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[P]
Murdoch helps the US information war

By QuantumG in Media
Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 01:21:24 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Many people, both in America and around the world, have forgotten about a war the US fought in Africa in the early 1990s. Blood spilled in the streets as 331 died and 925 were wounded. Somalia soon became to be seen as what can happen when a weak political homeland delays the deployment of troops abroad. The media told America and the world how badly the NATO forces had lost in Somalia. But had they lost?

Judging from normal military standards it was a short and bloody conflict that America had won convincingly. Only a handful of NATO troops had died, giving a kill ratio of around 75:1 -- that's a massacre in anyone's language -- so how is it that the media could so easily mold public perception in such a negative way?


Information Warfare (IW) is the ancient art of manipulating any and all information sources in a war to one's advantage. Traditionally IW has consisted of Command and Control Warfare (C2W) of at least:
  • operations security
  • psychological operations
  • military deception
  • electronic warfare
  • destruction

In Somalia another branch of IW emerged in the form of media manipulation, and would play a crucial role. Through the international media Somalian warlords were able to expose the US covert operations aimed at kidnapping their leaders and, as a result, adversely affect the deployment of troops. The White House attempted to fight back with leaks to the media about secret operations that would portray the US in a positive light but it backfired, resulting in the strange happenings of reporters lighting up a beach landing site with cameras and photographers during a clandestine operation. In the end Mohammed Aidid was better able to control the IW asset of international opinion than the Clinton administration.

Today we face a new war, this time with Iraq. This site has presented stories of media control by the Bush administration and, as we have seen, this is nothing new. In the Gulf War of 1991, before Somalia, Saddam Hussien was known to get a lot of his intelligence from US media coverage, and so media control was considered a legitimate target for IW. This resulted in the most televised war ever, with a large number of people seeing a laser guided bomb delivered to its target for the very first time. Swaying the public opinion to be favourable to a war before embarking upon it is so fundamental to US politics that it actually has a name, the Powell Doctrine.

The fundamental element of media control is biased reporting. A media that reports both pro-war and anti-war sentiment is no good to any one side's IW efforts. The Bush administration now has the formidable task of swaying media to report pro-war sentiment only, and as much of it as possible. To date, the media has been prominently unbiased, if not somewhat anti-war.

The exception is the newspapers, television and radio stations, and web sites owned by the Rupert Murdoch group. Murdoch has been quoted in Salon magazine challenging anyone to show an example of bias on his Fox News Channel. The challenge has been meet dozens of times, this article is just another.

Newspapers across the world today carried a headline US finds smoking gun or variations of the same. I should say Rubert Murdoch's newspapers across the world carried such headlines as no other newspapers saw it that way. The story presented in these newspapers is that an unmanned or "drone" aircraft that could be used to spray chemical or biological weapons was found by weapons inspectors and that the aircraft had not been declared by Iraq. Depending on the climate of the country in which the story is being printed, it also claims that Hans Blix deliberately hid this information from the UN security council.

The ability of one man to control the destiny of troops going to war is a serious one. The process of democracy holds it in such serious regard that many countries devote much ceremony and law to preventing such an ability. A responsible democratic nation considers all the available facts and does not make such decisions lightly. But governments do not live in a vacuum separate from their society. There is no jury selection for cabinet meetings or war councils. As was seen in Somalia, the media has an enormous influence in the democratic process, even when related to such serious discussions as going to war.

Rupert Murdoch's news cartel is paying a service to US IW interests. In doing so he threatens the democratic process through which many nations decide their involvement in this war.

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Poll
If you see the same thing on tv and in the newspapers and on the Internet and hear it on the radio, do you consider it...
o True 27%
o False 4%
o Probably biased one way or the other 63%
o I don't have any contact with media 4%

Votes: 87
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o dozens of times
o Also by QuantumG


Display: Sort:
Murdoch helps the US information war | 64 comments (39 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
Bodies dragged through the streets (4.66 / 3) (#5)
by swr on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:11:28 AM EST

Only a handful of NATO troops had died, giving a kill ratio of around 75:1 -- that's a massacre in anyone's language -- so how is it that the media could so easily mold public perception in such a negative way?

The image of bodies being dragged through the streets is a pretty powerful one, even without media slant.



and well created.. (2.00 / 1) (#6)
by QuantumG on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:31:44 AM EST

the manipulation was by the warlords who created those images and made sure a willing media was there to capture it.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Ratio (none / 0) (#60)
by Elektro Schock on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 03:33:57 PM EST

So next time they should use the atom bomb. That would improve the ratio???

