Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reporters Say Networks Have Put Iraq on the Back Burner

Why is that?

According the NYT, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, Andrew Tyndall, has compiled data that demonstrates that coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Tyndall discloses that in all of 2007, the big three devoted 1,157 minutes to Iraq. But, halfway into 2008, the coverage of Iraq is a miniscule 181 weekday minutes:
  • The “CBS Evening News” - 51 minutes
  • ABC’s “World News” - 55 minutes
  • “NBC Nightly News” - 74 minutes
Keep in mind that the average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed. CBS cutbacks are the most extensive to date in Baghdad. However many journalists have shared varying levels of frustration about placing war stories onto newscasts.

On “The Daily Show,” chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, Lara Logan echoed the comments of other journalists when she said that many Americans seem uninterested 'in the war' now. Terry McCarthy, an ABC News correspondent in Baghdad. said that when he is in the United States, bringing up Baghdad at a dinner party “is like a conversation killer.”

Why is that?

It shouldn't be such a big mystery. The late George Carlin said that America loves war:The big problem is, obviously, is that we are no longer at war in Iraq. We are occupying Iraq. And Americans hate being the occupying power. It reminds them of the reason for which America's armed forces were originally formed: to wage an insurrection and defeat British occupation of our colonies.

It's a national embarrassment to be caught in the headlights of major network exposure as an unwelcomed occupier of foreign lands. The less we see of the devastation we have caused in Iraq, the better we can follow the fake news. Every one at every dinner party much rather talk about the price of gas, which is a unifying complaint. Or, we can agreeably agree to disagree about our politics - not so with Iraq's politics about which we know next to nothing. Frank Rich, writing Now That We've 'Won,' Let's Come Home, says,
If you follow the nation's op-ed pages and the presidential campaign, Iraq seems as contentious an issue as Vietnam was in 1968. But in the country itself, Cindy vs. Michelle, not Shiites vs. Sunnis, is the hotter battle. This isn't the press's fault, and it isn't the public's fault. It's merely the way things are.
Like I said, my fellow Americans love a war, but hate an occupation. If you won't take it from me, take it from George Carlin.

18 Moderated Comments:

Blogger MadMike said...

Unfortunately America has become accustomed to the war in Iraq, and the networks are responding accordingly. The fact is Americans are more worried about how they are going to feed their children. Our country is in desperate straits indeed.

6/24/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

I still believe part of this is because most in this country have no family involvement in the war to begin with. To them this is some drama with falling ratings.

6/24/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Americans are triumphalists! Occupations do not suit them. War does. Has Carlin ever been wrong about anything?

6/24/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

madmike, you are so right!!! America is in dire straights indeed, and Congress and the two parties are totally unable or unwilling to deal with the real issues.

Gridlock is about to drive the country into a major depression. Oil prices have quadrupled. Iron ore prices have doubled this year. Corn price are up 97% this spring.

While we might be able to blame speculators for the oil increase, there is no futures market for iron ore. It's pure supply and demand with China sucking up the world's entire supply of Iron Ore.

And it's a problem for the Democrats when the so-called oil speculators are labor union and teacher's retirement funds. The California Pension Fund alone is buying TWO BILLION DOLLARS in oil futures!!!!

It will become increasingly hard to get the attention of the people when they cannot put gas into their tanks or food on the table.

6/24/2008 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

WTF does oil got to do with news coverage of Iraq?

6/25/2008 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

I agree with Beach's comment that too few of us have family members (or,I would add, friends serving in Iraq) to feel personally involved in the horror of this utterly unnecessary war which has devolved into an endless never-ending occupation.

Furthermore, our so-called president asked nothing of his fellow citizens, other than that they "go shopping" (the old "bread and circuses" trick) to distract us from paying attention to his gross misconduct of his high office and his ongoing dereliction of duty as he struts around in the role of our nation's "Commander in Chief".

Bush's destructive fiscal policies are destroying the middle class. Too many of us are focused on simply keeping a roof over our heads and putting food on the table. And now, we have an additional daily stressor: paying the ever increasing price at the pump, so that we can get ourselves to work, if we still have a job. For too many, there is literally no time nor any energy left at the end of the day with which to pay attention to Bush, his cronies, and their intentional machinations.

Finally, I must sadly note that we Americans have an ever decreasing attention span, which means that too few of us notice that Bush and his cohorts have mercilessly trampled upon our Constitution, have reduced the Department of Justice and the Judiciary to mere arms of the RNC, and have terrorized the Democrats and the media into silent submission. Bush's reign of ignorance, laziness, incompetence, ceaseless fear-mongering, abject cronyism, and the continuing destruction of our Republic's cherished democratic values and institutions cannot end too soon.

6/25/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

I'm with you and Carlin. And Beach.

6/25/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

I received a comment on my blog today telling me to "Lady, get a fooking life." How quaint and sexist. These issues are the fabric of our lives. The Silent Generation didn't have to deal with getting fired before retired or choosing between food and gas to get to work to pay for the food.

Mike is 100% correct: no one is paying attention to Iraq because of the financial decay. And beach is right: few people have personal involvement with the war. If we did, maybe we'd DO something. I'm nostaligic for those protests that really did make a difference.

