April 28, 2003
During the nearly forgotten war on Yugoslavia, NATO warned the Serbian TV
network that its Belgrade offices would be blown up unless the station
broadcast six hours of US programming every day to counter Serb
'propaganda.' The station agreed -- as long as it got six minutes a day on
Western TV in exchange. The offer wasn't accepted.
Shortly after that, NATO sent Cruise missiles slamming into the TV studio. More than 30 civilian employees were killed or wounded, including a young woman who was burned alive in the make-up room, and a young man who could only be removed from the wreckage after both his legs were amputated.
Serb 'propaganda' wasn't the real problem, of course. It was the fact Serb TV was exposing NATO propaganda and lies -- e.g., airing pictures of a downed Stealth bomber that NATO didn't want to admit had been lost. What NATO wanted to do was to silence any alternative views of the war, even if it meant directly attacking the media.
While individual reporters expressed outrage, most Western media outlets were essentially silent on the attack. Others defended it. Even if it was technically a war crime, it was the "enemy" media, after all.
The Pentagon drew the appropriate conclusions -- the corporate media is so wedded to the White House/military/industrial viewpoint that nothing will shake it.
So now, five years later, the U.S. is still killing journalists in what can only be seen as intimidation and warning to parrot the official line or else.
In one case, the U.S. fired a missile into the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera, killing the network's correspondent. The Arab network, which offers truly independent coverage rather than reproducing the official line of the US-British invasion force, had earlier informed authorities of the exact location of its office and had been assured it wouldn't be attacked.
Four hours later, a US tank blasted the Palestine Hotel, where approximately 200 journalists, non-embedded and thus at least marginally more independent, lived and worked. The shell exploded in the Reuters bureau, killing two and wounding three others. US Gen. Buford Blount claimed the tank had been fired on. Eyewitnesses and a video tape show that to be a lie. Later, US Marines raided the hotel, kicking in doors and pointing M-16s at journalists. The Marines claimed that they thought that Fedayeen fighters might be in the hotel. "The building wasn't 100 percent safe and we're making sure it is," one Marine said.
In Basra, the British detained an Al Jazeera TV correspondent. He was told that the British-US invasion force was "dealing only with listed journalists who accompanied coalition forces" and that he wouldn't be allowed to work there.
And the corporate media's response to the killings and other forms of blatant intimidation? Shameful silence.
A couple of journalist groups have raised objections. The Committee to Protect Journalists has protested Mohsen's arrest. Reporters Without Borders has accused the U.S. of war crimes in Iraq by intentionally firing at war correspondents. "A media outlet cannot be a military target under international law and its equipment and installations are civilian property protected as such under the Geneva Conventions," a Reporters Without Borders official said.
But the corporate media remains silent.
If the targeting of newspeople was covered like the staged statue toppling, or the 'rescue' of Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital, the military might be reined in, and Americans might get a hint at how the news is being manipulated.
But that will never happen. The corporate media gave up its independence a long time ago in exchange for a place at the Establishment table. They may be sitting below the salt, but they are quite happy in their delusion that parroting propaganda makes them equal to the movers and shakers who really rule the world.
And the deaths of a few newspeople is a small price to pay.
· · · · · ·
The Tasteful War And Other Media Lies - by Deck Deckert
Main Media & Propaganda on Swans
Iraq on Swans
Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic.
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