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Ho-hum. The war. Such a bore. After six years, the media is fatigued with the story. As a CBS news producer put it: “One guy in uniform looks like any other guy in uniform.” Yeah, so why cover that?
And, indeed, America’s three big TV networks have quietly been executing their own staged withdrawal from Iraq. The evening newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC – where the great majority of Americans say they get their “news” – have massively scaled back their coverage of Bush’s ongoing disaster in the desert. In the first half of this year, the total time devoted to Iraq by all three networks was only 181 minutes – out of approximately 11,000 minutes of airtime available.
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Is nothing going on over there? No, nothing’s happening – unless you count the constant deaths and maimings of American troops, the shelling out of three billion of our tax dollars every week, the everyday arrogance of America’s corporate mercenaries, the squandering of our country’s integrity and reputation, the endless deaths of Iraqi civilians, the collapse of civil society, the bitter sectarian divides, the move by Big Oil to grab Iraq’s reserves of crude, and the administration’s ceaseless use of censorship, propaganda, and lies to control the news from Iraq.
Gosh, you’d think that enterprising journalists might pull a story or two a day out of that soup. But doing so would require – whatdoyoucallems? Oh yeah, reporters. CBS, however, no longer keeps even one full-time reporter on the Iraq beat. Meanwhile, none of the networks has a full-time reporter in Afghanistan.
The conglomerate owners of the networks gladly spend tens of millions of dollars to bring a single TV show or movie to the public. But cover the war? That’s too expensive – and it’s not nearly as fun or profitable as a sitcom.
“Correspondents Say Networks Put Wars on the Back Burner,” The New York Times, June 23, 2008.