What the U.S. media still doesn’t know about the use of chemical weapons in Syria last week has done little to keep it from accepting statements from the U.S. government with barely a whiff of the skepticism one would expect after the colossal — and well-documented — media failure that preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
And if there were voices cautioning against a volly of U.S./NATO airstrikes (note: there are), most media consumers scanning the front pages of top news websites wouldn’t know it.
Instead what they’d see if they looked at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Huffington Post on Tuesday morning was not so much a U.S. government on tapping the “drums of war” but a corporate media system banging on them.
Similarly, as FireDogLake’s Kevin Gosztola catalogued, the editorial boards from some of the largest US newspapers penned editorials that somewhat unanimously supported direct military action by the US. Despite the continued lack of concrete evidence about the details of the chemical attack, Gosztola continued his critique of mainstream outlets by noting how the troubling trend was
further proven by the round of reports in US media [Sunday], which granted an Obama administration official anonymity to say there was “very little doubt” that chemical weapons had been used by the Syrian regime against civilians. Such a statement could easily help increase public and political support for military action yet the media did not force the person to go on the record and give his or her name if the administration wanted such a statement to be published.
And it’s not just the neo-conservatives pushing for their latest war of choice. As Greg Mitchell, who literally wrote the book on the media failure surrounding the Iraq War, observed in his blog at The Nation late Monday:
As hours pass and rhetoric by Obama administration officials, named and unnamed, grows more bellicose against Assad and Syria, liberal hawks in the media, and newspaper editorial pages, have largely fallen in line, calling for a swift U.S. missile attack or more. This was the same pattern we saw in regard to Iraq in 2003, when a Republican was in the White House.
Of course, the two situations are different, and The New York Times has a lengthy and chilling new report tonight trying to recreate the night of the attack. But there is this much that’s the same: liberals are calling for fast action even though proof of a chemical attack, and who did it, remains less than definitive — and with United Nations inspectors on the scene but their work discounted by America. Yet the rush to judgment — and bomb — escalates.
Jon Queally is a staff writer with Common Dreams, where this article first appeared. It is reprinted here with permission.