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, April 23, 2004  
US Majority Still Believe in Iraq's WMD, al-Qaeda Ties

by Jim Lobe
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Inter Press Service

Blog editor's note: One of the distinctions that often gets lost on people is the difference between belief and knowledge. Never is the distinction more important to keep in mind than when one's country is waging war. Unfortunately, belief frequently trumps knowledge when confronted with nationalism, jingoism and the knownothingism that comes from being a true believer. Of course, it doesn't help that the mainstream press didn't contribute much to straight thinking before or during the war with Iraq, and only belatedly have some media tried to set the historical record straight. Unfortunately, if the PIPA survey discussed below is any indication, it appears to be too little good journalism, too late. Lobe and Interpress, incidentally, are NOT part of mainstream media and provide some of the most reliable journalism readily available.
WASHINGTON - U.S. public perceptions about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaeda and stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues to lag far behind the testimony of experts, boosting chances that President George W Bush will be re-elected, according to a survey and analysis released Thursday.

Despite statements by such officials as the Bush administration's former chief weapons inspector, David Kay; its former anti-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke; former chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, as well as admissions by senior administration officials themselves, a majority of the public still believes Iraq was closely tied to the al-Qaeda terrorist group and had WMD stocks or programs before U.S. troops invaded the country 13 months ago.

''The public is not getting a clear message about what the experts are saying about Iraqi links to al-Qaeda and its WMD program'', said Steven Kull, director of the Program'' on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, which conducted the survey.

''The analysis suggests that if the public were to more clearly perceive what the experts themselves are saying on these issues, there is a good chance this could have a significant impact on their attitudes about the war and even on how they vote in November'', he added.

The survey and analysis found a high correlation between those perceptions and support for Bush himself in the upcoming presidential race in November.

To read the rest of this article, see InterPressService

6:48 PM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  
Iraq as Vietnam

The Nation
May 3, 2004 issue

It is a pity the major news media have not convened a commission of inquiry to examine their own mistakes and derelictions concerning the war in Iraq. Wouldn't it be instructive to go back now and re-examine the "documents" the press and television provided Americans to understand why the United States must invade and conquer? Many of the news stories would sound quite naïve and gullible (also hysterical) in light of present events. The patriotic banners that accompanied TV news reports would look irresponsibly biased. Remember those investigative reporters uncovering Saddam's secret weapons like bomb-sniffing dogs? Remember the bellicose columnists and editorial writers who called for war with grotesque self-confidence?

Of course, news people don't look backward. No time for self-examination when they are caught up in the "new" news--a commission in Washington examining whether the White House failed its duty to thwart terrorism; the bloody unraveling of "nation-building" in Iraq. Both are suspenseful stories and compete for the main headlines.

Why do I feel melancholy rather than excitement? When reporters reach an advanced age, they sometimes become burdened by memory (assuming their brains are still functional). One can begin to recognize that much of the news is actually an old story--recycled versions of the human folly committed by previous generations. To my eyes, the insurrection under way in Iraq looks like "little Tet"--a smaller version of the original Tet offensive the Vietcong staged in 1968. It shocks Americans in much the same way. Iraq is a "little war" compared with Vietnam, but Americans are learning, once again, that the indigenous people we "liberated" do not love us. Many want our occupying army to withdraw. Insane as it may seem to Americans, they are willing to die for this objective. But what about the schools and roads we built for them?

To read the rest of this analysis, see The Nation

12:30 PM

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