Yemenity2010's Blog

”Independent” Experts Successful in a Climate of Fear

Posted in Blog Entry in English, Tema: Politik by yemenity2010 on 17/09/2011

The media analyzing magazine ”Listening Post” on Al Jazeera English (also available on the web) is usually an interesting watch when I take the time to see the weekly half hour show. Recently they investigated how American media outlets managed to stay objective after terror struck New York ten years ago. Not that well, which might not be news. Specifically, ”Listening Post” took a closer look at these mainly retired military officers and such who were enlisted by the national newsrooms to explain what was happening and why. Many of these had not only been briefed and prepared through the ”Pentagon Pundits Program” where the experts gathered at the US defence headquarters to discuss the main issues and talking points that should be presented to the public. Many of them also had their own financial stakes in the growing defence and security industrial complex.

A ”climate of fear” helped make the media and citizens alike more susceptible to the messages delivered without being filtered as much as they should by the big American networks. The reporter David Barstow from New York Times spent a couple of years finding out how it happened. Not least before the invasion of Iraq 2003, reports on weapons of mass destruction and other arguments supporting military action were valuable to president Bush and his administration, especially when presented by people portrayed as independent and objective – without really being so. The organization FAIR also counted almost 400 interviews on the subject during a few weeks shortly before the invasion, where only in three cases opponents of the war were given the opportunity to make their case. Not only TV and radio but also newspapers had trouble striking a balance, including New York Times. They are now considered by many – including themselves, it seems – to have gone through their weakest journalistic and least analytical era in the aftermath of 9/11.

Al Jazeera, then a relatively fresh satellite TV station aiming at the Arab world was on the other hand deeply disliked by the Bush government, because of their reporting on the Iraq war. The president is said to have been seriously considering bombing their Qatar headquarters, but was supposedly talked out of it by the British prime minister Tony Blair. When the war in Iraq started getting more troublesome and scandals like the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison were known, the US media gradually regained their investigative abilities.

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