Media Democracy How the U. S. Press System Works… Why It Failed on the Iraq War What Citizens Can Do When It Fails Lance Bennett, Director Center for Communication and Civic Engagement University of Washington www.engagedcitizen.org [email protected] Media in American Democracy
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“Polls show that a substantial portion of the electorate is unconvinced of the need for an immediate war…A grass roots antiwar movement is beginning to make itself heard. Some Democrats are starting to warn assertively against a “rush to war,” as Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts put it.”
--TheNew York Times, Jan 26, 2003
But the Democrats decided that the war was a poor election issue
And so, the war was told as a Hollywood story written by the Bush media team…..
….A fantasy of American triumph against the evil Saddam…
…..with the Iraqi people awaiting their liberation with flowers and democracy
Published on Thursday, August 12, 2004 by the Agence France Presse
"The paper was not front-paging stuff," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we\'re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"
In retrospect, said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn\'t be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration\'s rationale. …That was a mistake on my part."
"the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones," Downie said. "We didn\'t pay enough attention to the minority."
FROM THE EDITORS
The Times and Iraq
Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq\'s weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists…. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves...
… we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been.
In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.Published: May 26, 2004
A: based on administration claims that Abu Ghraib was an unfortunate case of abuse at low levels of command
B: based on evidence that torture practices were authorized - (with a legal rationale developed by the White House and adapted by the Defense Department for use in prisons)
Primary news frames used to describe Abu Ghraib. Washington Post, April 1, 2004 – September 29, 2004
These data are based on the first label used in each article. Numbers in parentheses are the counts for each cell; percentages are not rounded.
The first or the second frame. Washington Post, April 1, 2004 – September 29, 2004
These labels were used as either the first or second label in each article. Numbers in parentheses are the counts for each cell; percentages are not rounded.
News and Editorial (opinion) Frames: “abuse,” “torture” and other names for what happened at Abu Ghraib. National newspaper sample, April 1, 2004 – January 19, 2005
News Story Frames: “abuse,” “torture” and other names for what happened at Abu Ghraib. National newspaper sample, April 1, 2004 – January 19, 2005
BUT, when news reports explained why this mattered, Abu Ghraib was mentioned as involving the ABUSE of prisoners
Lance Bennett, Director
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