How the “NewsHour” Changed History

When the anchor of public television’s main news program goes out of his way to tell viewers that he’s setting the record straight about a recent historic event, the people watching are apt to assume that they’re getting accurate information. But with war intensifying in Iraq, a bizarre episode raises some very troubling concerns about … Continue reading “How the “NewsHour” Changed History”

The Quest for a Monopoly on Violence

With warfare escalating in Iraq, syndicated columnist George Will has just explained the logic of the occupation. "In the war against the militias," he wrote, "every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander shot – there will be many – will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation … Continue reading “The Quest for a Monopoly on Violence”

The Media Politics of 9/11

For 30 months, 9/11 was a huge political blessing for George W. Bush. This week, the media halo fell off. Within the space of a few days, culminating with his testimony to the Sept. 11 commission Wednesday afternoon, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke did serious damage to a public-relations scam that the White House has … Continue reading “The Media Politics of 9/11”

Spinning the Past, Threatening the Future

Political aphorisms don’t get any more cogent: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell’s famous observation goes a long way toward explaining why – a full year after the invasion of Iraq – the media battles over prewar lies are so ferocious in the United States. … Continue reading “Spinning the Past, Threatening the Future”

They Shoot Journalists, Don’t They?

To encourage restraint in war coverage, governments don’t need to shoot journalists – though sometimes that’s helpful. Thirteen journalists were killed while covering the war and occupation in Iraq last year, says a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The deaths were a subset of 36 on-the-job fatalities related to journalistic work across … Continue reading “They Shoot Journalists, Don’t They?”

UN Spying and Evasions of American Journalism

Tony Blair and George W. Bush want the issue of spying at the United Nations to go away. That’s one of the reasons the Blair government ended its prosecution of whistleblower Katharine Gun on Wednesday. But within 24 hours, the scandal of U.N. spying exploded further when one of Blair’s former cabinet ministers said that … Continue reading “UN Spying and Evasions of American Journalism”

The Deadly Lies of Reliable Sources

Ninety-five days before the invasion of Iraq began, I sat in the ornate Baghdad office of the deputy prime minister as he talked about the U.N. weapons inspectors in his country. "They are doing their jobs freely, without any interruption," Tariq Aziz said. "And still the warmongering language in Washington is keeping on." The White … Continue reading “The Deadly Lies of Reliable Sources”

Linking the Occupation of Iraq With the ‘War on Terrorism’

Reuters is one of the more independent wire services. So, a recent news story from Reuters – flatly describing American military activities in Iraq as part of "the broader U.S. war on terrorism" – is a barometer of how powerfully the pressure systems of rhetoric from top U.S. officials have swayed mainstream news coverage. Such … Continue reading “Linking the Occupation of Iraq With the ‘War on Terrorism’”

George Will’s Ethics: None of Our Business?

We can argue about George Will’s political views. But there’s no need to debate his professional ethics. Late December brought to light a pair of self-inflicted wounds to the famous columnist’s ethical pretensions. He broke an elementary rule of journalism – and then, when the New York Times called him on it, proclaimed the transgression … Continue reading “George Will’s Ethics: None of Our Business?”

The Iraq Trap: Watch Out What You Ask For

Media outlets are filled with bad news about Iraq. A theme is emerging: This administration doesn’t know how to run an occupation! Those who oppose President Bush may welcome the recent shift in the media climate. But when war-makers get frustrated, they’re inclined to heighten the violence. And some critics of the occupation’s management are … Continue reading “The Iraq Trap: Watch Out What You Ask For”