16 October 2006

on what the media chooses to show the american public

this morning, my girl pam posted up a very interesting photo collage of the different covers of newsweek from selected places in the world.

in europe, latin america, and asia, the covers were of "global warming's first victim." guess what's on the u.s. version? that's right. foley. cause this guy is apparently much more important than global warming. good ole usa! sex scandals outrank the biggest threat to our species. perfect.

got me thinking about u.s. media and what they choose to not show the american public. a few years ago, amy goodman of democracy now! did a tour to talk about the role of independent media in a time of war. what follows is just another of many examples of how this sort of selective reporting in the u.s. works - this time in regards to the toppling of saddam hussein's statue after the u.s. invasion.

AMY GOODMAN: The other morning I was invited on a commercial radio station, a little bit of a shock jockey station for a few minutes after the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by the U.S. Marines in Baghdad. One of their first questions was "how do you feel now?" They also asked me about what I think about the torture rooms that were found. In talking about the torture rooms, I could only think about how important it was to be aware of what torture is. How horrific it is. Whether Saddam Hussein does it, that military tyrant who assured up by the United States for so long. Or the fact that now, there is an actually acceptable debate in this country, in the mainstream media about whether the U.S. should torture people to get information. And if the U.S. doesn't do it, for example those at Guantanamo Bay, those at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, isn't it O.K. to send them to countries that do engage in torture? I thought, those torture chamber's of Saddam Hussein are very important lessons to all of us about what is not acceptable in a civilized society, neither here nor there.

There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day about the difference between CNN and CNN International, two different networks owned by the same company. And they talked about the difference on that day, the day that the statue was pulled down. On CNN, all day we watched that statue pull down and went back up and pulled down again.

: On CNN International they also showed the statue pulled down but it was a split screen and on half the screen they showed the casualties of war and on the other half they showed the statue pull down. Now I'm not talking about the difference between CNN and Al Jazeera. I'm talking about the difference between CNN and CNN International. It means that that company knows exactly what it's doing. What they provide for domestic consumption and what they provide to the rest of the world. Now think about what the rest of the world sees and what we see here in the United States.

Some of you may have heard the hour discussion we had with CNN's Aaron Brown and we were asking him a lot of questions like "Where are the pictures of casualties in the U.S. media"?

AARON BROWN: I think there are actually legitimate questions here about have we over sanitized this?

AMY GOODMAN: And he said, "well some of them are tasteless". And we said, "well, war is tasteless". I was speaking at St. Mark's Church in New York and I talked about how Al Jazerra shows all these casualties pictures and a journalist came up to me afterwards from Berlin and said, "It's not just Al Jazeera that's showing these. All over Europe we see them day and night. It's just here in the United States that you don't see them". And so we asked Aaron Brown, "Why don't they show some of the shots", you know CNN was kicked out of Baghdad and he said "it's tough to get those shots". You have no trouble taking Al Jazeera's footage of the bombs over Baghdad, the kind-of fireworks display that we saw that night scape, but when it came to taking their pictures of casualties. Well, he said, "they're tasteless".

I really do think that if for one week in the United States we saw the true face of war, we saw people's limbs sheered off, we saw the kids blown apart, for one week war would be eradicated. Instead what we see in the U.S. media and it's just quite astounding, it's the video war game. Those gray-grainy photographs with a target on them looking down but you don't see, we don't see those people as the targets on the ground.

why? why is the rest of the world privy to information that the american public isn't? ratings? fear of loss of advertising revenue? fear of people turning against a war when they see numerous photographs of children that have bits of their faces and heads blown off? does the american public truly not want to see? personally, i feel it's every american's duty TO see and be informed of what is being done in their names - AND to knowthat there is a marked difference. yet, we wonder why the rest of the world is slowly beginning to hate us, if they don't already. if you'd like to watch this excellent talk, you can do so here. it runs about 29 minutes.

all i know is this - i shouldn't have to go find news - and find it via the media of other countries, at that. so many don't have the luxury of internet access or a million channels through which to surf. they are dependent upon traditional methods of news reporting - infortainment reporting that is failing all of us miserably.

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