Role of media in US- Iraq War of 2003

This article is an overall study about Role of media in US- Iraq War of 2003 which change the contemporary world politics as whole. It is a study about the how powerful Elites from United states of America exploits the ethics of print, electronic, internet that is e-media to create Islam phobia in all among the Christian countries to wedge a war with Iraq in 2003. As well as how the Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein is responsible for 9/11 attack for which he was not.

Actually, the whole responsibility of 9/11 attack had been taken by the Osama bin Laden headed al-Qaeda. Then also US media succeed to create the war environment in the people’s mind of USA by giving all the filtered and fake news.

During 2002 to 2003 US media was roughly exploited by the American Capitalist, American Zionist Government, Oil emperors Of USA, Armaments producers, Gold importers. Here in this paper I have analyzed the American media and media from rest of the world and their approaches to reporting on Iraq in three phases

  1. Pre war period      
  2. War period
  3. Post war period

These three phases have been studied in the context of Noam Chomsky’s 5 filters propaganda theory.  

The Propaganda Model

The propaganda model is a theory advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that alleges systemic biases in the mass media and seeks to explain them in terms of structural economic causes.
           This, in turn, influences the way people see the world and, as a result, the media is a key means by which the general population come to accept, and support, “the arrangements of the social, economic, and political order.” The media, in other words “are vigilant guardians protecting privilege from the threat of public understanding and participation.” This process ensures that state violence is not necessary to maintain the system as “more subtle means are required: the manufacture of consent, deceiving the masses with ‘necessary illusions.” The media, in other words, are a key means of ensuring that the dominant ideas within society are those of the dominant class.

Noam Chomsky has helped develop a detailed and sophisticated analyze of how the wealthy and powerful use the media to propagandize in their own interests behind a mask of objective news reporting. Along with Edward Herman, he has developed the “Propaganda Model” of the media works.

The theory postulates five general classes of “filters” that determine the type of news that is presented in news media. These five classes are:

  1. Ownership of the medium
  2. Mediums funding sources
  3. Sourcing       
  4. Flak
  5. Anti-communist ideology

The Ownership, Sponsorships & Sourcing are most important aspects considered by the Chomsky. This theory mainly construct in situation which United stated do have but, Chomsky and Herman strongly believed that this theory is equally applicable to any country that shares the basic economic structure and organizing principles which United states have and that are the Media Biases.

Invasion on Iraq In 2003

 

             The 2003 invasion of Iraq, (from March 20 to May 1, 2003) was led by the United States, backed by British forces and smaller group from Australia, Denmark, Poland and Spain. Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from March 20 to May 1. These were the United States (248,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194). 36 other countries were involved in its aftermath. The invasion marked the beginning of the current Iraq War. In preparation for the invasion, 100,000 US troops were assembled in Kuwait by February 18. The United States supplied the vast majority of the invading forces, but also received support from Kurdish troops in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to then-President of the United States George W. Bush and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of that time; Tony Blair, the reasons for the invasion were “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq’s failure to take a “final opportunity” to disarm itself of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that British officials and US called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace. Although some remnants of pre-1991 production were found after the end of the war, US government spokespeople confirmed that these were not the weapons for which the US went to war. In 2005, the Central Intelligence Agency released a report saying that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.

In a January 2003 CBS poll 64% of US nationals had approved of military action against Iraq, however 63% wanted then President Bush to find a diplomatic solution rather than going to war, and 62% believed the threat of terrorism would increase in the event of war. The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some traditional U.S. allies, including France, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada. Their leaders argued that there was no evidence of WMD and that invading Iraq was not justified in the context of UNMOVIC’s February 12, 2003 report. On February 15, 2003, a month before the invasion, there were many worldwide protests against the Iraq war, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war.

The invasion was preceded by an air strike on the Iraqi Presidential Palace on 19 March 2003. The following day allied forces launched an incursion into southern Iraq from their massing point near the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. While commandos launched an amphibious assault from the Persian Gulf to secure Basra and the surrounding oil fields, the main invasion army moved into southern Iraq securing the region and engaging in the Battle of Nasiriyah on 23 March. Massive air strikes across the country and against Iraqi command and control threw the defending army into chaos and prevented an effective resistance. On 26 March the 173rd Airborne Brigade was airdropped near the northern city of Kirkuk where they joined forces with Kurdish rebels and fought several actions against the Iraqi army to secure the northern part of the country. The main body of allied forces continued their drive into the heart of Iraq and encountered little resistance. Most of the Iraqi military was quickly defeated and Baghdad was occupied on 9 April. Other operations occurred against pockets of the Iraqi army including the capture and occupation of Kirkuk on April 10, and the attack and capture of Tikrit on 15 April. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the central leadership went into hiding as the allied forces completed the occupation of the country. On 1 May an end of major combat operations was declared, ending the invasion period and beginning the occupation period.

Media coverage To Iraq War

U.S. media coverage

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was the most widely and closely reported war in military history. Television network coverage was largely pro-war and viewers were six times more likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war. The New York Times ran a number of articles describing Saddam Hussein’s attempts to build weapons of mass destruction. The September 8, 2002 article titled “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts” would be discredited, leading the New York Times to issue a public statement admitting it was not as rigorous as it should have been.

 

At the start of the war in March 2003, as many as 775 reporters and photographers were traveling as embedded journalists. These reporters signed contracts with the military that limited what they were allowed to report on. When asked why the military decided to embed journalists with the troops, Lt. Col. Rick Long of the U.S. Marine Corps replied, “Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment.”

A September 2003 poll revealed that seventy percent of Americans believed there was a link between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of 9/11. 80% of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one such belief about the invasion, compared to 23% of PBS viewers. Ted Turner, founder of CNN, said that Rupert Murdoch was using Fox News to advocate an invasion. Critics have argued that this statistic is indicative of misleading coverage by the U.S. media since viewers in other countries were less likely to have these beliefs. A post-2008 election poll by FactCheck.org found that 48% of Americans believe Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks, the group concluded, “Voters, once deceived, tend to stay that way despite all evidence.”

Independent media coverage

Independent media also played a prominent role in covering the invasion. The Indy media network, among many other independent networks including many journalists from the invading countries, provided reports in a way difficult to control by any government, corporation, or political party. In the United States Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman has been critical of the reasons for the 2003 invasion and the alleged crimes committed by the U.S. authorities in Iraq.

On the other side, among media not opposing to the invasion, The Economist stated in an article on the matter that “the normal diplomatic tools sanctions, persuasion, pressure, UN resolutions have all been tried, during 12 deadly but failed years” then giving a mild conditional support to the war stating that “if Mr. Hussein refuses to disarm, it would be right to go to war”.

Australian war artist George Gittoes collected independent interviews with soldiers while producing his documentary Soundtrack to War. The war in Iraq provided the first time in history that military on the front lines were able to provide direct, uncensored reportage themselves, thanks to blogging software and the reach of the internet. Dozens of such reporting sites, known as soldier blogs or milblogs, were started during the war. These blogs were more often than not largely pro-war and stated various reasons why the soldiers and Marines felt they were doing the right thing.

International media coverage

International coverage of the war differed from coverage in the U.S. in a number of ways. The Arab-language news channel Al Jazeera and the German Satellite channel Deutsche Welle featured almost twice as much information on the political background of the war. Al Jazeera also showed scenes of civilian casualties which were rarely seen in the U.S.

Media’s Reporting On Iraq Invasion

          

           After the September 11th attacks, the United States reentered the sacred domain. Having been made aware of the nation’s vulnerability, the American people and media were behind President Bush and his response. His response of invading Afghanistan faced little debate within the country. There was much debate in the media elsewhere, but not in the sacred domain of the U.S. Although in the early stages, The Guardian reported that the conflict would be “ten times worse than Vietnam,” the U.S. had a surprisingly successful moment in Afghanistan, where the tribes and clans turned against the unpopular Taliban, and there was relatively little guerilla warfare. This set the stage for the movement into Iraq.

American media does not necessarily lead public opinion. It was the government that fed the public information about a hostile and dangerous Iraq. There was debate in newspapers and publications, but the decision to invade Iraq was made in the hermetically sealed environment of the Bush administration, which shut out any intervention by the media.

  1. The Guardian:- 2.   New York Times:

The Guardian reported that the conflict would be “ten times worse than Vietnam,” the U.S. had a surprisingly successful moment in Afghanistan, where the tribes and clans turned against the unpopular Taliban, and there was relatively little guerilla warfare. This set the stage for the movement into Iraq.

       On February 15, 2003 a New York Times editorial said there were essentially two major forces in the world. First was the superpower of the Bush administration, backed by American economic dominance and military prestige. The other was the weight and power of global public opinion, which expressed it with protests and other actions, speaking out not only against American policy, but also about the future of the global order. The war Americans saw was very different from what Europe and the Middle East saw. In the Middle East, the focus of coverage was on pain and casualties. On American television, the focus was on strategy and tactics for moving into Baghdad. The question of whether the war made sense in world policy was often ignored, and the opinions of other countries were not taken seriously.

There have been a series of groundbreaking investigations over the past year. In one of the most recent, the New York Times’ David Barstow documented how the Pentagon cultivated military analysts to generate favorable news for the Bush administration’s wartime performance. Many of the talking heads, including former generals, were being coached on what to tell viewers on television.

  1. MSNBC:-

The idea that there was a pre-war secular period of debate is not borne up by the evidence. Voices critical of the war were silenced. For example, the Phil Donohue show was canceled by MSNBC well before the war, because it supposedly featured too many antiwar guests. Leading up to the war, a Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting study found that of 1,607 on-air sources that were cited in the coverage, 71% were pro-war and only 3% were antiwar. The debate itself was always lopsided. Analysis and critical ideas were excluded. When the demonstrations happened in New York City, where people had to fight in court for their right to protest, the local coverage featured attacks on police horses, windows being broken, and other incidents that were totally unrepresentative of the message of the event.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (9/26/03) told viewers “some of the most powerful media players in America don’t want America to succeed in Iraq…. American soldiers have told me that the biggest morale challenge that they are facing is not Saddam and Osama’s thugs, but, rather, it’s dealing with the biased, slanted reports that they’re getting from American news organizations.”

The line between news and propaganda or between reality and reality television had begun to blur, and it became difficult to decode what was happening.

             Fox News

The 2003 invasion of Iraq involved unprecedented media coverage. The coverage itself became a source of controversy, as media outlets were accused of bias, reporters were casualties of both Iraqi and American gunfire, and claims of censorship and propaganda became widespread.

Australian born media mogul Rupert Murdoch is the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the owner of Fox News Channel. Fox News Channel has been the subject of several controversies. Critics have accused the network of having a bias favoring the political right and the Republican Party. Fox News has publicly denied such charges.

Rupert Murdoch was one of the greatest supporters of the war. He used Fox news to creat the general public opinion that Iraq should get freedom and there is connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Husain.   

The most popular cable network in the United States for news on the war was Fox News, some of whose commentators and anchors made pro-war comments or disparaged detractors of the war, such as calling them “the great unwashed”. Fox News is owned by Rupert, a strong supporter of the war. On-screen during all live war coverage by Fox News was a waving flag animation in the upper left corner and the headline “Operation Iraqi Freedom” along the bottom. The network has shown the American flag animation in the upper-left corner since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Fox News’ pro-war commentary stood in contrast to many U.S. newspapers’ editorial pages, which were much more hesitant about going to war.

  1. Washington Post

                It is not unexpected for any administration to put forward its interpretation of news events. But the White House’s aggressive pursuit of favorable news coverage threatens to squelch reporting on the actual human costs of the occupation. For example, the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank reported on October 21 that the White House is “banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

            Whether they are based in Baghdad or in Washington, journalists are obliged to report the news on the ground, not as “good” or “bad” but as news, regardless of how it fits with the vision the administration would like Americans to see. 

Fear of US:-

Critics also argued the embedding program was essential to the administration’s attempt to build popular support for the war in Iraq. Several influential members of the Pentagon leadership and the administration believed the media contributed to defeat in the Vietnam War by demoralizing the American public with coverage of atrocities and seemingly futile guerilla warfare. They hoped to avoid a similar result in Iraq by limiting journalists’ coverage of darker stories on combat, the deaths of Iraqi civilians, and property damage. As media commentator Marvin Kalb noted, the embedding program was “part of the massive, White House-run strategy to sell…the American mission in this war.”

Role Done By Embedded Journalist:-

By examining the content of articles rather than the tone, and comparing embedded and non-embedded journalists’ articles, it becomes clear that the physical, and perhaps psychological, constraints of the embedding program dramatically inhibited a journalist’s ability to cover civilians’ war experiences. While most embedded reporters did not shy away from describing the horrors of war, the structural conditions of the embedded program kept them focused on the horrors facing the troops, rather than upon the thousands of Iraqis who died.

