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Anti-War bill in Congress
February 7, 2003 10:09 AM   Subscribe

"We decided not to run it..."
In the surreal world that is today's media, Colin Powell has no opposition. None. There is no alternative view. None. In this Kafkaesque place, Reps. DeFazio and Paul didn't conduct a press conference yesterday. Nor did they introduce legislation that counters George Bush and Colin Powell's world view...a world view, mind you, that the world doesn't share.

Does corporate media serve the interests of the people and democracy or the elites and profit? Did you hear about this bill? Do you think this is an important story that deserved media coverage?
posted by nofundy (45 comments total)

 
I'd bet that Janeane Garofalo could answer this question for you.
posted by xmutex at 10:16 AM on February 7, 2003


Ok, this honestly isn't meant to be a point (FD: I'm largely anti-war), just a straight-up question:

My understanding is that this war will sink the economy and thus be bad for corporate interests. Thus wouldn't you think they'd be hesitant to trumpet war mongering?

Of course, it might be uniquely positive for press outlets, as you know, everyone follows the news when theres a war. But if the theory is that the corporate interests control whats in the news it would still be in most's best interest if there wasn't a war, since news media is only a fraction of much larger entertainment enterprises that should suffer from the war. So why doesn't the 'corporate media' lean anti-war?
posted by BigPicnic at 10:25 AM on February 7, 2003


For reference: HJ Res. 20; H. Con. Res 2; other legislation sponsored by Rep. Paul; other legislation sponsored by Rep. DeFazio.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:26 AM on February 7, 2003


Nofundy:
There's a bazillion bills introduced every day. If I had time I'd get a list of a couple of dozen introduced this last week that didn't get major media attention. If the bill gets to where there will be serious consideration, then I suspect the media will cover it.
posted by stevefromsparks at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2003


I went to a war rally that DeFazio (D) spoke at in December, and while I'm a republican, I was glad that this man is representing me. (I live in Oregon.)

Debate on this issue is highly necessary...
posted by woil at 10:28 AM on February 7, 2003


It didn't get covered because of editors' judgment that it was a bill that didn't stand a chance in hell of passing. If anything, after Wednesday the Congress, as well the nation, seems to be more pro-war than before.

Do you reallly think the nations' editors are acting in concert to suppress coverage of some raging, rising tide of antiwar sentiment? Come on. Show me why this was worthy of front page play.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:28 AM on February 7, 2003


Some cannibal tribes used to consume the brains of their foes - believing that this would confer upon them them strengths of their vanquished, dead enemies. I think a similar thing happened between the US and the vanquished Soviet Union: The US defeated the USSR, and ate it's brains. Now, we have acquired some of it's charactoristics: almost totalitarian censorship and a Gulag system
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2003


So why doesn't the 'corporate media' lean anti-war?

Great question BigPicnic. I'm perplexed as to why media refuses to cover what, by all indications, is the view of a plurality of Americans. Does the White House/CIA have that strong a grip over the media with their "Mighty Wurlitzer" apparatus?
posted by nofundy at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2003


Kafkaesque place

but not to be confused with this.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2003


That damn liberal media.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2003


My understanding is that this war will sink the economy and thus be bad for corporate interests. Thus wouldn't you think they'd be hesitant to trumpet war mongering?

But war is great for CNN and the other major news outlets. I believe they do have a vested interest in seeing us march into Iraq. The bias is real, pervasive and anti-democratic. What are we going to do about it?
posted by pejamo at 10:34 AM on February 7, 2003


But we have been told that the media is Left wing. If you seek views that arenot mainstream, there is always the alternative press.

I agree that it is a bill that does not stand any chance of serious consideration and thus the media sees no point in making abig thing of it.

If you truly bleive the midia in cahoots with the Hawks, then how to explain what I saw as fairly extensive coverage of anti-war protests, both here and in Europe.
posted by Postroad at 10:35 AM on February 7, 2003


The major television news media are still owned by entertainment companies, no way they are going out on a limb to question what the White House feeds them, least they be cut off from access to the pres.

Plus, war is good for ratings.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:37 AM on February 7, 2003


Ron Paul is a crank. He's the Art Bell of the House. When editors saw that Ron Paul had introduced the resolution, it was destined to remain uncovered.
posted by Holden at 10:43 AM on February 7, 2003


BigPicnic: one possible explanation of why not having the war might be worse for the US economy is
here.

I'm not sure I believe it, and I'm certainly not going to defend it here, but it is very interesting to think about and at least superficially appears well researched and documented. To summarize: right now, oil is traded using only the dollar. Saddam fairly recently (Nov. 2000) switched from the dollar to the Euro. Since then, the euro has done well against the dollar and in fact improved significantly. If all of OPEC follows suit, some economists predict that the dollar will crash from 20-40% of its value (and I suppose the euro be correspondingly strengthened). There is (apparently) evidence that Iran is soon make this switch.

As a friend of mine pointed out, this explanation fits a lot of the facts, in particular about which countries have decided to be for and against the war. The split is more or less along the split of those who have interest in the dollar, and those in the euro.
posted by advil at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2003


it may be that the reason that the introduction of the bill isn't being covered is because it has about zero chance of passing.

I am curious about the whole "the corporate media is helping beat the drums for war" meme. In looking at the MSNBC news front page right about now, I see the top story is "Blix: Iraq showing greater effort". Also, on the "America at War" section, there is a great deal of coverage on resistance to the war. I count 26 stories on the front page, and I would say that the many of them are covering the skepticism that many feel (i.e. "America: Views from abroad", "The Saudis: Between Iraq and ...", "Iraq debate plays out online", "War of Words: World media reaction", "'Firsthand' data, but whose hand?", "Germany-U.S. ties hit post-war low" ).

Do I just have blinders on?
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2003


BigPicnic: war is good for oil companies and the military-industrial complex.

As an aside, the Feb. 5 edition of Fresh Air had on Peter Gilbraith, former ambassador to Croatia. He was also responsible for transporting 14 tonnes of documents seized by the Kurds in Iraq, detailing a campaign of genocide against the Kurds. His sense is that the Iraqi people have lost all hope, and that the only way to stop their oppression and torture, as well as the campaign against the Kurds, is the military way. It was an interesting episode.
posted by hammurderer at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2003


Step 1: Turn off the f**king television.
Step 2: Educate yourself on the issues, not just what the media thinks are the issues. (NB: Michael Jackson's continuing descent into madness is not news.)
Step 3: Allow for alternative points of view.

See how easy it is? Whenever I hear "the media" mentioned, my eyes glaze over. Newspapers and television especially are not about being fair or objective or in-depth. It's all about entertainment and marketing tie-ins now.

I get most of my news these days from blogs and CSPAN.
posted by mrmanley at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2003


(I forgot to say in my post: for what it's worth I'm anti-war)
posted by advil at 10:47 AM on February 7, 2003


So Fox News gave it 7 minutes, huh?

Perhaps if it had even a tiny hope of passage it would have had more coverage in the non-right wing media. I am sure Fox just covered it to goof on them.

I'm perplexed as to why media refuses to cover what, by all indications, is the view of a plurality of Americans.

um, do you read polls?
posted by probablysteve at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2003


There's a difference between the narrow issue of this bill -- which, as many have pointed out, didn't get attention because it doesn't stand a chance in hell of passing through committee -- and the broader issue of coverage of the "anti-war movement" in general. I've seen and heard extensive media coverage of the latter. Hell, if you listen to All Things Considered, that's pretty much all they talk about these days -- whether it's domestic or international opposition. And virtually every day the New York Times has an op-ed piece opposing war. Even local news in Detroit gives extensive coverage to anti-war protests. A recent protest at Oakland University was attended by about 20 people, but drew the attention of the local news outlets and articles in the Detroit Free Press.

My guess is that the frustration isn't really coming from an alleged lack of coverage, but rather by the fact that the anti-war movement doesn't seem to be making much of a difference.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:49 AM on February 7, 2003


Nofundy, Pejamo & Hugh2d2- I understand that war is good for news ratings, but the news agencies are owned by larger corporations of which news reporting provides only a tiny slice of overall profits.

These corporations will suffer if there is a war, along with the rest of the economy (the rise in news ratings wouldn't be nearly enough to counteract the overall slump of war-time economy). So if you accept as fact that controlling corporate interests manipulate the news, they should, I think, go anti-war instead of pro.
posted by BigPicnic at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2003


Is the Media Really That Liberal? (from the Nation).

Sorry, usually I'm in agreement with the corporate controlled media stuff, but I gotta go with stevefromsparks.

