FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Tsunami and the Corporate Media

The terrible earthquake/tsunami disaster, along coastlines of the Indian Ocean, left tens of thousands dead and many times more people homeless and weakened. Front pages news stories swept the US corporate media “12,000 dead, 40,000, 60,000 and 100,000 made progressive day by day headlines. Twenty-four hour TV news provided minute by minute updates with added photos and live aerial shots of the effected regions. As the days after unfolded, personal stories of survival and loss were added to the overall coverage. Unique stories such as the 20 day old miracle baby found floating on a mattress, and the eight year old who lost both parents and later found by her uncle, were human interest features. Individualized reports from Americans caught in the catastrophe made national news and numbers of Europeans, and North Americans involved were a key part of the continuing story. US embassies set up hotlines for relatives of possible victims to seek information. Quickly added into the corporate media mix was coverage on how the US was responding with relief aid and dollars. In Crawford, Texas President Bush announced that he had formed an international coalition to respond to the massive tsunami disaster.

The US corporate media coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, for most Americans, was shocking, and emotional. Empathic Americans, with the knowledge that a terrible natural disaster of huge significant to hundreds of thousands people had occurred, wanted to help in any way they could. Church groups held prayer sessions for the victims, and the Red Cross received an upsurge of donations.

The US corporate media coverage of the tsunami disaster exposes a huge hypocrisy in the US press. Left uncovered this past year was the massive disaster that has befell Iraqi civilians. Over 100,000 civilians have died since the beginning of the US invasion and hundreds of thousands more are homeless and weakened. In late October 2004 the British Lancet medical journal published a scientific survey of households in Iraq that calculated over 100,000 civilians, mostly women and children, have died from war related causes. The study, formulated and conducted by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University and the College of Medicine at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, involved a complex process of sampling households across Iraq to compare the numbers and causes of deaths before and after the invasion in March 2003. The mortality rate in these families worked out to 5 per 1,000 before the invasion and 12.3 per 1,000 after the invasion. Extrapolate the latter figure to the 22 million population of Iraq, and you end up with 100,000 total civilian deaths. The most common cause of death was aerial bombing followed by strokes and heart attacks. Recent civilian deaths in Fallujah would undoubtedly add significantly to the total.

The Iraqi word for disaster is museeba. Surly the lose of life from war in Iraq is as significant a meseeba as the Indian Ocean tsunami, yet where is the US corporate media coverage of thousands of dead and homeless? Where are the live aerial TV shots of the disaster zones and the up-close photos of the victims? Where are the survivor stories ” the miracle child who lived thought a building collapsed by US bombs and rescued by neighbors? Where are the government official’s press releases of regret and sorrow? Where is the international coalition for relief of civilians in Iraq and the upsurge in donations for Red Cross intervention? Would not Americans, if they knew, be just as caring about Iraqi deaths as they are for the victims of the tsunami?

The US corporate media has published Pentagon statements on civilian deaths in Iraq as unknown and dismissed the Lancet Medical Journal study. It seems US media concerns are for victims of natural disasters, while the man-made disasters, such as the deliberate invasion of another country by the US, are better left unreported.

PETER PHILLIPS is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research organization.

 

 

More articles by:

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The  FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Occupied Pelosi’s Office for 13 Days
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Jill Richardson
Standardized Tests are Biased and Unhelpful
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
Sarah Anderson
A Holiday Comeback for Toys ‘R’ Us?
Sherry Brennan
Cutting Food Aid Promotes Hunger Not Work
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail