By Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher, Truthout in the USA:
Friday 3 June 2011
The channel, viewed by far as the most progressive on cable television, keeps its critiques well within the narrow framework of “acceptable” discourse in the corporate media.
When US bombs began to drop on Libya last month, representing the start of the third simultaneous US war (not including covert wars being waged by US Special Forces and the CIA in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere), it was not surprising to see the media jump into a pro-war frenzy, as it so often does. One might hope, however, that perhaps MSNBC – on the liberal side of acceptable discourse in US cable media – would at least offer significant skepticism toward another expensive and bloody US war. This is especially true given that 74 percent of the US population opposed US intervention.
A close look, however, reveals the opposite is true. MSNBC, whose hosts align themselves closely with Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, has been perhaps the most hawkish station on cable news. Literally every single one of the channel’s nighttime hosts (Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell and Cenk Uygur) has failed to oppose the war (the morning hours are hosted by Joe Scarborough, a reliable conservative). In many instances, they have vigorously supported the war, or at the least, have deflected criticism away from Obama and the Democrats. In fact, MSNBC has arguably defended President Obama’s war policies with nearly the same vigor as their Fox News competitors did with President George W. Bush, when he pushed the US into Iraq in 2003. MSNBC‘s coverage of the intervention in Libya shows one of the great flaws of even the most critical corporate media in the United States. Such limitations do a great disservice to the prospects of a much-needed class-based movement. And given that a recent poll done by Alternet showed how influential MSNBC is – Maddow was overwhelmingly voted as the most influential progressive, and a number of other current or former MSNBC hosts were in the top 20 – it is important that the limits of MSNBC’s independence and criticism be well understood.
A Pro-War Agenda
“The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, probably viewed as the most liberal show on television, provided arguably the most disappointing example of MSNBC’s support for the war and used the war in Libya as a chance to provide further praise to Obama. Maddow observed that Obama, like Bush, was invading a Middle Eastern nation. But by initiating the attack without so much as a press conference to the American people, she argued, he was avoiding the “chest thumping” of previous administrations in an effort to “change the narrative” of US foreign policy. Obama’s decision, she said in a March 21 broadcast, “to forego the chest-thumping commander-in-chief theater that goes with military intervention of any kind, that in itself is a fascinating and rather blunt demonstration of just how much this presidency is not like that of George W. Bush.” This was a rather absurd position: Maddow is literally celebrating Obama’s brand of US imperialism because it is hidden from the public and carried out in a way that makes state violence more palatable to the world.
At least Maddow tried to make a point beyond platitudes, which cannot be said for Ed Schultz. In an interview with Jeremy Scahill, Schultz literally uttered phrases such as “Gadaffi is a terrorist … Obama said he has killed US troops – that that is all I need to hear.” In fact, Schultz refused to directly engage in any of the points Scahill made and simply responded each time with hyperbolic platitudes about “freedom”‘ and “trusting the president.” Despite Schultz’s claims that this “is not Bush talk,” it clearly is very similar to the “debates” pro-war advocates were having in the media in 2002-03 leading up to Iraq. …
This was also evident in the channel’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of Iraq, MSNBC was one of the chief culprits that celebrated the “end” of the war in Iraq, failing to recognize that more than 100,000 contractors, tens of thousands of US troops and permanent military bases remain. And when Maddow went to Afghanistan, she painted the US counterinsurgency strategy as a noble, if tactically difficult, endeavor. She made no major critique of the morality of the war, which has now been going on a decade, calling the mission “constructive, not destructive.” In short, MSNBC has arguably been as pro-war as any channel in US cable since Obama was elected president. …
Giving Obama a Pass on the Economy
MSNBC’s emphasis on defending the policies of one of the ruling, corporate-backed political parties in the US political system is the rule, not the exception. Many examples of such coverage exist beyond foreign policy. In the case of Obama’s economic policies and specifically his negotiations with Republicans, the channel has shown a remarkable ability to pretend Obama has not played a role in extending tax cuts for the rich – breaking a key campaign promise – or in contributing to the fetishization of budget cuts that now permeates Washington, DC.
