Written 130 pm Jan 20, 1991 by hfrederick in cdpmideast.media Los Angeles Times, Saturday,

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Written 1:30 pm Jan 20, 1991 by hfrederick in cdp:mideast.media Los Angeles Times, Saturday, January 19, 1991, p. F1 TV's OTHER BATTLE: SUITS VS. SCREAMERS TELEVISION: Coverage has given a distorted view of dissent; supporters of the war appear responsible, the protesters aberrant. The war wagon rolls on. Thursday's Iraqi missile attack on Israel "makes this war far more popular," ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts said on television, summing up the evening. She added that ABC's initial erroneous reports that some Israelis were being treated for exposure to nerve gas--even though later corrected--also may have served war supporters, presumably by further demonization of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Not that the anti-war movement was doing so well on TV even before Thursday's Iraqi hit on Israel. Although the Los Angeles Times Poll reported as late as Monday that Americans were almost evenly divided on attacking or continuing economic sanctions against Iraq, that tone was largely missing from TV coverage. In the months preceding this week's bombardment of Iraq, the networks devoted relatively little time to those opposing the U;S. offensive buildup in the Persian Gulf. Although subsequent polls have shown that the number of opponents has shrunk dramatically since the war of war--"When things are going well, there's a tendency to be supportive," CBS correspondent Susan Spencer noted recently--the anti-war crowed is still a significant minority. Even more than quantity, it's quality of coverage where war opponents have been severely slighted since the start of the U.S.-led gulf offensive. Although the reporting has been anything but hysterical, images on the screen--the suits vs. the screamers--are vivid and lasting. And so are the messages: Those backing the war act responsibly, sitting hour after hour in TV studios while calmly discussing military and political strategy and expressing support for the troops and concern for their welfare. Those a;gains the war are aberrant, taking to the streets and getting arrested. Sometimes the words and pictures clash. I a Friday morning report on ABC, for example, Peter Jennings noted the "diverse" means of protest, peaceful as well as truculent, being used by war opponents. Yet as he spoke, the screen was wallpapered mostly by pictures showing confrontation, the last and most memorable of a policeman dragging a war protester off of a basketball court by her hair. In visual-driven TV, it's pictures, not words, that usually have the biggest impact. When pictures and words are in sync, the impact can be especially powerful. TV this week has been generous with coverage of anti-war demonstrations on such college campuses as USC and UCLA and in San Francisco. A KCAL Channel 9 story on the conflict in the Bay City was typical: War protesters were "causing a commotion." Cut to a traffic jam, then an angry motorist, then police in riot gear, then a warning to protesters to disperse, then arrests, then a brief statement yelled out by one of the protesters being hauled away, than reaction from a spectator: "It's poor timing to be out here against the war when our men are dying." Well, there have been public protests that are sometimes combative, and there have been arrests. Protest leaders probably know that their surest--perhaps only--way of getting on TV is through such demonstrations. For the most part, their perspective hasn't penetrated the tight cocoon of revolving political, military and terrorist experts talking almost round-the-clock about the war on TV. Their own "suits"--war opponents whose specialty is policy instead of protest--have mostly been shut out of these TV discussion, giving a distorted view of the anti-war movement and no doubt, contributing to its decline in popularity. There have been notable exceptions, including some reasoned discussions on PBS' "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour," Thursday's 90-minute form on KCET offering a range of opinion from Americans of Middle Eastern descent and those citizen call-ins on C-SPAN. Overwhelmingly, though, TV has banished the war debate to street campuses, echoing the Vietnam era, whose anti-war movement was part of what a new, three-part PBS series calls the "largest youth rebellion in American history." The series, "Making Sense of the Sixties," will air at 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday on Channels 28 and 15 (and at 8 p.m. on Channel 24), unless preempted by live war coverage. It's a valuable, ever-fascinating primer for understanding the '90s. A former student leader recalls: "There was a sense we were doing something morally wrong, killing people for no reason. We were using the incredible American military machine to destroy these people." There are significant differences in the two wars and their historical and political underpinnings, so one can carry the Vietnam- Persian Gulf comparison too far. Not only does footage of these 22- year-old war protests have a haunting quality that slices through decades, however, but that earlier angry rhetoric from both sides could be slipped into this week's anti-war footage without anyone knowing the difference. Meanwhile, the message conveyed by critics of anti-war protesters then--that skepticism and rebellion against authority are necessarily abnormal--is as dangerous today. Yet in 1991, the pervasiveness of TV is altering not only the coverage of war but also, quite possibly, the goals and course of war. We watch an Israel resonating with air-raid sirens, see journalists scramble for safety and hear them give their muffled reports through gas masks. The pictures and sounds take on a life and dynamic of their own. There is one theory that, even with the Pentagon's media restrictions limiting coverage, the longer the war, the larger the protests. Another is that as the war and terrifying TV pictures we've been seeing continue--humanizing the specter of chemical attack on civilians--there will be increased pressure not only to defeat Hussein military, but also to destroy Iraq itself. If that happens, the gap between the suits and screamers will be wider still.. End of text from cdp:mideast.media Source: PeaceNet via The NY Transfer 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." 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