War’s Accomplices

By and large, American news media have become handmaidens of war



Have you noticed how the liberal mainstream media has become awfully pro-war? This is a change from a generation ago.

The Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft website now features “Day of reckoning for the media handmaidens of war” by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos. In it she recaps the change in the American news media across 20 years of the War on Terror. Tragedy on 9/11/2001 sparked impassioned patriotism and laudable solidarity, but news reporters must be ever vigilant to remain balanced — with only truth and facts in mind, no bias. Aside from notable exceptions, the vast majority of corporate-media journalists skewed very pro-war in 20 years’ time. (New Oxford Review was an early critic of the 2003 Iraq War, and many years later we stand by that call. See our Just War Theory & the Iraq War dossier for more: https://www.newoxfordreview.org/topics/iraq-the-just-war-american-imperialism/)

A link to Beaucar Vlahos’s full Responsible Statecraft article can be found below. First, some highlights:

  • Corporate media conformity after 9/11 was so powerful that the Bush administration was able to adopt “some of the most constitutionally questionable federal law enforcement powers in modern times.”
  • In the lead-up to Iraq in 2003, “75 percent of the guests and panels on the major networks were current or retired government officials toeing the administration line,” including the insinuation that 9/11 had been “sponsored, supported and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein.”
  • Editors of The American Conservative — co-founded by Pat Buchanan in part to oppose the 2003 invasion — were called “unpatriotic conservatives” by David Frum in National Review (March 25, 2003), who also wrote, “They publicize wild conspiracy theories.” (Such unfounded “official” accusations persist today on a number of topics.)
  • With Iraq, “hundreds of reporters from major newspapers and networks started ’embedding’ with the military to cover the war.” Instead of reporters and photographers “running around independently getting their own stories and broadcasting unfiltered images back home, the military would guarantee direct access to the military and safe passage in the war zone. In return, the message would be carefully managed.”
  • “The Pentagon hand selected embeds with an elaborate rating system ‘used to screen out those judged likely to produce critical coverage.’”
  • According to media critic Matt Taibbi, who was an embed himself, “The new trend is to simply hire talking heads from the Pentagon or the CIA or NSA or DIA directly and make them paid” on-air contributors.

Recall that no prominent political or media leaders admitted that Iraq was a mistake until candidate Donald Trump broke the ice during 2016 presidential debates.

The link: https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/09/10/a-reckoning-for-the-media-handmaidens-of-war/


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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