On Tuesday, Representatives Conyers and Kucinich introduced a national health insurance bill, we held a press conference, some media showed up, and the story barely got any news coverage at all. Personally, I think the bill is really important, but the bigwigs in the media felt the Columbia story was more important.

You can say the same thing about any other news story, any other bill that doesn't get coverage. Mainstream papers like the NYT and WP are going to run the Powell piece. Yes, maybe someone should have reported this Iraq war declaration repeal, but I don't really buy the media conspiracy stuff right now.
posted by gramcracker at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2003


The "corporate media" (what ever that statement means), or likely what nofuny meant, the mainstream media ultimately must sell ads to survive. They seek to get the widest number of viewers without to pissing too many people off. Form this one can conclude that they serve the interests of the majority of those who access the media, who are not corporate controlled automatons, as nofundy implies.

As for the anti-war movement, it has been well covered. All outlets, even the "fair and balanced" network, have given coverage to the rallies and the positions of the Bush's critics. They have consistently included people as guess on debate talk shows who hold anti-war feelings. Some commentators even support the ant-war movement. Could they do a better job? Sure, but they won't until they call sell newspapers and/or airtime doing so. Then again, the media, in all forms, has flaws.

As for Reps. DeFazio and Paul, the fact is that the president and his administration have always commanded greater media coverage by virtue of their bully pulpit. That added with the fact that the majority of Americans support, or are at least are perceived to support, a war in some form (give UN approval) its no surprise that that Colin Powell is given more press than his critics.

There is no evil corporate conspiracy (again I'm not even sure what this phrase means anyway), but instead the lack of public support and the nature of being in the opposition have hindered my fellow anti-war advocates.

But war is great for CNN and the other major news outlets. I believe they do have a vested interest in seeing us march into Iraq. The bias is real, pervasive and anti-democratic

The media’s interest is in the conflict (the clash of egos and tough talk), thus the war itself is not needed. Thus, war is not the ultimate rating grabber. Why pump war what Bush’s antics do just fine? Further the existence of bias and preference alone means nothing, I high doubt CNN is not call the shots one when and if Iraq is invaded. The only possible affect is perhaps some minimal influence on public opinion. But back to my first point, media follows opinion; it usually does not create it.

I get most of my news these days from blogs and CSPAN.

Blogs as "news," please. Blogs are far more bias, don't operate under any ethics standards (as the news media does) and are full of troll. Blogs are an awesome communication conduit, but it don't make them akin news or journalism, at least not yet.

As I do not want a war by negative implications I do not what to judge the media by too many negative implications either.
posted by Bag Man at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2003


Well, it was just announced as a topic on the NPR program "To the Point." Not sure if that qualifies as "media" under the definition being used here.

If there are any other NYC un- or under-employed people listening to the radio out there, it's on WNYC AM 820.
posted by lackutrol at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2003


advil: That article while somewhat intriguing completely fails to account for the fact that the UK is both pro-war and pro euro. Why would Tony Blair want to go to war if the net result is that the dollar gets stonger and the euro tanks ?
posted by zeoslap at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2003


Here's another story that got zero media play in the US and, in my opinion, is a very important story. There are literally hundreds of examples like these. Stories that impact our country in a significant way should be reported IMHO.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2735269.stm

Ten Nobel prize winning economists have attacked President George W Bush's tax cutting policies.
....... The most pointed criticism by the economists is that the proposed tax cuts will not deliver what they are meant to do - to provide a boost to the US economy which is struggling to recover from a recession in 2001.

"Regardless of how one views the specifics of the Bush plan, there is wide agreement that its purpose is a permanent change in the tax structure and not the creation of jobs and growth in the near term," the economists said in a statement published by the Economic Policy Institute.


Is this story not important enough to cover as well? I think Eric Alterman got it exactly right regarding our media.
posted by nofundy at 11:39 AM on February 7, 2003


Here's another story that got zero media play in the US and, in my opinion, is a very important story. There are literally hundreds of examples like these. Stories that impact our country in a significant way should be reported IMHO.

nofundy, perhaps it's because you don't listen to or watch mainstream media, but the very argument you make is the one that been has constantly reported in the outlets you decry. Perhaps CNN, FOX and others do go as in-depth into the economics of the matter or quote Nobel Prize winners, but the information is passed along. I don't think the average viewer (in any country) understands economic theory that well or cares about old economists. So, on balance, what would be the point of the extra info?

