Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: "No News is Good News"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"No News is Good News"

"War is a central expression of a nation, revealing the values for which it is willing to sacrifice its treasure and its young. For democracy to flourish, informed public discourse concerning the war must be full and free. The Pentagon’s press restrictions are producing instead a distorted picture of events that in turn makes impossible an informed citizenry- which is, as Jefferson wrote, the best defense of democracy." (Schiffer and Rinzler, 1/23/91)

This quote from an editorial written only 6 days into the 43 day first Gulf War, sums up the problems of the media coverage of the media coverage of the Gulf War, i.e., that there was no “informed public discourse” regarding the Gulf War.
Americans, though fed a daily diet of video footage from the Gulf, were granted only a censored view of what was going on in the Persian Gulf. Though CNN and network television offered live-action coverage of the war, the news that came out was continually filtered through the military and government “gatekeepers.” The Pentagon, so bent on filtering the news of the war and putting a positive spin on the war’s “scorecard” of sorts, effectively distorted the coverage that came out of the Persian Gulf.

This was all In response to the relatively free hand given the media in its Vietnam War coverage. What was to be offered up, this time around, was a much more sanitized media coverage of the Gulf War, which was a reaction to the more realistic,
gritty, coverage given the Vietnam War. In the Gulf War, “upbeat sequences of high-tech warriors doing their long-distance jobs” were to take the place of body bags being loaded onto planes. These types of war images made for a better “sell” of the Gulf War than was done twenty years earlier in Vietnam, when the American public said to their politicians, NO MORE VIETNAMS.

As a result of the cleaned-up media coverage of the Gulf War, "informed public discourse" was lost in the bargain, and the American public was left in the dark. Twelve years later, in George W. Bush's second Gulf War, the reporters were let out of the gate and jumped into the Humvees along with the troops, putting themselves in harm's way. The stories the media had to tell this time around reflected the grit of battle and a more "informed citizenry" was made possible. Thomas Jefferson would be happy about this as, this time around, democracy was defended!


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

Which is the key issue:
1. Media failure to act as a watch dog on the military and get the story?
2. Government/Military restrictions and management of press access?
3. Or the failure of the American public to demand better information about the war and the world?

4/12/2007 11:41 AM  

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