Seeking to head off a growing revolt in the GOP against America’s involvement in Libya, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is offering a resolution demanding the White House not deploy ground troops in the country: here.
Britain: Nine weeks of war in Libya will cost £200 million — the same amount the government aims to “save” by making changes to housing benefit which could force 11,000 disabled people into homelessness: here.
Why international oil companies pushed for “regime change” in Libya: here.
Just eight of the 28 Nato members have been conducting air strikes on Libya’s infrastructure and military, with Britain and France responsible for the majority. A top US official warned this week that fatigue was beginning to set in among the aircrews: here.
Nato unleashed “clusters of bombing runs” on the Libyan capital today as the alliance secretary-general said the Gadaffi regime “still constitutes a threat to civilians”: here.
USA: Gates Wants Afghan Withdrawal to Leave Combat Troops: here.
Seymour Hersh: Despite Intelligence Rejecting Iran as Nuclear Threat, U.S. Could Be Headed for Iraq Redux: here.
General Keane Keen on Iran Attack. Ray McGovern, Consortium News: “Celebrating a reunion with close friends of Fordham College (class of 1961) on a perfect June day in New York should be a time of little or no stress. So I should have avoided a long lecture by a retired four-star general from the class of 1966, Jack Keane. Keane, now on Fordham University’s Board of Trustees, has been the go-to general for the neoconservatives in recent years. He said he was speaking to us before catching a flight to Europe where he would lobby leaders of the 41 NATO countries who, except for three, have been ‘unwilling to ask their people to sacrifice’ in places like Afghanistan. (By all indications, Keane has apparently given no thought to the possibility that the Europeans have been far quicker to understand that the war in Afghanistan – aka Vietnamistan – is a fool’s errand.)”: here.
US Neocons’ New Overtures to Terrorist Opposition Group in Iran, Part 1. Muhammad Sahimi, Truthout: “… on August 14, 2002, an Iranian opposition group in exile … revealed the existence of ‘two secret nuclear facilities in Iran’ … What many people did not know at that time was that the … exiled opposition group that has been listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department since 1997. The revelation … created a deep new crisis between Iran and the United States that still persists, even though Iran had not violated its international obligations toward the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by not revealing the existence of the facilities”: here.
US Neocons’ New Overtures to Terrorist Opposition Group in Iran, Part 2. Muhammad Sahimi, Truthout: “While a seemingly large number of supporters show up to the demonstrations that MKO organizes outside of Iran, it has no significant support even among Iranian expatriots, if we recall that millions of Iranians have emigrated to the West, and every year, another 150,000 highly educated young Iranians leave Iran who do not know anything about MKO, let alone support it.Those who support MKO as a viable alternative to the hardliners and reactionaries in Tehran would be well advised to take another look at its history”: here.
Dr. Cornel West: Greetings From a 21st-Century Prophet. Max Eternity, Truthout: “Even after the … hip, hip, hurrah of President Obama’s ordered assassination of Osama bin Laden, a cornucopia of catastrophic socioeconomic horrors still face this nation… endless war, long-term unemployment, swelling prison populations and multiple years of record-breaking home foreclosures… But they won’t be here to stay if a certain brilliant, black man of prophetic word and deed can help it – namely, Dr. Cornel West. West equates America’s banking elite with gangsters and deplores President Obama’s choice to surround himself with their minions… This well-heeled phalanx of criminals is, in West’s view, to blame for many, if not most, of America’s current ills”: here.
Austan Goolsbee, one of President Barack Obama’s longest serving policy advisers and the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, leaves his post pretty much as he inherited it: with the economy moribund, no clear path to vigor in sight and the unemployment rate stubbornly elevated: here.
This video from the USA is called Language of War.