FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Media Tall Tales for the Next War

by NORMAN SOLOMON

The Sept. 25 edition of Time magazine illustrates how the U.S. news media are gearing up for a military attack on Iran. The headline over the cover-story interview with Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is “A Date With a Dangerous Mind.” The big-type subhead calls him “the man whose swagger is stirring fears of war with the U.S.,” and the second paragraph concludes: “Though pictures of the Iranian president often show him flashing a peace sign, his actions could well be leading the world closer to war.”

When the USA’s biggest newsweekly devotes five pages to scoping out a U.S. air war against Iran, as Time did in the same issue, it’s yet another sign that the wheels of our nation’s war-spin machine are turning faster toward yet another unprovoked attack on another country.

Ahmadinejad has risen to the top of Washington’s — and American media’s — enemies list. Within the last 20 years, that list has included Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, with each subjected to extensive vilification before the Pentagon launched a large-scale military attack.

Whenever the president of the United States decides to initiate or intensify a media blitz against a foreign leader, mainstream U.S. news outlets have dependably stepped up the decibels and hysteria. But the administration can also call off the dogs of war by going silent about the evils of some foreign tyrant.

Take Libya’s dictator, for instance. For more than a third of a century, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has been a despot whose overall record of repression makes Noriega or Milosevic seem relatively tolerant of domestic political foes. But ever since Qaddafi made a deal with the Bush administration in December 2003, the silence out of Washington about Qaddafi’s evilness has been notable.

When Qaddafi publicly celebrated the 37th anniversary of his dictatorship a few weeks ago, he declared in a speech on state television: “Our enemies have been crushed inside Libya, and you have to be ready to kill them if they emerge anew.” The New York Times noted that Qaddafi’s regime “criminalizes the creation of opposition parties.”

Today, while the human rights situation in Iran is reprehensible, the ongoing circumstances are far worse under many governments favored by Washington. Here at home, media outlets should be untangling double standards instead of contributing to them. But so many reporters and pundits have internalized Washington’s geopolitical agendas that the mainline institutions of journalism continue to rot from within. That the rot goes largely unnoticed is testimony to how Orwellian “doublethink” has been normalized.

These are not issues of professionalism any more than concerns about public health are issues of medicine. The news media should be early warning systems that inform us before current events become unchangeable history.

But when the media system undermines the free flow of information and prevents wide-ranging debate, what happens is a parody of democracy. That’s what occurred four years ago during the media buildup for the invasion of Iraq.

Now, warning signs are profuse: The Bush administration has Iran in the Pentagon’s sights. And the drive toward war, fueled by double standards about nuclear development and human rights, is getting a big boost from U.S. media coverage that portrays the president as reluctant to launch an attack on Iran.

Time magazine reports that “from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran … may be impossible to avoid.”

The same kind of media spin — assuming a sincere Bush desire to avoid war — was profuse in the months before the invasion of Iraq. The more that news outlets tell such fairy tales, the more they become part of the war machinery.

The paperback edition of NORMAN SOLOMON’s latest book, “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” was published this summer.

 

 

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail