Would President Bush Have Gone To War In Iraq If He Faced Incessant Coverage Of That War By the Television Networks?

01/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

This quote is from a British newspaper speaking of the media in the United States: "Instead of challenging officialdom, it's become a conduit, a funnel down which officialdom can talk to us."

Many of my friends and critics tell me, "enough already Norman, no one cares about the broadcast networks and the programming they do or do not carry."

They are, sadly, correct. Yet it still bothers me that the Networks do not comport themselves in a manner that could be construed as serving "... in the public interest, convenience, and necessity," in the same way that stations should in order to hold licenses.

The "COMPLIANT AND CONSOLIDATED" television media rarely if ever expose the "transgressions" of the President and his people to the public.

There is virtually NO EDITORIAL COMMENT, or time, devoted to presenting differing views of government policies to television audiences. The broadcasters no longer provide investigative documentaries, nor in fact do they challenge the government in any way.

Unfortunately, these consolidated organizations have become the de-facto fourth branch of our Government, used by the Government to ensure its incumbency, and reporting as little as possible to the public.

And now on to what I consider to be what matters in this piece.

I was jet-lagged out of my mind the other morning, while watching C-SPAN. They were reviewing the actions of an English civil servant who had released a document concerning officials of our government trying to compromise the smaller nation members of the UN Security Council in order to have them support our desire to wage a UN sanctioned war against Iraq,

I had not been aware of this HORRID event.

An article concerning this was written by Camille T. Taiara almost six years ago. For brevity, I have deleted much of it.

ON MARCH 2, the London Observer broke a stunning story about the U.S. government - a story with serious international implications: U.S. agents were bugging the homes and offices of United Nations Security Council members who had not yet vowed support for the war on Iraq . The news made headlines all over Europe . The story was more timely and possibly more important than the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked that secret history of the Vietnam War, told columnist Norman Solomon. Yet it did not appear in the San Francisco Chronicle until five days later, buried on page A16 in the form of a reprint from the Baltimore Sun. The New York Times, the nation's paper of record, blacked out the story entirely.

The next day, the Chronicle provided scant space to report evidence that the United States may have falsified documents it gave U.N. inspectors indicating the existence of certain weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - on page A11, under the caption " U.S. Information Wanting." On the front cover: a prominently displayed photo of two Bay Area soldiers tossing a football in a desert camp.

Neither story of U.S. government misdeeds was covered adequately, if at all, in the source the vast majority of Americans rely on for their daily news: the nation's major television networks.

That's been a pattern since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - and as the United States marches ever closer to a bloody war in Iraq, the utter complacency of the mainstream press in this country has experienced observers shaking their heads.

"The purpose of journalism is to monitor the centers of power - to challenge officialdom," Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent for the U.K. 's Independent newspaper, told us by phone from Beirut. "By and large, the media in the United States has totally failed in its obligation to do that. Instead of challenging officialdom, it's become a conduit, a funnel down which officialdom can talk to us."

Part of the problem is the apparent news media's fear of seeming unpatriotic in a time of war. That's nothing new. But in the post-Sept. 11 environment, the Bush administration is conducting an unprecedented expansion of government secrecy. Under the ruse of national security, the feds have been drastically decreasing access to even basic information about the workings of government - and for the most part, the media are allowing it to happen..."

In the past, aggressive media coverage helped turn around public opinion about the Vietnam War. The press did ultimately get beyond the pro-military reporting from Vietnam. Do many of our younger people remember when Walter Cronkite of CBS News reported that things did not go well for us in Vietnam following the Tet offensive? Do many remember how much this reporting annoyed President Nixon and his "people?"

Is it reasonable today to believe that The Walt Disney Company, General Electric, CBS/Viacom, and News Corp would EVER, EVER produce and air documentaries that would in any way be construed by the Feds to be critical and thus unacceptable to them?

Documentaries are considered to be a focal point for national attention on complex issues, a record of the human experience, and an instrument of social expression. Unlike other programming on American television, documentaries have typically been sustained for reasons other than ratings and money.

Americans needed to know that: " U.S. agents were bugging the homes and offices of United Nations Security Council members who had not yet vowed support for the war on Iraq ."

Did those "pillars of journalistic integrity" at ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC News ever dedicate a full program to present this and other aspects of the Bush administration's wartime transgressions?

It was a year ago that I posed this question to NBC's Ben Silverman and his honest reply was that such programming would interfere with his schedule and cost GE/NBC money.

Almost six months ago I wrote an article entitled "Journalism My Ass #4 and this is an excerpt from it:

"NBC News could have tried to stop this HORRID WAR just by shining a light on it at every opportunity instead of doing "pretend journalism," and shining lights on very little almost all of the time."

"Isn't that just grand?"


Norman Horowitz
CBS Executive from 1968-1970