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.
Also on HuffPost:
Six months after invading North Korean forces started the Korean War, North Korean leader and founder Kim Il Sung says in a speech that U.S. and South Korean forces were the actual invaders and had prompted his army to retaliate. Kim vows to annihilate the North's enemies. <em>Caption: In this March 7, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed March 8, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, uses binoculars to look at the South's territory from an observation post at the military unit on Jangjae islet, located in the southernmost part of the southwestern sector of North Korea's border with South Korea. (AP Photo/KCNA via KNS) </em>
Kim Il Sung likens U.S. forces to Nazis and says that the war is turning into a mass grave for U.S. forces. <em>Caption: In this March 7, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed March 8, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, walks with military personnel as he arrives for a military unit on Mu Islet, located in the southernmost part of the southwestern sector of North Korea's border with South Korea. (AP Photo/KCNA via KNS)</em>
Kim Il Sung tells Harrison Salisbury and John Lee of The New York Times that because of perceived U.S. hostility, "we are always making preparations for war. We do not conceal this matter." <em>Caption: North Koreans attend a rally in support of a statement given on Tuesday by a spokesman for the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army vowing to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War as well as boasting of the North's ownership of "lighter and smaller nukes" and its ability to execute "surgical strikes" meant to unify the divided Korean Peninsula, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday, March 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)</em>
North Korea declares a "semi-state of war" to protest joint U.S.-South Korean war games that it says threaten its security. Amid a standoff with Washington over its nuclear program, it also threatens to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. <em>Caption: In this Dec. 12, 2012 file photo released by Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. (AP Photo/KCNA, File)</em>
In an appearance of what will become a well-worn phrase, a North Korean negotiator threatens to turn Seoul into "a sea of fire." Fearing war, South Koreans clear store shelves of instant noodles, water, gas and other necessities. <em>Caption: Female North Korean traffic police officers gather in front of bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to pay their respects in Pyongyang, North Korea on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
North Korea threatens "hundredfold and thousandfold retaliation" against South Korean troops who had captured or killed armed North Korean agents who had used a submarine to sneak into the South. <em>Caption: North Korean soldiers gather along a Pyongyang street during heavy snowfall on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
North Korea threatens "hundredfold and thousandfold retaliation" against South Korean troops who had captured or killed armed North Korean agents who had used a submarine to sneak into the South. <em>Caption: A North Korean soldier smokes a cigarette as snow falls in Pyongyang on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
After President George W. Bush labels North Korea part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran, Pyongyang calls the remark "little short of a declaration of war." North Korea's Foreign Ministry warns it "will never tolerate the U.S. reckless attempt to stifle the (North) by force of arms but mercilessly wipe out the aggressors." <em>Caption: A North Korean portrait photographer instructs North Korean soldiers to pose for a picture under a mosaic of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at an exhibition in Pyongyang on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 where Kimjongilia flowers, named after Kim Jong Il, were on display. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission warns that the country will initiate a "retaliatory holy war" against South Korea over Seoul's alleged contingency plan to deal with potential unrest in the North. <em>Caption: A North Korean man stands next to a tractor and wagon on the edge of a snow covered field near the village of Ryongsan-ri, south of Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
After a Seoul-led international investigation blames a North Korean torpedo for the sinking of a South Korea warship that killed 46 sailors, Pyongyang issues a denial and warns of a "prompt physical strike." In November 2010, the North attacked a front-line island, killing four South Koreans. <em>Caption: North Koreans cross a railroad bridge over a riverbed south of Mount Myohyang, and north of the capital city of Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
A day after South Korea conducts large-scale military drills near the island hit by the North in 2010, the North's Korean People's Army threatens to turn Seoul's presidential palace into a "sea of fire." <em>Caption: In this Feb. 16, 2013 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, waves as he attends a statue unveiling ceremony at Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang, North Korea on the anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's birthday. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video)</em>
North Korea holds a massive rally denouncing conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as a "rat." It says he should be struck with a "retaliatory bolt of lightning" because of his confrontational approach toward Pyongyang. <em>Caption: Rows of North Korean children stand and salute at a sports arena in Pyongyang for a national meeting of the Children's Union on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)</em>
North Korea's military warns that troops have aimed artillery at seven South Korean media groups to express outrage over criticism in Seoul of ongoing children's festivals in Pyongyang. It threatens a "merciless sacred war." <em>Caption: South Korean army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)</em>
An unidentified spokesman at the powerful National Defense Commission warns that the U.S. mainland is within range of its missiles and says Washington's recent agreement to let Seoul possess missiles capable of hitting all of North Korea shows the allies are plotting to invade the North. <em>Caption: North Korean soldiers and others gather in front of bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to pay their respects in Pyongyang, North Korea on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)</em>
North Korean soldiers lay flowers at the base of bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to pay their respects in Pyongyang, North Korea on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. North Koreans turned out to commemorate what would have been the 71th birthday of Kim Jong Il who died on Dec. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)