Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Iraq, the Press and the Election

Under normal circumstances, if one of the regular bloggers on ASZ is linking to a Tom Engelhardt piece, we're doing it through his site, tomdispatch.com. I'm going to make an exception tonight, in the hopes that you'll not only read the piece that Tom prefaces, but that you'll bookmark the root site - motherjones.com. There's a lot of good reading at Mother Jones, and it really should be one of your regular cyberstops.

Tonight on Mother Jones, Tom introduces a piece written by Michael Massing, in advance of its publication in the 12/16/2004 NY Review of Books. Massing discusses the absolute lapses in coverage that the mainstream media has given to the true situation in Iraq. Michael's frustration is most evident in the first paragraph of his article:

In the end, the war in Iraq did not have the decisive impact on the election that many had expected. In the weeks before the vote there were the massacre of forty-nine Iraqi police trainees; a deadly attack inside the previously impenetrable Green Zone in Baghdad; the refusal by an army unit to carry out a supply mission on the grounds that it was too dangerous; the explosion of several car bombs at a ceremony where soldiers were handing out candy, killing dozens of children; the abduction of contractors, journalists, and aid workers, including the director of the CARE office in Baghdad; the release of a report holding the highest reaches of the Pentagon and the military responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib; a report by President Bush's hand-picked investigator confirming that Iraq had long ago lost its ability to produce weapons of mass destruction; and the spread of the insurgency to every corner of the country, bringing reconstruction to a virtual halt. All of this, in the end, counted for less to voters (if the exit polls are to be believed) than such issues as whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry and whether discarded embryos should be used for stem cell research...

Michael's article is long, involved, and important. In raw terms, it's a thorough indictment of the U.S. media for completely missing the story in Iraq. The quest for ratings, access, and "embededness" has, unquestionably, driven the U.S. news media in the direction of a subjugated propaganda tool for Uncle Sam.

Free press?

Only those outlets that are truly willing to cut through the veneer and facade, and in the process, amenable to being marginalized to the point of being insignificant in the public debate. As unfortunate as it may be, any mainstream press outlet not toeing the "party line" is frozen out and/or branded as either 'fringe' or 'terrorist supporting'.

Yes, the Bush administration has been very successful in the implementation of its most basic tenet: "You're either with us, or against us."

And if you're perceived as against them, they will bring the full weight of their power to bear in discrediting you to the point that you can't buy a vegemite sandwich in a Sydney deli.

Case in point: Ronnie Earle - the next Jim Garrison.