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AUGUST 21, 2011 5:11PM

is this really how wars start?

Rate: 9 Flag

hi all, while the recent murdoch/news corp brouhaha was at full swing in the media, I collected a bunch of links on the subj which I was waiting for another well-timed moment to post.

this event was a real media explosion on a richter scale Ive rarely seen before. but as you may have noticed, or not noticed, its almost completely disappeared from the headlines and media radar.

I saw one analysis that talked about how murdoch very well understands the ADD disorder of the public and its short attention span. and that this would affect the dynamics of the scandal. the writer openly wondered if the public would stay focused. the answer seems to be that it hasnt.

this is a real modern scandal that seemed to erupt on twitter, from what I can tell. a twitter storm was caused by the revelations that the teenage girl murder victim's phone was hacked. a hashtag was created and the avalanche of tweets started.

analyzing the dynamics of scandal eruptions a-posteriori is a very worthwhile activity, but very complex. its very difficult to untangle the different components. esp as time goes on, traces of the actual precursors fades over time. even the experts disagree on the sparks and sequence of events.

there is one aspect that is striking to me, that pops out about the whole scandal. perhaps even stunning.

lets try to reconstruct briefly the situation post 911 in both US and Britain.

at this point war was far from certain. the appropriate response was not obvious. even if we knew that bin laden was responsible [as the media confidently blared in full-throttle, indiscriminate vigilante and vengeance mood], it was not clear how to react to such information.

robert koehlers analysis below I think is esp worth highlighting:
Here's the other extreme, from Fouhy's AP story describing Murdoch's influence on British politics: "Murdoch eventually switched his allegiance to Tony Blair, the Labour prime minister from 1997 to 2007. Blair telephoned Murdoch repeatedly before committing British troops to the Iraq war in 2003, which was strongly endorsed by Murdoch's newspapers across the world."

To my mind, this magnifies the scandal a millionfold. Here's a democratically elected head of state conferring with his secret benefactor for the purpose of bringing war to the planet. This is military-industrial journalism, colluding in war for profit, bending politicians to its interest on the strength of its financial success at peddling sleaze. Murdoch's ethical void isn't limited to his trashy media empire. He's a player in war and peace.

This is journalism run amok -- the precise opposite of the ideal of my profession. Rather than standing in adversarial relationship to power and representing the interests of those on the outside, it stands in adversarial relationship to common humanity. In Murdoch World, we are all abstractions, whether we have a name (Milly Dowler) or merely a mass identification label (the Iraqis).

Journalism can drift upward toward power, become its lapdog and even, as the News Corpse revelations have demonstrated, become power itself, a behind-the-scenes dictator of events, manipulating the world for its own interests.
next an excerpt from the recent guardian UK article on Ailes.
After Bush took office, Ailes stayed in frequent touch with the new Republican president. "The senior-level editorial people believe that Roger was on the phone every day with Bush," a source close to Fox News tells me. "He gave Bush the same kind of pointers he used to give [his father] – delivery, effectiveness, political coaching." In the aftermath of 9/11, Ailes sent a back-channel memo to the president through Karl Rove, advising Bush to ramp up the war on terror. As reported by Bob Woodward, Ailes advised Bush that, "the American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible".

Fox News did its part to make sure that viewers lined up behind those harsh measures. The network plastered an American flag in the corner of the screen, dolled up one female anchor in a camouflage-print silk blouse, and featured Geraldo Rivera threatening to hunt down Osama bin Laden with a pistol. The militarism even seemed to infect the culture of Fox News. "Roger Ailes is the general," declared Bill O'Reilly. "And the general sets the tone of the army. Our army is very George Patton-esque. We charge. We roll."
so basically on both sides of the atlantic, Murdochs papers were pivotal in pushing the two prime democracies of the western world toward the Iraq war. moreover, the above accounts suggest almost that the president and prime minister were ambivalent or undecided toward their response in general and war in particular, and that the "back-channel" communication from murdoch/ailes steered/manufactured/fabricated a tipping-point atmosphere for the presidents in particular.

