FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Flag-Draped Coffins and the Seattle Times

by MIKE WHITNEY

On April 18, The Seattle Times ran a photograph of flag-draped coffins leaving Iraq on the front page of its Sunday edition. Since then, the photograph has been circulated around the world and its author, Tami Silicio, has become an overnight celebrity.

For its part, the Seattle Times has run a front page segment every day, (for the last 8 days) extracting every bit of life it can from the well-worn photograph.

The reader response has been overwhelming, with thousands of e mails filing in from around the world. Most of those writing have been supportive of both Silicio and the Times for publishing the picture, although their have been a few strident critics of the policy.

Despite the groundswell of public approval, the President and the Pentagon have said that the policy of photographing the coffins of dead soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base will not change. They know as well as anyone that support for the war in Iraq is likely to shift quickly if Americans become more familiar with its terrible cost.

The story is as illustrative of the abysmal coverage of the ongoing conflict as it is of the heavy-handed state censorship that keeps such pictures out of public view.

How is it that more than a year has passed without seeing one casket, one dead soldier or one maimed civilian?

When Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman asked CNN’s Aaron Brown why they weren’t showing footage of casualties, Brown responded that it might be seen to be in poor taste. It’s poor taste when the electorate is informed of the realities of war, but not when TV reels off the hundreds of violent acts that are considered routine on an evenings programming.

No one is confused by Brown’s analysis. Most people understand that showing the bloody mess in Iraq would have dire political consequences; consequences that might be incompatible with the long-range goals of America’s pro-war media.

And no one should be confused about the Seattle Times transformation into “defender of the First Amendment,” a pathetic ruse if ever there was one. The Times has taken a photograph that should be the average fare for any truly free press, and is trying to make it look like the second drafting of the Declaration of Independence. The amount of self congratulations in running the photo is downright embarrassing.

The Times record in the area of free speech is somewhat dimmed by its lawsuit against its city rival, The Seattle PI. The Times is doing whatever it can to undermine the JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) which is the PI’s only lifeline to continuing in the Seattle market. If the Times lawsuit succeeds the PI will be forced to close its doors and the Times will be in the enviable position of being the only newspaper in town.

In other words, free speech is just fine with the editors of the Times as long as all other voices are effectively silenced.

Anyone who reads the Times knows that they’ve been on board with virtually every right wing policy emerging from the Bush White House. They even went so far as to endorse the war in Iraq a full month before Bush called for the invasion. (While the weapons inspectors were still on the ground and the UN was not involved) The Times has never backtracked or apologized for its original support of the war even in the face of the overwhelming evidence that it was based on false pretenses.

Instead, they have augmented their error by endorsing the dubious policy of “democratizing” Iraq, even while the carnage in both Fallujah and Baghdad steadily increases.

The Times may imagine itself as “rebelling” against the directives from the Pentagon or as an ardent defender of free speech, but the truth is far different.

The photograph may shore up the Times crumbling credibility, but it will never atone for the many who died in Iraq with the newspaper’s tacit approval.

 

 

 

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail