Military-mass media complex

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The military-mass media complex, related to the military-industrial complex, is "a more insidious, possibly even more damaging, alliance unfolding," according to Guy Reel. [1]

"Not long ago," Reel writes, "the American press was the best in the world. But within the past ten years or so, its interests have coincided too closely with state interests, so that in many cases it has become a vehicle for the government. This development, one would think, would alarm conservatives who profess a distrust of government. Yet they seem all too happy to let the press abandon its watchdog role, as long as it fits with their agenda. Their distrust of government apparently does not include a distrust of that most laborious of government bureaucracies, the military."

Reel cites examples:

  • The recent case of Sinclair Broadcast Group's boycott on its affiliates when "ABC's Nightline showed the pictures of 721 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. ... Sinclair CEO David Smith said he believed that Ted Koppel's attempt to give faces to the dead amounted to a political statement against the war." See Media control: Sinclair Broadcast Group for details.
  • "Walt Disney company announced that it was blocking its Miramax Division from distributing a film by Michael Moore that links the Bush family with prominent Saudis, including Osama bin Laden."
  • "Fox News, controlled by Bush supporter Rupert Murdoch, who has been given even more control of the airwaves by the Republican-dominated FCC, is a primary outlet for favorable White House and Iraq War news."
  • "Rush Limbaugh, who is in effect a White House spokesman, speaks to millions of radio listeners daily in the most demeaning of tones as he propagandizes for the war and against Democrats and John Kerry."
  • "Even mainstream media outlets such as CNN or CBS ran American flags as part of their run-up-to-war coverage."

Also, Reel points to the current situation at Abu Ghraib, the Enemy Prisoner of War prison where reports of brutality by U.S., British, and outsourced private military contractors are nearing the "war crimes" threshhold:

"In addition, the apologists for the military in the mass media tended to downplay the images of the humiliation of Iraqi soldiers. One compared the activities to fraternity hazing. And a right-wing radio host said the treatment of Iraqis was nothing compared to the torture endured by many U.S. soldiers - as if that was the standard by which we should judge ourselves."

Reel opines: "In the 20th Century, America became a mass communications state. Our chief exports now include the cultural, entertainment and news products spewed out by vast media conglomerates. When the media moguls in control of these products decide they want to promote an agenda - in this case the interests of the military-mass media complex- we are entering extremely dangerous territory. We are lulling half a nation to sleep with the exploits of Dharma and Greg while our news divisions hesitate to show the consequences of an optional war."

In Bill Moyers' May 7, 2004, "The Media, Politics and Censorship" for AlterNet he writes:

"Freedom of the press, it has been famously said, is guaranteed only to those who own one. ... That's just the point. These media giants can be within their rights even while doing wrong. It's the system, dear Brutus, the system...a cartel, in effect, of big companies and big government scratching each other's back."

"Iraq War Pundits" Got It Wrong

Ted Rall, in his May 18, 2004, "Fire the War Pimps. Zero Tolerance for Iraq War Pundits," writes:

"A year and a half late and 30,000 lives short, supporters of the war in Iraq finally admit that they were wrong."
  • Bill O'Reilly, "formerly a ferocious advocate of the Iraqi invasion, was one of the first media war promoters to concede that Iraq had never been a threat to the United States. 'I was wrong,' he told ABC in February. 'I think every American should be very concerned' that weapons of mass destruction have not been found."
  • David Brooks, who said "'We were going to topple Saddam, establish democracy and hand the country back to grateful Iraqis. We expected to be universally admired when it was all over. For us to succeed in Iraq,' he concludes now, 'we have to lose [to the insurgency].'"
  • Tucker Carlson from CNN, who says "'I supported the war and now I feel foolish.'"
  • Thomas Friedman, "who spilled tens of thousands of words pushing a war sold using lies, confesses that he projected good intent on a White House where idealism was in short supply: 'I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq--from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence--because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong.'"
  • Fareed Zakaria, "Newsweek hawk," "finally gets it: 'On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq, [Bush's] assumptions and policies have been wrong. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw.'"

Rall says "Had they stood firmly against the war and Bush, on the right side of history, they might have helped slow or even reverse the rush to war during the winter of 2002-3. Their failure to accurately assess the case for war, coupled with their willful blindness to this Administration's neofascist tendencies, contributed to needless carnage, attacks on individual rights and the creation of dozens of covert CIA gulags around the world. Every time someone was raped at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base or Gitmo, Tom Friedman and Christopher Hitchens and Bill O'Reilly and David Brooks were de facto accomplices."

"They should have known better--lots of us did," Rall writes, "Or they did know better and lied about it. Whether their integrity or their intelligence was compromised, they should never again be taken seriously.

"The pro-war pundits got the biggest story of their careers dead wrong. Now a lot of people are wrongly dead. The fact that this sorry lot still draw paychecks is a tribute to America's infinite capacity for forgiveness."


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