Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jingoism in the US Media

The last of the five filters that make up Chomsky and Herman's Propaganda Model of the Media is Anti-Communism, referring to the the uncritical support given to the US and a condemnation of major US adversaries Communist Russia and China. That the final filter was described this way is no surprise given that Chomsky and Herman wrote Manufacturing Consent during the Cold War. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of capitalism in China, labeling the last filter "Anti-Communism" isn't really appropriate. Chomsky and Herman now suggest that the fifth filter manifests as fear of an enemy, today this is most obviously the War on Terror, but I would suggest that Jingoism is a better label. Jingoism is a kind of unthinking hyper-patriotism in which one believes that everything one's own country and its allies do is moral and justified while any action committed by one's enemies (even if it is the exact same action as one performed by one's own country) is presumptively evil and immoral. 

We can see some excellent examples of Jingoism in the way the US Media and many government officials have responded to the Russian aggression towards Ukraine. The most obvious example, discussed by many commentators, are comments US Secretary of State John Kerry made on Face the Nation. In a conversation with host Bob Schieffer he remarked, "You just don't in the twenty-first century behave in nineteenth-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext." As almost everybody immediately noted, this is a remarkable statement coming from Sec. Kerry who, as a Senator, voted in favor of the US Invasion of Iraq and, according to Glenn Greenwald, argued in favor of the invasion because, "“Saddam Hussein [is] sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction” and there is “little doubt that Saddam Hussein wants to retain his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.” We now know these claims to have been a "completely trumped up pretext."

Now it is one thing for the US Government to make such patently hypocritical claims, but what about the Media? As Greenwald notes, Schieffer allowed Kerry to make these comments without challenge:
The supremely sycophantic Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer – as he demanded to know how Russia would be punished – never once bothered Kerry (or his other Iraq-war-advocating guests, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius) by asking about any of that unpleasantness (is it hard at all for you to sermonize against invasions of sovereign countries given, you know, how often you yourself support them?)
In addition, Greenwald provides examples of other US journalists who make similar claims to those of Sec. Kerry:
The vast bulk of the commentary issuing from American commentators about the Russian military action in Ukraine involves condemning exactly that which they routinely advocate and which the U.S. itself routinely does. So suffocating is the resulting stench that those who played leading roles in selling the public the attack on Iraq and who are still unrepentant about it, such as David “Axis of Evil/The Right Man” Frum, have actually become the leading media voices condemning Russia on the ground that it is wrong to invade sovereign countries; Frum thus has no trouble saying things like this with an apparently straight face: “If Russia acts the outlaw nation, can it be expected to be treated as anything but an outlaw?”
In each of these cases we can see clear example of the Jingoism of the US Media. If the US does it it is good and just; if someone else does it it is evil and wrong. As Eugene Robinson nicely put it:
Is it just me, or does the rhetoric about the crisis in Ukraine sound as if all of Washington is suffering from amnesia? We’re supposed to be shocked — shocked! — that a great military power would cook up a pretext to invade a smaller, weaker nation? I’m sorry, but has everyone forgotten the unfortunate events in Iraq a few years ago?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.