British journalist and filmmaker John Pilger uses this feature-length film essay to pillory the American and British mass media for their inability to question how Washington and London conducts its military policies. Pilger notes that government control of the media during wartime was first employed during World War I, and then perfected to absurd extremes in World War II. (The Allied leaders originally claimed that there was no radioactive residue from the Hiroshima bombings!)
However, Pilger spends most of the film dissecting how the American and British media failed to question the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and how reporters consistently overlooked abuses by U.S. and U.K. soldiers during the years they occupied Iraq. He offers some commentary on how President Obama has cracked down on whistleblowers that try to alert the media to military misconduct, and there is also a detour to how the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is being reported.
But Pilger fails to mention that uncensored media coverage of the Vietnam War was the primary driving force in souring American support for the conflict. There is no mention of the wars (and related media coverage) in Korea, the Falkland Islands or Grenada.
Pilger also doesn’t bother to point out that Americans and Britons were overwhelmingly opposed to the Iraq invasion and occupation – even though the newspapers and TV news networks in both nations originally presented large doses of incorrect information that seemed to justify the military action.
This 2010 production is already somewhat dated in terms – the U.S. subsequently left Iraq and turned its bombs to Libya. The DVD has an exclusive special feature interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but it is not particularly interesting.