The War on Media
April 15, 2003 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Behold the dark brilliance of modern media-management during wartime. Everybody here was having the same perfectly Groundhog Day experience: You woke up only to repeat the day before, and no matter what you did or said or thought, you were helpless to effect a change in the next day. So every day, everybody asked the same questions about Basra and the supply lines and the whereabouts of the WMDs and Saddam, and got the same answers.
posted by BentPenguin (26 comments total)

Wow, TL, you sure showed him. Oh wait, it was actually a sad attempt at deflection. Carry on then.

Anyone wishing to actually read something and not engage in us-vs.-them bullshit can also see this WarFilter thread
posted by Space Coyote at 6:35 AM on April 15, 2003

Actually, the articles states explicity that Gen Brooks is our own Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

this whole million-dollar business, the plasma screens and such, was not for us but directed over our heads toward the American audience—and not just the American audience but the core Bush American audience.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:38 AM on April 15, 2003

You so need to read this it's not even funny.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:41 AM on April 15, 2003

This is a reporter, camping next to the biggest story since 9/11, who is bitching that the Pentagon isn't feeding him interesting enough news.

Reporters find news. Campers whine that the view from their lounge chair is boring.

Gen Brooks is a paid spin master. On what planet is the Pentagon expected to present a balanced and hard hitting report on how ugly the war is? Isn't that the job of reporters?

This reporter is a smartass who got a shitty assignment and has managed to make it all about him.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:48 AM on April 15, 2003

Yes, Jeff Jarvis said it best:

"The problem with Wolff's question is that it was not savvy; it was naive, more naive than the audience ... Wolff usually gets media -- brilliantly. But for some reason, he doesn't get this.
Further, I've always known as a reporter that the dullest, worst, most shruggable, most worthless story you can possibly write is a story about the media and their trevails. Nobody could possibly give a damn, nor should they. A real reporter should never file that story but should instead go out and get a real story. But that's what Wolff had to cover as the media columnist embedded in the media camp in Doha. So that's what he filed and keeps filing.
Jeesh. Deflate, man, deflate. Watch out for any reporter who ever thinks he does something "existential." It's worse when a newsman thinks he is news. You'd think they, of all people, would know the truth: You're a sound bite, boy... and then the sound fades. Repeat after me: It's all just fishwrap tomorrow -- and you're the fish.
That's media."
posted by Jos Bleau at 6:57 AM on April 15, 2003

the entire bush presidency has been a calculated media show. the mans administration spends big bux on fancy-schmancy propoganda fishwrap backgrounds to stand in front of when he speaks, so he can be photographed in front of large type "Jump Starting The Economy" and "Thinking of the Children" and various other pithy bullshit slogans and become associated with those phrases in the minds of the Great Silent AmeriSheep. the president is a smartass who stole a position of power and has managed to make it all about complete and utter bullshit.
posted by quonsar at 7:00 AM on April 15, 2003

Great article. It's not news, it's metanews.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:03 AM on April 15, 2003

You so need to read this it's not even funny.

Huh. A National Review article that complains about NPR's coverage, imagine that. And at the same time, here are two pieces that aired on NPR only yesterday:

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says the United States' military success in Iraq has inspired some of its other potential adversaries including "Axis of Evil" members Iran and North Korea to make greater conciliatory efforts.

Commentator Ken Adelman was ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan administration. He says it's important to rebuild Iraq quickly, so the United Nations should have limited involvement in the process.

Is there an example of right-wing talk radio anywhere that would air correspondingly opposing opinions? Do any of these nutjobs who piss and moan about NPR ever actually listen to it?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2003

You so need to read this it's not even funny.


Interesting piece, but I think you missed Wolff's point. Gulf War 1 is famous for how the pentagon controlled the media coverage.

This time around, its even more controlled, and whats worse, its one giant photo-op staged with an eye not on public opinion about the war so much as general political popularity and fund-raising back home.
posted by BentPenguin at 7:09 AM on April 15, 2003

quonsar - Aren't all modern presidencies media shows? You are right though, the fishwrap crap has got to go. It looks so ridiculous, like the after game interviews of coaches and players with the team logo and some sponsor and maybe the venue the game was played. I think the first place I saw it was in some European news conferences. Anyone know the origin of that junk?

Anyway, this guy is bitchin' about the news conferences, but they would be bitchin' more if they didn't have them. What do they expect?
posted by internal at 7:12 AM on April 15, 2003

"This time around, its even more controlled"

Ummm..... Right.

Reporters report. Campers camp.

I'm hearing more eye witness reporting from this war than any in recent memory. If someone wants to use the Pentagon as their main news source, either consumers or reporters, then they get what they deserve. And to expect the Pentagon to not spin things is beyond naive.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2003

I'm still wondering what the hell a White House operative is doing interrogating the press there.

Was his question "noted in the building?"

This smells a lot like Karl Rove's elect Republicans plan using nationalism and jingoism that was uncovered in January 2002.

Was this Republican operative drawing a taxpayer funded salary to promote Rove's plan?

Was it any of this Republican operatives fu**ing business what questions the press asks at CentCom briefings?

Is intimidation and exclusion the motus operandi for White House representatives towards the press?
posted by nofundy at 7:28 AM on April 15, 2003

New labour ?
posted by johnnyboy at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2003

You so need to read this it's not even funny.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:41 AM PST on April 15

To paraphrase the article:

Wha!? You do not love the war???


  • "In short, would any reporter demonstrate a smidgeon of curiosity — other than condemning a plan they scarcely understood — about the mechanics of the furious battle for Iraq?"

  • "Remember [the looting in Iraq] was a long-suffering impoverished people lashing out at Baathists — not affluent, smug American kids looting and breaking windows at the World Trade Organization in Seattle."

  • " Next I turned on NPR. No surprise. Its coverage was also fixated on the looting, and aired several stories about the general shortcomings of the American efforts."

  • Here I'd like to reitterate, "Wha?!!?? You do not love the war???"

    More Highlights:

  • "Now is the time for CNN, NPR, and other news organizations to state publicly what their relationships were in ensuring their reporters’ presence in wartime Iraq — and to explain their policies about bribing state officials, allowing censorship of their news releases, and keeping quiet about atrocities to ensure access."

  • "In the weeks that follow, the media, not the military, will be shown to be in need of introspection and vast reform."

  • "Journalists who pad around with palm pilots, pounds of high-tech gear, dapper clothes, and expensive educations have convinced themselves that if lesser people were as caring or as sensitive as themselves then we could all live in bliss."

  • Why is it the far right always clad their op-eds in class warfare, when the far right politically has nothing to do with social services or the under-privilaged, and is a freight train toward top 1% tax cuts?

    Much like the garbage collector, when asked about what is troubling America today says, "The inheritance tax is the worst scourge facing America today!"

    Why would a garbage man care about the fucking inheritance tax? Right wing talk radio.

    They take up for the club that doesn't even let them in the door.
    posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2003

    nofundy: no, intimidation and exclusion - along with coersion, bribery and censorship - were the MO of Ba'ath representatives towards the press, though.
    posted by techgnollogic at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2003

    Of course one should expect spin and runaround from the pentagon. That doesn't make this reporter a "dumbass" for pointing it out, causing a round of applause from the room.
    posted by Space Coyote at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2003

    I thought Wolff asked a perfectly good question. I'd paraphrase it as, Why are we here if you won't tell us anything but the platitude of the day? And if platitudes it is, why are we getting it from the U.S. military's version of a low-level flunky?

    He's a media critic. He writes about media, including journalists and newsmakers and the dances they do. He was covering the war coverage, not the bang-bang itself.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled snitfest about the tax policy wisdom, or lack thereof, exhibited by garbagemen.
    posted by sacre_bleu at 8:42 AM on April 15, 2003

    OK, since no one else is gonna do it, here it is:

    Signaling the high interest in improving the military's image is the appointment of Wilkinson as spokesman for CENTCOM. A veteran White House publicist as well as a Navy Reserve lieutenant, Wilkinson headed the anti-Taliban Coalition Information Center during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and was spokesman for the Bush campaign in Miami-Dade County during the Florida recount after the 2000 election.

