Media double standards over Ukraine

6 Mar

Our media are large corporations selling privileged audiences to other large corporations. Now the question is, what pictures of the world would a rational person expect from this arrangement?

Noam Chomsky


I often use the term, propaganda blitz, in reference to media barrages which drive and channel audience emotions in ways highly favourable to the agendas of our rulers.

(No, I do not suppose senior editors and proprietors across the full gamut of corporate media get together in smoke filled rooms to hatch devilish schemes to fill our heads with lies. For how media business models ensure that, on matters of vital importance to rule by and for the few, serving power must – this is systemic – take priority over serving truth, see this recent post. Its immediate context is The Guardian but what I say is highly generalisable.)

But the term, propaganda blitz, is not mine. I first encountered it in a Media Lens book of that name, published in 2018. See my review of it here.

And two days ago, on March 4, Media Lens returned to the blitzkreig theme with the following piece on Ukraine, which I urge all to read and share widely:


Doubling Down On Double Standards – The Ukraine Propaganda Blitz

The American population was bombarded the way the Iraqi population was bombarded. It was a war against us, a war of lies and disinformation and omission of history. That kind of war, overwhelming and devastating, waged here in the US while the Gulf War was waged over there.’ (Howard Zinn, ‘Power, History and Warfare’, Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, No. 8, 1991, p.12)

What a strange feeling it was to know that the cruise missile shown descending towards an airport and erupting in a ball of flame was not fired by US or British forces.

Millions of Westerners raised to admire the ultimate spectacle of high-tech, robotic power, must have quickly suppressed their awe at the shock – this was Russia’s war of aggression, not ‘ours’. This was not an approved orgy of destruction and emphatically not to be celebrated.

Rewind to April 2017: over video footage of Trump’s cruise missiles launching at targets in Syria in response to completely unproven claims that Syria had just used chemical weapons, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams felt a song coming on:

‘We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two US navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean – I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: “I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons” – and they are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is, for them, a brief flight…’

TV and newspaper editors feel the same way. Every time US-UK-NATO launches a war of aggression on Iraq, Libya, Syria – whoever, wherever – our TV screens and front pages fill with ‘beautiful pictures’ of missiles blazing in pure white light from ships. This is ‘Shock And Awe’ – we even imagine our victims ‘awed’ by our power.

In 1991, the ‘white heat’ of our robotic weaponry was ‘beautiful’ because it meant that ‘we’ were so sophisticated, so civilised, so compassionate, that only Saddam’s palaces and government buildings were being ‘surgically’ removed, not human beings. This was keyhole killing. The BBC’s national treasure, David Dimbleby, basked in the glory on live TV:

‘Isn’t it in fact true that America, by dint of the very accuracy of the weapons we’ve seen, is the only potential world policeman?’ (Quoted, John Pilger, ‘Hidden Agendas’, Vintage, 1998, p.45)

Might makes right! This seemed real to Dimbleby, as it did to many people. In fact, it was fake news. Under the 88,500 tons of bombs that followed the launch of the air campaign on January 17, 1991, and the ground attack that followed, 150,000 Iraqi troops and 50,000 civilians were killed. Just 7 per cent of the ordnance consisted of so called ‘smart bombs’.

By contrast, the morning after Russia launched its war of aggression on Ukraine, front pages were covered, not in tech, but in the blood of wounded civilians and the rubble of wrecked civilian buildings …

Read the full piece (4428 words)

4 Replies to “Media double standards over Ukraine

  1. They say truth is the first casualty in war. It remains a casualty throughout and, considering that history is written by the victors, persists as a casualty ever after.

    I recall a TV film called “Conspiracy” which starred Kenneth Branagh and which was based around the initial announcement of the Final Solution at the Wansee Conference. As I remember, there is a frightening line delivered by one of the less enthusiastic participants to the effect, “Shall we ever see the sun rise again?” These are the words that go through my mind now.

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