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
Thursday, May 13, 2004  
Dancing Alone

New York Times
May 13, 2004

Blog editor's note: In one of the most remarkable journalistic sea changes on the Bush Iraq policy to date, Thomas L. Friedman writes a column that in many ways is this era's equivalent of Walter Cronkite's famous "WE ARE MIRED IN STALEMATE" broadcast February 27, 1968 after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?

"Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept above politics."

Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

To read the rest of Friedman's column, see New York Times

3:15 PM

The Pro-War Press Breaks With Bush

By Jefferson Morley Staff Writer
May 13, 2004

Blog editor's note: Morley's survey to the contrary, not one of the dissenting papers is American.

In the ranks of journalism, they were the coalition of the willing: the newspapers that supported President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

These news outlets made the case for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, often in the face of strong anti-war feelings in their countries. Their editorials lent credibility and moral support to the White House's claims that the U.S.-led war had international backing.

Today, they are having second thoughts.

To read the rest of this column, see

11:51 AM

Monday, May 10, 2004  
Papers Run 'Attack Dogs' Prison Photo, But Not on Front Page

By Editor & Publishe Staff
May 10, 2004

NEW YORK Most leading newspapers this morning chose not to feature on their front pages the latest horrific Abu Ghraib prison abuse photo from Iraq, showing a naked prisoner menaced by attack dogs. Nearly all of them used it inside, though.

At the same time, few published the explosive companion photo showing the aftermath: Apparently the same prisoner, a few minutes later, with a gash in his leg and a U.S. soldier sitting on him, smiling.

The New York Times ran the first photo in the lower right-hand corner of the front page, while New York's Daily News made it the entire cover, with the headline "Dog of War." At the top of the front page USA Today ran a closeup of the face of the naked prisoner -- with the full photo inside.

Other papers ran the picture inside, including the Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, Newsday, the New York Post, The Washington Post (on page 19), and The Seattle Times.

Few newspapers printed the second photo showing the soldier sitting on the wounded Iraqi.

1:50 PM


Press Release Made No Waves

Initial word from the military about 'detainee abuse' in Iraq appeared in a single paragraph on a little-consulted website and in e-mails Jan. 16

By Eric Slater
Los Angeles Staff Writer
May 8, 2004

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday sought to rebut allegations that for months he withheld information about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by their American guards, saying the U.S. military had "told everyone in the world" about the inquiry in January.

Rumsfeld was referring to a single-paragraph news release issued along with two others on Jan. 16 by U.S. Central Command.

To read the rest of this story, see Los Angeles Times

8:27 AM

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