Saturday, August 23, 2008


Tom Eley

During the first several days of the war between Georgia and Russia, the US media’s readers and viewers could find in the nation’s newspapers and on its airwaves a degree of ambiguity and even rare moments of objectivity. Though vaguely anti-Russian, a good share of the initial coverage tended not to lay the blame for the war fully at the feet of Moscow and provided some insight into the Georgian military’s devastation of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

Then, between August 11 and 12, a sharp change occurred in the way the US media presented the war. The initial response to the war gave way to what can only be described as a tidal wave of anti-Russian propaganda. Now there was only one side to the story. What had happened?

The change in the media line corresponded to a sharpening of the anti-Russian posture of the Bush administration. For the first few days of the conflict, when no clear line had been laid down by the government, the mainstream media was somewhat at sea. But once the official line had been clearly established, the corporate-controlled media snapped to attention and marshaled all of its considerable resources to perform its customary service of vetting the “news” and manipulating public opinion to suit the aims and requirements of the state.

The media presentation of the Georgia crisis is a textbook example of the way in which the “free press” in America functions as little more than a semi-official propaganda agency of the government.


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