I just watched a film called ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’ by Danny Schechter ‘the news dissector’. It gives a fascinating insight into media war coverage, in particular the American media’s role in the run up to the Iraq war and during the Iraq war. It talks about how wars have been turned into ‘militainment’: the stylized dramatization of war as televised ‘action’, with added music and digital imagery, for effect. Some commentators noted the absence of bodies and gore in much of what is presented. The film talks about how pro-war the American media was in the run-up to Iraq; the lack of questioning or probing of any claims made by the Pentagon; the absence, in fact, of any real journalism. The inevitable conclusion is the the extent to which the American media has become a propaganda machine. For example: out of 800 experts used by the media in the run up to the war, only 8 were anti-war! One of the reasons for this, suggests the film, is the monopoly in media ownership by just a few people Additionally the film highlights the vested interests of the media. For example, the film reminds us that Fox News, known for the greatest of ‘inaccuracies’ in the run up to the war, is owned by General Electric, who made billions out of post-war contracts in Iraq.
There was also an extraordinary conflict of interests around the time of the Iraq war as the Bush administration was on the verge of handing out media deregulation laws worth billions to the media corporations. As a result there were definite vested interests in supporting the Bush regime. Unsurprisingly there was little discussion in the media of this massive policy handout. Danny Schechter asks ‘did the government agree to waive the rules if the media agreed to wave the flag?’
Embedded journalism and information control by the Pentagon was used during the war to control and standardize what information went out and when.
Dannny Schechter closes the documentary with a powerful summary: ‘media outlets suppress scrutiny of policy, preferring to show images rather than expose interests. Mass media covers the world through the eyes of the powerful downplaying the brutal impact of war, and its own role in promoting it’.
One commentator in the film, suggests that we need to bring democracy back to our media, with Danny Schechter asking ‘how are you going to ensure the accountability of our media’? A good question…..
(I decided to check out who actually does own the American Media and found out that today 7 Jewish Americans run the vast majority of US television networks, the printed press, the Hollywood movie industry, the book publishing industry and the recording industry). They are: Gerald Levi, CEO and Director of AOL Time Warner, Michael Eisner, Chair and CEO of Walt Disney, Edgar Bronfman Sr, Chair of Seagram Company Ltd, Edgar Bronfman, Jr, President and CEO of Seagram Company and head of Universal Studios, Sumner Redstone, Char and CEO of Viacom, Inc, Dennis Dammerman, Vice Chair of General Electric and Peter Chernin, President and co-COO of News Corporation Ltd. Those seven Jewish men collectively control ABC< NBC< CBS, the Turner Broadcasting system, CNN MTV, Universal Studios, MCA Records, Geffen Records, DGC Records, GRP Records, Rising Tide Records, Curb/Universal Records and Interscope Records.)