Media Blog

Uncivil Fanfare

Let’s cut right to what this “civil war” fanfare in the media is really all about: It has nothing to do with the ongoing violence in Iraq, and everything to do with the fact that these media organizations, which are struggling to maintain their relevance in a rapidly changing industry, feel the need to assert themselves and remind the public of their importance, and what better way than by calling the war for the insurgents and starting a push to solidify public opinion in favor of immediate withdrawal?

Mark Finkelstein has really zeroed in on this. Check out his screen cap from NBC’s Today show: “Civil War: How Can the U.S. Get Out of Iraq?” really says it all. Now the New York Times is following NBC’s lead, with a big announcement in the Times-owned Boston Globe:

Bill Keller , executive editor of The New York Times, said in a statement yesterday that “after consulting with our reporters in the field and the editors who directly oversee this coverage,” the paper has decided that the term “civil war” is now appropriate.

Other news organizations, such as the LA Times, have been using the term “civil war” for months, without any fanfare at all. There’s a fine line between the kind of sectarian violence that plagues Iraq today and the kind of civil war that split Yugoslavia into pieces, and I don’t begrudge any journalist who sees the violence in Iraq as a civil war and quietly decides to use that term in a story. But that’s not what’s going on here. NBC News and other news organizations in its wake have decided to openly push public opinion toward abandoning Iraq, using their own “self-created news” to drive home their message.

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