Eric Boehlert

American TV and Print Give Up Covering the War


Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters for America and author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, discusses the American TV and print media’s abandonment of the Iraq war story despite the fact that it remains the topic Americans are most interested in.

MP3 here. (32:10)

A senior fellow at Media Matters for America, and a former senior writer for Salon, Boehlert’s first book, “Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush,” was published in May.

11 thoughts on “Eric Boehlert”

  1. Interesting. The Canadian news story you cite was from CBC. The publicly-funded broadcaster.

    Here in Australia, the only broadcasters that offer critical analysis of Iraq (or just about anything else) are the publicly-funded broadcasters ABC and SBS (much to the discomfort of the right-wing government that is ever trying to destroy them by stealth).

    No doubt the libertarian position is that these services should be dumped.

    Then we would have wall-to-wall froth and bubble. Just like the companies — and the government — like it.

    1. I think thats a bit backwards- the government creates problems (war) so we need government (pubic media) to report it?

      Thats “begging the question”- if government was so weak that it couldnt commit mass murder in a war then you wouldnt need tax payer funded media for the purpose of reporting on that injustice.

      To go further- it is important to see how private media is corrupted by government so that it is against its intersts to disagree with government generally. It is just by chance that public broadcasting is highly influenced (right now, anyway) by people who has a history of being against war.

  2. “There’s also the fear that, you know, particularly in networks, they’ve become huge, international conglomerates. They have big needs, legislative needs, regulatory needs in Washington. Nobody has to send you a memo to tell you that that’s the case.” –Dan Rather

    Of course, he only said it on government TV…

  3. PBS is the most truthful of all the networks, but even its “news team”, MacNeil-Lehrer, pushed invading Iraq, in their unique way.

  4. Interesting discussion. Of course these days corporations have become more powerful than many governments, and they have merged together in a symbiotic relationship. But it IS interesting that generally, the government media is less pro-war than the private media at the moment. However, there is no guarantee that it will stay this way.
    I think that people are so busy in their complex lives that they want 10 second news clips, rather than deeply researched information about complex issuese (“My brain hurts”). And again, it is a self-perpetuating system because people become used to, or addicted to the simple, dumb-downed or sensationalist news.

  5. Let’s not confuse ‘publicly funded’ with ‘government controlled’.

    It is possible to have the former without the latter.

    The fact that successive Australian governments of whatever political persuasion have believed that the ABC was ‘out to get them’ demonstrates this. Governments have not been able to control or destroy it because it is widely popular and the electoral backlash would be significant.

    1. Nice to see the antiwar blog. In-depth news coverage is difficult to come by. I am finding out more from our in-service family members who have recently joined the Army National Guard than the news. Boot camp even for National Guardsmen and women now includes torture endurance toleration and combat training and readiness for the inevitability that you will be sent to the War on Iraq (not a war, actually, but a temporary engagement, but don’t get me started on soft terminology). Listening to NPR on the opinions of several countries on the war, and the stances of other groups is changing. A UK The Sun 9-6-07 article on Tony Blair stated:
      Loyal Cabinet colleagues of the PM were in despair last night.
      One said: “Tony Blair is in tune with the majority of the British people. He has won three consecutive general elections.
      “If any Labour MP thinks Tony Blair is the problem, not the solution, then they’ve lost what few marbles they had.”
      Interestingly, the person stating these strong opinions is nameless. The NPR on Blair was less kind.
      I have a strong tendency to think Tony Blair’s ‘friendship’ with P. G. Bush (as I call him = parental guidance required. v. sad.) had a great deal to do with the kick start and continuation of the ‘war.’ Now Blair is out and we’re stuck with the problem. Per NPR, this may be an element of Blairism, rather than an element of P.G. Bush, who didn’t need a choke collar, just a little comeraderie.

  6. The story itself was a big deal because someone caught the entire thing on film. It would have been buried otherwise. There are many other complex reasons (stronger unionization means that the union boss who actually uncovered the cops has a political voice). The news networks here are all marginally better, and there arn’t nearly as many news commentators.

  7. Just heard the full show and I can confirm Scott's impression of German police and security forces with regard to actually taking their jobs seriously and not being such careerists looking for a PR and promotion score.

    The political circus around the peroxide terrorists is pretty similar to what happens in the USA though. I could translate clippings, but the jist of it is "we need to monitor more chemical purchase" or "we need to arrest people who visit afghani camps" or "we need laws to spy on converts to islam". Same knee-jerk reactions

    What this ignores, of course, is the fact that the existing laws and surveillance were sufficient to identify and stop the terrorists as they were actually engaged in preparations.

    Cheers to Scott, Justin and for the best damn site on the net. As soon as I find another job in this socialist paradise, I'll be donating regularly.

  8. Of interest, I read Jess Walter’s novel The Zero, which deals a great deal with political idocy and legal webbing and the triviality of the important and the heightening imporant of the trivial or meaningless.

    As I boarded a plane recently from an academic conference, I mentioned the seemingly benign confiscation of my makeup items and nail polish. I had been forced to choose between items of makeup and items of nail polish, because the cumulative effect of so much nail polish is, of course, catastrophic. I felt myself growing sarcastic at this affront, especially when I in retaliation carried an entire honey bear in my carry on that held significantly more liquid (the evil honey for my tea).

    I mentioned this in light to a fellow conference-attendee from Spain, now attending university in Texas. She saw my comment as frightening and assured me that the measures are to help us feel protected. To help us feel protected. Concerning this, she was supportive of the inept practices. Again, you must read Walter’s The Zero. Fascinating.

Comments are closed.