Thursday, August 23, 2007

How I Learned to Stop Reporting and Love the Bomb

Eric Westervelt does Strangelove this morning on NPR. Given that fear-mongering, cherry-picking, lies, and half-truths helped launch the disaster of the Iraq War, you'd think NPR might not buy into a new round of the same to help launch the sequel in Iran. No chance. Like Fox News, NPR is selling an attack on Iran. Click on the "Iran" label below to see other posts on NPR's shameful track record.

In case you don't know that you are supposed to be in panic mode about evil Iran, Montagne sets the stage: "nowhere is the alarm and concern about Iran's nuclear program and growing regional clout more acute than Israel. On several occasions Iran's president has called for Israel to be eliminated."

This junk about "eliminating Israel" is fear-mongering simplification- and NPR turns to it again and again. Take a look at Ahmadinejad's most inflammatory rhetoric on the ADL site. Is he extreme and undiplomatic? I think so. Is he narrow-minded and wrong about the Holocaust? I think so. But does he call for the elimination of Israel, wiping Israel off the map, or attacking Israel?...hardly. He obviously hates the ideology of Zionism and wants it to end. Nothing terribly surprising about that. Hating Zionism, like hating communism, capitalism or imperialism may be contentious, but it is a legitimate position to hold. People can hotly denounce (or defend) Zionism without being genocidal.

In the report Westervelt turns to an Israeli hair salon operator (!) for over a minute of "analysis." This Tel Aviv resident says, "Iran is different because they [are] fanatics; they think that the Muslims have to rule all the world. It's a bit crazy."

As in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, fear mongering would be weak without the threat of the mushroom cloud. Westervelt tells us, "Israeli military intelligence estimates, that if left unchecked, Iran will master the nuclear fuel cycle and begin producing nuclear weapons in as few as three years." He mentions that "the American estimate is...6 to 8 years."

Westervelt fully accepts the position that Iran is a major threat and weighs in on strong sanctions by noting, "but will strong sanctions prove painful enough to get Tehran to back down?"

So what should the US do? Westervelt brings up Israel's earlier airstrikes against a perceived threat: "In 1981 Israel successfully launched a preemptive airstrike on Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak south of Baghdad - dealing a major blow to Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions." Really, if there were any accountability, Westervelt would get fired for just this kind of stupid journalism. Successful? By what standards? Many experts and people involved in that situation argue that the Osirak attack spurred Iraq's nuclear programs.

The report ends with the briefest mention that some in Israel are calling for dialogue with Iran, but that is quickly dismissed by an unnamed Israeli diplomat who, according to Westervelt, said "There is nothing to talk about."


Anonymous said...

Your criticisms are certainly valid. You should recognize it goes beyond the mere "politicization" of NPR by the Bush administration. Mockingbird, the CIA program which covertly put editors in major publishing, newspaper, and media outlets, as well as thousands of individual reporters under direct agency control, is still operating. CIA-linked editor/owners in the past have included Ben Bradlee at Newsweek, Henry Luce of Time and Life, Arthur Sulzberger of the New York Times, Alfred Friendly of the Washington Post, and Joseph Harrison of the Christian Science Monitor. The current administration spends millions on PR, and I'm sure the CIA has numerous assets at NPR, peddling (surprise, surprise, Sargeant!) the same propaganda that you hear on the "right-hand" side of the spectrum of managed debate.

Thanks for your efforts in documenting NPR's version of state propaganda that is force-fed the public.

Porter Melmoth said...

One major imperative remains for the Bush/Cheney regime: to de-stabilize Iran as a regional power of consequence.

A 'sympathy vote' for Israel might be just as potent in selling a strike on Iran as 'bringing democracy' or 'WMD' were in the Iraq disaster.
Intentionally incomplete reports, in the form of propaganda, sent via NPR to 'thinking' audiences, are more valuable than a week of Rush Limbaugh rantings. If 'thinking' people, such as higher education types, where much of NPR's audience lies, can be brought on board with certain issues, then a significant battle to contain intellectualism will have been won. Condi, Wolfie, and Freddy (Kagan) and many others are all products of the Neocon 'intellectual freedom' which might be so effectively spread through Academia via conduits such as NPR.

So, two imperatives stand out for the Neocons:
1. Take out Iran while the iron is hot.
2. Take in NPR as an 'innocuous' tool to mold 'thinking' peoples' minds.

We must fasten our seatbelts securely.

Anonymous said...

I try to take my shower when they have these "special, in-depth" bullshit series on the Mid-East. Then I put it on the local classical music station. Four or five years ago, I would have caught perhaps an hour or so of Morning Edition before work. Now it's more like 10-15 minutes at most. Same with ATC and WE. I find better things to do than have my intelligence constantly insulted.

Porter Melmoth said...

Same here. Most of my yakkings about NPR are based on a similar 15 minute-or so dosage of dreariness. This morning it was Corey Flintstone's turn, giving his 'take' on Iran's 'toxic' influence on Iraq. Corey's delivery has always bugged me. He usually sounds like an 8th-grader who wants to convince you that his matchbook collection is cooler than yours. Nevertheless, I have to admit, in his Iraq stories, he does attempt some depth of understanding, or at least exploration of his subject that the usual neo-NPR suspects aren't capable of. However, this is just a style observation. I have to leave it to Mytwords to sift the substance out of the style.

Quite frankly, sometimes I feel embarrassed that I'm devoting so much attention to something so worthless as Neocon Propaganda Radio's style. I have to justify a certain amount of it though, as I'm interested in the progression of persuasive media, and a lot of the persuasion has to do with shiny superficiality, which NPR has in abundance. As we all know, it's that sheer abundance that makes exposure to NPR so soul-damaging. So, a mantra results: 'Keep the dosage low, keep the dosage low, lower, lower, still lower...'