[ Parent ]
Confused... (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by Scott Robinson on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:41:55 AM EST

You state the American media is largely unbiased, if not slightly anti-war; then, you state that Murdoch owned media outlets are pro-war.

How is the media presenting two different opinions bad for democracy? What you're arguing for is a purely unbiased/anti-war media...

Scott.

What I was asking for is fact.. (none / 0) (#54)
by QuantumG on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 08:10:27 PM EST

not some fantasy of a UAV delivering chemical weapons and accusing Hans Blix of conspiracy to hide evidence. What I'm asking for is reporters to have the freedom to report on this war in whatever way they wish and not feel top down force to conform with Mr Murdoch's political beliefs.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Not really a secret (5.00 / 2) (#17)
by enterfornone on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:40:27 AM EST

Murdoch himself has come out and stated that he supports the war, so you can't really accuse him of hiding his bias. Since it's common knowledge that Murdoch is pro war, and it's fairly well known which media outlets he owns, it fairly easy to avoid them and choose to get your information from elsewhere.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Not sure about that last part. [n/t] (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by valeko on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:06:51 AM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

It is on K5. (none / 0) (#19)
by s alpha on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:17:58 AM EST

Where any mention of his bias or holdings garners the inevitable accusation of media snobbery, to much applause, and ratings retribution for daring to mention it. If his name, holdings, and editorial dictates are 'common knowledge' and 'fairly well known' by Times, Post, and Fox News audiences (all savvy to Murdoch and the fact that they're getting radically different versions of events), let's ask some of them and see if we get chastised like around here.

[ Parent ]
Even if you get 1s, so what? NT (none / 0) (#40)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:58:46 PM EST



*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
so nothing. (none / 0) (#43)
by s alpha on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:51:37 PM EST

just pointed out that the scope of murdoch's influence, far from being 'common knowledge' or 'fairly well known', is feverishly ignored even around here, let alone the real world.

[ Parent ]
I read nothing of his. (none / 0) (#45)
by bjlhct on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 12:38:07 AM EST

I get news from the economist, newscientist, K5, wired, and nthposition mostly and wish more people did the same.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
You're not alone (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by holdfast on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:49:59 AM EST

He does his best to distort pubic(!) opinion in the UK as well. He is probably one reason why Tony Blair is going against such strong public opinion. Mr Murdoch got Blair into government, and he wants to stay there!


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
Similar Story (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by Phage on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:55:52 AM EST

Published a looong time ago by The Canberra Times is available here.
Worth a look

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
Canthros
Same thing happened in VietNam (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:49:28 AM EST

Militarily, we were winning - but the impression the media presented back home created the idea that we couldn't win...


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


Right (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by gbd on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:41:17 AM EST

Militarily, we were winning - but the impression the media presented back home created the idea that we couldn't win...

This, of course, is the same media that willingly and gleefully reported McNamara's completely fabricated statistics about Commie body counts, kill ratios, bombs dropped, etc., all of which were engineered to give the illusion that we were winning in Vietnam. I suppose you blame the Tet Offensive on Walter Cronkite?

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Ummm. Tet? (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:16:34 AM EST

Last time I checked, we *won* the Tet Offensive - their casualty rates were 10 times ours...


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Tet Offensive (none / 0) (#28)
by gbd on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:31:31 AM EST

Tet ended up being a large setback for Hanoi, but at the time that it happened, it was an enormous surprise that caused mayhem all throughout South Vietnam. LBJ failed to coherently address the situation for over two months, which was a period of growing criticism and finger-pointing within the military and the government in general. LBJ finally spoke on March 31st of that year, which is when he announced his decision not to seek re-election, as well as a halt to the bombing and an offer to talk peace. Attributing this to the media (hence the Cronkite reference) is specious at best.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]
Oh. So... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:53:21 PM EST

it was a military victory but a perceptual loss. And if the media hadn't protrayed it as a "huge surprise" causing "enormous mayhem" - would it have had the same impact?