Further, just because the UK places a value on a story, does not mean the US is deficient because it places a value on another story.

Need I also remind you that most European media outlets are run the government? Which, in my opinion, makes them more bias than so called "corporate media."
posted by Bag Man at 12:13 PM on February 7, 2003


On BBC2 (alernative but still major terrestrial BBC offering) last night, by the sounds of it (I didn't see it) Tony Blair got a fair old roasting from a studio audience on the subject of Iraq.

A member of the audience at one stage addressed the Prime Minister as 'Vice President Blair.' The Veep, as is his wont on these ever more frequent occasions, took on his favoured role of the father reprimanding the errant adolescent.
posted by skellum at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2003


Thank you, nofundy; I'm glad someone's got their eyes on the ball.

I think the "media" is pretty much relaying the sentiment of the American people when it comes to the potential war with Iraq. Both sides are getting reasonable airtime, but the networks seem to have the same fait accompli attitude of the American people, and are sending lots of journo's over for the inevitable war regardless.

On the other hand, the television media is almost completely ignoring the facts regarding Bush's economic "plan". Newspapers are a bit better, simply because some of them actually have economists working for them (Krugman of the NYT is the absolute best in the field).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:45 PM on February 7, 2003


advil: That article while somewhat intriguing completely fails to account for the fact that the UK is both pro-war and pro euro. Why would Tony Blair want to go to war if the net result is that the dollar gets stonger and the euro tanks ?

Blair is neither completely pro-war, nor particularly pro-euro. The brits are sticking with the pound sterling, and so far they've been tentatively supportive of the war but not strongly rallying.

It's a really interesting argument actually...
posted by mdn at 1:23 PM on February 7, 2003


When the issue of "media" comes around, I am often left with one hanging question: why do many people discuss it (as an entity) which seems to owe something to the public. I read the paper, I seek out more information when I feel the need and I listen to what people say. I expect nothing from the media. It's story telling, not always accurate, sometimes biased and always incomplete.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2003


dick paris - the media does owe us something, the broadcasters anyway. They are given the public airways so that they may serve the public. More and more, that public service is forgotten - which is why I feel they should pay a much higher premium for those airwaves.

Big Picnic - the major news outlets are owned by huge, multi-national corporations, yes. But in the cases of ABC, CNN, FOX and CBS, they are owned by companies that primarily deal in entertainment. People watching more television is good for their business. War will be good for their business. This being said, I don't believe we are to the point where the phone rings on Peter Jennings desk and Michael Eisner says "be nice to W tonight". I believe it to be more subtle than that. Newsrooms want to be watched so they whip stories up to heady froth. They make our upcoming war a "Showdown" with W cast as Gary Cooper. It's laughable, but it makes for good TV which is what really matters.
posted by pejamo at 2:13 PM on February 7, 2003


Need I also remind you that most European media outlets are run the government? Which, in my opinion, makes them more bias than so called "corporate media."

That's not true, on two counts. One, most European media outlets are in private hands. Even in the UK, the BBC is just one player in a large market. Two, from my experience, the BBC is significantly less biased than the majority of privately held media outlets, many of which have well documented histories of being manipulated by their owners.

That said, when it comes Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, foreign minister, richest man, and media tycoon, all bets are off.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:59 PM on February 7, 2003


That said, when it comes Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, foreign minister, richest man, and media tycoon, all bets are off.

Good point. Aside from Berlusconi's networks and RIAs there is only one independant network in Italy
posted by Bag Man at 4:22 PM on February 7, 2003


I don't think the average viewer (in any country) understands economic theory that well or cares about old economists. So, on balance, what would be the point of the extra info?

Right no one wants to listen to people who have received the most coveted prize in their profession because we all know so much more about economics than they do...What's more they're OLD!

Please. This kind of statement would lead us back to the dark ages faster than you could say "burn all the books"...
posted by aaronscool at 4:44 PM on February 7, 2003


Please. This kind of statement would lead us back to the dark ages faster than you could say "burn all the books"...

Yes, I support the Nazis...please; this post wins for troll of the day. I was just trying to get into the mind of mainstream media...instead of advancing the regular troll that goes here. Wait a second: Corporations are most evil things on Earth and they control world. I guess if you don't make comment like that, you are called a Nazi.

