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US mainstream media: Beating war drums?

Published time: January 16, 2012 06:14
Edited time: January 16, 2012 10:14

An Iranian woman passes by a mural showing a gun painted with the US flag on the wall of the former US embassy (AFP Photo / Behrouz MEHRI)

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America's mainstream media is being accused of playing with fire and hyping-up global tension, while trying to steer public opinion to please their sponsors.

­In a sensitive time with the military standoff in the Strait of Hormuz and looming sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, the MSM is cynically playing-up the prospect of war, between Iran and the West.

RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports from Washington that viewers in the States are repeatedly hearing how war is virtually inescapable.

With tension between Iran and the West as high as ever, a host of hardline speakers on US mainstream media seem to be pushing the audience to believe that war is inevitable.

There is constant warmongering all over the mass media in the US, although experts say war with Iran is far from being inevitable.

“I don’t think that we are there yet, that is to say, at the precipice,” Dr Charles Kupchan from the Council on Foreign Relations told to RT.

The media are already preparing the grounds for it – some by misinforming the public.

The New York Times wrote that the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective.

But that is not what the IAEA reported.

The watchdog said Iran might have the technology to develop a nuclear weapon if it wants to.

Or another public misconception due to a lack of information:

“We would be saying to Iran if you to open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors or we will degrade those facilities through air strike,” Rick Santorum, US Presidential candidate from the Republican Party was saying recently.

In fact, IAEA inspectors have already been in the country monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“When the American people hear information over and over again, and sometimes it is often the subtleties you are not providing – the context for  the IAEA report or not putting in some of the doubts back in 2002-2003 about Iraqi [Weapons of mass destruction] programs. That kind of slanting of the news have the affect of altering how the American public views an issue,” Investigative journalist Robert Parry explained to RT.

The US mainstream media have proved to be cheerleaders for war.

Jeff Cohen was a senior producer of a popular TV show, before the Iraq invasion. He says they were under pressure from their bosses to cheer for war, because their owners benefited from it.

“It was a constant pressure campaign to make sure that the pro-invasion voice was dominant,” he told RT.

Cohen says not much has changed in US mainstream journalism since the Iraq invasion.

“There is no doubt that the mainstream media are crucial in this idea of selling that the US is going to be in a perpetual war,” he insists.

Media analysts say, since the intervention in Libya, US media have been instrumental in making Americans get used to the idea that Washington will continue to intervene militarily in foreign affairs.

“I’ve worked at Newsweek as well as at [the Associated Press] and other major US news organizations,” recalls Robert Parry. “And what I saw, especially at places like Newsweek was this idea that the media was actually part of the establishment, it was that the American people were to be guided more than even informed.”

It seems most American media are so used to talking wars that when – after a decade of inconclusive war in Afghanistan – the White House announced the necessity to negotiate with the Taliban, the message and the words “political solution” came out as somewhat alien.

It seems the words “political solution” do not belong in the US media’s vocabulary. Two main reasons: one, it’s boring. Two: some very powerful people are behind the kind of trigger-happy pro-war journalism.

Too many times in history, the media have done the bidding of war profiteers.

We can go back more than a hundred years and look at how the American public was primed for war with Spain over Cuba.

The iconic media tycoon William Randolph Hearst falsely hyped up the story that the Spanish had sunk an American ship, when in fact it sank because of a coal bunker explosion. It was then that Hearst told his illustrator in Havana “You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war."

More than a hundred years on, the phrase still sounds relevant. But it does not have to be that way, and some argue a “political solution”, although not a popular term media parlance, is better than “war” and “death”.

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