(E) WMD Opens tonight in St. Louis Tivoli Theater
Weapons of Mass Deception Opens in St. Louis tonight in Tivoli Theater
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
By Joe Williams
Of the Post-Dispatch
Do you remember, lo those many weeks ago, when it was still permissible to ask why our soldiers were dying in Iraq, and to count the civilian casualties, and to follow the money trail? No? If the mainstream press continues down the path that's charted in this late-arriving documentary, the debate that recently galvanized the electorate will become as hard to remember as the tradition of investigative journalism.
Danny Schechter is a former ABC news producer who knows, literally and figuratively, where the bodies are buried. Now working as a "self-embedded" media critic, Schechter turns his lens on the industry itself, specifically how it covered the invasion of Iraq. Although much of his presentation is old news to Internet denizens and emulates the outraged-schlub theatrics of Michael Moore, it's still vitally important.
Schechter and his sheepish peers contend that two wars were being fought simultaneously. One was the "shock and awe" campaign being fought on the ground; the other was the battle for hearts and minds being fought on the airwaves. Key to winning that war was the tacit cooperation between the U.S. government and the press. To that end, according to Schechter, American TV networks that were headquartered in post-9/11 New York were loathe to examine the "why" of the war, including the U.S. role in first supporting Saddam and then goading him with sanctions and shoot-downs.
Schechter is particularly critical of the process of "embedding" reporters with military units and thus either coercing or forcing favorable coverage. Reporters were encouraged to use shaky cameras, and producers added stirring music and graphics to make the footage more exciting. When firsthand footage wasn't available, the government would provide it from the comforts of its media center in Qatar.
Schechter traces the problem to the network executives, who took their cues from ratings-ascendant Fox News and hoped to curry favor with the FCC for the next round of deregulation.
We've heard most of these things before, in films like "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "The Control Room," but except for the usual failure to interview Iraqis, it's harder than ever to find fault with Schechter's argument.
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception,
*** (NR; 1:38)
Music by Nenad Bach
Danny Schechter, News Dissector
575 8th Avenue
New York, New York l0018
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Danny Schechter's work and times