Wednesday, March 22, 2006

News coverage of Iraq

Bush/Cheney and their camp followers complain that the news coverage of Iraq slants toward the car-bombings and the battles with insurgents instead of toward the positives in the country: building of schools, digging of sewer lines, whatever. Well, Bush/Cheney, you "gotta understand", you folks have conditioned us Americans to react to dramatic events, you've indeed created a political base upon such a culture of fear and destruction, that you surely can't complain that that same culture drives the media in its war coverage. After all, you're the ones who started Shock&Awe, who placed reporters in the tanks of our Army, who reveled in the filming of the toppling of Saddam's statue. Why now, when the war drags on, do you fail to understand that Americans love that stuff--the gore and violence--more than some bricklayer's tale of constructing a school?

Besides, it's gore and terror that the MSM--your best buddies--cover daily here in the US. Are you saying that the MSM should do differently in Iraq? We never learn of a new turnoff being constructed on highway 101--certainly not by TV coverage--so why should the US public be interested in such construction in Iraq? Borrrrring.

He who lives by Shock&Awe shall, hopefully, perish by it.

Postscript--Herewith is the text of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that tracks the foregoing and that might, maybe, get published since it meets the 250-word limit of the paper and is, of course, brilliant.


You complain that news from Iraq is slanted toward the negative—the deaths, the violence—resulting from US occupation: car-bombings, kidnappings, insurgent attacks. You complain that sufficient coverage isn’t given to “positives”: reconstruction of schools, sewers, bridges. Well, fellas, let me tell you why this is.

First, the “positives” aren’t very positive. Most projects consist of our rebuilding—at outlandish cost—infrastructure that your invasion demolished. Second, many aren’t proceeding, because the cost of keeping rebuilders from being killed has swallowed the money.

Third—the fundamental reason the reporting focuses on violence—is because the Americans who constitute your political base relish it. They don’t tune in to watch road-building and dam-building. They want drama: violence, that’s their fare. Telecasts of government projects? Borrrring. And fellas, you’re no dummies, you know the culture of your base. Indeed, for five years you’ve exploited it. Bigtime.

You trumpeted the horror of 9-11 to justify the invasion of Iraq. You invented “Shock & Awe” to market the bombing of Baghdad and reveled in its coverage. You embedded reporters with our troops to convey the blood-rush of war. You purveyed photos of Saddam’s sons’ corpses and of Saddam’s humiliation. You touted these images and they served you well. Indeed, they’ve kept you in power.

But now, fellas, your time’s up. The marketing of violence you’ve used to support your political position will now, let’s hope, bring an end to the occupation and, let’s further hope, your tenure.

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