Tell Them Nothing Till It's Over

Government needs the media on its side to keep public support in times of war. Journalist Phillip Knightley writes for the Public I, "In democracies like Britain and Australia, with a powerful press and a tradition of dissent, or like the United States, where freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed, the media cannot be coerced into supporting the war. They have to be seduced or intimidated into self-censorship. So in all the countries supporting the attack on Afghanistan, we have already seen appeals to the media's patriotism, the national interest, security and the need to support 'our boys.' This has been combined with accusations that the media have favored the enemy, endangered the safety of the nation's leaders, stabbed the troops in the back, fallen for enemy propaganda and sabotaged the war effort." Knightley warns that freedom of expression is in danger and quotes a 1999 congressional delegation to Yugoslavia, "The enormous confusion which has taken place due to media manipulation on all sides has only contributed to the blood lust which -- if it is the only basis for decision-making -- could lead to a much wider and longer war."