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| | |-+  Iraq Vs. Tsunami: The Duplicity Of The Media
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Author Topic: Iraq Vs. Tsunami: The Duplicity Of The Media  (Read 12727 times)
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Posts: 396


« on: January 02, 2005, 08:34:20 AM »

Iraq Vs. Tsunami: The Duplicity Of The Media         
by Mike Whitney       

The American media has descended on the Asian tsunami with all the fervor of feral animals in a meat locker. The newspapers and TV’s are plastered with bodies drifting out to sea, battered carcasses strewn along the beach and bloated babies lying in rows. Every aspect of the suffering is being scrutinized with microscopic intensity by the predatory lens of the media.

This is where the western press really excels: in the celebratory atmosphere of human catastrophe. Their penchant for misery is only surpassed by their appetite for profits.

Where was this “free press” in Iraq when the death toll was skyrocketing towards 100,000? So far, we’ve seen nothing of the devastation in Falluja where more than 6,000 were killed and where corpses were lined along the city’s streets for weeks on end. Is death less photogenic in Iraq? Or, are there political motives behind the coverage?

Wasn’t Ted Koppel commenting just days ago, that the media was restricting its coverage of Iraq to show sensitivity for the squeamishness of its audience? He reiterated the mantra that filming dead Iraqis was “in bad taste” and that his American audience would be repelled by such images? How many times have we heard the same rubbish from Brokaw, Jennings and the rest of their ilk?

Well, it looks like Koppel and the others have quickly switched directions. The tsunami has turned into a 24 hour-a-day media frenzy of carnage and ruin, exploring every facet of human misery in agonizing detail.

The festival of bloodshed is chugging ahead at full-throttle and it’s bumping up ratings in the process.

Corporate media never fails to astound even the most jaded viewer. Just when it appears that they’ve hit rock-bottom, they manage to slip even deeper into the morass of sensationalism. The manipulation of calamity is particularly disturbing, especially when disaster is translated into a revenue windfall. Koppel may disparage “bad taste”, but his boardroom bosses are more focused on the bottom line. Simply put, tragedy is good for business.

When it comes to Iraq, however, the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. No station would dare show a dead Marine or even an Iraqi national mutilated by an errant American bomb. That might undermine the patriotic objectives of our mission: to democratize the natives and enter them into the global economic system. Besides, if Iraq was covered like the tsunami, public support would erode extremely quickly, and Americans would have to buy their oil rather than extracting it at gunpoint. What good would that do?

Looks like the media’s got it right: carnage IS different in Iraq than Thailand, Indonesia or India. The Iraqi butchery is part of a much grander scheme: a plan for conquest, subjugation and the theft of vital resources, the foundation blocks for maintaining white privilege into the next century.

The Iraq conflict is an illustration of how the media is governed by the political agenda of ownership. The media cherry-picks the news according to the requirements of the investor class, dumping footage (like dead American soldiers) that doesn’t support their policies. That way, information can be fit into the appropriate doctrinal package, one that serves corporate interests. It’s a matter of selectively excluding anything that compromises the broader, imperial objectives. Alternatively, the coverage of the Asian tsunami allows the media to whet the public’s appetite for tragedy and feed the macabre preoccupation with misfortune. Both tendencies are an affront to honest journalism and to any reasonable commitment to an informed citizenry.

The uneven coverage (of Iraq and the tsunami) highlights an industry in meltdown. Today’s privately owned media may bury one story, and yet, manipulate another to boost ratings. They are just as likely to exploit the suffering of Asians, while ignoring the pain of Iraqis. Neither brings us closer to the truth. It’s simply impossible to derive a coherent worldview from the purveyors of soap suds and dog food. They’re more devoted to creating a compatible atmosphere for consumerism than conveying an objective account of events.

We need a media that is dedicated to straightforward standards of impartiality and excellence, not one that’s rooted in commercialism, exploitation and hyperbole.


Posts: 1788


« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2005, 09:21:01 AM »

Powell and Little Bro Should Stay Home

By Linda Edwards

As the Bush administration stumbles towards its response to the South Asian Disaster, tacking on pieces of response as the days move forward, I want to suggest to responsible news agencies that they urge the administration to cancel the proposed trip to South Asia. My specific reasons are as follows:

1. The visit will/could distract essential personnel, both civilian and military, from the critical tasks of road clearing, ministering to the sick, burying the dead and sheltering the homeless. It will not be a problem of resources, because we generally carry our own, but a question of detracting from the issue.

2. The visit could invite all sorts of anti-US groups, from outside the area, to take potshots at these important people, in this period of vulnerability of all affected countries; and if that happens, there will of course be a military response, and before you know what's happening, we are involved in a war there when our intention was to help.

3. The third issue is, who specifically invited them? India, Sri Lanka, Thailand?, Indonesia? Myanmar? Bangladesh? If we invited ourselves, as is most probably the case, these people are too polite to say not to come. So they get involved in a mad scramble to accommodate the Big Wigs, and weaken in the process, the fragile but essential task of caring for the needy.

Someone on CNN yesterday asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan if he was going. He did not answer the question. Clearly the answer is no, he has people on the ground who know what to do, and he knows his visit would be a distraction.

Sometimes, we blunder into intercultural situations using our own roadmaps. If this was an American disaster, on American soil, a visit from the head of state to the distressed area would have been almost mandatory, but the situation is different in South Asia. Distressed people do not need to be in one more TV picture, attempting to grin around their pain. They do not need another wound lifted into the cameras of the world.

How many other high level delegations from donor countries are going? Is Tony Blair of Britain? James Howard of Australia, is someone from China going? Germany? Spain? Is Sonia Ghandi of India going to tour the other distressed areas? What do these other high level people know that we do not? This, and simply this: That the high cost of the safety and protection of this delegation would be an unnecessary strain on the resources of the countries chosen for this visit. Colin and Jeb are not in the same league as Diana of Wales visiting land mine victims in Angola.

These are two right arms of America's Military Might going into a devastated area, accompanied by two aircraft carriers, (the one from Diego Garcia has not been mentioned in the news for two days, so maybe it turned back,) and their support ships.

I would suggest that the delegation led by Colin and Little Bro itself turn back, or not start at all. Sending navy ships with water filtration plants and hospitals is a sign of peace, sending Colin Powell, even though he has been the most moderate of the first Bush cabinet, could be read by many in terms other than those of peace.

So, scratch the delegation. Send the money. Trust those already on the ground to know what's needed, or at the very least, stay on board ship.

That way, the burden of guilt will not fall on any country if these sanitized people catch something from the polluted area, and the burden of protecting them would be America's alone. Since our top people could see aircraft carriers in Newport News and Dan Diego, why go at all? The criticism about a slow response, a less than generous response, will not go away by this visit. Other countries, with so much less, of people and resources, have already given so much more.

I hope the news agencies that receive this will not only be content to send me the routine acknowledgement letter, but will do something further about the ideas contained herein.

Happy New Year to you all.

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