FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq vs. Tsunami

 

The American media has descended on the Asian tsunami with all the fervor of feral animals in a meat locker. The newspapers and TV’s are plastered with bodies drifting out to sea, battered carcasses strewn along the beach and bloated babies lying in rows. Every aspect of the suffering is being scrutinized with microscopic intensity by the predatory lens of the media.

This is where the western press really excels; in the celebratory atmosphere of human catastrophe. Their penchant for misery is only surpassed by their appetite for profits.

Where was this “free press” in Iraq when the death toll was skyrocketing towards 100,000? So far, we we,ve seen nothing of the devastation in Falluja where more than 6,000 were killed and where corpses were lined along the city’s streets for weeks on end. Is death less photogenic in Iraq? Or, are there political motives behind the coverage?

Wasn’t Ted Koppel commenting just days ago, that the media was restricting its coverage of Iraq to show sensitivity for the squeamishness of its audience? He reiterated the mantra that filming dead Iraqis was “in bad taste” and that his American audience would be repelled by such images? How many times have we heard the same rubbish from Brokaw, Jennings and the rest of their ilk?

Well, it looks like Koppel and the others have quickly switched directions. The tsunami has turned into a 24 hour-a-day media frenzy of carnage and ruin; exploring every facet of human misery in agonizing detail. The festival of bloodshed is chugging ahead at full-throttle and it’s bumping up ratings in the process.

Corporate media never fails to astound even the most jaded viewer. Just when it appears that they,ve hit rock-bottom, they manage to slip even deeper into the morass of sensationalism. The manipulation of calamity is particularly disturbing, especially when disaster is translated into a revenue windfall. Koppel may disparage “bad taste”, but his boardroom bosses are more focused on the bottom line. Simply put, tragedy is good for business.

When it comes to Iraq, however, the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. No station would dare show a dead Marine or even an Iraqi national mutilated by an errant American bomb. That might undermine the patriotic objectives of our mission; to democratize the natives and enter them into the global economic system. Besides, if Iraq was covered like the tsunami, public support would erode more quickly than the Thai coastline, and Americans would have to buy their oil rather than extracting it at gunpoint. What good would that do?

Looks like the media’s got it right; carnage IS different in Iraq than Thailand, Indonesia or India. The Iraqi butchery is part of a much grander schema; a plan for conquest, subjugation and the theft of vital resources, the foundation blocks for maintaining white privilege into the next century.

The Iraq conflict is an illustration of how the media is governed by the political agenda of ownership. The media cherry-picks the news according to the requirements of the investor class; dumping footage (like dead American soldiers) that doesn’t support their policies. That way, information can be fit into the appropriate doctrinal package; one that serves corporate interests. It’s a matter of selectively excluding anything that compromises the broader, imperial objectives. Alternatively, the coverage of the Asian tsunami allows the media to whet the public’s appetite for tragedy and feed the macabre preoccupation with misfortune. Both tendencies are an affront to honest journalism and to any reasonable commitment to an informed citizenry.

The uneven coverage (of Iraq and the tsunami) highlights an industry in meltdown.

Today’s privately owned media may bury one story, and yet, manipulate another to boost ratings. They are just as likely to exploit the suffering of Asians, while ignoring the pain of Iraqis. Neither brings us closer to the truth. It’s simply impossible to derive a coherent world view from the purveyors of soap suds and dog food. They,re more devoted to creating a compatible atmosphere for consumerism than conveying an objective account of events.

We need a media that is dedicated to straightforward standards of impartiality and excellence, not one that’s rooted in commercialism, exploitation and hyperbole.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

 

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.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail