BUSH AND THE MEDIA
The US President Live. What can Explain the Media's Subservience to Stupidity?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
[This article published in: junge Welt, October 23, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2004/10-23/011.php]
The presidential election November 2 moves inexorably closer. Therefore I'd like to confront readers of this column with the live sound track of the incumbent president. They come from different US media and are unadulterated excerpts from speeches and interviews. Here George W. Bush speaks:
"The people are slowly becoming tired of the war against terrorism." (October 18, 2001 in the International Herald Tribune)
"For the sake of the future of your children, we must make sure that this mad man will never be able to attack us with nuclear weapons or use the anthrax supplies that we know he had" (speech on September 27, 2002 in Denver on "weapons of mass destruction")
"The Kay-report has already identified dozens of activities connected with programs for the production of weapons of mass destruction and found a great number of weapons that Iraq hid from the UN. If we had not acted, the dictator would have continued his programs for producing weapons of mass destruction up to today" (January 20, 2004, State of the Union)
"The violence that we have seen is part of a few people trying to stop progress toward democracy. In Falludscha south of Baghadad, these incidents were directed against innocent Iraqi people by gangs, violent gangs" (April 11, 2004 on the armed resistance in Iraq)
"We need a CIA able to cut their necks off (after a pause).. and then give them their just punishment" (February 16, 2004, internal meeting with closest advisors of his party about ex-CIA chief George Tenet, quoted in US News and World Report)
"One of the interesting questions that people ask me is: Can you ever win the war against terror? Of course, we can win!" (April 13, 2004 on victory in the "war against terror")
"I don't think this war can be won" (August 30, 2004, answer to the question of a NBC reporter: Can we win the war against terror?)
The president of the United States and his remarks seem almost surreal. If one wants to know how subservient, bootlicking and cowardly the media can be, one need only look at how the US media react to these statements of the president. In part, this is natural since the media is controlled by capital. Another re3ason for this reaction is surely the aura of fear created by the US media after September 11, 2001.
The chief CNN reporter for the war zones, Christiane Amanpour, spoke about this fear in 2003 in relation to the CNBC broadcast station. "I believe the press has been gagged but the press has also muzzled itself. It grieves me to say this but the television and perhaps also my station to a certain extent - was intimidated by the administration and its foot-soldiers from Fox News." Amanpour added: "As I see it, a climate of fear and self-censorship is produced in the television journalism that we practice." (from: Peter Johnson, "Amanpour: CNN practices self-censorship", USA Today, September 13, 2003)
This fear has not ended. It perches on the desks of all large (and many small) editorial offices in the country. It is the fear of reporting honestly about the work of the government. The Bush administration is protected because of the fear of otherwise appearing disloyal. This is the fear of wounding a powerful unscrupulous regime because of the consequences for one's career. It is the fear of the bosses who have enormous power in this new media universe and can exercise unparalleled control over vast parts of society.