Propaganda & Mass Persuasion

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stuart Ewen, The Public Eye:
War in the Persian Gulf: A Report from the Couch

“Tabloid newspapers submitted to the exhortations of national cheerleader President Bush in a lurid flood of extravagant headlines: ‘Butcher of Baghdad!’ ’Hitler!’ ‘Child Abuse!’ and so forth. (I kept waiting for ‘SADDAMY!’ or ‘IRAQ & A HARD PLACE’—only to be fustrated.)”

Stuart Ewens article blasts the handling of the press by the American Government during the Persian Gulf War. The article begins quoting Walter Lippmann who had critiqued the United States policy of mass persuasion following the first World War. Ewen then goes on to bash the coverage of the war, claiming that the U.S. controlled the press throughout the war. How the first night, the press was somehow coerced into depicting imagery and news that said the war was won that first night. How because of the news that the media was forced ( at least he implies forced) to show the public, the next day they had to find a new way to spin things positively.

Ewen argues that after we did not have this immediate victory, the news was only allowed to show other ways to “sugar-coat” America’s involvement and the events taking place in Iraq and Kuwait. He goes on to say how the government and administration then started to use the media as a way to keep a military budget high and advertise for military spending.
Basically this entire article questions the ethics of the media, and our government during the first war in Iraq. He refers to how Vietnam gave the American public only a taste of a “Living Room War” but during the Persian Gulf War, it actually was a “Living Room War.” That the government carefully controlled the press to control public opinion and that the press itself had become nothing more than a tool for propaganda and the press was a joke.

Ewen the director of the Film and Media program at Hunter College; uses this article to push his own “Leftwing” and political views. He bashes the president, and the press itself for trying to cover the war. All over the internet and scholarly websites, there are many articles and works written by Ewen. Many are anti-Bush (both of them) and many anti-republican. After reading his article which argues against the administration and media during the conflict, I cannot help but wonder if he realizes how much of what he says sounds an awful lot like propaganda, at least to me.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post and discussion of the material.

Certainly Ewen has a left political perspective. All commetentators come have their political biases.

I don't think that he says the media were "forced" to cover the war the way they did. Did he use that word? Certainly the limitations on access made it difficult for the media to cover the war. Is that "control"? The government was able to indirectly control coverage by limiting access and providing a massive quantity of images and information to the media. The media can be faulted for relying so heavily on government sources and not doing enouogh independent reporting. Also, the media did not do enough to publicize the way that the government limited their access to the war during the war itself. Afterwards there were lots of complaints about government restrictions of press coverage, but during that was seen a unpatriotic and risky in that it could result in a further cut off of access to the war.

4/12/2007 11:17 AM  

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