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Monday, March 24, 2014

Eleven Years Ago: Some Hit Media Hype on Iraq Invasion

On this weekend in 2003, we were just a few days into the invasion of Iraq, which was being roundly hailed and glorified by TV and the press, with questioning voices shut out.  Actually,  the NYT ran a couple of strong pieces that noted this.  Book critic Michiko Kakutani did double duty, with a column noting the cheerleading and all the movie comparisons:  "There is an element of this inability on the part of eyewitnesses to the war, but there is also an element of willful sensationalism and sentimentality on the part of producers who want to keep viewers from switching channels."

And Lucian Truscott IV, the former West Point man, observed:
The Pentagon may have been dragged kicking and screaming into its current embrace of the news media. But it is making the most of it. Planners must have contemplated advances in media technology and decided that if they can't control the press, they may as well use it.
And make no mistake: the news media are being used -- in more ways than they realize. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld first announced that reporters would be welcome in the trenches, members of the media were suspicious. After all, this was the same Pentagon that kept journalists far from the front lines during the Persian Gulf war.
Yet from reporters inhaling the exhaust of infantry units to bleary-eyed New York anchors spellbound by squads of generals analyzing the data stream, the news media have marched practically in lock step with the military.
Not since the halcyon days of Ronald Reagan has an administration been so adept at managing information and manipulating images. In Iraq, the Bush administration has beaten the press at its own game. It has turned the media into a weapon of war, using the information it provides to harass and intimidate the Iraqi military leadership.
Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on the media and the Iraq war, was published today in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce Springsteen.   

1 comment:

Laurence Glavin said...

I'm not sure it was necessarily related to the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, but Buzzfeed on Sunday displayed several home pages of news sites in 2003. Some are completely different due to changes in web usage since then; some, ok one, Drudgereport is identical! One that stood out was Talkingpointsmemo.com at that time. there was a quote by General Merrill McPeak in which he forecast how such an invasion could turn out, a forecast delivered well before the act itself. General McPeak had been a Republican while on active duty; but after George W. Bush's calamitous prosecution of the war, he changed parties and endorsed Obama in 2008. He's still alive; I think he might make a good interviewee somewhere now.