Those of us who didn't drink the Kool-Aid before the invasion had hundreds of moments of cognitive dissonance as they watched the Iraq coverage. Eager blowdried reporters who couldn't wait to be 'embedded' and learn new words like "CENTCOM" showed us clearly staged pictures, like Saddam's status being pulled down by a US tank, and told us they were spontaneous actions by enthusiastic Iraqis. Now it's time they made up for the illusions they spun for the public, even as their own colleagues were being targeted. Let's play War Crimes Jeopardy!
Of all the desert mirages the media created and broadcast, the most disoriented for me to watch was the series of attacks on journalists by US forces -- which drew frightened protests from even the American reporters present -- because those attacks disappeared so quickly down a media memory hole as the denials came in from the high command. In a few days it was as if it had never happened ...
Now reports have come out that Tony Blair had to dissuade Bush from bombing Al Jazeera's headquarters in the friendly country of Qatar. And you know what's striking about the government's public response to these reports, which they call "outlandish" and "absurd" and say they are "not going to dignify" with a response? That's right? They don't deny them. Your tax dollars at work.
Step right up, folks, and count the war crimes that you're paying for with every deduction. Torture? Check. Murder of civilians with incendiary devices? Check. Illegal detentions of non-combatants? Check. Deliberate targeting of journalists? Check.
Who's responsible for this -- Bush? Cheney? Rumsfeld? Gonzales? All of the above -- but don't stop there. How about McCain and the other "maverick Republicans" who supported the re-election of these guys, knowing that this was going on? Absolutely. Joe Lieberman and the other Democrats who still support this war, while this stuff goes on? You bet. The weak-kneed Democrats who still refuse to take a principled stand? As William Butler Yeats says, "The best lack all convictions, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity."
And the media networks -- not just Fox, but ABC, NBC, CNN, etc. -- who embedded themselves in this fiasco? They aimed the guns, too.
So how can those networks redeem themselves with their fellow journalists for their collaboration in this process? How about publicizing the crimes of this war -- maybe in a media-friendly way? I suggest they collaborate and air a show to be called "War Crimes Jeopardy," that will educate the US public on what's been done in their name. I can picture it now -
CONTESTANT: I'll take "Crimes Against Journalists" for $400.
HOST: The answer is "Palestine Hotel."
CONTESTANT: I know this one! Where did a US tank fire on reporters gathered in the upper floors to watch the fighting!
OK, media, whattya say? Do we have a deal? Will you create "War Crimes Jeopardy" for us? It will be fun -- and educational, too. And you Democratic leaders in the House and Senate who have been holding ... don't be afraid to play along with Rep. Murtha and the rest of the American people.