March 20, 2003
Special Bulletin: Fox News Goes to War
The attack on Iraq has begun as I sit down to write this, and there is wall-to-wall war coverage on the television. There are different talking-heads on every station, but they are all telling the same lies. And everyone is fawning over the Pentagon's arsenal of military hardware.
It's all very "smart," you see. Everyone says so. They are all gushing over how 90% of the bombs used this time around will be "smart" bombs, whereas only 10% of those used the last time were of the "smart" variety. Everyone is just thrilled with how far we've come in the last 12 years. Having all these smart bombs, you see, will allow us to place them with flawless precision, all but eliminating civilian casualties.
One supposed 'military analyst' can barely contain himself while discussing how amazing these "smart" bombs are. He says that during the Korean War, it could take hundreds of bombs to take out a single bridge, while one "smart" bomb will now do the trick.
That was the problem with those old "dumb" bombs -- once they left the plane they had no idea where to go. They could end up anywhere.
None of the people pretending to be journalists ask any of the Pentagon employees posing as independent military analysts any of the obvious questions, such as:
* If there were hundreds of misses for every hit during the Korean War, what exactly did all those hundreds of thousands of bombs that we dropped hit?
* You are now saying that only 10% of the bombs used during Desert Storm were "smart" bombs, yet at the time of that war, you and others like you stood right where you stand today and told America that almost all of the bombs that we were dropping then were "smart" bombs. So were you lying then, or are you lying now, or both?
* If only 10% of the massive amount of bombs that we dumped on Iraq last time were "smart" bombs, then obviously 90% of them were "dumb" bombs that were dropped largely indiscriminately; how many Iraqi civilians do you estimate were slaughtered by those bombs?
After flipping around the dial sampling all the 'news' coverage, I finally settle on Fox News. They're going to report, and I'm going to decide.
Fox is very big on graphics. The Fox News logo is prominently displayed. A "TERROR ALERT: HIGH" graphic remains on the screen at all times. Stock quotes tick by, as do sensationalized headlines. A "WAR ALERT" graphic remains up at all times as well. Everything is colored in red, white and blue. This isn't the way Walter Cronkite used to deliver the news.
Early on, we are advised that the Pentagon is claiming that this will be a short war, but that the American people should be prepared for loss of life. Presumably, this means the loss of American life, since there is no indication that the Pentagon, or Fox News, has any interest at all in the loss of Iraqi life.
That the American people have to be advised to expect the loss of American lives in a war is a most remarkable fact, though no one at Fox finds anything unusual about it. Is there anywhere else in the world where people have to be cautioned that the waging of war may involve the loss of life? This, I suppose, stands as stark proof of the effectiveness of U.S. propaganda from other recent 'wars,' which taught us that wars can be entirely bloodless affairs.
The folks over at Fox appear to be in something of a panic. "This isn't 'shock and awe'" is the constant refrain. There is clearly disappointment among the Fox crowd that Iraqis are not being slaughtered quickly enough. One gets the distinct feeling that nothing would make these guys happier than seeing Iraq turned into a field of mushroom clouds.
After fretting over the lack of 'shock and awe' for quite some time, the Fox team calms down a bit and the refrain becomes "wow, we're really kicking some ass over there ... and this isn't even 'shock and awe' yet!" It is now being claimed that what we are doing is "preparing the battlefield." The Fox people have no shortage of euphemisms to describe mass murder. And they offer no hint of the fact that the "battlefield" has been being "prepared" for a full twelve years now.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of "shock and awe," by the way, it is the same strategy that was known in Nazi Germany as the "blitzkrieg," and at Nuremberg as "war crimes."
It is now being claimed that what has been launched is a limited strike on 'targets of opportunity.' The targets, it will soon be revealed, are a group of senior Iraqi officials, allegedly including Saddam Hussein. Hussein though soon appears to deliver a televised address, much to the consternation of the Fox Follies gang.
Fox isn't buying the Hussein videotape, however. The Osama bin Laden tapes? Sure, those were legit ... but this Hussein tape is obviously a fake. Much hot air is blown pondering whether it is really Hussein, and whether it is a pre-taped appearance. Clearly the Fox fascisti are hoping that Hussein has been assassinated. Just as clearly, the Fox boys are huge fans of war crimes.
One talking-head ponders whether it is legal for the U.S. to target heads-of-state for assassination. Another responds that it isn't, technically speaking, since it is prohibited by both domestic and international law. But, he adds with a bit of a snicker, there isn't any court that's going to enforce those laws.
The exchange might as well have gone as follows:
"What about the law?
"The law? We are the fucking law!"
Anyway, it seems pretty clear that the 'targets of opportunity' story is a nonsensical cover story that the U.S. will later point to as proof that it made a concerted effort to avert war by 'surgically removing' the Iraqi leadership, thus eliminating the need for a full-scale invasion, as well as a psychological warfare operation aimed at trying to convince the Iraqi people that they are without leadership.
One of the many interchangeable talking-heads on Fox is explaining how reporters have been given unprecedented access to the battlefield, so that the American people will be able to see for themselves how humanely this war will be waged. This, of course, directly contradicts the publicized fact that information flowing from the battlefield will be more tightly controlled than at any time in history.
Another talking-head is now explaining that what are referred to as "embedded" reporters - who are reporters that have been hand-picked by the Pentagon to cover the war, precisely because they can be trusted to refrain from any actual reporting - are "scouts" not just for the media, but for the Pentagon as well.
By doing so, Fox has completely erased the line between journalists and combatants, placing the lives of every reporter covering the war in danger, which is only fair, I suppose, since they pretty much are all spooks anyway. And for any that might be legit, Fox has essentially just signaled to the Iraqis that any journalist who gets an independent hair up his ass and ventures out on his own is fair game.
Reports are coming in of some type of projectiles being launched towards U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait. The Fox crowd is thoroughly bewildered by these reports. They can't fathom the possibility that Iraqi military forces are actually launching defensive strikes. It is clear from the looks on everyone's faces that the notion that the Iraqis would do anything other than toss down their weapons and make a mad dash for the border is simply incomprehensible.
Now some other talking-head is explaining that the rockets or missiles lobbed into Kuwait were targeted at U.S. military forces, and not Kuwaiti cities/population centers. This is even more perplexing to the Fox gang. They are, quite literally, stunned into a brief silence. Someone starts stammering about how the Iraqis are apparently attacking U.S. military forces, rather then Kuwaiti civilians, because they are trying to hold on to the international support "that, somehow, they have been able to gather." It doesn't occur to anyone on the network that the Iraqis might be attacking U.S. military forces as part of some bizarre strategy to actually defend themselves.
A particularly hilarious spectacle is now playing out as some correspondent in Kuwait is delivering his report from the field wearing a gas mask. He spends a considerable amount of time nervously adjusting the straps on his mask, as air raid sirens scream in the background.
While those in the studio express grave concerns for his safety, the masked correspondent stands his ground and delivers his report, which includes informing viewers that the air raid sirens go off fairly regularly, and don't really signify much of anything. There is, he says, a second-stage alarm that would sound if there was an actual imminent threat.
Nevertheless, the correspondent continues to deliver his report in Darth Vader mode, as though he could be engulfed in a cloud of toxic gas at any second. At one point, he looks around and is bewildered to find that others around him are walking about unprotected, going about their business. Shortly thereafter, he terminates his report and heads for a bomb shelter.
Now we have convicted felon Oliver North giving a report from the field, and he is wearing not just a gas mask, but a full-blown biowarfare suit and hood. He is completely unrecognizable, but we are assured that it is Ollie. He is "embedded" with a Special Forces group foreward-deployed at the Iraqi border. He is, as near as I can tell, pretending to be there as a journalist. He soon heads for a shelter as well.
The story of the projectiles launched into Kuwait changes constantly. At first, it is claimed that there were two such missiles, both of the Scud variety, and that both were safely intercepted by our trusty Patriot missiles. Just like the last time! Except that, of course, as even the Pentagon has admitted, our trusty Patriot missiles didn't actually work last time. At all.
Not to worry though. Another talking-head later informs us that, this time, we are using new Patriot II and Patriot III missiles, which work even better than the old Patriot missiles were supposed to work. Again, no one at Fox notices that the talking-heads gushing over the capabilities of the 'new' Patriot missiles are simultaneously acknowledging that they lied their asses off twelve years ago when gushing over the original Patriot missiles.
Later, it is claimed that only one of the missiles lobbed into Kuwait was a Scud, and it was shot down. The other is now said to have been another type of missile that flew too low to be shot down. That one, we are told, simply flew safely off course. Those Iraqis can't do anything right.
Still later, we are told that both missiles were indeed shot down, even though one was of the type that one of Fox's 'military analysts' said was impossible to shoot down. There are no reports of any further missile strikes, though it stands to reason that the Iraqis didn't just shoot off a couple of missiles and then call it a day.
For quite some time, the Fox boys have been harping on a completely unverified story that 17 Iraqi troops have crossed the border and surrendered. This story seems highly suspect, but even if it's true, it doesn't really signify much of anything. It was earlier reported that U.S. forces dropped millions of leaflets urging Iraqi troops to surrender and giving them instructions on how to do so. Seventeen takers on that offer hardly constitutes a major coup for the U.S.
But the Fox team is confident that that will change once we begin the 'shock and awe' phase of the operation. Then we will see the entire country of Iraq raise a giant white flag.
Feeling confident that it will all be over by the time I awake, I decide to go to bed and get some sleep. 'Shock and awe' is coming soon.
It's morning now, and as I click on the TV, I realize that it is still tuned to Fox. And the Fox team is growing increasingly frustrated with the delay in implementing 'shock and awe.' I find myself mentally trying to calculate how many times that phrase must have been uttered in the time I was asleep.
Nothing much has changed. A few helicopters have had "hard landings" due to "mechanical problems." This, of course, is entirely different than being shot down by enemy fire. Later in the day, another helicopter will have such a hard landing that all 16 men aboard will die. That too will be due to mechanical failure.
It will be claimed that those sixteen men are the war's first casualties. After more than 24 hours of fighting, the only casualties are from mechanical failure. There is no one, you see, resisting the U.S. invasion. We know this because Fox has been showing live video feeds all day directly from the front lines.
What these feeds show are grainy, close-in shots of military vehicles lumbering across some nondescript terrain. There is no sign of combat. There is no sign of anything other than sand. Most likely, these feeds are from vehicles circling around Kuwait somewhere, far from the action, with the "embedded" reporters riding inside shooting footage of other circling vehicles carrying other "embedded" reporters.
While it appears that the attack isn't going all that well, Fox assures us that "it is hard to imagine that this operation could be going any better." We haven't lost a single man to hostile fire. And highly suspect reports are now coming in that a large portion of Iraq's Republican Guard troops are ready to surrender. And still to come, of course, is 'shock and awe.'