The fact remains, in a 30 min. news show you go into in-depth economic theory. Further I was criticizing mainstream media by asserting they think people don't care. Of course aaronscool you missed the whole point of my post, did you read it? Or did you just pick a part of it to advance your troll? Let me state this: THE SAME NEGITIVE OPINIONS OF BUSH'S PLAN HAVE ALSO BEEN BRAODCAST IN THE US MAINSTEAM MEDIA, AS WAS REPORTED IN UK.
posted by Bag Man at 5:09 PM on February 7, 2003


Bag man I was not trolling but making a point.

The point of my post was quiet simply that if you were implying that the mainstream public should not listen to the experts in the field or that their advice was irrelevant then we'll never advance our knowledge of anything.

We learn as individuals and as a society both from our experts, our history and our elders. The fact that all three get ignored on a regular basis in the mainstream media because they are "boring" can only contribute to the dumbing down of the population.
posted by aaronscool at 5:27 PM on February 7, 2003


The point of my post was quiet simply that if you were implying that the mainstream public should not listen to the experts in the field or that their advice was irrelevant then we'll never advance our knowledge of anything.

I was not implying that. I was expressly stating that that might be the reason why the mainstream media makes the choices that it does. Some of the lack of reporting is not due to an evil conspiracy, but a lack of confidence (by the media) in he public.

Oh, calling me a Nazi was not nice.
posted by Bag Man at 5:34 PM on February 7, 2003


I'm sorry I didn't mean to imply you were a Nazi. I was thinking more of the dark ages of book burning which was done expressly to keep the population stupid not for a moral agenda...

Either way I apologize if I misread your post...
posted by aaronscool at 5:40 PM on February 7, 2003


Ok, I was less clear in this post, but the above post is my basic point. Frankly, my faith in the general public in any country is on the wane; however, not as much as mainstream media's. aaronscool, its all good.
posted by Bag Man at 5:45 PM on February 7, 2003


less clear in this post

...less than clear...
posted by Bag Man at 5:45 PM on February 7, 2003


Actually, the reason why it received no coverage is probably far less sinister or mysterious than the article attempts to imply. This is the first month of a new Congress. Simple as that. As with every new Congress, a huge flood of legislation is introduced right out of the gate. In the one month since the 108th Congress began, well over 500 Bills have been introduced in the House (and that's just Bills, it doesn't count Resolutions, Joint Resolutions, or Concurrent Resolutions).

Naturally, every politician that introduces every bill or resolution sends out press releases - and attempts to get his/her name in the media. Generally what the national media does is cover only a very few of the largest, most substantial pieces legislation - the ones that are credible, are likely to affect a good deal of the country, or are likely to provoke significant floor debate.

Believing that it was because of some deep dark media "bias", or that the powers that be (government, corporate, or press) felt somehow so threatened by such a dramatic piece of legislation that they needed to supress any news of it ... good grief. The thing was one of many that arrived DOA (and that both the press, and the bill sponsors themselves know is for nothing other than grandstanding). Oh no, C-SPAN, CNN, the New York Times didn't bother to show up at the press conference? Even the Washington Post editor himself "decided not to run it" ... well, er, yes, like C-CPAN, CNN, the NYT and WP didn't show up at several hundred other press conferences held to introduce new bills and resolutions over the last month.

They do have a responsibility to serve the interests of "people and democracy" ... but they don't have a duty to simply come running whenever a clearly bogus bill with absolutely zero chance of passing is introduced for the sole purpose of getting attention.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:57 PM on February 7, 2003


Midas - your argument falls flat for one simple reason: going to war is preeminently important, and not a question relegated to the realm of "legislation as usual"......

This US Invasion of iraq would be, for the US, the expression of a radical new "preemptive strike" policy which would run counter to all previous legal arguments for justifying war.

Your "diminshed by surrounded legislation" argument is..........well - we're trying to be civil on Metafilter - dubious, at best
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 PM on February 8, 2003


nofundy: Ten Nobel prize winning economists have attacked President George W Bush's tax cutting policies.
110 Economists Back Bush Tax Cut. Including three Nobel prize winners.

I guess at the end of the day, they're just gonna have to compare whose is bigger?
posted by PenDevil at 3:50 AM on February 9, 2003


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