As a critic of media, in particular of cable/satellite "news," I'm troubled by American corporate-media, in particular CNN's near non-stop coverage of the turmoil in Iran. Not because the story isn't important. It's critically important and warrants the personal coverage it's getting from the Iranian people as they bypass corporate channels to tell their stories on Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and Twitter.
Thanks to Iran's tech-savvy society, old-time corporate media is now relegated to the position of new-media aggregator, whoring its visibility to co-opt the Iranian people's new-media messages to America and the world. Old-media, and specifically CNN, are learning the difficult lesson that with or without their vast resources and state of the art studios, the Iranians' stories will be told. And they'll be told to tens of millions more viewers than cable and satellite programs tend to reach.
Despite CNN's attempt to co-opt the scope of new-media in the Iranian social justice movement and present it as a novel approach, social networking venues have been used by activists around the world to broadcast and document grassroots activities that corporate-media either buried or refused to report. Youtube and flickr have long been used by grassroots organizations in the United States and elsewhere to document and corroborate socio-political actions such as marches and rallies which opposed the Iraq war, Bush administration policies, and corporate greed, but weren't in corporate-media's interest to cover since they challenged their power elite: their corporate advertisers and their government cronies.
As a participatory journalist who's been present at a multitude of marches and rallies that were spurned by corporate-media, I've consistently used new-media to document corporate-media ignored or buried events. Witness in this article written in August '08 during the Democratic National Convention, the baton bashing of a woman anti-war activist in Denver by a Colorado law enforcement officer that was virtually ignored by corporate-media. For the past several years the anti-war movement has photographed for Flickr and video'd for youtube the number of attendees at its events to counter the reckless underreporting by corporate controlled print and TV news.
As reported by Indymedia, the St. Paul police routinely beat and arrested progressive protesters during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota when they protested the improprieties of their government, yet these events got little corporate-media coverage and no visible anchor sympathy was shown for the beaten. Instead, Americans who have challenged the policies of the US government have been mocked and overlooked by their own country's media, while those in other nations who challenge the leadership of non US allies like Iran, Argentina and Bolivia get enthusiastic coverage. The hypocrisy is astounding.
Why is corporate-media so willing to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the people's movement in Iran and graphic images of the Iranian government's brutality, but unwilling to cover the progressive anti-war movement in America and the police brutality here?
Jingoism Isn't Journalism
Again, I don't mean to diminish the momentousness of the socio-political happenings in Iran, nor the valor of the Iranian people as they face off against their tyrannical government. I'm in awe of their patriotism and heroism and I want them to prevail.
Still I question whether corporate-media's intense coverage and uncharacteristic emoting are in the best interests of the people of Iran. As the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's graphic violence against the people is continually televised, some in this country may soften to the idea of American intervention in Iran, as happened with Iraq after ongoing corporate-media/Bush administration/anti Iraq indoctrination.
Absurd inflammatory statements have already been made by corporate-media representatives, notably by CNN, that can drive the case to support military action. Witness the video below of CNN anchor Don Lemon's wanton assertion of a correlation between Iran and Rwanda, suggesting that Iran may be the new Rwanda and the United States may suffer similar regret for non-action as it did for not interceding in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Here's the video of Lemon making that ludicrous comparison, which he has made more than once:
I question the motives and involvement of the same corporate-media that sold an unnecessary preemptive war and profited from its prosecution. I'm suspect of a corporate-media that co-opts people's personal media reports, then re-frames and retells them using the same corporate launch pads that propelled an illegal war. I'm distrustful of the same corporate-media that refuses to show graphic murders in Iraq that involve our American military, but broadcasts murders by the military of a nation America opposes.
And worse, I'm infuriated by that same Corporate News Network, CNN, that had the temerity on Sunday to feature Paul Wolfowitz being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer in a discussion on Iran. The same Paul Wolfowitz who was a principal architect of the Iraq war, and who on Sunday used the ominous words "the darkness is falling" to support his argument for outside "assistance" for Iran.
Really, CNN, have you no shame?
I'm nervous folks. I hear the drums of corporate-media pounding to engage Iran -- and they aren't pounding diplomacy. I see a clear and present danger. I hope I'm wrong. And I sincerely hope Barack Obama maintains his politically sound disengagement and doesn't follow the drum beats to war.