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
What? (none / 0) (#34)
by gbd on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:15:55 PM EST

The Tet Offensive was a huge surprise and it did cause enormous mayhem, regardless of the eventual outcome. I don't see how anybody interested in a reasonable debate could even begin to dispute this. How the media "protrayed" [sic] it has nothing to do with the resulting finger pointing within the military and the fact that the White House was unable to put forth a coherent response for months. Incidentally, your silence on the issue of the media's complicity in the fabricated kill ratios is deafening.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]
My deafening silence is because (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:26:59 PM EST

I'm having trouble understanding how it is relevant to the original point - that the perception was at odds with military reality.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Your original point .. (none / 0) (#49)
by gbd on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 10:29:31 AM EST

.. was that the news media "created the perception that we could not win," which is a bit odd considering that the news media was basically McNamara's mouthpiece for the bulk of the war.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]
could we widen this discussion? (4.40 / 5) (#24)
by danmermel on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:52:28 AM EST

Personally, I agree with those who say this article is incomplete in many respects, but voted +1 because the issue of propaganda is such a huge one and it needs to be discussed.

But I'd like the discussion to be a bit broader. That is, to look at the question: How can any media outlet be impartial in this?"

For the last twenty years (since the Falklands War) conflicts have been more widely covered than ever and, paradoxically, there has been less information available than ever. That is, governments are getting very good at giving news organisations (particularly 24 hour news channels) the appearance of moving news, while in fact giving very little away.

As someone pointed out on this discussion, the Gulf War images consisted basically of planes taking on and off and some carefully controlled images of bombs hitting targets.

During the Afghanistan attack, every day the Americans and the British staged carefully timed press conferences in Pakistan (or nearby), then London, then Washington, so that they were in control of the news cycle effectively 24 hours per day.

There was never much information at any of these (or it was the sort of information they wanted to give out), so news editors could "re-nose" their story everey few hours, and that was enough for them.

The access to the Falklands, the Gulf, Afghanistan was so difficult, that journalists had to rely on the goodwill of the attackers to cover the story. That is not a recipe for unbiased journalism.

By the time any bit of information that wasn't "mediated" by the attackers got out (like for example the number of deaths caused by a not-so-smart bomb), the news caravan had moved on thanks to the helpful press conferences.

I think news organisations (particularly TV)have been totally incapable of counter-balancing this barrage of propaganda, because they are too concerned with feeding the hungry beast of 24 hour news. As long as there is content, the don't care much what it is. And the propaganda units of government have become very adept at exploiting this.

Sadly, I predict now that the same thing will happen this time around.

Keep a tab on this: the Iraq body count website . They'll be keeping a tab on deaths and hopefully it will provide some balance to the smart-bomb bullshit that we will undoubtedly face in spades.

An over-used quote springs to mind. (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by ChaosD on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:38:19 PM EST

It's been said in many different ways, for many different reasons, but "He who writes the history books won the war" would seem to sum up this situation.
-----------------------------
There are no stupid questions
Unbiased media a myth (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:23:43 PM EST

I'd trust a newspaper or TV station that flaunts it's bias over one which more subtley hides it bias from plain view. The media has never been, and will never be a impartial source of information.

Ever since the news was spread via stone tablets or minstrels, information has been "tainted" or tilted towards one bias or another.

The only unbiased information in the newspaper is the police blotter and sports scores. Anything else is affected by the inherent bias of whomever is writing the article, unless the paper employs androids.


Reminds me of a joke from communist era: (5.00 / 4) (#38)
by Viliam Bur on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:24:56 PM EST

Newspapers consist of three parts. The first part contains true information, the second part contains uncertain information, the third part contains lies.

Now, which part is which? The date is the first part. The weather forecast is the second part. And everything else is the third part.

[ Parent ]

Or that other Russian quote (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:13:21 PM EST

"There's no truth in the news, and no news in the truth."

[ Parent ]
two comments (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by relief on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:54:21 PM EST

one, information warfare has been around since the beginning of warfare. a recent and significant one was the cold war. russia only became a threat AFTER the cold war because they also used information warfare upon themselves to accelerate development, just as the pentagon had done to us. before, they were a joke. the star-wars program was a competition against whom?

secondly, all major news sources are biased. you are probably biased as well, because i don't think Murdoch owns CNN or Newsweek, yet these are as biased as any. one recent headline was "is protesting against war patriotic or unpatriotic? we debate the issue"; do you see the bias there? one could argue both ways because "patriotism" is not exactly defined. so who cares whether one calls it "patriotic" or not? the fact is president Shrub is supporting another massacre for some ulterior motive.

why don't we see headlines like "what do war protesters think about the war on iraq" or "is going to war necessar", which are questions that naturally arrise unless you're a brainwashed turd?

my view on the media has changed dramatically since i read "Understanding Power - the indispensible Chomsky" by Chomsky. Chomsky in this book deals extensively with the media and why it functions the way it does. please read it.

----------------------------
If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.

Hint (2.33 / 3) (#47)
by iba on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:21:08 AM EST

There are two reasons why, "is going to war necessar," is not a headline. I'll leave it to you to figure them out.
---
"It takes a particularly rarified variety of idiot to look at a Jew-hating fascist
[
Parent ]
Talking of media stuff... (none / 0) (#50)
by jd on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 12:39:54 PM EST

What's this about "Black Hawk Down II: Revenge of The Pep Boys"?

NATO troops? (none / 0) (#51)
by Will Sargent on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 03:43:24 PM EST

They were American Rangers, with a few Delta Force operators.  I don't remember anything about them being NATO troops.
----
I'm pickle. I'm stealing your pregnant.
There was a large number of NATO troops occupying (none / 0) (#52)
by mowgli on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 04:04:06 PM EST

the stadium in Mogadishu, mainly Pakistanis. I'm unaware of any UN peacekeeping forces suffering casualties, but their armored personel carriers saved quite a few Ameridan soldiers.
"If you follow the present day world, you will turn your back on the Way; if you would not turn your back on the Way, do not follow the world." -Takaun Soho
[ Parent ]
On the other hand... (none / 0) (#53)
by Netsnipe on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 07:23:31 PM EST

I certainly don't remember NATO issuing any resolutions authorising the deployment of its forces into the Horn of Africa out of all places...

--
Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
Pakistani Casualties (none / 0) (#63)
by free779 on Fri Mar 14, 2003 at 04:34:26 PM EST

Pakistan didn't lose any troops during the battle with the Americans.  However, over 100 were killed eralier in the by in an ambush by Aidid's militia's.

[ Parent ]
UNITAF (none / 0) (#55)
by cam on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 09:49:43 PM EST

It was a UN mission (UNIted TAsk Force) not a NATO one. There were 1200 Australian troops in Somalia as well in 1992/93.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

UN was there, but not fired on (none / 0) (#56)
by Will Sargent on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 11:59:51 PM EST

The US troops were called in specifically because the UN was unable to change the balance of power in that region and take out some of the local warlords.  They were there only to defend, not attack.  In short, the US was there because there's no such thing as a UN Delta Force team.

So no, they weren't NATO troops.  They weren't UN troops either.  And this is an article talking about how inaccurate the _media_ is?  
----
I'm pickle. I'm stealing your pregnant.
[ Parent ]

Blix-Bashing (none / 0) (#59)
by Elektro Schock on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 03:32:20 PM EST

"The story presented in these newspapers is that an unmanned or "drone" aircraft that could be used to spray chemical or biological weapons was found by weapons inspectors and that the aircraft had not been declared by Iraq. Depending on the climate of the country in which the story is being printed, it also claims that Hans Blix deliberately hid this information from the UN security council." A drone is a very small unmanned spy plane, like a model aircraft. Of course it "could be used" like you a basked "could be used" to hide chemical weapons. This is how propaganda works.

what a bunch of crap. (none / 0) (#61)
by shenanigans on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 05:00:05 PM EST

and here i was thinking this article would be about the A-Team.

You are a damn joke -- it was the Green Berets and (none / 0) (#62)
by rombios on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 05:30:03 PM EST

NO -- the U.S lost that fight.

The objective was to get General Adid and his leiutenants. That failed
miserably and the U.S pulled out without accomplishing the goal. Anywhere
you read it -- its a failure for them.

See that how battles work -- at the end of the day the winner is ALWAYS:
he who is willing to lose the most amount of people and STILL remain
standing.

The death of a dozen or so U.S Green Berets (special forces) and they
PUNK out.
-
-- deflagrate muri tempe et intervallia

You are right --> Murdoch and Berlusconi (none / 0) (#64)
by drquick on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 06:37:37 AM EST

There seems to be a number of key individuals around the world who support US efforts. Rupert Murdoch certainly is a prominent supporter of the US foreign policy. I suspect part of his financial success can be explained by candid support from US inteligence services.

Isn't it strange how another successfull media mogul, Berlusconi has come into politics. He seems to have gotten his wealth from maffia connections, but it didn't hurt him politically. In every decision he has been carefully reading the polls and doing populist decisions. Until the Gulf2 war against Iraq that is.

These people seem to give and get services to and from the US intelicence services.

Murdoch helps the US information war | 64 comments (39 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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