Ask any Republican about the political leanings of the mass media, and you’ll most likely hear that it’s too “liberal.” Ask any Democrat, and you’re likely to hear it’s too “conservative.” In reality, it is a capitalist structure more concerned with the bottom line than with presenting accurate, and unbiased reporting. The proof, for those of you who had doubts, is here in this excellent documentary, “WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception — Inside the Media War You Never Saw.”
Director Danny Schechter turned his cameras on the media starting with 9/11 up through the “end” of the current war in Iraq. He wanted to see how the media (mass, independent, and foreign) covered the stories. What he found is something those who have been following independent media knew all along. The mass media in America is a spokesperson for the Bush administration’s company line (as it has been with past administrations to one degree or another). In the case of this current war, it did so to help spread the propaganda coming from press conferences. Not only was this done to “manufacture consent,” a term Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman defined a few years ago, it was also undertaken to ensure that no one outlet would scoop the other. If one network or paper were to be scooped, it would result in lower ratings or readership and lost ad revenue. If CBS didn’t follow the government’s official version of the story, it was no longer invited to the party and would appear unpatriotic. What’s even worse than this and the reporters admitting their guilt, was that the government knew how easily it could manipulate the media and American people.
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner studied how the administration did all this with things like filming the war cinema
verite style and the media’s use of the Best of Bombs channel that provided nothing but footage of bombs going off. Also noted in this film is how a Hollywood set designer came up with the layout of the daily press conference room and how those conferences were run for the administration by none other than Jim Wilkinson. Remember all those “angry citizens” protesting the recount efforts in Florida the first time Bush ran for office? Wilkinson was the man who organized that little media stunt.
And what about independent and foreign journalists and media? How did they cover the war? Differently, for sure, and some would say more accurately. How did the military react to that? It shelled a hotel members of those media sources were staying in. (The video footage backing this up is disturbing, to say the very least.)
Say what you will about Schechter and his goals. He presents plenty of facts and has a wide assortment of interviews with American reporters who admit to being duped. (Some even admit to knowing it the whole time, but felt they had no choice but to go along with it.) Why are the facts so important here? Because when a Republican or Democrat tries to paint the media as one thing or another, you can easily whip out this DVD and show that it is just a tool for a one party system poorly disguised as something all together different.
Kudos to Schechter and company. If I were them, though, I’d keep the hell away from hotels in foreign countries where a war is going on. We saw what happened to those who dared to question.