Amid controversy over whether U.S. troops did or didn't target journalists in Iraq and what CNN's Eason Jordan did or didn't say, and as the right-wing blogs are storming against what many of them believe to be MSM (mainstream media)'s anti-military bias, comes a documentary assailing MSM from the left: Weapons of Mass Deception. I have not yet seen it. Just the trailer and this interview on AlterNet, in which Amy Goodman interviews media critic and filmaker Danny Schechter about "fishy deaths of unembedded reporters." The interview includes the following excerpt from the film's transcript:
Narrator: Journalists and media workers were targeted in Iraq. Was it deliberate? To keep the story on message by intimidating un-embedded journalists. How did the media in the street challenge these killings? Some were killed by so-called friendly fire. Others victims of calculated attacks, missiles, tank shells, and bombs dropped on or near journalists. Some media critics concluded it was intentional, although the Pentagon denied it. Before the war, the BBC's Kate Adey reported she was told by the Pentagon that independent journalists could be targeted.
Reporter:: The 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel was the target. A U.S. tank shelled the Palestine Hotel, which was crowded with journalists, killing two cameramen. One works for a Spanish network, and the other one works for Reuters.
Narrator: Now another incident. Look at this. An American tank on the bridge across from the Palestine hotel in Baghdad. A soldier claimed his tank was fired on. Listen carefully. There are no sounds.
Samia Nakhoul: We moved to the Palestine Hotel because the Pentagon asked our organizations to let us leave because it was a target and when we moved to the Palestine Hotel our organization told the Pentagon we were at the Palestine Hotel. So did every news organization.
Narrator: Again, minutes later no sounds were heard, no one firing at U.S. soldiers. Suddenly without provocation –
Samia Nakhoul: We saw an orange glow, and this was the tank shell that hit our office. And you can imagine the panic, the wounded – it was me and another photographer. I can't imagine that they would target journalists. You know, I couldn't believe why would they target us? What have we done to them?
Narrator: After the war press freedom groups were still demanding a real investigation. The Pentagon's Victoria Clark told me there was a report that showed that the soldiers were acting in self-defense.
Narrator: Was there any attempt to find out the facts independently or a thorough investigation?
Samia Nakhoul: No – the Pentagon never interviewed me personally on it. I don't think any of my colleagues were interviewed by the Pentagon.
Narrator: Samia's organization, Reuters, demanded an independent investigation, but most media companies didn't even press on this issue. No one was held accountable. It was all passed off as an accident, the fog of war and all that.
In the interview Schechter says: "What's also outrageous is that the American media companies did not demand an investigation of this, did not join Reuters in demanding an investigation. So it just wasn't just complicity and collusion in the coverage of the war but a refusal to get involved in an effort to try to find out what really happened, what the facts were. To try to get at the truth of what happened to their own people. That to me compounds the shock of the way in which the media played the role it did."
The film is apparently opening in New York and a few other places this weekend. Info is here.
Again, it would be useful if we could hear from more journalists on the ground in Iraq about this...