Will Press Put Out Fire on Iran?
The media dropped its guard in the run-up to the attack on Iraq. Will they redeem themselves if pressure builds for an air strike or war against Iran? There are some indications that some lessons may have been learned. [...]
Newspapers may be in the role of bullpen stopper right now, with the current Iran "semi-crisis." In baseball lingo, they should try to "put out the fire" there, after losing one for the home team in Iraq three years ago.
To those who would say that this inflates the power or even role of the press in America today, I would reply: You don't expect the Democrats to keep us out of war, do you? Just as they would not stand up to the president on Iraq for fear of appearing "weak on terror," they would likely be wary of appearing "weak on the Tehran Bomb." Let's face it: All the Democrats want to do right now is stagger through to November with an unpopular president in office, and hope that, maybe, they can re-take at least one house of Congress -- without having to stick their necks out.
So the media, usually only a middle-reliever or in a mop-up role on this playing field, might have to pitch with the game on the line.
That's from a column on the website for Editor and Publisher, written by Greg Mitchell. It is written perhaps more harshly that I might have written it, but the sentiment is the same.
Mitchell goes on to give a few example of the press starting to show some spirited opposition to the government's propaganda campaign. Unfortunately, for every example he gives, there are many examples of the press blithely parroting the Administration's efforts to prepare the minds of Americans for battle.
I hope he's right, but that is not how I see the media responding at this point. They are still the stenographers for the Project for a New American Century, as far as I am concerned.
As Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols put it, back in 2003:
At Bush's last prewar press conference, the White House press corps looked more like stenographers than journalists. Even some reporters were appalled; ABC News White House correspondent Terry Moran said the reporters looked "like zombies," while Copley News Service Washington correspondent George Condon Jr. told AJR that it "just became an article of faith among a lot of people: 'Look at this White House press corps; it's just abdicated all responsibility.'" Millions of Americans agreed. "I talked to people everywhere I went who said that if the media, especially the television media, had done its job, there wouldn't have been a war," says Representative Jim McDermott.