Here I have analyzed the US news media during the first stage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and found that official voices dominated it “while opponents of the war have been notably underrepresented,” Nearly two-thirds of all sources were pro-war, rising to 71% of US guests. Anti-war voices were a mere 10% of all sources, but just 6% of non-Iraqi sources and 3% of US sources.” Thus viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1.” Unsurprisingly, official voices, “including current and former government employees, whether civilian or military, dominated network newscasts” (63% of overall sources). Some analysts did criticize certain aspects of the military planning, but such “the rare criticisms were clearly motivated by a desire to see U.S. military efforts succeed.” While dissent was quite visible in America, “the networks largely ignored anti-war opinion.” FAIR found that just 3% of US sources represented or expressed opposition to the war in spite of the fact more than one in four Americans opposed it. In summary, “none of the networks offered anything resembling proportionate coverage of anti-war voices”.

This perspective is common during war time, with the media’s rule of thumb being, essentially, that to support the war is to be objective, while to be anti-war is to carry a bias. The media repeats the sanitized language of the state, relying on official sources to inform the public. Truth-seeking independence was far from the media agenda and so they made it easier for governments to do what they always do, that is lie. Rather than challenge the agenda of the state, the media simply foisted them onto the general population. Genuine criticism only starts to appear when the costs of a conflict become so high that elements of the ruling class start to question tactics and strategy. Until that happens, any criticism is minor and the media acts essentially as the fourth branch of the government rather than a Fourth Estate. The Iraq war, it should be noted, was an excellent example of this process at work. Initially, the media simply amplified elite needs, uncritically reporting the Bush Administration’s pathetic “evidence” of Iraqi WMD. Only when the war became too much of a burden did critical views start being heard and then only in a context of being supportive of the goals of the operation.

Interpretation

Here, in my final interpretation I would like to say that, yes Noam Chomsky’s Five Filters Propaganda theory badly seen on the Iraq Issue. Except embedded reporters each and every reports were published during the war period was totally scanned by the five filters.   

  1. 1.   Ownership of the medium:-

The channels like Fox news, Newspapers like New York Times and Wall Street Journal were the pro war. They all were just because of their owners. The Wall Street Journals Owned by ‘General Electrics’ one of the major supplier of armaments to US military.  The Owner of Fox News Rupert Murdoch has personal ties with the republican parties, having business of Gold Bullion.

  1. 2.    Mediums funding sources:-

White House, the Pentagon, No 10 Downing Street did not provide the secular news report to American as well as world media.

  1. 3.     Sourcing:-

US Army officers had very bad experience with media during Vietnam War. That is why they release the only those press release which can make proper environment to create the pro war opinion in general public of US.

  1. Flak :-

                  Here, I would have been very happy if the media houses got the exposure who having positive approaches towards wrong step of Iraq war.  However, here, Bush administration roughly exploited the Secular Media who tries to give the balanced news. So here in my opinion Flak is being applied by the powerful elite on the media to secure their rights.

            Public opinion wins wars

            (Dwight Eisenhower)

While concluding this topic I, personally as student of Political Science and Journalism looks at mass media coverage of the Iraq war and occupation, especially how the big US-based media companies fed the public sensational, pro-war news reports.

During the war, most journalists were “embedded” with US military units, giving them a very one-sided picture of the conflict and ruling out even-handed reporting. Other journalists who decided to go “free-lance” came under attack by the US military and two popular Arab television offices were directly bombed by the US air force. Post-war reports on Iraq by the big media companies have continued in an uncritical vein, with positive reports about the occupation and negative coverage of Iraqi opposition.

The manipulation of public perceptions and public opinions in times of war has a very long history indeed, and the kind of narrative manipulation of images that are the focus of this present study are not merely restricted to wartime situations. This type of narrative manipulation lies at the very foundation of our visual culture. The position that I would recommend that we adopt towards this is that the world is presented to us in at least two distinct ways:
     We can see what is there

We are told what is there

In addition, it is narrative that is the crucial device involved in our being told what is there. Narrative is therefore a crucial tool of propaganda, for the spin doctor, and for anyone else who sets out to influence our perceptions, who wants to fix the meaning of something, who tries to influence the way we think.

Therefore, in this, we need to realize that it is not the images that we see that matters, but it is what we are told that they mean that really does matter in the war of perceptions. Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.

Vaibhav Chhaya
2010

 

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