Why Government Censorship of US Media is Unnecessary
In this week's New Yorker, Peter Maass -- who was in Iraq covering the war at the time -- examines the iconic, manufactured toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square, an event the American media relentlessly exploited in April, 2003, to propagandize citizens into believing that Iraqis were gleeful over the U.S. invasion and that the war was a smashing success. Acknowledging that the episode demonstrated that American troops had taken over the center of Baghdad, Maas nonetheless explains that "everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television -- victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq -- was a disservice to the truth."
Working jointly with ProPublica on this investigation, Maass describes the hidden, indispensable role the U.S. military played in that event -- which has long been known -- though he convincingly argues that the primary culprit in this propaganda effort was the Americans media. That is who did more than anyone to wildly distort this event. As usual, the Watchdog Press not only happily ingests and trumpets pro-government propaganda, but does so even more enthusiastically and uncritically than government spokespeople themselves.
The reason there's so little government censorship of the press in America is because it's totally unnecessary; why would the government even want to censor a media this compliant and subservient? Recall the derision heaped upon the media even by Bush's own former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, for being "too deferential" to administration propaganda. As soon as an entity emerges that provides genuinely adversarial coverage of the U.S. Government -- such as WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, or isolated articles exposing its malfeasance -- the repressive measures come fast and furious. But in general, it's no more necessary for the U.S. Government to censor the American media than it would be for Barack Obama to try to silence Robert Gibbs.
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