Monday, January 01, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: One minute I was writing about how if you selected carefully, you could get Iraq coverage (going station to statiion, day to day) and then it was gone in the summer that forgot Iraq. On August 18th, I remember Medea Benjamin being interviewed and bringing up the issue of Iraq to what appeared to be the surprise of the interviewer who had introduced the segment as a discussion on Lebanon.

Ms. Benjamin. of CODEPINK, was among the peace delegates who had traveled to Jordan at the start of August for a weekend meeting with Iraqi parliamentarians. The interview, with Andrea Lewis of KPFA's The Morning Show, was the only one which I heard addressing that trip. In it, Ms. Lewis asked Ms. Benjamin what she felt were some of the reasons that the peace movement was in its current state? Ms. Benjamin replied that one of the things the movement was up against was the mass mobilizations prior to the start of the illegal war and the fact that they did not dissuade the US administration from starting an illegal war.

While I do not doubt that reality acts as a cold water splash for many, listening, I felt the larger issue was the role of the media. The peace trip included Ms. Benjamin, Tom Hayden, Colonel Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Diane Wilson, Jodie Evans, Gail Murphy and Geoffrey Millard who wrote about the meet up at Truthout. How many people are aware of it?

In Exceptions to the Rulers, Amy and David Goodman write of the importance of coverage, see pages 147 through 149 for the way The New York Times reported a peace rally in 2002, give examples throughout the book of how our views our shaped by the view points presented and those ignored. So take that concept and apply it to the peace movement which continues to receive little to no coverage or apply it to the war resisters or apply it to Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Where was the coverage in 2006?

C.I. and Kat have both noted repeatedly that there is still not a program on Pacifica Radio that revolves around Iraq and Iraq related issues. The dangers resulting from that omission became very obvious in the Summer That Forgot Iraq and have remained obvious since.

Intentionally or not, the picked up and dropped pattern regarding Iraq does not translate as a nation against war. Crotchety grumps of all ages can hector that some, though they say many, are not aware a war rages in Iraq but how would they know to judge by much of the coverage?

A perfect example would be the passing of the 3,000 mark in US military deaths in Iraq yesterday. Check The Nation's website currently and you will find nothing on it. Did everyone get so intoxicated on New Year's Eve that no one could post today? Better question, why is there nothing noting the impending marker? It is not as though, on Sunday, 100 US troops died or were announced dead. The 3,000 mark did not come out of thin air. It is now one day since the milestone. If and when The Nation chooses to tell readers about it, it will be even more distanced.

So while I respect Ms. Benjamin, I disagree strongly with her conclusion that the peace movement's biggest struggle is the non-response from the US administration to the massive protests prior to the start of the illegal war. The problem is and remains the media. When Iraq is a topic that is picked up some days and dropped most others, no sense of urgency or importance is conveyed and that is the reality of the state of public radio specifically and the mainstream media in general for 2006.