Liberal Bias for War in Iran

The “liberal-bias” of the media has again come to light. In the recent Los Angeles Times report “Doubts About Taking On Tehran”, the bias is evident. Clearly it’s a headline that works for the liberals. The headline exhumes that “About half those polled support military action if Iran continues its nuclear activity but don’t trust President Bush to make the call.”

Throughout the widely circulated article, the substantiated assumption is that half of Americans doubt President Bush’s decision making potential and sense of good judgment when it comes to Iran.

For all the findings, please click the larger story here.

The article clearly posits a sense of comfort among the liberals that the President does not have support of even more than a half of people in this country. Good for the Democrats and other opposition blocs, if any. And in my view, bad for the world.

Media are the agents of sustainable interpretations in any western democratic regime. By that I mean, they play the role of the necessary critic. The necessary criticism of the existing political power is a necessary ingredient to promote the existing system; and media houses (which are essentially big corporate ventures) are the best bets.

Just as in a majoritarian democratic model, everything appears to be ruled by the “freely” elected representatives, their fourth estate, the Press, also make it appear that the news selection, placement and interpretations are done almost as democratically. Hence the press, just like the government, never hesitate to proclaim that they provide the whole truth in an objective fashion, because they know what’s good for the society to know (just as the state knows what’s good for the society to be governed by).

And so all that we know about how we are being governed is conveniently decided by the governors of our lives (the government) by letting the knowledge providers (the media) be the disseminators.

The only catch here, is that unlike in an “authoritarian”/peoples’ regime, where the press has the sole role of working as the official agent for dissemination of governmental news (and hence people are aware of the role already and make up their minds accordingly regarding the news source as clear “party propaganda”—and rise up against it in case it disbelieves in anything), in western democratic model, the press plays the subverted role of a propagator. To the extent, that the government in such democracies refuse to have their own propaganda Media. Because only then, the power structure cannot be challenged upfront. It needs to be challenged only through a comfortable space it has created between it and the people: the press. And this press, in return creates an illusion that it is actually with the people, not with the government. So it acts as a platform for “buffer opposition”.

LA Times provides no surprise through such articles. And the modern-day press system in any democratic regimes also knows how to eliminate any doubt factor that may creep in when it comes to evaluate their strategies. So the smart way is to involve some of the people to validate what they have been trying to say. So the press then go ahead and involve some people’s voices! In this article, there were 1,357 people who were polled! So by interviewing less than 1500 people “nationwide”, the paper has come to a conclusion that half of the people do not trust Bush.

Serious Issues:
1. The method of deriving at such finding is notoriously wrong. The sample needs to be way bigger. At least 50% people need to be asked the questions about “Iran War”, before coming to a conclusion. Secondly, if a national newspaper has branches all over, they need to interview people from all the centers, representing people from all geographical regions and specify the details. Clearly a person in the east-coast is more liberal than the person from the rural America, simply because of the quality of interaction people have with multicultural environment. The Republican states are thus ignorant because of the phobia of Muslims they live by. The liberal state residents are more enlightened because of the reality of Muslim friendships they preserve. These reflect on the findings. We need to be told about the disparities and of the suggested remedies. Thirdly, telephone polls are always tricky. With all the collaborations with polling agencies, they need to hire more interviewers who can go door to door in diverse areas (white, black and immigrant settings) and “talk with” people—conduct in-depth interviews if needed, and not merely quiz them.

2. The investigations into how much one knew about a topic before answering on the topic needs also to be taken into account. There are people in this country who still think Canada is a smaller neighborhood country, let alone knowing where Iran actually is on the map. One of these people on a chat with me once asked me where I was from. I said Maryland. She says, “You sound so funny. Where exactly are you from?” Because she refused to believe there was a place called “Mary”land. In such an environment, it will help to “know”, if not to explain (that education cannot happen without a propagandist tool, you see!), how much the people knew about Iran before responding. After all, we don’t waste time asking a 5-year child about effectiveness of Durex condoms and publish a finding. Why to ask people who don’t know anything about why Shah of Iran fled in 1979 despite American support, regarding why American needs to bomb the country today?

3. The News factor: I remember in my journalism school, how I was also taught about the news factor. When a “dog bites man”, its no news, the professor used to say. When the “man bites dog”, it’s the news. I always wonder why it needs to be so. Why should we look for sensations/exceptions and portray them as news, all the while ignoring the everyday life journeys. Mundane as they are, issues like poverty, ignorance and helplessness of people in democratic regimes are not considered news, as they are not sensational. What sells for corporate media are the shock value, and they will go any extent to even produce some of them. The current news in my view, SHOULD HAVE BEEN, that Majority of those polled Americans actually are war-mongers, shameful chapters in the world history. Come to think of it, half of Americans actually want war! Wow…I think that’s news in every sense. The headline should have read: “We interviewed sick warmongers who want to kill innocent civilians through airstrikes”. Yes, one question asked if people would support military action, if Iran continued to produce materials that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. 48% said, yes they would want military action, and only 40% opposed it. That’s news for me. Because hey, we all know India has even tested nuclear. And all western European countries have the same material resources. Canada is vast. France is winner. America leads. Now the common excuse even does not work. That the elite countries don’t use the materials for weapons is also false. And that nuclear energy can be used constructively is also a reality. To assume that western countries are the responsible carriers of energy (considering the bombing of Japan, and history of interventions of conventional warfare nature—ALL initiated by these countries, and also considering the hoax excuse called WMD to wipe out Iraqi civilization), and the rest of the world are irresponsible, amounts to blatant racism. Yet, the news of the LA Times indicates the good, (that Americans doubt Bush), but omits the bad (that Americans want the war).

4. Fact checking and priority of news: I think news is in the question when it’s asked: “Suppose George W. Bush decides to order military action against Iran, which action would you support”? And the choices were a) Airstrikes/no ground troops, b) Combination of airstrikes and ground troops, c) Ground troops, d) No military action and e) Don’t know. The responses. Only 20% say “No military action”. 44% want to see action in the air! 19% want both ground and air strikes. Sick and more sick. Come to think of it: 80% of people did not want a peaceful dialogue, a change in stance, a removal of bias–all these are facts…The American media clearly choose to ignore these.

What’s important is not if people trust Bush. Clearly it’s a misnomer. Because it hardly matters. He cannot contest another time anyway. His tenure will be done with. So, will they trust someone else with the weapons. Of course yes. Because what’s at stake should not be which political party should come to power in order to annihilate Iran, the question ought to be: should we allow such a draconic thought even to pass our mind. The question is why the poll didn’t ask some vital questions as they come to mind..: Do you love to kill fellow human beings whose flesh you cannot eat? Or do you love to kill humans who have never damaged your life in any way (Iranians don’t impose taxes, they don’t even impose health insurances). If the answer is NO (which is the most logical answer), then the next questions should be: Do you then need to support the idea of a war as a solution? Do you want your tax money to be spent on killing innocent civilians in a foreign country? Do you want to lay down your children’s lives fighting for an ideal they have no idea about? Do you want to live lives in misery in memories of your children who died while killing someone else’s children on the front of the war? Do you believe that war is natural and human beings are natural murderers? Do you know if only way less than one percent of population in the world has ever committed murder in order to be called naturally violent and on many occasions they have killed for a personal reason? Do you have a personal reason in murdering any Iranian citizen? If not, then go have a good meal and we will spread the good word on your behalf: love others.

Its not that we don’t know the answers…its just that we need to know the right questions. It’s high time we asked the questions that matter to us, not respond to questions that help the power structure continue to use our responses to further its ends.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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