    Wilkinson's political credentials have aroused journalistic concerns that the Bush administration, not known for its openness, is trying to control the message and use it for re-election purposes in the 2004 campaign. McGinnis dismissed those worries.

    This guy is most definitely a partisan operative for Duhbya and the Republican party. Now, once again, who is paying his salary and why is it any of his fu**ing business what questions a reporter poses at a CentCom briefing?
    posted by nofundy at 8:51 AM on April 15, 2003

    I don't think anything is wrong with the question the guy asked. I just it was a more appropriate question to ask his bosses (media chiefs), than CENTCOM. (not in "It's not right to question the Pentagon" sense, but in the "question the people more directly responsible for you being there" sense).
    posted by stifford at 9:06 AM on April 15, 2003

    Maybe the garbage man has a consistent set of beliefs, and, while he doesn't expect to be subject to the inheritance tax, he wants the tax code to be fair-- and he doesn't believe the government ought to have the right to confiscate up to 55% of someone's property simply because he died?

    You're shitting me, right? Find me a garbage man who expresses heartfelt opposition to the inheritance tax and I'll find you a Dittohead, and that's a fact.

    In fact, it's the vituperative response of the Dittoheads that most gets me about this piece. Wolff doesn't say it, but I'll betcha a good half of the e-mails, the nastiest ones, were probably sent by people who "neglected" to sign their names.

    How dare you. The Waffen SS couldn't have put it any better.
    posted by kgasmart at 9:07 AM on April 15, 2003

    Maybe the garbage man has a consistent set of beliefs, and, while he doesn't expect to be subject to the inheritance tax, he wants the tax code to be fair

    Presumably, this hypothetical garbageman doesn't work in a big city, since I'm sure his "consistent set of beliefs" would include loathing leftist unions and collective bargaining.
    posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:15 AM on April 15, 2003

    I'd like the tax code to be fair, too - how about a flat tax paid by EVERYBODY?! No loopholes, no corporate benefits, no offshore shelters, nothing! You made the money here, you pay it here. Period.

    Why is this idea so hard for people to get behind?
    posted by FormlessOne at 10:00 AM on April 15, 2003

    Because the people who make the laws (Right and Left) benefit from the loopholes, corporate benefits and offshore shelters?

    It sucks, but that's the reason.
    posted by Cyrano at 10:55 AM on April 15, 2003

    Metafilter: The Waffen SS couldn't have put it any better.

    how about a flat tax paid by EVERYBODY?!

    Unless it were on the order of about 40-45%, it would murder tax 'revenues' AND be a godsend to the highest earnings tiers. Lower income people would pay more, rich people would pay a LOT less, and government coffers would be emptied more swiftly than the little fart-in-the-wind Bush tax cut that everyone's squealing like a cut pig about. A graduated system taxes the highest paid people at higher rates, lowest paid at lower rates, on the idea that rich folks have more money to take. A flat tax would murder the middle class, since their overall tax rates would rise by 10-15%, but it wouldn't be nearly enough to make up for the losses (well, 'losses') when the effective tax rate for the wealthiest people dropped by around a like amount per individual.

    This is something the Republicans would love to see, but the middle class they so desperately need would rise up a slaughter them in their sleep, so they don't dare. The Democrats tend to be math- and economics-challenged and the current tax code is fairly friendly to their core constituency, so they don't rock the boat. And thus, the tax code gains 100 pages a year, and things roll merrily along.
    posted by UncleFes at 10:55 AM on April 15, 2003

    I read techgnollogic's article but the only thing it left me with was astonishment that those dudes are still mad about clinton. move on, kiddies!
    posted by mcsweetie at 11:39 AM on April 15, 2003

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