Media propaganda sells wars to America
January 16th marked the 20 year anniversary of the first Gulf War, where a UN-authorized coalition force led by the US and UK went to war with Iraq to force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.
However, many argue the war was actually an attempt to secure access to Kuwaiti oil resource, a notion left undiscussed by the media at that time. Americans were deliberately kept in the dark by the US media and Pentagon, who used PR agencies to spin a government approved message.
Deliberate propaganda hoaxes included stories about Iraqis killing Kuwaiti babies and stealing incubators to weapons of mass destruction.
John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of “Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf” said the media has gotten worse at questioning the message, even the 2003 media coverage leading up to the invasion of Iraq was full of propaganda and disinformation.
“In 2003 you had the Secretary of State, Colin Powel, telling outrageous lies. You had the New York Times, the most respected newspaper in the United States repeating the most outrageous lies about Saddam Hussein’s atomic bomb program, which of course didn’t exist. It turned out it was non-existent,” he explained. “It’s a catastrophe what happened in Iraq this time around. This is all based on propaganda campaigns that were not properly challenged by the American media.”
He explained that the government sells propaganda to newspapers because it is effective, and the US media buying into it. MacArthur argued the American media and journalists have forgotten who they serve, who they are reporting to and for and what their purpose is.
“The United States Constitution says quite explicitly ‘We the People of the United States’ are writing this constitution, ratifying this constitution. In this country the people are sovereign. Not the government,” he commented. “Reporters have to say to themselves, I work for the American people. I don’t work for the American government. My loyalty should be the Constitution and to the sovereign people of the United States. The American media has completely forgotten this.”
He explained journalists have divulged into protecting the government, protecting the government’s interest and not the peoples’.
“This is not what the founding fathers had in mind,” MacArthur added.
Journalists should report the truth using common sense rules. Release information, ask questions. The media does not need to endanger lives, but can use common sense to report the facts and ask the right questions, he argued.