Wmd: Weapons Of Mass Deception

  • 2005
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

Subtitled "A Danny Schechter Dissection," this 90-minute essay from "news dissector" Schechter is an angry analysis of news coverage of the 2003 American war on Iraq and the extent to which the media served the military's interests. By his own account, "network refugee" Schechter, who once worked as a reporter and producer for CNN, ABC News and 20/20, has...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Subtitled "A Danny Schechter Dissection," this 90-minute essay from "news dissector" Schechter is an angry analysis of news coverage of the 2003 American war on Iraq and the extent to which the media served the military's interests. By his own account, "network refugee" Schechter, who once worked as a reporter and producer for CNN, ABC News and 20/20, has been obsessively "warring with the coverage of war" since his days as reporter in Vietnam and Cambodia, critiquing the way war was reported even as he himself was covering it. Schechter reflects on the ways Vietnam-era correspondents like Peter Arnett and David Halberstam challenged the powers that be, and the now-held belief that it was the Pentagon's inability to control the press, rather than faulty foreign policy or military strategy, that contributed most to the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. Not so today, Schechter contends, particularly not since the 1991 Gulf war when the defense department, having learned a hard lesson in Southeast Asia, went in fully prepared to manage news reporting. Access was restricted and the stories that did appear were devoid of context and historical background; Saddam Hussein's long, cozy history with Washington was mostly forgotten. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks — which many journalists, particularly those based in New York City, took personally — the erosion of objectivity was nearly complete. Media outlets were hardly immune to the prevailing atmosphere of "patriotic correctness," and Schechter argues that during the build-up to the war, the media actually helped the Bush administration proceed with military plans in Iraq that were actually formulated before September 11, 2001. Through reporting that was both exaggerated and irresponsible (a New York Times editor and The Washington Post ombudsman have since gone on the record acknowledging as much), newspapers and network news misreported the threat of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, underreported the significant anti-war movement and significantly influenced public opinion. The Pentagon continued to massage the message once the war began, strategically embedding journalists with the troops and once it was "over," a different war for the hearts and minds of Americans was on. The bottom line of such films as Schechter's — muckraking documentaries like the thematically linked OUTFOXED and UNCOVERED: THE WAR ON IRAQ (both 2004) also distributed by Cinema Libre Studios — is the quality of ammunition lobbed at their targets. Schechter has the goods and by framing his argument with a history of independent war coverage past and present (the international press doesn't toe the Pentagon line) highlights how far we've fallen.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Subtitled "A Danny Schechter Dissection," this 90-minute essay from "news dissector" Schechter is an angry analysis of news coverage of the 2003 American war on Iraq and the extent to which the media served the military's interests. By his own account, "ne… (more)

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