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.

 

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail