Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., repeatedly lobbied Tony Blair to invade Iraq.
In the days leading up to the invasion, Tony Blair's Director of Communications wrote that "(Blair) took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc. Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got."
The phone call in question took place just days before a crucial vote on Iraq
, and was one of three personal calls from Murdoch that Blair received in that week alone.
Blair recently testified, admitting an "unhealthy" level of closeness
with Murdoch, oftentimes communicating more with him than with his own ministers.
In the first 19 days following the invasion of Iraq, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News averaged 3.3 million viewers, a 236% increase from the weeks preceding the war
. Huge increases in newspaper sales
were seen throughout his global media empire
, with advertising revenue soaring to record levels. That empire now faces serious calls for it to be broken up
- Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator
George Piro pretty fascinating.
The media begins to awaken.
Recently, Tom Curley, the President and CEO of Associated Press lashed out at the absurd conditions surrounding the detention of Bilal Hussein
. After being detained for over 18 months
, the US Military has finally decided to charge him, but nobody can say for what, or when, or why, or what evidence might be brought forth. Strangely, Mr. Curley writes this without a hint of the irony present in being caught in the net of lies, deception and constructed memory hole that the media has participated in the creation of. Playing patsy comes back to bite. AP hosts a timeline of articles
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast"
, and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds
. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press
Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.
That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ...
from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress.
US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing
-- ...U.S. soldiers whose injuries or deaths remain mired in secrecy. Pat Tillman's brother and fellow Army Ranger Kevin Tillman advocated strongly for other families still waiting for answers. ... "The family was told, it was -- quote -- 'an ambush by insurgents.' Two years later, they found out that those -- quote -- 'insurgents' happened to be the same Iraqi troops that he was training. Before his death, he told his chain of command that these same troops that he was training were trying to kill him and his team. He was told to keep his mouth shut." ...
Thorough and eye-opening examination of the many ways the military spun, lied, withheld information on soldier deaths and injuries for propaganda purposes (and even delayed action until cameras were present in the Jessica Lynch
Visual insight and more from the photographer Simon Norfolk.
is a 15 year old master of flash-based propaganda, and burgeoning media sensation. Lowery's clips (especially this one
but also ones like this
)), have been described as mere facile emotionalism. Others however regard her work as courageous and truthful. She was enlisted to express the soul of the movement
for the recent Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas. One thing's for sure: Lowery's method of story telling leaves traditional media confused and bewildered
Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush
In this excerpt from his book
, Eric Boehlert writes about how "[c]owardly and clueless, the U.S. media abandoned its post as Bush led the country into a disastrous war. A look inside one of the great journalistic collapses of our time."
Prisoners of their Bureaus--the Besieged Press of Baghdad
What it's like to be a journalist in Iraq now--and especially relevant given the current attacks on the media
for not reporting all the good that's happening in Iraq-- ...
an ever-widening gulf between official language and the reality of the actual situation in Baghdad. While official language is relentlessly upbeat, the already nightmarish reality has been getting worse with each passing day. ... the insurgent attacks on the US forces and Iraqi government and the sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites have become destructive beyond what most journalists have been able to convey ...
(NY Review of Books)
The big payback in Iraq.
Last night on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, ROBERT LICHTER, President, Center for Media and Public Affairs put forth the following: You know, Charlie Peter, a great Washington journalist, once said, "The message of Watergate was dig, dig, dig, but journalists thought the message was act tough." And so I think you're getting negative coverage that may be kind of compensatory criticism.
Should the news focus more on the optimistic elements
or is it reflecting public opinion
. Is "compensatory criticism" justified for what it might wrongly perceive as possible White House manipulation during the run up to the war?
an example of Operation Homefront?
--this news report about a Reservist back from Iraq is apparently part of a new Pentagon propaganda operation
aimed at us. ...Did Diaz return to the U.S. on emergency leave with an agenda -- to offer a positive spin that could help counter growing concerns among Americans about the U.S. exit strategy? How do we know that's not his strategy, especially after he discloses that superior officers encouraged him to talk about his experiences in Iraq? ...
What I heard about Iraq in 2005.
Eliot Weinberger provides an updated companion piece to his earlier list
(previously discussed on MeFi
Don't Bomb Us.
In response to credible reports that Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera's HQ in allied Qatar
on MeFi), Al Jazeera staffers start their own English-language blog. Their site contains remembrances of their fallen colleagues
, firsthand accounts of US attacks
on their offices, links to relevant reports
on the controversy
, Flickr photosets
of protests calling for an official investigation
, and al Jazeera's code of ethics
. Also, a quick note to Tony Blair: " P.S. Thanks for talking Mr. Bush out of bombing our offices!
