FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Media Declares War on Anti-War Protests

by MICKEY Z.

The August 26, 2004 New York Daily News headline blared: ANARCHY, INC. The idea, of course, was to paint the upcoming RNC protests with the broad brush of corporate media propaganda. An influential ingredient of wartime spin is shaping public perception of the anti-war movement. As a result, coverage of demonstrations is usually a tepid combination of low crowd estimates and footage of police arresting “unruly” protestors.

“War, and the threat of war, sells newspapers,” says media analyst Danny Schechter. “Peace does not. The ‘action’ of war builds TV ratings. In contrast, the quieter work of diplomacy and negotiations is boring and not highly visual. War gives journalists a chance to show how brave they are in a macho sport where only the strong survive. Peace is far headier, an intellectual’s vocation, a game for lawyers, softies and sissies.”

Protest for peace also suggests the turbulence of the 1960s…turbulence that led Lyndon Johnson to conclude, “The weakest link in our armor is American public opinion. Our people won’t stand firm in the face of heavy losses, and they can bring down the government.” The protests didn’t end with the Sixties. At a 1971 anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, 14,000 protestors were arrested. As author H. Bruce Franklin notes, 14,000 would have been considered a “good size march in 1965.”

Clearly, our “memories” of that era must be purified.

“The antiwar movement has been so thoroughly discredited,” says Franklin. “One would never be able to guess from public discourse that for every American veteran of combat in Vietnam, there must be twenty veterans of the antiwar movement.”

One reason for this is the media distortion of who opposes war. Protest is portrayed as a hobby for affluent white college students…a slight detour on the road to Yuppiedom. Not true, says Franklin: “A Gallup poll in January 1971 showed that 60 percent of those with a college education favored withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, 75 percent of those with a high school education favored withdrawal, and 80 percent of those with only a grade school education favored withdrawal.”

Context like this may not be ready for primetime, but retired generals are.

When Schechter says, “Hawks rule the TV studios even as doves line the streets,” he referring to the growing number of men in uniform embedded on the nightly news-especially during U.S. military interventions. It’s difficult to discover much of anything about the peace movement from a corporate media that relies almost entirely on retired military men as wartime commentators. While such veterans may have obvious advantages in discussing military strategy, it’s vital to remember that few if any anti-war “experts” are paid by networks and granted a national audience.

During the 1999 U.S./NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, one of CNN’s military analysts, Lt. Gen. Dan Benton, U.S. Army (Ret.), gave us an illustrative example of what the networks are paying for:

“I don’t know what our countrymen that are questioning why we’re involved in this conflict are thinking about. As I listened to this press conference this morning, with reports of rapes, villages being burned, and this particularly incredible report of blood banks, of blood being harvested from young boys for the use of Yugoslav forces, I just got madder and madder. The United States has a responsibility as the only superpower in the world, and when we learn about these things, somebody has got to stand up and say, ‘That’s enough, stop it, we aren’t going to put up with this.'”

Such analysis ignores (deliberately or otherwise) the existence of wartime spin.

As the bombardment of Yugoslavia continued, Pacifica’s Amy Goodman posed this question to CNN’s senior vice president for political coverage Frank Sesno: “If you support the practice of putting ex-military men-generals-on the payroll to share their opinion during a time of war, would you also support putting peace activists on the payroll to give a different opinion during a time of war?”

“We bring the generals in because of their expertise in a particular area,” Sesno replied. “We call them analysts. We don’t bring them in as advocates. In fact, we actually talk to them about that-they’re not there as advocates.”

From January 30, 2003 to February 12, 2003, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) examined such “analysts,” the “on-camera sources who appeared in nightly news stories about Iraq on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” FAIR found 267 of the 393 on-camera sources were from the U.S. and 75 percent (199) were either current or former government or military officials. “Only one of the official U.S. sources-Sen. Edward Kennedy-expressed skepticism or opposition to the war,” says FAIR, but the best Kennedy could muster was self-interest masked by vagueness. “Once we get in there, how are we going to get out?” he asked on NBC Nightly News on February 5, 2003…conveniently neglecting any mention of the legality of such an intervention.

Consistent with the media military invasion described above, of the 393 sources, 297 were either current or retired officials and only four were skeptics or opponents of war. “Such a predominance of official sources virtually assures that independent and grassroots perspectives will be underrepresented,” FAIR concluded.

Where’s “Anarchy, Inc.” when you need it?

This article is excerpted from MICKEY Z.’s book, “The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda” (Common Courage Press). For more information, please visit http://www.mickeyz.net.

 

 

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail