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The Iraqi Crisis: Bad News for Democracy A presentation prepared by Carl Bybee School of Journalism and Communication University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon,

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Presentation on theme: "The Iraqi Crisis: Bad News for Democracy A presentation prepared by Carl Bybee School of Journalism and Communication University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Iraqi Crisis: Bad News for Democracy A presentation prepared by Carl Bybee School of Journalism and Communication University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. (541) Copyright May 2005

2 “Proverbs for Paranoids Number Three: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, p. 251.

3 The Iraqi War: The Media Frames in Place on March 17, Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction threatening the U.S.

4 The Iraqi War: The Media Frames in Place on March 17, Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction threatening the U.S 4 Saddam Hussein has Direct Links with Al- Qaeda and the terrorists attacks of September 11th

5 The Iraqi War: The Media Frames in Place on March 17, Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction threatening the U.S 4 Saddam Hussein has Direct Links with Al- Qaeda and the terrorists attacks of September 11th 4 UN Weapons Inspections Have Failed

6 The Iraqi War: The Media Frames in Place on March 17, Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction threatening the U.S 4 Saddam Hussein has Direct Links with Al- Qaeda and the terrorists attacks of September 11th 4 UN Weapons Inspections Have Failed 4 The Iraqi People are Waiting to be Liberated by the United States

7 The Most Powerful Frame: 9/11 4 The week following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, only 3% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved.

8 The Most Powerful Frame: 9/11 4 The week following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, only 3% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved. 4 By February 2003, one poll showed that 72% of Americans believed that Hussein was personally involved in the attacks.

9 The Most Powerful Frame: 9/11 4 The week following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, only 3% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved. 4 By February 2003, one poll showed that 72% of Americans believed that Hussein was personally involved in the attacks. 4 After one and a half years of reporting by the world’s “most free” news media in the world’s “foremost democracy,” nearly 3/4 of the population did not understand the most basic facts regarding the motivations for a war their own country was about to launch in their name, a war, considered by many in the world community to be in violation of international law.

10 The Most Powerful Frame: 9/11 4 The week following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, only 3% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved. 4 By February 2003, one poll showed that 72% of Americans believed that Hussein was personally involved in the attacks. 4 After one and a half years of reporting by the world’s “most free” news media in the world’s “foremost democracy,” nearly 3/4 of the population did not understand the most basic facts regarding the motivations for a war their own country was about to launch in their name, a war considered by many in the world community to be in violation of international law. 4 In the midst of the war, in an interview on PBS’s “The News Hour with Jim Lehr” two U.S. soldiers would cite, as their most fundamental motivation for their willingness to fight in Iraq, the link between Hussein and September 11th.

11 The Critical Question: How Could the U.S. Press Failed So Dramatically to Inform Its’ Citizens?

12 The War as Scripted...

13 “Showdown with Iraq”: March 18, 2003

14 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum.

15 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated.

16 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum. 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated. 4 Not with Tony Blair’s secret dossier released in September 2002, containing damning evidence, none of which can be substantiated.

17 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum. 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated. 4 Not with Tony Blair’s secret dossier released in September 2002, containing damning evidence, none of which can be substantiated. 4 Not with growing evidence that the invasion of Iraq has been in the planning since 1996.

18 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum. 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated. 4 Not with Tony Blair’s secret dossier released in September 2002, containing damning evidence, none of which can be substantiated. 4 Not with growing evidence that the invasion of Iraq has been in the planning since Not with evidence that the public relations campaign conducted by Kuwait in the U.S. to incite the first Gulf War contained invented atrocities by the Iraqi’s against Kuwait.

19 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum. 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated. 4 Not with Tony Blair’s secret dossier released in September 2002, containing damning evidence, none of which can be substantiated. 4 Not with growing evidence that the invasion of Iraq has been in the planning since Not with evidence that the public relations campaign conducted by Kuwait in the U.S. to incite the first Gulf War contained invented atrocities by the Iraqi’s against Kuwait. 4 Not with evidence that Saddam Hussein, then a U.S. ally, was all but given the go ahead to invade Kuwait in 1990 by U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie.

20 4 The War begins with a “final” ultimatum. 4 Not with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of evidence to the U.N., none of which is substantiated. 4 Not with Tony Blair’s secret dossier released in September 2002, containing damning evidence, none of which can be substantiated. 4 Not with growing evidence that the invasion of Iraq has been in the planning since Not with evidence that the public relations campaign conducted by Kuwait in the U.S. to incite the first Gulf War contained invented atrocities by the Iraqi’s against Kuwait. 4 Not with evidence that Saddam Hussein, then a U.S. ally, was all but given the go ahead to invade Kuwait in 1990 by U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie. 4 Not with evidence of Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad as Pres. Reagan’s envoy, working to advance the interests of the Bechtal Corporation in 1983, while Hussein was gassing Iranians.

21 “Showdown with Iraq”: March 19, 2003

22 “War In Iraq”: March 20,

23

24 “War In Iraq”: March 21,

25 “War In Iraq”: March 21,

26 “War In Iraq”: March 22,

27 “War In Iraq”: March 22,

28 “War In Iraq”: March 23,

29 “War In Iraq”: March 23,

30 “Showdown with Iraq”: March 24,

31 “Showdown with Iraq”: March 24,

32 “War In Iraq”: March 25,

33 “War In Iraq”: March 25,

34 “War In Iraq”: March 28,

35 “War In Iraq”: March 28,

36 “War In Iraq”: March 28,

37 The Metaphors of the War 4 “Saddam” = “Iraq” = “Saddam” 4 “the troops” = “the U.S.” = “the troops” 4 “pre-emptive war” = “caring” = “pre-emptive war” 4 “the flag” = “patriotism” = “the flag” 4 “the U.S.” = “democracy” = “the U.S.” 4 “the flag” = “democracy” = “the flag”

38 “War In Iraq”: March 30,

39 “War In Iraq”: March 30,

40 “War In Iraq”: March 31,

41 “War In Iraq”: March 31,

42 “War In Iraq”: April 1,

43 “War In Iraq”: April 1,

44 “War In Iraq”: April 2,

45 “War In Iraq”: April 3,

46 “War In Iraq”: April 3,

47 And so on…. Until April 10

48 “The War In Iraq”: April 10,

49 “The War In Iraq”: April 10,

50 “The War In Iraq”: April 10,

51 “The War In Iraq” disappears from the front page: April 17

52 The News

53 A human and institutional process for making the unknown, known.

54 The news and democracy, take one: "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both." --- James Madison

55 News as trauma: The biggest business in America is not steel, automobiles or television. It is the manufacture of anxiety…. Logically extended, this process can only terminate in a mass nervous breakdown or in a collective condition of resentment that will cause street corner Santa Clauses to thrown down manholes, the suffering to be left in pain…. --- Eric Severaid

56 Another consequence of news as trauma: The loss of a language for what “democracy” means.

57 Neo-Liberal Democracy 4 Radical individualism and individual freedom defined largely in terms of property rights. 4 Minimizing the role of government and a general hostility to all forms of collective action. 4 Encouraging the free-market to replace other standards for distributing resources and rights. 4 Giving first priority to the letter of the law over democratic process. 4 Political truth, as well as truth in general, is based on facts. Movement toward technical/scientific solutions to social problems. 4 Capitalism and democracy are inseparable: Political liberty is seen to rest on economic liberty. 4 God’s in charge.

58 Participatory Democracy 4 We are first and foremost social beings. 4 The truth of politics cannot simply be found in decontextualized facts, but is the outcome of debate and discussion. 4 Civic life is not just a means to an end, it is an end in itself: the creation and promotion of public good. 4 Civic society must be strong to mediate between the tribalizing tendencies of radical communitarianism and the privatizing and morally corrosive force of markets. 4 Civic society must be strong to mediate between the tribalizing tendencies of radical communitarianism and the privatizing and morally corrosive force of markets. Democracy creates the conditions for capitalism. Capitalism, uncontrolled, has a tendency to undermine those same conditions.

59  “Markets are simply not designed to do the things democratic polities or free civil societies do…Markets advance individualistic, not social, goals and they encourage us to speak the language of ‘I want,’ not the language of ‘we need.’ Markets preclude ‘we’ thinking and ‘we’ action of any kind at all… In the name of diversity and private choice, markets foster a kind of consumer totalism, turning multidimensional citizens into one- dimensional, solitary shoppers.” –Barber, A Place for Us, p

60 The hypercommercialization of news has contributed to a deep confusion over our sense of ourselves as citizens as opposed to consumers. In these terms, the challenge of news, terror and democracy requires fundamentally the recovery of the vocabulary of democracy. Before we turn to this question of what can be done, we can briefly look at one last news filter, playing a critical role in the ongoing news coverage of “war” against terrorism.

61 What is to be done?

62 4 Alternative media 4 The internet 4 Media reform

63 Media reform (from McChesney and Nichols): 4 Apply existing antimonopoly laws to the media and, where necessary, expand the reach of those laws to restrict ownership of radio stations to one or two per owner. Legislators should also consider steps to address monopolization of TV-station ownership and move to break the lock of newspaper chains on entire regions.

64 Media reform: 4 Initiate a formal, federally funded study and hearings to identify reasonable media ownership regulations across all sectors.

65 Media reform: 4 Establish a full tier of low-power, noncommercial radio and television stations across the nation.

66 Media reform: 4 Revamp and invest in public broadcasting to eliminate commercial pressures, reduce immediate political pressures and serve communities without significant disposable incomes.

67 Media reform: 4 Allow every taxpayer a $200 tax credit to apply to any nonprofit medium, as long as it meets IRS criteria.

68 Media reform: 4 Lower mailing costs for nonprofit and significantly noncommercial publications.

69 Media reform: 4 Eliminate political candidate advertising as a condition of a broadcast license, or require that if a station runs a paid political ad by a candidate it must run free ads of similar length from all the other candidates on the ballot immediately afterward.

70 Media reform: 4 Reduce or eliminate TV advertising directed at children under 12.

71 Media Reform: 4 Decommercialize local TV news with regulations that require stations to grant journalists an hour daily of commercial-free news time, and set budget guidelines for those newscasts based on a percentage of the station's revenues.

72 As John Dewey wrote, in words critical both to participatory democracy and democratic communication, “Shared experience is the greatest of human goods.” Our humanity begins in our capacity for and our practice of language, in our ability as social beings to make sense of the world. Our humanity is sustained in recognizing that in an imperfect world, our best hope for justice is in constantly returning to the collective wisdom of a community of free men and women.


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