One side chants “civil war,” another side insists it’s “sectarian violence,” the more cautious say “it could be” and, in the meantime, someone at NBC is grinning like the Cheshire Cat in the tree in Wonderland.
The news media loves to step outside its role as news reporter into the ‘tastier’ role of newsmaker as NBC did when they sent their front man, Matt Lauer, to make the pronouncement that as far as NBC News was concerned Iraq was embroiled in a civil war, so that’s what NBC News will call it from now on.
- Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post staffer, has derided the NBC effort by nicknaming Lauer “Secretary of State Lauer” and, in his Media Notes column today, he discusses the issues surrounding Iraq in depth.
- ABC World News Executive Producer, Jon Banner says: “It was their decision to make and their process. We constantly discuss editorial matters here — all the time, every day. How that decision got made there I have no idea, nor do I want to guess.”
- The CBS News Exec, Rome Hartman, went a little farther and a little harder: “To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment. We deal with the events of the day, and we decide the best way to describe those events based on the news of the day, not by — never mind, I’m not gonna go there.” but he went “there” anyway: “It should be noted that the day that this pronouncement — and who makes pronouncements anyway? But that’s what it sounded like — was a quiet day, relatively speaking, in Iraq.”
- CNN chimed in with this: “CNN will continue to report on what is happening in Iraq on a day-to-day basis. And we will also report on the ongoing debate in academic and political circles about what constitutes a civil war.”
- Fox news (mysteriously) remained silent on the issue.
On a daily basis we expect, see and usually tolerate (not that we have much choice) subtle nuances from the mainstream media that tend to “slant” a story the way they want to present it — that is sneaky and underhanded but, in a way, NBC’s approach reaches a new low!
On the surface NBC is saying that they are using the term “Civil War” just to enhance and clarify their reporting but that’s pure nonsense! As I see it, the only reason NBC is using the “Civil War” tag is to create public discontent with our continued presence in the country. They have planted a seed in the minds of the public that has ‘Jane and Joe American’ thinking: “if this is a civil war, what are we doing in the middle of it?’ As if this seed wasn’t enough, the debate that NBC started in the media is adding daily ‘fertilizer’ to the process and causing the concern to grow.
I’m not saying NBC is wrong in their conclusion that the Iraq conflict is indeed a civil war (it certainly looks like it to me), I’m just saying that it should not be the function of the news media to mold and shape public opinion — their only function is to report news.
“Be afraid, be very afraid” was the line from the 1986 horror film, “The Fly” and that also applies to every newscast you watch and every news article you read. Be afraid that you are being manipulated into seeing the news on the “slant!”
Washington Post: Howard Kurtz Media Notes: Falling Apart?
New York Observer: What Becomes a Civil War Most?
From the blogosphere:
The Peace Blog: So now it’s a civil war… or not
Blogue North: Iraq: Not a Civil War?
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