Write an article review on Kellner’s (2004) “Media Propaganda and Spectacle in the War on Iraq: A Critic of U.S. Broadcasting Networks.”
In the article “Media propaganda and spectacle in the war on Iraq: A critique of US broadcasting networks,” the author is Douglas Kellner. Sage Publication published the paper in the principal office located in Los Angeles. The objective of the article is to demonstrate how the U.S broadcasting network offered a conduit for Pentagon and Bush administration propaganda (Kellner, 2004). The author has noted significant results showing that although the explicit war intended to shut down the weapons of mass destruction by Iraq, which imposed the resolutions by the UN that mandated that Iraq banish its offensive weapons, the Bush administration offensive against Iraq had many hidden agendas. Some examples of the hidden agenda include the following ones: generating a significant media spectacle that would assist Bush in becoming victorious in the 2004 presidential election, control of the Iraqi war, and promote a new doctrine of preemptive strikes. The main argument by Kellner is convincing and enables the readers to perceive that the broadcasting network in the US assisted Bush in advancing his agenda. Nonetheless, the spectacle of the media concerning the triumph of the US military has turned into a cynical display of a marsh that undermined the government’s rationale for the invasion.
Arguably, Kellner has approached the subject matter by theorizing about the hidden agenda of the US government in invading Iraq. The author has presented a coherent, systematic, and logical explanation of how the Bush administration advanced its doctrine of preemptive strikes and its ideological war against Iraq and offered military build-up for what currently appears to be a long-planned and orchestrated war. Therefore, the author wanted to prove that the Bush administration used the media as a weapon, tool, and resource to push the government’s agenda.
In this respect, the article mentions specific examples; Kellner argues that the broadcast network in the US was often more embedded in the Bush administration and Pentagon than the print journalists and reporters in the field. Consequently, the big three broadcasting networks in the US and the 24/7 cable networks rarely portrayed Iraqi casualties; as an alternative, they created an opinion of the war totally different from that displayed by other regions of the globe. More so, “Saving Private Lynch” is another example of a dramatic story; it was also a dramatic narrative of the war concerning human interests since it revealed how the Pentagon constructed mythologies that the TV networks replicated. The story also showed the created nature of the spectacle of the Iraq media (Kellner, 2004).
Although the study by Kellner has noted significant results, there are limitations in the sense that the author has failed to mention the methodology used. Therefore, the article has been unable to answer two main questions; how the data was generated and collected and how it was analyzed. Nonetheless, concerning the study’s main findings, the author has produced significant results showing that the Bush regime owes a substantial part of its success to irresponsible and uncritical media. The reason therein is that the press has continually presented an inaccurate and one-sided depiction of the political landscape, whether through unsubstantiated commentary, biased reporting, deceit, or intimidation. Furthermore, the spectacular images and images of the media, or “media spectacle,” as Kellner terms it, have become crucial factors in swaying national politics and public opinion in the 21st century (Kellner, 2004).
To this end, it can be learned that in a democracy, the press should offer a wide range of opinions and facts for an informed citizenry, hold leaders accountable for wrong policies and mistakes, and reject lies and spin. Nonetheless, the media in the US has been more obsessed with ratings and sensational stories than with journalistic integrity. Moreover, it can be learned that news programs that are less openly biased, including those of CNN and other major networks, also portray an inclination for opinions from the right than the left through news accounts that are biased (Kellner, 2004).
In the article, the concept used to explain the findings is the normative media theory, which is concerned with what the press should be doing in the community instead of what they mainly do (Ward, 2015). The approach is a collection of ideas postulating that the media’s mode of operation should facilitate socially desirable values. Additionally, the assumption is linked to a specific effect of the media in the sense that it reflects the ideological supposition laying the foundations for the constitutional, laws, and rules solutions related to mass media. The normative theory is not a new theoretical finding since it is perceived to have been the starting point of the political transformation that transpired in Eastern and Central Europe in the last decade of the 20th Century leading to the introduction of democratic systems to replace authoritarian regimes (Ward, 2015).
In a democratic system, the normative approach is vital from the institutional change and legislative process viewpoint. However, I think that there are limits to the normative theory. The reason therein is that the concepts and assumptions underlying the normative views of democracy and media have taken an antiessentialist or pluralist turn in the recent decade. In this regard, I feel that it is challenging to create any universally recognized standards for assessing media quality and performance. Conversely, I do not think that elements are missing because since the governments have the power to constrain criticism from the press, and since the media often assume a role of surveillance on behalf of civil society, conflicts and tensions between the two institutions are expected and are natural. The power claimed by a regime sometimes conflicts with the democratic right of the freedom of speech. The stated right is vital to the media as it allows them to conduct their operations properly (Ward, 2015).
Furthermore, I have learned that the normative theory is limited to a specific context; it is mainly concerned with the restrictions on and freedom of the press in different circumstances and how this influences the function of the media in society. Additionally, I feel that the theory in question appears to be outdated because there is support for the argument that it is better for the press not to pursue any normative objectives at all. Instead, the media should be left free to do what they aspire to but within the confinement of the law. Arguably, this is aimed at shifting the accountability for values, ethics, and norms to the society because the view of the media of what is in the interest of the public tends to equate it with what benefit the public (Ward, 2015).
In summary, the writing by Kellner is provocative, captivating, and explicit. The author has brought a needed sense of understanding, in a period of great political insecurity, of American media and politics. He has offered a comprehensive description of the 2000 and 2004 political landscape and the Bush administration’s use of the press as a political tool.
Kellner, D. (2004). Media propaganda and spectacle in the war on Iraq: A critique of US broadcasting networks. Cultural Studies? Critical Methodologies, 4(3), 329-338.
Ward, S. J. (2015). Radical media ethics. John Wiley & Sons.
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Published On: 01-01-1970