" Not surprisingly, their blog is generating some comments
In 2001 America destroyed
the Kabul offices of al-Jazeera with two smartbombs; officials said it was an accident. In 2003 America destroyed
the Baghdad offices of al-Jazeera with missiles; officials said it was an accident. Now, two British civil servants are on trial for leaking a memo revealing that Bush intended to bomb al-Jazeera... at their headquarters in allied Qatar
Being Press Secretary is a difficult job.
Link to a hilariously uncomfortable transcript of Scott McClellan dancing his way through a White House press briefing doing his best to clarify whether or not the American government sanctions terror.
Osama bin Laden, littérateur and new-media star
. A thought-provoking analysis of bin Laden's adept use of Koranic language and the Internet by Bruce B. Lawrence, an Islamic scholar at Duke who edited a new anthology of bin Laden's public statements called Messages to the World
. The Western media -- says the millionaire mass-murderer formerly trained as a useful ally by the CIA
via Pakistan's ISI
-- "implants fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media are doing!" Know thy enemy. [via Arts and Letters Daily.]
The St. Patrick's Four
haven't received the media attention of Cindy Sheehan
. Are small pockets of anti-war protests on the rise?
Sy Hersh's Loose Relationship with the Literal Truth
| Interesting article from NY Metro
which seems to condem Hersh's squirrely handling of facts while admiring his accomplishments & tenacity: "In bending the truth, Hersh is, paradoxically enough, remarkably candid. When he supplies unconfirmed accounts of military assaults on Iraqi civilians, or changes certain important details from an episode inside Abu Ghraib (thus rendering the story unverifiable), Hersh argues that he’s protecting the identities of sources who could face grave repercussions for talking. 'I defend that totally,' Hersh says of the factual fudges he serves up in speeches and lectures."
I'm amused by today's Editorial in The Sun
. It starts off with how a protest vote against Labour
may mean 'you could be signing a young person's death warrant' due to the Liberal Democrat party's drugs policy
The second half of the newspaper's editorial is a tribute to Anthony Wakefield
... whose death came, of course, as part of the Blair government's war in Iraq... a basic irony that the newspaper has failed to pick up on. [via Bloggerheads
For those who don't know, The Sun - which backs Blair
, though not like this
- is the UK's biggest selling newspaper
and is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
from Arab news networks such as Al-Jazeera
is hampering the US effort in Iraq, Rumsfeld told the troops during his Christmas Eve visit to Mosul: "Everything we do here is harder because of television stations like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyah." In remarks that were not quoted in the American press, the defense secretary went on to tell the troops, "We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. We just don't do that and they do and that's happening" (which is itself meta-misinformation
.) Meanwhile, the Pentagon's multimillion-dollar solution -- the CIA-funded Iraqi news network, Al-Iraqiya (featuring "Iraqi programs that make you laugh, cry, and learn"
) -- has become "an irrelevant mouthpiece for [coalition] propaganda"
according to one of its own former correspondents, veteran news reporter Don North.
has the media hit the "mute" button?
the news is chock-full of accounts of a soldier challenging rumsfeld with a question that makes the news media look like the pack of lap dogs they are. so - where's the audio? the video? i, for one, want to hear those thousands of soldiers respond to the question.
Yesterday, Mazen al-Tomasi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya, was broadcasting live from the scene
of a carbombed Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which had attracted a crowd of locals. While making his report, a sudden noise came from behind Mazen
Two Apache helicopters flew in overhead, and one of them started attacking the crowd
, with their guns. The crowd, which included several small children, tried to run away. A helicopter launched a missile...
Mazen al-Tomasi was struck by shrapnel
from the blast on live television. His cameraman, Seif Fouad, fell down from the force of the explosion. Mazen's blood spattered across the camera's lens
and the screams of the dying and injured were heard. Mazen screamed to Seif for help: "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die."
Seif grabbed Mazen and started to pull him out of harm's way. Suddenly, another missile was launched, and Seif was hit by shrapnel in the leg and abdomen. Seif, seriously wounded, watched his friend Mazen die soon afterwards. Twelve were killed, 61 wounded in the attack.
A US military spokesman said the helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd, and that they fired to prevent looters from stripping the vehicle. That said, the vehicle was burning too badly to be stripped, and the television footage showed no evidence of any shooting from the ground, or indeed, any armed Iraqis whatsoever. The full video of this is was seen by millions of Arabs and is apparently something that Reuters has the rights to -- Saif works for Reuters -- but something tells me that it will never make the evening news.
"There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?''
"Editors at The Washington Post acknowledge
they underplayed stories questioning President Bush's claims of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq." The weblog Lunaville notes
that The Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland found
that "since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has been especially successful at getting the American media to confirm its political and diplomatic agenda. Media reporting on the President amplified the administration s voice: when Bush said to the country that Americans are vulnerable to WMD in the hands of terrorists, the media effectively magnified those fears." Lawrence Lessig says:
"As media becomes more concentrated, competition to curry favor with politicians only increases... Concentrated media and expansive copyright are the perfect storm not just for stifling debate but, increasingly, for weakening democracy as well." Can we make the media democratic?
Where's Thursday, May 6 ? - Nightline "disappears" show segment
- OK, I've waited almost 2 weeks. Now, it's official - Nightline "disappeared" it's own show
. On Thursday May 6, 2004, Nightline featured, prominently, a call for a phased US pullout from Iraq by Retired Lieutenant General, William Odom
- Ronald Reagan's head of the National Security Agency. Odom recommended turning the whole mess over to the UN. Mention of Odom or the segment is kind of hard
to pry out of ABC . You can buy
a transcript though, so this isn't really
U.S. Army Used Media Cover in Iraq for Own Ends
which sounds like a big old bowl of yellow journalism but isn't really, at least I don't think so. It was more to refute the Iraqi Minister of Lies talking about the whooping the Iraqi war machine was delivering to the coalition forces.
The main issue that the reporters had was that they were only getting the one side of the story and not the Iraqi perspective.
But it raises some questions about the supposed objectivity of the media. Is this a proper use of them? To help achieve military goals? Or to try to avoid more unnecessary deaths?
GOP Warns TV Stations Not to Air Ad Alleging Bush Mislead the Nation Over Iraq
They claim that the ad itself
is dishonest, and cite the obligation of broadcast outlets to be free of misleading information. “Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement.”
Despite the implicit threats, only one station has refused to run the ad, a Fox station.
deadly weekend in iraq
this weekend was a particularly bad one
in iraq, with numerous american deaths and casualties ... yet there is barely a mention of the death toll in the media (check washington post, ny times, drudge, etc. etc.) this morning. is something going on here
? or are editors and the american public bored with the story? - i had to dig for the links in this post.
“The Baghdad Bulletin is Iraq’s only English-language newsmagazine and one of the country’s only independent publications. The third issue (published Monday, July 7) is now being distributed across Iraq and in Jordan.” They have a short bit about how Chemical Ali may have escaped
The CBS News American Idol Power Hour.
Viacom, owner of networks CBS and MTV among many others, is aggresively pushing lucrative
offers for Private Jessica Lynch to get her on CBS News, including the possibility of her own video-hosting program on MTV and special editions of TRL. Corporate consolidation the way it is, are we in an era where synergy allows news-media-owning companies to offer not just material profit but flat-out media iconization in exchange for a good story? To put it another way: have we gone beyond using the news to promote entertainment owned by the same company to using entertainment as the currency to flat-out buy the news?
"Fresh doubts over Iraq's arsenal". CNN
"Pentagon: WMD report consistent with U.S. case" Google News
lists many other sources on this topic, with varying titles
depending on who
The Coalition of the Shilling Tired of killing Muslims, we are now trying to teach their survivors some democracy.
... this town shows virtually no interest in liberty, the Constitution, or democracy these days - except when prescribing them to those in far away lands.
Don't be too hard on the Iraqis if they fall for it. After all, we did.
I may not agree with everything Sam Smith says but he does make some very good points about government and media today.
Superseding the mainstream media, or "quirky parasites"?
Less of interest here than the IraqFilter context itself - which amounts to the question "Is blogging to Gulf II what TV was to Vietnam and cable was to Gulf I?" - is an established medium caught in the act of visibly sizing up this comer, this new kid on the block, this parvenu we know as "blogging."
Is it a valid new medium of reportage, fit to take its place alongside print and broadcast? Or is it merely parasitic, interstitial, even marginal? Inquiring minds want to know. (Note O'Donnell's hedges and his final & bizarrely misplaced condescension: "Maybe Allbritton will start a trend - bloggers no longer dependent on the mainstream for their material." WTF?)
"Now America is reappraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week and rewriting the war plan. The first plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another plan." Seems patently obvious, no? But tell Iraqi state television that and suddenly you're speaking from "a position of complete ignorance," according to the White House.
Peter Arnett, highly respected, Pulitzer Prize winner
and the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden on film
, wouldn't back down the last time a network caved into craven submission at hands of the American military
, and he's been sacked by NBC/MSNBC for again refusing to do so
. There's no First Amendment case, obviously, and no real surprise that the military would be exerting pressure to maintain control over information, but does the firing of high-profile Arnett for the repeating the obvious increase anybody's
confidence that we're hearing anything resembling the truth?
The Information War:
"Every few minutes, another burst of satellite imagery and Internet information impacts among an interactive global audience. Ambushed by info, U.S. military commanders confident in their overwhelming firepower are increasingly expressing concern that the 'velocity of information' is spinning out of their control." [more inside]
Not All Iraqis Dancing in the Streets.
To watch the
embedded reporters, you would think that every Iraqi is overjoyed to see America in his or her country. But the reality seems to be quite different: "Why are you here in this country? Are you trying to take over? Are you going to take our country forever? Are the Israelis coming next? Are you here to steal our oil? When are you going to get out?"
You may not read Arabic, but do the pictures speak for themselves? [warning: graphic images]
One big difference between Desert Storm and the current operation is the emergence of Gulf satellite news stations such as Al-Jazeera
and Abu Dhabi TV
, beaming live into homes across the Arab world
. Questions of access aside, it's a given that these news sources will be broadcasting materials that inflame opinion, and would never get past the 'taste and decency' rules of British or American stations. Trouble is, most westerners don't read Arabic
: so, should we be bookmarking such sources for another perspective?
The War is about to Start and for those of us without a TV we are part of a grand experiment to see if we can be as well informed. According to this Reuters article
, Radio had World War II, Television had Vietnam, Cable TV had the Gulf War and now, the Internet may have the U.S. war with Iraq...reporters and producers with wireless laptops and handheld digital cameras will file reports from battlefields
and military installations. Cameras are at key locations for live feeds 24 hours a day. Interactive, 3-D maps will update troop movements, casualties and weapons used. ''You're combining the speed of television with the depth of print,'' says Mitch Gelman, executive producer of CNN.com. ''This could define how future wars are covered.'' (more inside)
When Flash meets news cheese.
The drums come in like Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." The cop show synth-strings are ratcheted up to the most intense possible level. It's CNN having a war orgasm, in this ad for the Iraq Tracker
, which apparently sits on your desktop and provides news as exciting as a coke overdose.
Is Fox News Giving "Aid & Comfort" to Saddam?
Contributing money to the regime they hate so much - without disclosing it - seems to go against the grain of the flag-waving network. I don't think Barbara Streisand ever contributed
any money to Baghdad... (via Electrolite
Media covers massive D.C. (and world) Anti-War protests, discounts numbers - Backflash: NPR and the NYT later issued apologies for their drastic undercounting of the Oct. 26 D.C. Anti-War protest - later admitted to be between 100,000 and 200,000 in size "...It was not as large as the organizers of the protest had predicted. They had said there would be 100,000 people here. I'd say there are fewer than 10,000"(NPR's Nancy Marshall) Last saturday's D.C. AntiWar protest received far more media coverage but a similar discounting of the numbers. IndyMedia (above link) provided numbers more in line with D.C. Police statements. Many media outlets ran the same AP news feed. [NYT, NPR , CNN, ABC, AP] and claimed..."Thousands" or "tens of thousands" of protesters. But in the words of those who witnessed it (as I did - 2.5 times size of Oct. 26 protest, from what I saw): 'D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey said, "It's one of the biggest ones we've had, certainly in recent times." U.S. Capitol Police chief Terrance Gainer said, "I know everyone is skittish about saying a number, but this was big. An impressive number." A C-SPAN cameraman I spoke to spent the entire protest on the roof of a cargo truck just to the side of the stage. He told me that he had covered dozens of protests in his time, and that the crowd on Saturday was the biggest he had ever seen.' (story) and organizers claimed 500,000 marched in DC meanwhile, a new poll shows support for a war on Iraq is slipping in the US and also dropping at the UN
Down the memory hole!
An eye-opening comparison of how the various media outlets reported the removal of U.N. inspectors from Iraq back in the day (1998)
with today (2002, and itchin' to fight)
Why Aren't U.S. Journalists Reporting From Iraq?
"This notion that the Iraqi leader is in cahoots with Osama will be easy to feed the American people. To the American people, one bad Arab is the same as the next, and Osama equals Saddam. People who wonder about the Bush war-urgency only need to think about this: there’s a blind spot that needs to be exploited now, before too many journalists get the idea to go inside Iraq and find out what’s really happening. As long as the Condi Rices, Dick Cheneys and other hawks are talking to journalists with no experience inside Iraq, they won’t get a raised eyebrow about this notion that the secular dictator is in bed with the jihadis
-- even though [reports indicate]....the CIA has found no link between the Iraqi dictator and Al Qaeda."
CNN Chief orders "balance" in war coverage.
Earlier this year, CNN Chief Walter Isaacson got chummy with GOP lawmakers and begged them for tips
on how to attract more conservative viewers. Next, he tried to bring Rush Limbaugh to CNN
. Now he's issued a memo to his reporters, urging them "to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it "seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan." Is this "balance", or is he urging CNN to gloss over the realities of what is happening in Afghanistan?
Media Deception and Iraq
An interesting quick story-- one journalist smells a rat in an AP report about Iraq using money to buy weapons, investigates the genesis of the story, and finds more deception. Meanwhile statistics on children dying from sanctions go unpublished.