At approximately 4:45 this afternoon, a group of peace activists took over the lobby of the local NBC television station located at 615 Forward Drive. The group of about 20 people acted as part of a theatrical protest group called the S.P.I.T. Media Inspection Team. Building on the idea of United Nations weapons inspections, the activists dressed in inspection team uniforms and proceeded to enact mock inspections for what they called "Weapons of Mass Deception."
"In times such as these, it is crucial for the public to have full and accurate information in order to shape the debate over national policy," said S.P.I.T. spokesman Ross Collin. He continued, "The U.S. corporate media have refused to step up to this task. They have consistently neglected to report major stories covered by British media and a few U.S. publications, and have instead opted to sell the American public a war based on video game-like images and PR catchphrases."
As examples of serious omissions in news coverage, the activists provided members of the press with stories from mainstream media outlets that they say were not covered by most media in the U.S., including stories of civilian casualties and U.S. blunders in the war on Iraq, the U.S. and U.K. fabrication of much of the "evidence" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and the fact that the U.S. government spied on key UN Security Council members to discern how they would vote on a war resolution. Also included were the results of a study conducted through the Journalism Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that concluded that the media rely almost exclusively on official U.S. government sources for information regarding Iraq and the war, rather than drawing from non-governmental analysts or other governments.
"It's hard to claim that you have balanced reporting when you just repeat the Administration?s claims as fact," said Collin.
The group said that it chose NBC as the target of its first "inspection" because of NBC's particularly biased reporting in favor of war and its connections with GE, a major producer of nuclear weapons that also owns NBC. The activists said that their goal in targeting the NBC affiliate was to raise awareness in the community that the media is neglecting its federally mandated responsibility to report in the public interest and that this abdication of responsibility fuels public support for what the activists say is an unjust and illegal war.
"We hope to make people laugh," said Collin, referring to the group's creative tactics, ?but we also hope to make them question the media coverage of this war and demand more balanced reporting."