Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

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War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Friday, November 21, 2003  
 George W. Bush Loves Michael Jackson

  By William Rivers Pitt
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective

  Friday 21 November 2003

  A number of explosions tore through the British consulate in Turkey today, killing scores of people. George W. Bush is in England, surrounded on all sides by enraged British citizens whose massive protests have required nearly every police officer in London to be put on the line of defense.

  This is happening in a nation that has been, both in government and among the populace, one of the strongest allies America has ever known. There are a couple of wars happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which are going very well. A great many soldiers and civilians have died in the last year. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, and after nearly 750 days, the American people have still been given no explanation for why September 11 happened.

  It is 3:16 p.m. on Thursday afternoon as I write this. CNN has been covering, with total exclusivity, a parking lot outside a police station for the last hour. They covered an airplane landing. They covered the same airplane sitting still on the tarmac. They covered the airplane slowly moving into a hangar. All the while, talking head after talking head explored every conceivable facet of the parking lot, the plane, the tarmac, and the hangar, as well as a variety of parallel issues. No stone of data was left unturned.

  Why? Michael Jackson is about to surrender to police.

For the rest of this editorial decrying how "celebrified" news is pushing out news of what we really need to know, see Truthout

8:03 AM

Thursday, November 20, 2003  
Bush Trip to England Bumped As Television Shifts Into High Gear to Report on Jackson Arrest Warrant

By Elizabeth Jensen
Times Staff Writer

November 20, 2003

[Blog Editor's note: There is no more clearcut example of how "infotainment" has come to overshadow serious news, even of a wartime president's visit to his number one ally, than American journalism's stampede to get the Jackson story on the air]

NEW YORK — President Bush was on an important trip to Britain, but it was an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson that prompted ABC, CBS and NBC to interrupt programming for special reports Wednesday.

As the media frenzy surrounding the singer escalated, TV news juggled pop and politics, and attempted to sift out the truth as rumors flew on the Internet and were repeated on cable. Celebrity chroniclers vied with lawyers for air time.

Even ABC's "Nightline," which usually opts for policy stories, was torn between topics, and eventually, after a spirited internal debate, postponed a report on the president's Britain trip for one on Jackson. Cable news channels, with more time to fill, cut between Bush's dinner with Queen Elizabeth II and the "King of Pop's" Neverland Ranch.

For the rest of the story, see Los Angeles Times

3:24 PM

Wednesday, November 19, 2003  
Birnbaum v. Anne Garrels

18 NOVEMBER 2003

For many, Anne Garrels’s voice became the most trustworthy stream of information broadcast from Iraq. Robert Birnbaum, in on-line magazine The Morning News , has a frank discussion with the author and NPR Iraq correspondent, one of only 16 non-embedded journalists to remain in Baghdad for Operation Shock and Awe.

Anne Garrels, a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio since 1988, has recently written a book, Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq War as Seen by NPR’s Correspondent Anne Garrels.

For the rest of an unusually candid appraisal of American journalism in Iraq, see The Morning

9:53 AM

Pentagon Boosts Media Access in Iraq
U.S. Hopes More Briefings Will Tell Their Side of the Story

By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writer
[ Editor & Publisher web site]
NOVEMBER 19, 2003

WASHINGTON -- (AP) As American troops step up their attacks on Iraqi resistance, U.S. occupation officials also are launching a media offensive under pressure from the White House to do a better job promoting the military campaign against insurgents.

Part of the idea is to give the American public a better sense that U.S. troops are on the offensive and not just passively facing daily, deadly attacks from Iraqi guerrillas.

For the rest of the story about the new Pentagon PR offensive in Iraq, see Editor & Publisher

9:30 AM

Tuesday, November 18, 2003  
Media caught in Iraq's war of perceptions
Many Americans have seen news coverage as overly negative, but mounting troop deaths test support for war.

By Ann Scott Tyson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
November 18, 2003

[Blog Editor's note: The American military experience in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad last spring may not directly parallel Vietnam, but the relationship of the news media to official Washington certainly does]

Just as news footage of Vietnam casualties slowly eroded public backing for that conflict, today's bold headlines on US military deaths in Iraq are revealing a ground truth that is, more swiftly, undercutting domestic support for the Iraq war.

Some polls show that most Americans no longer believe removing Saddam Hussein was worth the loss of US lives; significant majorities now consider the 400-plus US casualties in Iraq "unacceptable."

"We've reached that magic number, and now Americans are asking whether it's worth it or not," says John Zogby of Zogby International, which conducted prewar polls showing that war support would drop below 50 percent if US casualties went into the hundreds.

The stream of bad news is heightening tensions between an American media that feels duty-bound to report US losses in the headlines, and a Bush administration and Pentagon prone to castigating the negative coverage as one-sided.

For the rest of this timely analysis of the press and the aftermath of the Iraq war, see Christian Science Monitor

9:55 AM

Call Me a Bush-Hater

Molly Ivins, The Progressive
November 14, 2003

[Blog Editor's note: While this blog usually concerns itself more directly with issues of media, war and foreign policy, I make an exception here by linking Molly Ivins' piece on the notion of "Bush Hating." It's the most succinct such analysis I've run into, and certainly the funniest.]

Among the more amusing cluckings from the right lately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think George W. Bush is a terrible president.

Robert Novak is quoted as saying in all his 44 years of covering politics, he has never seen anything like the detestation of Bush. Charles Krauthammer managed to write an entire essay on the topic of "Bush-haters" in Time magazine as though he had never before come across a similar phenomenon.

Oh, I stretch memory way back, so far back, all the way back to--our last president. Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, I not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I also notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, rape, drug running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery, and official misconduct. And they accuse his wife of even worse.

For the rest of Ms. Ivins' analysis, see

8:22 AM

Gore: Decline of Newspapers Bad for Democracy
Bemoans TV's Influence, Sees Hope in Web

NOVEMBER 12, 2003

By Amber McDowell, Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- (AP) The "quasi-hypnotic influence" of television in the United States has fostered a complacent nation that is a danger to democracy, former Vice President Al Gore said this week.

Gore, speaking on "Media and Democracy" at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, told attendees that the decline of newspapers as the country's dominant method of communication leaves average Americans without an outlet for scholarly debate.

For the rest of this account of Gore's speech, see Editor & Publisher

8:10 AM

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