Almost two weeks after the New York Times reported on the Penatgon's military analyst program to sell controversial policies such as the invasion of Iraq, the broadcast television news outlets implicated in the program are hoping to tough out the scandal by refusing to report it.
Pro-Tibet groups plan protests when the Olympic Torch procession gets to Canberra, the Australian capital, but the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has taken pre-emptive steps to minimize unfavourable media coverage.
David Barstow of the New York Times has written the first installment in what is already a stunning exposé of the Bush Administration's most powerful propaganda weapon used to sell and manage the war on Iraq: the embedding of military propagandists directly into the TV networks as on-air commentators. We and others have long criticized the widespread TV network practice of hiring former military officials to serve as analysts, but even in our most cynical moments we did not anticipate how bad it was. Barstow has painstakingly documented how these analysts, most of them military industry consultants and lobbyists, were directly chosen, managed, coordinated and given their talking points by the Pentagon's ministers of propaganda.
"Five years later, the United States remains at war in Iraq, but there are days when it would be hard to tell from a quick look at television news, newspapers and the Internet," observes New York Times reporter Richard Pérez-Peña. "Media attention on Iraq began to wane after the first months of fighting, but as recently as the middle of last year, it was still the most-covered topic. Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism."
The past week saw a dramatic escalation in violence in Iraq and rising civilian deaths, prompting analysts to warn that "Iraqis may be about to witness a new phase in the cycle of violence ... intra-Shi'ite bloodletting that could tear Iraq apart and more deeply embroil U.S. forces." But even these developments have barely cast a media ripple.
The Iraq war has also been losing ground for attention on the internet, according to a recent report which shows that "the war in Iraq continues to decline in search interest, down 120 percent over the past three and a half years," while interest turns to topics such as Paris Hilton, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, Heath Ledger and the latest YouTube video.