There were two wars in Iraq--a military assault and a media war. The former was well-covered; the latter was not. Until now... Independent filmmaker, Emmy-award winningTV journalist, author... See full summary »
There were two wars in Iraq--a military assault and a media war. The former was well-covered; the latter was not. Until now... Independent filmmaker, Emmy-award winningTV journalist, author and media critic, Danny Schechter turns the cameras on the role of the media. His new film, WMD, is an outspoken assessment of how Pentagon propaganda and media complicity misled the American people, while selling the war to influence international public opinion. Schechter compares and contrasts coverage on a global basis, including exclusive material and insider interviews. WMD is a serious film that exposes the media role--the biggest scandal of our time. Written by
Scattershot documentary fails to convince or enlighten
Filmmaker Danny Schechter dismisses news coverage of the budding Iraq insurgency in 2003 as "a catalog of incidents" without context or analysis by war reporters. Ironically, Danny Schechter's documentary is so poorly organized that his film comes across as a "catalog of incidents" itself: first here's a clip of Bill O'Reilly saying something pro-war, now here's a CNN reporter criticizing the embedding of reporters within military units, and here's a graphic of a Time magazine cover that he Schecter finds questionable, now look at some Abu Ghraib photos. "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception," has a hard time staying on any one topic longer than five minutes. The only common thread is that Schecter thinks all the Iraq war journalism was crummy war boosterism.
Schechter, the self-professed "news dissector," burnishes some selectively chosen evidence to support his argument. He cites the lack of coverage of the Feb. 15, 2003, world-wide peace protests as evidence that the media did not take the opposing views of war critics seriously. Fair enough, but most adults remember that, although most Americans supported the impending war at that time, the prospect of preemptive war was controversial and was being hotly debated in Congress, on talk shows, and among citizens. The idea that dissenting voices were muzzled in a country with as much free speech as we enjoy is absurd.
Ultimately, "WMD" breaks little new ground. Schechter's analysis would resonate with some Democrats, but it will ring utterly hollow with conservatives who know that the only real media bias is a liberal anti-war orientation from Vietnam right up to today. This film would change very few minds, if any. Documentaries like "Hearts and Minds" and "Farenheit 911," are seriously misguided politically, but they contain far more emotional power and narrative appeal than this effort.
A stronger approach would have been for Schechter to focus in on one particular aspect of Iraq war journalism, such as coverage of weapons of mass destruction. The misleading title certainly indicated that would be the focus. The U.S. ultimately concluded that Sadam maintained weapons programs for a "surge capacity," but we did not find WMD stockpiles. This was a serious mistake that all countries (even France, Egypt, and Iraq itself believed Sadam had WMDs!) need to examine about themselves, their intelligence services, their politicians, and yes, their journalists. The documentary would have been far more enlightening if Schechter stuck to "dissecting" the WMD story.
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