July 29, 2005

Television news is the frontlines in the war on terror. That?s where the symbols of national pride merge with the logic of war and thrust the nation towards aggression. The same was true with Iraq. The anti-war voices were excluded, the pro-war advocates were celebrated, and the drumbeat was sounded from every corner of the country. The pre-war strategy for marshalling popular support was the most flawlessly executed public relations scheme in modern times; the thunderous music echoing in the background of carefully decorated sets, the persistent images of Saddam in the crosshairs, and a ready supply of tri-colored standards unfurling for the camera lens.

The entire campaign went forward without a glitch demonstrating the impeccable efficiency of a privately-owned information-system.

But, that?s all old news now.

Since then, TV news has shifted its focus a dozen times trying to elicit support for the most unpopular war in American history. It?s a daunting task, but the media giants have persevered throughout.

America?s preemptive war of aggression is now being fought, in large part, in the offices of TV executives, producers and engineers. They decide the content of what the nation will see and how the ongoing slaughter will be promoted. That?s why watching MSNBC, CNN, CBS or FOX News is comparable to dumping incendiary bombs on fleeing townspeople in Falluja; or unloading a magazine from an M-16 into a family of Baghdadis at a military checkpoint; or affixing electrodes to the penis of fruit vendor in Mosul. All of these implicate the viewer in the depredations of the state; connects him directly with the center of abusive power, and transforms him into a patron of invasion, occupation and murder.

It?s all part of the same criminal enterprise; viewers are simply the least powerful of the participants.

The TV news anchors play a crucial role in the media paradigm. They are the field-marshals in the information war; the face of the empire.

Is there a difference between Bin Laden and Brit Hume; between Tim Russert and Al Zarqawi?

Not a speck; they are cut from the same cloth and engaged in the same vicious blood-sport. At least al-Zarqawi can say he?s fighting to liberate his country from foreign occupation.

What does Tim Russert fight for? The unchecked power of the corporate media?

News anchors are the embodiment of the corporate information-system; well-groomed, square-jawed and preferably white. They are the nattily appointed hucksters for American intervention; the pitchmen for belligerence.

They lend gravitas to the muddled narrative of perpetual war and occupation; leaving the footage of bereaved or bombed-out families on the cutting-room floor. They are the facilitators of the hostilities; the point-end of the imperial spear; deftly weaving through the tangle of lies to impart a story of American munificence and goodwill.

They are the main players in the global resource war; championing the brutal requirements of National Security. They are an indispensable cog in the machinery of state terror; guilty as any combatant at Guatanamo Bay.

Maybe more.

War does not materialize on its own. It requires its legions of advocates and apologists. Tom Friedman and Judith Miller are just as covered in blood as any mercenary kicking down doors in Kerbala.

The corporate boardrooms are full of murderers. They provide the imagery and lyrics for the pageantry of war. Without their skillful management the public appetite wanes and the lust for revenge vanishes. Their job is to keep the apparatus of misinformation sufficiently lubricated and chugging along at full-throttle.

The current information-system bears no resemblance to a ?free press?. It is a model that has evolved from the necessities of private industry and special interest. It neither performs its mandate to inform the public nor strengthen democratic institutions. Its solitary objective is to find the balance between calculated diversion, fear mongering and patriotic claptrap.

I?d say they?re very close to achieving that goal.

Courtesy and Copyright ? Mike Whitney