Bravo, emily. You are (sadly) absolutely right. Besides, if they keep our minds of Iraq, maybe no one will complain when/if we invade Iran. People are too busy trying to survive and their attention span is decreasing by all the gagets that will eventually wind up in some dump to further ruin the ozone layer.

Wizard, I didn't know about the California pension fund.

As always, whatever George Carlin says—sorry, said. Vig, yet another thoughtful, well-written post.

fed up (I am)

6/25/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger purpleXed said...

Are the American people getting the fullest and clearest picture of the way American wealth and treasured lives are committed abroad?

Is it by mere chance that a campaign is pursued to deny the American viewers get the two sides of the story that doesn't usually make it on US media some of whom either co-opted by corporations and/or corruption?

If all is well (as some wish to portray) then how come US is going to face such high cost and its even higher consequences as the following example suggests:

A recent example best illustrates of what the American viewers miss out if their right to have alternate sources of information are continued to be denied. One wonders how many viewers in USA watched "Daylight Robbery" aired on BBC One on 10 June 2008?

This episode in the Panorama serial investigates claims that as much as $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq.

The programme had many revealing references on the fact when the US goes to war, corporate America goes too. "There are contracts for caterers, tanker drivers, security guards and even interrogators, many of them through companies with links to the White House."

"Now more than 70 whistleblower cases threaten to reveal the scandals behind billions of dollars worth of waste, theft and corruption during the Iraq war."

"A total of $23bn (£11.75bn) is under scrutiny. The US justice department has imposed gagging orders which prevent the real scale of the problem emerging."

Had American tax payers an easy access to alternate information sources such as Al Jazeera it wouldn’t have taken them several long years to question the wisdom of the “cakewalk” bunch i.e. the likes of Ken Adelmen who misled the American media by claiming “measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in America’s war on terrorism.”

Thus encouraging and embracing alternate sources of media has become increasingly important at a time when many US media organs tiptoe around issues in fear of overstepping their boundaries.

It seems that the right of US viewers’ majority to have alternate news channels is being objected to by a handful but noisy few. Interestingly, many of such vocal elements possess no expertise either about the society in the Middle East its media, or the Arabic discourse on issues existing there.

One would expect media activists to ask the major US channels draw adequate attention to matters that are of vital concern for American lives. But many are found silent on most occasions. Some are observed busy to attract attention on irrelevant and insignificant issues.

Media activist should encourage even wider access to channels like Al Jazeera that provides objective coverage of critical foreign policy and security issues, while many US media organs tiptoe around issues in fear of not to over step their boundaries. Armed with diverse news sources, the American people can crosscheck and verify the government's position to rid themselves of half-truths from the corporate media, which remains a willing accomplice in keeping American viewers continually subjected to what former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan calls "Washington's Culture of Deception."

By denying the option for diversity, those who call for restricting plurality of opinion deprive the US audience to judge the facts for themselves. It is the absence of and NOT presence of an accountable media that is injurious to American interest.

6/29/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Yes but all the special interest money interests are smiling arm in arm and laughing there way to the bank.

6/29/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I absolutely agree, PerpleXed. The addition of Al Jazeera would give Americans a much-needed additional diversity of viewpoints. When I last had time to watch TV news, even the 30 minutes of BBC TV was trimmed to maximize acceptance by an American Audience. So, I would hope that would not happen in the event that Al Jazeera were added and BBC TV were increased. I have to add, I listen to BBC World Service on the radion every morning. But that's only because I live where that happens to be available (on AM radio!).

6/30/2008 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Right like when the English Government fired the chief of the BBC when he blew the whistle on Bush about lying about weapons... and how our media is controlled and owned lock stock and barrel by corporate fascism.

Tim Russert can be replaced though by another stooge that will ask the same questions that the corporate rulers ask to be asked.

Media including public radio is sponsored by Corporate fascists.
Special interest groups control the airwaves in America.

6/30/2008 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Skip, the BBC is not perfect. My point is that BBC is (a) of higher quality than even our NPR and Public TV and (b) it is different.

I also should point out that the rest of the world (ROW) avails itself of all of our MSM; But our viewers do not have access to the ROW's media. The American people are at a disadvantage, of strategic importance, when it comes to information. Ironic.

6/30/2008 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

That obviously goes a long way to explain Busheney's post-911 success in stampeding America into Iraqnam.

6/30/2008 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Our system relies on disinformation and bad education.

This will not change.

Until the system changes.

That is .. for better or worse going to happen soon. As this system collapses. Either horrific change for the worse is going to happen now... or we will change into a better culture.

Because of the disconnect between reality and fantasy regarding governance and money issues... I hope for the best.

6/30/2008 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

''''''''The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.'''''''''''''
Segment by Edward Bernays... Freud's nephew who invented ''public relations''. He said that originally he called it propaganda but the word was baggage filled.

6/30/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I am not certain that Al Jazeera is as objective as Perplexed would have us believe, nor do I think we need more than one such station in the United States. If their broadcast news follows the line of their print news they are more attuned to our FOX than our CNN. Regardless, I do believe in freedom of speech and I see no harm in offering all sides of an issue. As to the BBC I find it far superior to most of the news services in the United States.

6/30/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Damnation by faint praise.

6/30/2008 01:26:00 PM  

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