even more sinister, the above accounts suggest that once the presidents were persuaded, the Murdoch machine went into overdrive to push the public opinion toward war also. as if there was an invisible voice pushing both the leaders and the public-at-large toward war.

of course Im sure many will reject this perspective, scoffing at it, that wars are not triggered in such a direct way... but its fully supported by the best information we have.

there is ample historical precedent also. consider the spanish american war, 1898. its well known among historians that Hearst played a pivotal role in the war propaganda that triggered this war, fomenting anger via his multiple newspapers. the wikipedia article on the subj says that it was seen as a way to increase sales of newspapers, but I think thats a rather feeble explanation that is somewhat unlikely.

so then you ask, if not to sell newspapers, then why? I would suggest that people like Hearst, Ailes, Murdoch are the minions of wealthy corporatists. they are almost their employees. yeah its hard to imagine Murdoch, the billionaire, as an employee for other interests, but its also not inconceivable either.

what corporatists? the ones who make vast fortunes off of wars.

who are they? of course they are well hidden, but they exist.

someday, maybe the public will finally discover them. until then, the world marches on to war after war, with little real memory of the last one.

and I say scary henchmen like finetuned, well-oiled billionaire propagandists are actually just some more pawns on the chessboard for even greater, more shadowy interests. the media oligarchs are just the advertisers, the marketers.


The Murdochs Must Stop Spinning and Resign Over the Phone-Hacking Scandal | | AlterNet
Time for Murdoch to go - CNN.com
Murdoch scandal: Is his domination of the British political class finally coming to an end? - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine
How Dare You Pie My Husband? The Story of Rupert and Wendi.
Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks pretend they're the ultimate phone-hacking victims. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine
Geoffrey Robertson: Murdoch Will Survive - Newsweek
The Big Lie At The Heart Of Rupert Murdoch's Media Empire | | AlterNet
Wendi Murdoch: Wonder Wife - Newsweek
12 Ways Rupert Murdoch's Media Empire Has Made the World Worse | Media | AlterNet
Rupert Murdoch as Citizen - Newsweek
How the Guardian Broke the News of the World Hacking Scandal - Newsweek
Robert Koehler: Military-Industrial Journalism
Tabloid Bites Man - TIME
BBC News - Phone hacking: Murdochs agree to appear before MPs
BBC News - A new era for politics and the media?
AP source: FBI probing News Corp. 9/11 phone link - Yahoo! News
The Center for Public Integrity: Cries in Washington for Those Bankrolled by Murdoch, News Corp. to Return Money
Murdoch, at 80, faces biggest battle of his career - Yahoo! News
How the Guardian Broke the News of the World Hacking Scandal - Newsweek
Will Americans Turn on Murdoch the Way the Brits Have? UPDATE: Murdoch Reverses Refusal to Testify in U.K. | Media | AlterNet
Has Roger Ailes Hacked Americans' Phones for Fox News? | Media | AlterNet
Rebekah Brooks Arrested: Inside The Toxic Environment Of Her News Of The World
Murdoch to parliament: "Most humble day of my life" - Yahoo! News
Murdoch Struggles to Control News Corp. as Scandal Escalates - Bloomberg
News Corp. at 50% Discount Shows Diminishing Murdoch: Real M&A - Bloomberg
Rebekah Brooks Arrested: The Rise and Fall of Murdoch’s Protegee - Newsweek
Murdoch Aides Long Tried to Blunt Scandal Over Hacking - NYTimes.com
Sean Hoare dead: News of the World phone hacking whistleblower feared for his life | Mail Online
Rupert Murdoch Passes the Buck in His Testimony to Parliament - The Daily Beast
Phone hacking inquiry: Rupert Murdoch staff 'deliberately thwarted' police | Mail Online
Once ignored, phone-hacking scandal gets global audience - CNN.com
Attacker tries to hit Murdoch with plate of foam -
In latest twist, News of the World whistleblower is dead | The Cutline - Yahoo! News
Murdoch Finally Accepts U.K. Chief Exec's Resignation As FBI Launches News Corp. Investigation - Global Spin - TIME.com
Murdoch’s Sham News Corp. Investigation - The Daily Beast
Will Bunch: Murdoch's American Sins: Less Sensational, But More Dangerous
British comedian convicted of Murdoch pie assault | AlterNet
Behind The Scenes With The Reporter Who Took Down Murdoch | | AlterNet
Phone-hacking scandal: key figure at News International arrested | Media | guardian.co.uk
Roger Ailes and the rise of Fox News | Media | The Guardian
How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory | Rolling Stone Politics

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So many illustrative and complicit links, and YES, the media is the one which draws out war-frenzy.

