Subject MORTGAGING THE FOURTH ESTATE Written 413 pm Feb 25, 1991 by christic in cdpchristi

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Subject: MORTGAGING THE FOURTH ESTATE ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Written 4:13 pm Feb 25, 1991 by christic in cdp:christic.news COVERING THE GULF CRISIS, MORTGAGING THE FOURTH ESTATE Project Censored: Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1990" With the benefit of hindsight, we can safely say that the mobilization of U.S. troops in Vietnam, Grenada and Panama have taught us a rather sobering lesson: When armed conflict is on the horizon, press skepticism is the first casualty. The Gulf crisis indicates that the press has still not learned its lesson. What is plain is that many journalists became so carried away by the blare of the bugles in Saudi Arabia that, instead of being the honest, skeptical brokers of information they should be, many fell into that unseemly role of Pentagon cheerleaders. Perhaps this jingoistic abdication of journalistic responsibility is not surprising, but to those who believe that the press is supposed to serve as an adversarial check-and-balance on the government, it is distressing. As in Panama and Grenada, journalists and news executives took their cues from government officials, rather than thinking for themselves. Surprisingly, Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams concurred, admitting that, "the reporting has been largely a recitation of what administration people have said." Meanwhile, dissent from official policy was all but nonexistent in news coverage. In the opening weeks of the crisis, the media focused on the two major questions: "Will we go to war?" and "Will we win?" Far less attention, however, was paid to two other equally vital concerns: "Should we go to war?" and "Can war be avoided?" While the press was busy christening Hussein as "the new Hitler," they were slow in uncovering the fact that just days before the invasion of Kuwait, the White House was lobbying Congress not to apply sanctions against Iraq and that U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, was telling Hussein that the U.S. had "no position" concerning Iraq's border dispute with Kuwait. Nor was there any coverage of the August 23 secret offer by Iraq to pull out of Kuwait and release all hostages (which Bush rejected). President Bush told the nation that there was no decision more difficult than sending young Americans into a combat situation. The press should feel an equally grave obligation--to scrutinize such a decision and make clear its human and political costs. Journalist Mark Hertsgaard points out that "in our democracy, the press should be responsible above all to the people, not to the president. A journalist who loves his or her country therefore has a duty to question the dictates of the armed forces and the wisdom of going to war." In the final analysis, if we do go to war and the body bags begin coming home to America, journalists will be among the first to say, "We should have asked the hard questions." SOURCES: IMAGE, 10/14/90, "The First Casualty," by Mark Hertsgaard, pp 6-9; EDITOR & PUBLISHER, 10/20/90, "Storytelling from the Persian Gulf," by Debra Gersh, p 7.; THE QUILL, 10/90, "Imperial Thoughts,"by Mike Moore, pp 16-21; THE SPOTLIGHT, 10/8/90, "Saddam Was Bush-Wacked On Invasion," by John McBrien, p 1. End of text from cdp:christic.news Source: Peacenet Via New York Transfer News 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683 --- [ This file has travelled through the Socialism OnLine! BBS at +1-719-392-7781, 24 hours, 300-9600 bps HST/MNP/V42bis, on its way to you, the reader of this file. Please share any information you have about "big brother." Venceremos! ]

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