-A, 1999, www.aim.org (evidence that it was Croatians that started the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia)
“An Accuracy in Media survey of broadcast news reports at the time of the 1995 Croatian military attack shows that leading media personalities did their best to obscure the nature of what the Croats had done. On the NBC Nightly News, anchorman Tom Brokaw said the Serbs had been living in “contested Croatian territory,” as if they had no legitimate right to be there. While the Croatian military attack received some page-one coverage from the Washington Post and the New York Times, newspapers tended to mirror the bias of the broadcast media implying that the Serbs who were forced to flee had no right to be in the area. Post reporter John Pomfret called Krajina the “rebel region,”…….The Wall Street Journal editorial page went so far as to call the Croatian ethnic cleansing of the Serbs “refreshing.”
“By contrast, the Serbs had never carried out this kind of ethnic cleansing. Milosevic made the point to Ron Hatchett of KHOU-TV of Houston, that “There was never a policy to expel any citizen of Yugoslavia from any part of the country” during the wars which took place when the country broke apart….. This was confirmed to us by James Hill, a 30-year veteran of the newspaper business who is now a manage of media studies center at the Heritage Foundation…..’Krajina Serbs had been there for well over 300 years.’
“Raymond Bonner of the NEW YORK TIMES noted that the offensive (to expel the Serbs) ‘was carried out with the tacit blessing of the United States by a Croatian Army that had been schooled in part by a group of retired American military officers.'”
THE MASS DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ An excellent site with detailed historical reports of American media lies and distortions. As the authors point out one reads far more truth in the Israeli and European press than gets reported in America.
FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (IRAQ PAGE) Detailed stories