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

March 28, 2017
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail