Remember the Iraq War? Remember the latest body count of innocent civilians? No? That’s okay because “Dancing with the Stars” was on TV and that is more important. Recently, Los Angeles’ ABC 7 Eyewitness News quickly talked about a case of police brutality in New York and then transitioned to another important issue to the public: the show “Dancing with the Stars.” MSN online featured a “Big Debate” not about the latest body count in Iraq, or the psychological damage inflicted upon millions of children whose homes are stormed every night by the United States military, but on whether Harrison Ford is “still cool.”
Yahoo wasn’t much better. Their story on Cindy McCain’s new Vogue spread simmered with the headline: “Cindy McCain’s Soft Side.” In the same section of Yahoo’s headlines read another oh-so-important bulletin: “It’s curtains for these canceled TV shows.”
These are merely glimpses into the corporately controlled news that the American media dubs as “newsworthy.” Speaking at the National Center for Media Reform, independent journalist Amy Goodman spoke about George Bush’s censorship of the Iraq War.
“Even for one day [if people saw] babies dead on the ground, women with their legs cut off because of cluster bombs, dead and dying soldiers … if people in this country saw this – Americans are a compassionate people – they would say ‘War is not the answer to conflict in the 21st century,'” Goodman said.
Goodman compared the un-embedded journalism of Hurricane Katrina with the embedded, censored journalism of the Iraq War.
“But in New Orleans one of the first things President Bush did was to quickly say, ‘The media is not to show the dead bodies,’ but … the media was already there … and because they were already doing it he couldn’t stem the tide … But [the administration has] succeeded in doing it in Iraq,” Goodman said.
Following Goodman’s comments, social critic and author Phil Donahue echoed her sentiments.
“For example, how many civilians have been killed in Iraq? We don’t know because the media hasn’t really reported this. Effectively, [corporate] media has helped silence dissent; there’s no democracy without dissent, and media, led by Fox News … and the Republican Party, has spent millions and millions of dollars to paint people who dissent as ‘un-American,'” Donahue said.
Goodman also commented about the media’s contempt for mothers who have lost their children in the war and about how the powerful conservative elites in the Pentagon utilized language to propagandize the war. During the event, Goodman paused and told the audience that the administration had a name for the war before it became “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Originally, it was “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” but that tellingly would have created the acronym O.I.L.
Goodman was correct to describe the mainstream, corporate media as complicit with the propaganda of the Bush administration and forced the audience to realize that if the American press was like state media, the coverage would not be any different than it is now. From her lecture, I learned in horror that the American military has killed and tortured Associated Press and Reuters journalists who were not embedded with coalition troops.
Donahue went on to say how the lack of independent journalism in the U.S. has led to more and more corporate corruption. The event revealed the unfolding story of the Bush administration and Rupert Murdoch’s war against independent, free-thinking journalism, but Goodman ended on a hopeful note.
“They [the corporations] respond to you; you are the [real] leaders,” Goodman said.
Nathan Tumazi is a fourth-year international studies major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.