Experts have said that North Korea's recent talk of a potential nuclear strike is mostly bluster. That didn't stop many in the news media from ramping up the wartime rhetoric on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, North Korea said it had approved a nuclear attack on the United States. The country announced Thursday morning that it had moved a missile to its east coast, near the South Korean border. Arms-control experts told the Associated Press that there was politics more than anything behind the actions:
"What they really want is a safety blanket and a blackmail tool," Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Hawaii, said in an email.
The announcement "is primarily political, designed to signal strength and intimidate. It should not necessarily be seen as a revelation about North Korea's capabilities and true intent," Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, said in an email.
A New York Times report echoed this line:
Most analysts do not believe that North Korea has a missile powerful enough to deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States mainland or that it is reckless enough to strike the American military in the Pacific.
Fox News appeared to disagree. Its "Fox & Friends" opened a segment on the issue with a scene from the upcoming film "Olympus Has Fallen," which shows the United States being attacked by North Korea.
"Is life imitating art in this case? Is it time for President Obama to take a stand?" host Brian Kilmeade asked. He then turned to Peter Johnson, an analyst who also serves as CEO Roger Ailes' personal attorney.
"I'm confident President Obama's taking a stand," Johnson said. "He's our president, and I'm confident that the American people will rally behind him." Johnson called it a "defining point in American history."
He then addressed the media directly.
"There needs to be an understanding here on Fox, and on every news network and in every newspaper, that this is an adversary. These people want to kill Americans," he said. "We're not going to allow 'Olympus Has Fallen' to become reality."
On CNN, Tom Foreman immediately began playing war games with retired general James Marks, mapping out what a North Korean attack would look like.
"How quickly does it turn so that the initiative is ... in the hands of US and coalition forces?" he asked. Only at the end did Marks say that he didn't think a full-fledged war would happen.
On Thursday, Wolf Blitzer announced that he was devoting a full hour to the "crisis" in North Korea.
NBC News had a similar article on its website (the title was "What happens if North Korea gets out of hand?"), though its correspondent Richard Engel said the missiles could not hit the United States.
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