“In my day, we followed every development in the wars America was fighting. Every report on the radio or in the newspaper told us what was happening. And we wanted to know everything, because every family had a father, a son, a brother, a cousin fighting. Now, news of the war in Iraq is treated as an inconvenient interruption of all the entertaining reports on movie stars getting married and pop stars going on trial. As a result, it becomes too easy to forget that kids from this country are dying just about every day in some distant fight that, because of our media, is too easily forgotten.” –Studs Terkel
In this era of corporate, conglomerate media, it’s rare to get even a shred of substantive news about the continuing war in Iraq. The big TV news divisions and major dailies have pulled out all but a pittance of their military “embeds” from Iraq. Most of what we are served up at this point is simply cheap, ill-informed and partisan punditry. In fact, a recent review of major U.S. newspapers and the nation’s two most popular newsmagazines shows that the “true costs of the Iraq war are downplayed by the American media, both in print and in photos.” Check out this story on DailyKos
Hurray for anyone who cares to hold informed opinions about U.S. policy in Iraq.
Hurray for democracy, folks.
One of the exceptions to this sad media trend is Phillip Robertson, whose heartrending stories from Baghdad and beyond are being filed these days for, primarily, Salon.com. Robertson’s reports are like coming to an oasis in the desert of what passes for war coverage today. Robertson is freelance and independent, one of a small band of journalists who’ve been spending the majority of their time in Iraq since before the U.S.-led invasion, attempting to document the effects of a war that stateside Americans seem all too willing to forget is being fought in their name. But then again, as Mr. Terkel points out above, it’s damn hard to find any reports of the war, what with all the runaway-bride, michael-jackson and tom-cruise-and-katie-holmes “news” taking up our media space.
I got an email the other day from Robertson, telling me of a story he would soon file for Salon. “I found the American sniper who killed a friend of mine. Let’s see; that’s it, other than the fact it’s like living on the surface of the sun out here.” Here is an excerpt, from “The Victim and the Killer”: