Media deception: practice makes perfect

Issue 

By Norm Dixon

US television giant CBS has egg on its face after its big name news anchor, Dan Rather, was caught rehearsing "live" coverage of a US air attack on Iraq with the network's Pentagon correspondent.

Somebody forget to flick a switch on February 20 as Rather and journalist David Martin's account of a US attack was beamed to the network's affiliates for 20 minutes.

Viewers with access to satellite dishes reported that the "report" contained detailed information about the "attack", 3-D graphics showing the routes of cruise missiles to their targets and "live" footage of air raids. Clearly, facts were not going to get in the way of the drama CBS planned to show the world.

At the conclusion of the report, Rather announced CBS had to return to the Grammy Awards. The Grammy ceremonies were on the evening of February 25, suggesting that CBS had prior knowledge of when the US intended to attack Iraq.

The spectacle confirms many people's suspicions about the US media's complicity with and support for US war moves in the Middle East.

US columnist Norman Solomon points out that at NBC, CBS's main media rival, head news anchor Tom Brokaw fails to mention an important fact as he extols the accuracy of the US war machine's "smart" bombs and jet fighters and their claimed ability to avoid "collateral damage": that NBC is owned by General Electric, which also produces the engines that power every F/A-18 jet that may pound Iraq into the dust.

On February 17, the Pentagon summoned the Washington bureau heads of the US big business media to lay down the ground rules for media coverage of an attack on Iraq. They all turned up, but did not consider it important to report that the US government was imposing limits on media coverage.