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  • Friday, October 21, 2005

    Fisk on the colluding of media and government

    From Democracy Now! :

    ...In 1991 I was driving up the main road towards Basra, the so the-called highway of death, further up, with a crew from ITV, British commercial channel. And we stopped at a place where there were large numbers of Iraqi soldiers dead in the desert. And hoards of desert dogs had appeared. And they were ripping the soldiers to pieces and eating them. Dragging off an arm here with its hand cruelly going along through the desert, eating through stomachs, gnawing away at cheekbones of dead soldiers. The ITV crew got out and started filming. I said, “What are you filming this for? You'll never get it on air.” He said, “No, it's just for the archives.”

    This, you see, was the problem. The war was over then. We're talking about the 1991 Gulf War, the liberation of Kuwait. When journalists had been put in pools, which was then the equivalent of embedding. And they chaffed that they wanted to report real war, weren't being allowed to, that they were being censored. But when the war ended and they were allowed to drive up the highway and film anything they wanted, they censored themselves. Far too sensitive. Can't receive this sort of thing at breakfast what about the children? And in London, and in Washington, and in New York, and everywhere else, Paris, the television directors and the editors said, “We can't show that.” Impossible. Many of the worst pictures taken in the invasion of Iraq in 2003: a man holding a kid out like a piece of pancake. A beautiful girl in the arms of a man, we have to lop it off here because we didn't want to see the bones of the foot sticking out. She was dead, wounded in many captions. Never saw the light of day. They couldn't be shown. They could-- but they were not. Because sensitivities. Mustn't show this at breakfast time. It's irresponsible to show the dead like this, it's disrespectful.

    I tell you, if you saw what I saw when I go to wars when I’m on the front line with or without soldiers or with civilians or wounded in hospitals, if you saw what I saw, you would never, ever dream of supporting a war again. Ever in your life. It's a remarkable thing that the cinema, the commercial cinema, feature films can now show the bloodiest, goriest themes which are quite similar to what we see in real life, "Saving Private Ryan," the guts spilling out. And yet real war cannot be shown without censoring pictures which in many cases are exactly the same as what you see when you go to the cinema. Or when you watch a war movie on television. It's remarkable. And only when you're there do you realize -- and I have an editor in London who shakes his head in disbelief and when I say this over and over again. If you go to war, you realize it is not primarily about victory or defeat, it is about death and the infliction of death and suffering on as large a scale as you can make it. It is about the total failure of the human spirit. We don't show that because we don't want to. And in this sense journalists, television reporting, television cameras are lethal. They collude with governments to allow to you have more wars because if they showed you the truth, you wouldn't allow any more wars.


    At 10/21/2005 07:51:00 pm, Blogger colcam said...

    Aint that the sad truth. Censored by government and censored by themselves.

    We don't get to understand the horrors and futility of war because the ratings come before lives.

    A sad commentary on politicians and the press.

    At 10/21/2005 11:33:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    I feel that is it the duty of not only the media to show such horrible images of war, it is the duty of the citizens of the warring states to look at those images, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

    At 10/22/2005 01:07:00 am, Blogger Jez said...

    But it' s hard to get people to risk vomiting their sunday brunch all over their nike trainers...I hope that doesn't sound too flippant!

    At 10/22/2005 03:28:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    I guess you have a guerrilla project to pull off, Jez: real war photos posted in the most fashionable districts of France.

    At 10/22/2005 03:29:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    BTW, anyone hear hide or hair of Voice? He just disappeared...

    At 10/24/2005 02:20:00 pm, Blogger Jez said...

    Oh, I thought you knew where he'd gone, I was gonna ask you!

    At 10/24/2005 11:54:00 pm, Blogger Jez said...

    Such photos wouldn't saty up very long. Some lesbian/feminist friends of mine went on a guerilla expedition graffiti-ing anti-sexist messages on ads they deemed sexist. They were practically followed by the cleaning-up brigade.


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