Thanks for this, VZN.

Thorough piece. You should be a teacher.
scary henchmen like finetuned, well-oiled billionaire propagandists are actually
just some more pawns
on the chessboard for even greater,
more shadowy interests
. the media oligarchs are just the advertisers, the marketers.

you are right.
so what is stopping us from becoming the new oligarchy?
the new feudalism of IDEAS
will flourish where it NEEDS to.

all these oligarchs aint evil.
some like what sells + what is good for them
and what is good for them is

let's attempt to target their fit asses.

their overloaded brains.

worrying about if the bottom line hurts
babies in russia,
or gangs of starving somali kids
rising from the dead,
well fed,
to exact revenge
thx for the comments all. must be a slow sunday nite, Im #10 on the top rated at 3 ratings as I write this. 1st time I ever got on the list!! awesome!! building my *own* media empire one blog post at a time =)
Good post. As insane as it seems now, there was a lot of public support to use the military on someone or something.

The decision to invade Iraq ranks as one of the worst in US History.

I don't think Murdoch was the tipping point, but you make a good case.

A casual review of history shows that the costs of war are almost always underestimated and the benefits overestimated.

In terms of scale, WWI wins.

But in terms of insane forecasts, Iraq is the worst. It was sold as being 'free.' And that we would pay for it from Iraqi oil revenues.

Plus the fact that it was totally discretionary.

Bush was a drunk frat boy when he should have been paying attention to the Vietnam War. Unforgivable.
Adding my thanks, VZN. You've helped me "connect" a lot of "dots" I hadn't managed to track down in the odd piecemeal coverages of the recent Murdoch flap in the UK. Super piece of work; hugely much appreciated! Did you say slow Sunday evening? Well I'm on the US West Coast but in NYC it's already Monday morning by now so nothing is feeling very "slow" to me at the moment (except for me). I imagine you got all those ratings because of the quality of your work. Don't you s'pose? ;-) R
What was that James Bond flick? Tomorrow Never Dies? The one about how a media mogul influences and directs the news, up to and including engineering the start of the next world war?

I have been suspicious of all the events of import since the time of the breakup and re-Balkanization of the former Soviet Bloc states of Yugoslavia and Hungary. The events unfolding from September 11th on, well hell, inclusive of before that to the election of Bush for all that.

The media propaganda was a fact to my mind. I didn't envision, though, that media investment would be the propelling force -- until I read this piece. It's one more puzzle piece that fits into place and makes the whole easier to sort.

As conspiracy thoughts go, there's no doubt in my mind that there is an ongoing one. It's to gain greater control of the people of the world, all the while pretending all this is being done, because we asked for more protection from all this violence in the world.

Violence that, oddly enough, didn't just spring to life because someone hates capitalism here or there, but because the hatred of that capitalistic force was justified, based on the machinations of those behind-the-scenes power brokers to create the conditions precisely for these reasons. To create and foment the seeds of war upon which they might profit.

Profit financially, yes. Profit in the creation of the perception of greater control, reductions in liberties and higher disparity of incomes in large industrialized countries while taking the smaller countries of the world over for their resources, plundering them all in the name of creating the world safe for democracies and 'liberating' the peoples of the world from despotic tyrants.

I am reminded of the Who song, "Won't Get Fooled Again:"

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.

And the man who spurred us on
Sits in judgment of our wrongs
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I hope we don't get fooled again. Sadly, if history teaches us anything (those of us who pay attention to it) we have a few more lessons to be learned before a large enough percentage of the population can tear themselves away from the distractions put in place by those who mean to keep us distracted to see what's going on.

