Iraq Coverage VS. Syria Coverage

Friday, September 06, 2013

Transcript

Coverage of the proposed military intervention in Syria is attracting inevitable comparisons to the run-up to the Iraq war, which began 10 years ago. But this time around, with Iraq still fresh in the country's collective memory, the media seem to be more careful. Bob speaks to Max Fisher, foreign affairs blogger for the Washington Post, about the media's coverage of Syria, and how the inevitable comparison to Iraq may not be that useful.

Guests:

Max Fisher

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [10]

derek monroe from round lake, IL

The folks of OTM are extremely cynical bunch. The facts more often than not do not get in a way of a "good story." It is like pseudo-intellectual exercise in virginity where the object of discourse is half-pregnant. The best antidote to this "chattering class" is simple: read international media. Der Spiegel, Guardian, EL Pais. Read how the story is covered by ZDF, Polskie Radio, RT and NPR. The Eureka moment will come.

Sep. 15 2013 03:44 PM
Monte Haun


" Eric from Albany CA

The problem with this story (as well as the problem with some of the other comments posted on this site) is that it inadvertently perpetuates the myth the only national security experts who favored the 2003 Iraq invasion were crazy, reckless, and intellectually dishonest neoconservatives. For the record, lots of people who served in the government during the Clinton and/or Carter years (e.g., Ken Pollack, Peter Galbraith, Richard Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, James Rubin, Susan Rice, Leslie Gelb) also supported the Iraq invasion (until they turned against it) ..."

"The names of the (Iran) hawks are familiar to us all. Some of them work for or advise John McCain, some of them do the same for Barack Obama. Some of them are outright neocons, and some of them are liberal interventionists. One of them is Karen Hughes, the former flack for President Bush, whose knowledge of Iran is close to zero. The rest include: Fouad Ajami, Richard Holbrooke, Leslie Gelb, Jim Woolsey, Henry Sokolski, and Dennis Ross. Its president is Mark Wallace, the deputy campaign chairman for Bush-Cheney '04."

"perpetuates the myth the only national security experts who favored the 2003 Iraq invasion were crazy, reckless, and intellectually dishonest neoconservatives."

I'd say you described them perfectly, not a Real Liberal in the lot!! Holbrooke, for God's Sake??

You people are pathetic, never give up. Just say it, We made a mistake, we were blinded by the Bush Charisma and would have followed him to Hell and back.

Monte Haun mchaun@hotmail.com

Sep. 09 2013 10:29 PM
David

It was interesting to hear Bob cynically say, "...parsing this all through the prism of domestic politics..." when this whole segment will not mention the President's name - the person who is leading the charge. If it weren't for Stewart's actuality, you would think that the "claims of the government" were led by some headless group that has John Kerry as a spokesperson.

Of course, the Bush Administration WAS mentioned by Bob... Parsing this all through NPRs domestic politics, indeed!

Would have been nice to hear a segment on the media strategy session that the White House had on Syria with Cutter, Axelrod and Gibbs this week..

Sep. 09 2013 11:10 AM
dave

Was just listening to Cokie Roberts on Morning Edition. Talka bout your boiling all issues down to political gamesmanship. It's almost a parody of how the question of bombing Syria can be reduced to being only about the dems v reps

Sep. 09 2013 08:22 AM
Eric from Albany CA

The problem with this story (as well as the problem with some of the other comments posted on this site) is that it inadvertently perpetuates the myth the only national security experts who favored the 2003 Iraq invasion were crazy, reckless, and intellectually dishonest neoconservatives. For the record, lots of people who served in the government during the Clinton and/or Carter years (e.g., Ken Pollack, Peter Galbraith, Richard Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, James Rubin, Susan Rice, Leslie Gelb) also supported the Iraq invasion (until they turned against it) and their support did not hinge on the Bush administration's assessments regarding WMD or Saddam's alleged links to terrorists. Galbraith's hypocrisy is particularly egregious, as he wrote 2 scathing books Bush's Iraq policy without ever bothering to disclose to his readers that he initially thought the invasion was fully justified on humanitarian grounds alone.

Sep. 08 2013 10:40 AM
jf from reality

The whole reason the puppet masters picked Obama this time is that they failed to convince people with bush, They have to massage our ego's by pretending to be liberal. Then make a war with the appearance of some kind of "justice", the military industrial complex get's it's mandatory contracts to survive. They've been prepping is with comments like ww2 was the "good" war.
First choice bush, no justification. That didn't work? (it worked 10 trillion$)But people won't fall for that for a few years. Let's use an Obama puppet this time they'll eat it up.

Sep. 08 2013 10:24 AM
Jeffery Ewener from Toronto, Canada

Leaving aside the slightly indecorous display of a news industry congratulating itself for actually not forgetting its own shamelessly unresisted, and even eager, subornation to the purposes of war propaganda ten whole years ago (boy, where does the time go?), I think this piece contained some pretty dubious assessments of the media's current ability to tell shit from shinola in the case of Syria.

