News coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1990 offers some useful portents for Western reporting of the Iraq War of 2003 and more broadly the ‘War on Terror’ which developed after 11 September 2001. Significantly, the American invasion of the Gulf to reverse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait highlights a drive towards war which was barely questioned or critcally examined by news. The media’s tendency to represent the American-led incursion as a battle between Western respect for freedom and decency, against the devious and over-zealous Arab community (whose point of focus was the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) (Schiller 1992: 23), was an impression sustained through a carefully controlled and choreographed news environment. Throughout the campaign, US national interests and the relationship of foreign policy to those interests was largely ignored by the news media (Lang and Lang 1994: 59), who reported developments as disjointed episodes without explanation or context (ibid: 58). Instead, the emphasis provided a distortion of the conflict by way of exaggerating ‘a diabolical enemy-image; a virile self-image; a moral self-image; and selective inattention’ (Dorman and Livingston 1994: 75).
KeywordsForeign Policy News Medium Television News Bush Administration News Coverage
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