If not, in keeping with the above song:
I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive,
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Because you know the hypnotized never lie.

rated and regards
(oh, and perhaps a bit more capitalization at the start of sentences and proper pronouns for better readability overall.)
Good story. A bit weak as to Murdoch’s motives though. Perhaps you might have pointed out that billionaires do not keep a vault full with all their wealth in their basements but have it invested in businesses and enterprises that bring a return on those investments. I suspect that most billionaires have funds invested with most other billionaires' corporations.

Murdoch would push for war as one of his ‘group’ of billionaires, not as an “almost employee”. Make no mistake, he’d be sitting at the director’s table. Others of the group would do whatever they could to support Murdoch’s efforts.

hey all & dunniteowl. re "conspiracy" its something I didnt mention in the post, but theres a key point Ive been wanting to make, thx for reminding me of this. the phone hacking CONSPIRACY has gone on *several*years* and reaches into the police dept with fairly clear evidence of "bribery" under the guise of "paying for leads". two high-up police officials have resigned as I understand it. the resignation was over failing to investigate properly, and apparently the several-year investigation was a near-coverup, although nobody seems to have admitted that... but isnt that the unmistakable conclusion? what else were they doing for years? so its clear that there is a clear cut case of a business-media-police-govt conspiracy that hasnt really been fully uncovered even after YEARS of investigation. and I would say we're talking about a fairly low-stakes conspiracy-- was it just to sell more newspapers? not sure yet, but maybe.
so my bottom line is that Ive been talking about conspiracies on here for years, and getting strong pushback in the past, but I feel vindicated! this is not exactly the conspiracy I would have wished for, so to speak, but to paraphrase Rumsfield you go to war with the conspiracy you have, not the one you want.
anyway, here is a real live model of a definite conspiracy to study. and notice how none of the media *calls* it a conspiracy. it walks, talks, and acts like a conspiracy, but of course the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil MSM cannot state the OBVIOUS. otherwise the whole house of cards [much larger than the multimilliondollar News Corp.se] might come tumbling down....
also dunniteowl... that Who song Dont Get Fooled Again is one of my all time faves! who wrote the lyrics, daltrey? whoever did had an amazingly deep Zen grasp of politics and history.... and I think Ive posted some of the lyrics in one of my other blog posts!!
Yeah, you're right. Very Fahrenheit 451 - also, the fact that not enough people mind it for it to have to change.
vzn, you are once again awesome!!! ty!!!

on the murdoch case that did get attention. there was also a dead whistleblowing reporter's body that got "disappeared" from the news pretty quickly, too. these bastards of the universe indeed play hardball.

also, as i was reading i totally agree and have read that murdoch's accessory to and promotion of war crimes are what should be addressed and held accountable (and would be in a sane world).

my take on this is that it is not the tale wagging the dog of America. It is the flea by the name of Murdoch wagging the proverbial dog! Make that multiple dogs!!!! [r] libby
hi libby yeah the dead whistleblower is in one of the links above. believe me, I would be all over it if there was something suspicious. but its hard for me to believe there was anything malevolent about that death [and yeah, I do believe that autopsy reports can be faked]. yrs ago I was into the vince foster death, but finally gave that up as one of the inexplicable [but definitely highly fishy] mysteries of the universe. another interesting case study in this area is danny casolaro. oh yeah and bushes IT guy michael connell-- killed in a single passenger plane crash SHORTLY before he was to testify to a grand jury or something.
yes tail wagging the dog-- thats exactly the expression I was meaning to use somewhere. did you ever see that movie Wag the Dog? brilliant/timeless. I gotta watch that one again.

speaking of whistleblowers did you hear about how the SEC shredded years of investigative files ....? Id say its beyond scandalous-- near criminal.... explains a lot.... talk about "regulatory capture"... more like "regulatory massacre...."
Is this how wars are started? Yes. It is. Blair admits this openly in interviews that Murdoch "was right there with him" the entire time he was committing troops to Iraq and aligning himself with the US.