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.

 

 

 

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail