US media use Paris Hilton to avoid the Iraq war


Paris Hilton

Like months ago, there was more in the media in the USA about Anna Nicole Smith than about the Iraq war and the scandal of bad conditions for injured veterans in Walter Reed hospital; now there is more about heiress Paris Hilton and her jail sentence for unauthorized driving in the US media than about violations of workers rights and struggles for those rights; about women’s rights; about racism and anti racism; about civil liberties; about the Iraq war.

David Walsh writes:

Moreover, there is assuredly nothing admirable about Hilton’s public conduct.

That she became the object of fascination in the first place, without a discernible talent except for attracting notoriety, is a symptom of a crisis-ridden and deeply confused culture.

Hilton is an especially easy target.

An emotionally distorted or perhaps disturbed personality, she is, however, by no means exceptional.

The world of the very rich, very spoiled and very bored contains no shortage of such individuals, most of whom are kept out of the spotlight.

Nonetheless, those demanding that Hilton be jailed, or worse, need to stop and think more carefully about their arguments.

First of all, who are their allies?

The reactionary pundits: Nancy Grace of CNN, Bill O’Reilly of Fox and the rest of that vile crowd.

These self-appointed moral guardians have been thundering nightly about the “special treatment” Hilton has received to divert attention from the real criminality in American life.

Fox News, the New York Post and the entire Murdoch empire have gone to town on the Hilton issue—the same people who brought you the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.

Moreover, few of the angriest letter writers cared to address the fact that due to massive overcrowding, large numbers of non-violent offenders in Los Angeles County are sent home before their sentences are complete, many of them having served less than 10 percent of their sentence (some of them far less).

Over a four-year period, 150,000 non-violent offenders were released early in the county, according to a Los Angeles Times article last year. …

Involved in the Hilton case is the foulness of the entire culture.

It’s easy enough to score points against her, but more difficult to look at the broader picture.

Everyone plays a part in this wretched sort of episode: the demonized celebrity (Michael Jackson, Barry Bonds, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Hilton, and on and on), the indignant talking heads, the tabloids and the paparazzi, the crowd that allows itself to be stirred up.

The political and media establishment encourage these public acts of human sacrifice for definite reasons: to discourage critical thought, to accustom the public to scandal-mongering and witch-hunting as legitimate means of ‘settling scores,’ to brutalize the population and make it indifferent to suffering and life’s complexities, and to provide a harmless outlet for popular outrage.

Paris Hilton is not guilty of war crimes, or running a sweatshop.

Why has she been chosen to be demonized? She is expendable.

She can be sacrificed to ‘appease’ popular discontent without any serious cost to those running America.

The anger at Hilton is so far out of proportion to her importance or her sins that one can’t help but think that the element of envy plays a role.

And that is sad too.

Why should anyone envy such a life, apparently spent in vacuous activities among vacuous people? She might rather be an object of pity.

Paris Hilton and the jail system: here.

The media’s obsession with O.J. Simpson: here.

9 thoughts on “US media use Paris Hilton to avoid the Iraq war

  1. Decline in Iraq news may have boosted U.S. opinion

    Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00am EST

    By David Morgan

    WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – A recent decline in U.S. news coverage from Iraq coincides with improved public opinion about the war just as the 2008 presidential campaign heads to an early showdown, a study released on Wednesday said.

    The study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said the volume of coverage from Iraq fell from 8 percent of all news stories in the first six months of 2007 to 5 percent between June and October due mainly to a decline in news accounts of daily attacks.

    The falloff coincided with a 14 percentage point climb — from 34 to 48 percent — in the number of Americans who believe the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going either fairly or very well, according to Pew.

    Pew researchers examined 1,109 news stories from Iraq from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 by 40 news outlets including newspapers, Web sites and television and radio networks.

    Data from the study, entitled “Portrait from Iraq: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground,” does not specifically identify the drop in press coverage as a cause of brightening public opinion about the Iraq war.

    But Pew project director, Tom Rosenstiel, said declining coverage from Iraq, which follows a sharp fall in news about the Iraq policy debate in Washington, has likely played an important role.

    “The report suggests the press has covered Iraq fairly steadily, with some ups and downs, and that’s had an effect on public opinion,” Rosenstiel told Reuters.

    The study was published as other polling data has shown the Iraq war issue receding slightly as a voter issue in the presidential campaign, which will see its first contest in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.

    “The people enjoying some respite from Iraq are probably now the candidates for president … because Americans appear to be less concerned with Iraq as an issue in the campaign than they were a few months ago,” Rosenstiel said.

    The war in Iraq dominated U.S. news before June as President George W. Bush poured extra combat troops into the country in a bid to stabilize Baghdad and its environs.

    News coverage, particularly accounts of daily attacks, began declining as violence levels dropped in late summer and early autumn. Pew said Iraq news resurged in October but mainly because of the controversy surrounding the Blackwater security firm and its alleged role in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

    A later Pew analysis of November news stories found a renewed decline in volume and signs of a more promising tone as coverage focused on declining violence and the apparent success of Bush’s so-called troop “surge.”

    “There are signs that November represented something of a turning point in coverage from Iraq. Whether it proves to be a temporary one will depend on the course of events,” the study said.

    (Editing by Philip Barbara)

    © Reuters 2007

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