FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Media Declares War on Anti-War Protests

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.

 

 

More articles by:

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.  

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail