Ho, ho, ho, America! As a special gift to YOU, big media is combining its yuletide forces to banish that icky, yucky Iraq story far, far away from the holiday front pages. Such a downer the occupation of Iraq, eh? Who needs that kind of bad news during holiday shopping season when we can be reading about teddy bears and office gift etiquette.
Before posting this story (9am, Dec 3, 2007), I checked all the big media news websites to see if any of them so much as listed a story about the U.S.occupation of Iraq.
The word "Iraq" did not even appear on the top pages of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS. The first story about Iraq on CNN's website was several pages deep in the "Latest News" section, but was about an Iraqi soccer star whose career was cut short when he lost a leg. In fact, the only major network to have a story: FOX News, which links to the AP article "Top U.S. Diplomat Calls for Political Progress in Iraq Following Lull in Violence."
So...summing up: As of this wintry Monday morning in December, none of America's billion dollar big media news outlets ran any stories on the foreign policy debacle destroying America's military and frustrating all of America--none that is, except FOX, which pushed a story claiming that violence in Iraq is "under control."
More eggnog, anyone? Cruller?
The disappearing of Iraq from America's front pages seems to have reached some kind of depth here at the onset of December, but the problem has been taking shape for some time. Eric Boehlert at MediaMatters noted that ABC's investigative news magazine Nightline--once known for its hard-hitting reporting on Iraq--has not run a story on it for 18 weeks:
In the four-plus months in between, Nightline produced more than 230 separate
news segments covering a kaleidoscope of topics, but just one was filmed in Iraq: a Green Zone-based profile
of Gen. David Petraeus
on the eve of his Capitol Hill testimony. As for the daily or weekly events of
the war itself, for 18 straight weeks (or one-third of the calendar year), Nightline effectively walked away from Iraq. What took its place? Lots of Nightline reports on pets and pop music.
(full story here)
Weeks and weeks and weeks, but no Iraq reporting. But what is more important for America to know about that the so-called battle to save the future of the world in Iraq? Boehlert lists the stories that Nightline has run since it last reported on Iraq:
- Twin Skateboarding Stars
- Pole Dancing as Exercise
- Rock & Roll Camp for Girls
- Death of the Postcard
- Barbie vs. Bratz
- Great Lobster Hunt
- Burger King's Gamble on Marketing
- Butlers In High Demand
- Frozen Yogurt Wars
- Discrimination Against Redheads
- Expensive Parking Spaces
- Pasta Wars
- [Barry] Bonds' Navy
- Babies at the Box Office
- Paddington Bear a Sellout?
- A Football Fan Makes Wine the New Beer
- Deeper Vocals Attract Women
- Larry Wilmore is "Seriously Funny"
- Celebrity Reality
- Colbert for President?
- The Jane Austen Renaissance
- The Real Estate Blogger
- Dental Spas
- The Gentle Side of Sharks
- Ghost Hunters
- The Diva Treatment
(full story here)
Now that makes sense. Heaven forbid Iraq should dominate the news coverage when there's a "Pasta War" and a "Frozen Yogurt War" afoot.
Reality, it seems, does not much concern big media news editors these days--that reality being that America's fiasco is ongoing, shows no signs of ending, and continues to destroy countless military families and the general confidence of American citizens.
Gingerbread cookie? Anyone...anyone?
And it's not just the news reporting. The presidential primary season has been cleansed of Iraq as well.
The last CNN YouTube forum/debate featured almost 30 minutes of Rudy Giualiani and Mitt Romney trying to out hate each other on immigration, but no questions about Iraq.
It seems that at the beginning of these TV forums, Iraq was very much in the air. As the top issue in the country, Iraq took up much of the time. But as the forum schedule grinds on, that Iraq story seemed to be old news to producers looking for ways to keep the forums fresh and exciting. Iraq? Been there, done that. Let's talk about other things. And thus, the Iraq war has vanished from the candidate forums like a costume change on Dancing With the Stars.
Don't get me wrong, here: I love holiday stuff. Chanukah begins tonight and I am primed for some serious dreidel time. And I have been enjoying the first month of Christmas shopping season very much. New York City is beautiful this time of year. But the lives of American soldiers have not been trapped by a foreign policy fiasco that confines them to the housewares department at Macy's. They are in Iraq--U.S. occupied Iraq.
Ye olde holiday good times cannot and should not be uses as an an excuse to knock Iraq off the front pages--should not be rolled out by America's big media outlets to dampen America's awareness of the biggest issue facing us.
America's big media must do better than this. They must report Iraq and report it well even in the holiday season--especially in the holiday season.
No more media blackout on Iraq.
America's billion dollar media needs to stop messing around with teddy bears and candy canes and get back to work.
(cross posted from Frameshop)
Follow Jeffrey Feldman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JeffreyFeldman