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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Rewriting History, American Media Style

In the Soviet Union of Stalin’s time, history was an ever-changing story. People and events that were necessary for propaganda purposes were invented and people and events that opposed the Great Leader were deleted from the texts and airbrushed out of the pictures.

While no one ever had the central control of the narrative of history in the US during the 20th century as Stalin did in the Soviet Union, the mass media shared similar ideas about history. What was acceptable and what was not. Everyone agreed that all Americans stood up against the evils of Fascism and Communism. Everyone agreed to Joe McCarthy was the moral equivalent of Stalin, and that there were no Communists in government.

Everyone agreed that our involvement in Viet Nam was ill conceived and doomed to failure. And everyone agreed that the Liberals who ended the war in Viet Nam did so from the noblest of motives and did A GOOD THING.

And like the people who wrote and rewrote Stalin’s history books and airbrushed his photos, those who promoted these myths are so full of crap that their eyes were brown.

Karl at Protein Wisdom has a brilliant essay making this point with regard to the current myths that the media is trying to promote about the war in the Middle East, and has been peddling about Viet Nam. The difference between then and now is that “Big Brother Media” has some competition. It’s still a young and limited new media, and most people still get their propaganda served up to them by the alphabet networks and the major newspapers. But the internet and word-of-mouth is getting the truth out. Even in Stalin’s’ Russia, people noticed that the stories and pictures kept changing. They were not entirely fooled, but they did not have the alternative sources of news that we have.

Just a few days ago, the MSM – the Virginian Pilot (my hometown fish-wrap) fulminated against George Bush’s invocation of Viet Nam in a speech to the VFW. How dare he, they fumed, bring so divisive a subject up during the current war. The gall exhibited by these cretins made me choke on my cereal.

From Protein Wisdom:
The establishment media’s attitude toward the invasion manifested itself — until quite recently — in the frequent invocation of Vietnam as an analogy. As ABC News would later concede, questions about a Vietnam-style “quagmire” haunted the president’s Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad. CNN and the L.A. Times were among those doing the questioning, as was CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who told USA Today that he opposed any invasion of Iraq back in October 2002.
Within the opening days of the invasion, the Baltimore Sun was claiming that “This war in its early stages recalls the pitched battles and bloody skirmishes of the Vietnam War,” while New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd found it “hard not to have a few acid flashbacks to Vietnam at warp speed.” Barely a week into the operation, ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Lesley Stahl had invoked the Vietnam quagmire, while NBC’s Today Show invited The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh on air a few days later to contend that “it’s never too early” to roll out the Vietnam analogy. The Scripps-Howard News Service warned that saddam Hussein’s “strategy was to drag America into a Vietnam quagmire.”
After Coalition forces toppled Saddam, the trend only intensified. John Watson, assistant professor of communications at American University, told the
CSM that media skepticism set in more quickly than in Vietnam, beginning with the occupation phase and coinciding with reporters leaving the embedded media program — which is what the aforementioned CMPA study showed as well. In June, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and others were asking whether the US was involved in a “guerrilla war” in Iraq. By October 2003, former WaPo reporter David Maraniss was insisting that “the echoes are immense” between Iraq and Vietnam on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. On November 14, 2003, Reuters ran a piece headlined, “US War Dead in Iraq Exceeds Early Vietnam Years,” burying deep within the story the fact that the US presence in Vietnam was tiny for the first four years of its involvement, as compared to the force in Iraq.
President Bush was asked directly about the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy by the establishment media
again and again and again. From the outset of the invasion through mid-July 2007, the TV networks each aired hundreds of stories containing the Iraq-Vietnam comparison; CNN, the NYT and the WaPo have done thousands of them apiece. The AP has compared Pres. Bush’s rhetoric with that of LBJ, the bad intelligence on Iraqi WMDs with the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Haditha killings with My Lai. Combined with the ever-increasing percentage of stories devoted to the daily death tolls, the message being conveyed by the establishment media was unmistakable.
It might be asked why the establishment media resorted so early and so often to the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy, and so rarely challenged the subjects of their coverage who invoked it. The specious Reuters story aside,
US casualties in Iraq have been lighter in Iraq than in Vietnam. At Slate, even after engaging is some very dubious body count inflation — giving terrorists extra credit for each US soldier killed due to improvements in medical treatment and force protection since Vietnam — Phillip Carter and Owen West came up with an imaginary 2,975 comabt deaths in Iraq during 2004, compared to 4,602 real combat deaths during 1966 in Vietnam.
It takes a boat load of moral insensitivity and just plain gall to assume that your readers don’t remember what you wrote just yesterday. It takes the kind of assumptions that the editors of these papers make about the stupidity of its readers when they say, as the editors of the Pilot did
“The certainty of reopening old wounds is precisely what the White House wants. At a time when the nation should be focusing on what to do next in Iraq, the administration is hoping Americans can be diverted by another political sleight-of-hand to keep its mistakes from showing.
Don’t be fooled, and don’t be baited. America is too busy fighting in Iraq to be fighting again over Vietnam.”

This kind of crap is precisely why the MSM is losing readers. It’s not enough to lie to us, but don’t insult our intelligence.

The Virginian Pilot is now reduced to giving away its papers in malls and at public events in an effort to gain readers. I feel sorry for the people they have sent out to these sites; they are not the ones who create the intellectual sewage that if found on its pages. Like a vampire, feasting on the blood of it’s victims, it seems to live in its coffin but it’s hard to kill. Luckily, this particular brand of vampire is in the process of committing suicide.

Faster, please.

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