The most egregious, I think, was that of your producer who, though I'm grateful to him for teaching me the incredibly useful web-acronym TLDR (crazy kids!), was not just grossly unfair to Jon Stewart, but even worse, humourlessly so. His main criticism was that Stewart was failing to treat the pro-war arguments as if they were weighty considerations worthy of deep moral reflection. That's because they're not. What Stewart was clearly doing, at least in your quoted bits, was demonstrating how these and even weightier considerations -- of national interest, international law, moral outrage, American credibility, etc. etc. -- dissolve into empty mist before the stark reality of cratered homes, shattered human bodies, destroyed lives and scarred souls, which is what bombs and missiles do. And which is all that they do.

In fact, I would say that the single most propagandistic function of the media is precisely to treat the absurd, the stupid and the blatantly bullshit as though it were worthy of profound moral consideration. This in fact was the "Tobacco Strategy" adopted by the anti-global warming lobby -- as has been well-covered in books, and on On The Media, I believe. The lesson is, the news media don't have to be pro-war to be pro-war. They only have to treat war as if it were reasonable. Then if Congress acts in flat-out contradiction of the people's will -- and when have they ever done that before? -- well, at least they weren't acting unreasonably. It was an issue over which reasonable men could reasonably disagree. Like, say, slavery, or genocide.

Yeah, yeah, TLDR, I know, I know. But one last thing, a very nice survey of lies my media told me on Syria, at Black Agenda Report ... http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-obama%E2%80%99s-accomplices-war-crimes. This is not a balanced, even-handed evaluation of the issues, but it does provide some valuable, even vital, perspective.

Love your show. Really. I do. (Hi Bob & Brooke!) Shameless fan.

Jeff Ewener,
Toronto, Canada

Sep. 08 2013 08:18 AM
Tom Roche from Carrboro

Listened to this again--the contention that "the coverage of Syria has been really nuanced, really careful" is just as hilarious the second time around! Fisher and Garfield can pull the occasional critical quote, since even the US corporate-funded media (CFM) seems to understand that their Iraq deception is just too fresh-in-mind to work One More Time (even on the notoriously ahistoric--what is the appropriate analog to "illiterate" and "innumerate"?--US public), and that therefore some "theatre of the fourth estate" is required. But listen to any interview by Brian Williams (in particular) or by any of the vast majority of CFM suits (e.g., any NPR presenter) *in its entirety* and you should have no doubt that, just like last time, the CFM is (with few-but-meritorious exceptions, e.g., McClatchy, ProPublica) in-bed-ed with US political and economic elites. (Though, of course, to refer to "US political and economic elites" has been a redundancy for several decades now.)

This should be obvious to someone of Garfield's intelligence, particularly when CFM suits and guests repeat ad nauseam that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and therefore we must attack Assad, without examining in serious detail the intervening (and startlingly missing) mediating premises. The motivation for this credulity, sustained despite the repeated failures of US foreign policy elites, should be especially clear given the excellent Leibovich interview just following--elite CFM "journalism" has become (especially with regard to "national security" and foreign military adventure) elite public relations.

So why doesn't Garfield in particular "get it"? Attempting inference to best explanation (or mere speculation, you be the judge) identifies two contributing factors. One regards what (IMHO) the current Syria intervention hysteria is "really about," a theocratic three-way: Israel and Saudi Arabia (the most unholy alliance since Ronald Reagan and Saddam Hussein?) vs Iran. Between them, the first two can get the complete attention of damn-near every segment of the corporate-security state and its CFM. (Helpfully, the Iranian elites are putzes with no friends ... beyond the folks the Israelis been stomping for the past sixty years (with US assistance), and a couple hundred million Shiites. Few if any of whom donate to WNYC :-) The second factor requires applying the same sort of analysis to NYC that Leibovich applies to DC (and which seems inherently plausible to this son of Jackson Heights). One then concludes that doing what pleases political Zionism (the evil twin of political Islam) gets you kudos, and opposing it (e.g., the March To War against the Assad regime) can open the proverbial Big Can of Whoopass.

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it is difficult for a man to observe something when he knows the observation can get AIPAC, the ADL (and JDL, and splinters), and most of the civic elite of a town where he spends a lotta time, collectively on his tuchis.

Sep. 07 2013 07:03 PM
Benoit Balz from NYC

People are dying in Syria, do Americans want their taxpayer dollars spent to "fix" the situation? Can it be fixed? According to what we're told, US munitions killed plenty of innocent Iraqis, Afghans, and other assorted people. Jon Stewart and the Onion expose the absurdity and manipulation of US policy. Why should they, as satirists, hold themselves to Bob Garfield's standards of "intellectual honesty" when their subject matter is the blatant propaganda and dishonesty of American "leaders"?

OTM continues its center-right turn. Get ready for another appearance of Gabriel Schoenfeld...

Sep. 07 2013 01:01 PM
listener

There seems to be much pent up and obligatory spleen venting on Iraq once again but why go back a decade?

Libya is a far more accurate comparison. Both Libya and Syria have this President wanting to bomb them with little or no interest in getting authorization in Congress or approval from the American public.

Thanks to the Obama adventure in Libya this next September 11 anniversary can add another terrorist attack on
American sovereignty in Benghazi which is a scandal the media has smugly lost interest in while again and again bathing in glorious indignation over Iraq.

"...parsing this all through the prism of domestic politics..."
which is "everything that is kinda wrong with the way media covers foreign policy"

Indeed.
(chortle, titter, chuckle)

Sep. 06 2013 11:13 PM

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