Volume 1, Issue 1 (Spring 2008)
AMERICAN MASS MEDIA AND FOREIGN POLICY: A STUDY ABOUT THE ROLE OF WHITE HOUSE AND MAIN STREAM PRINT AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA IN EFFECTING THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT OF American FOREIGN POLICY
*Shahzad Ali. **Muhammad Khalid, Ph.D and *** Muhammad Ashraf Khan, Ph.D
This article examines the role of media in formulation of foreign policy with special reference to USA . In this connection, two concepts manufacturing consent and CNN effect have been critically analyzed in this part of the article. The prime objective of the article is to find out the correlation between foreign policy and media with special reference to US mass media Coverage. Similarly to trace the role and impact of media in formulation of foreign policy is another major concern of this part of article. It was found that mass media in the USA play significant role in the process of foreign policy making through their contribution as observer, participants and catalysts. In other words the American mass media has covered international affairs from the perspective of United States perceived foreign policy interests and priorities. The several case studies highlight that American mass media proprietors and practitioners became extremely patriotic and nationalistic during period of crisis. They have highlighted president's view and policies and thus contributed to the phenomena of relying around the flag. After 9/11 the American mass media have adopted the policy of submissiveness and served the White House agenda related to Iraq , Iran , Syria , Afghanistan , Pakistan and above all war against Al-Qaeda /terrorism. On the other hand, CNN effect or impact of media in changing government foreign policies has been relatively lesser as compared to manufacturing consent concept.
Generally speaking, in present era, no country or state can afford aloofness from the international arena. The involvement of any state should be systematic and well defined principles should form the basis of the edifice of external relations. The principles and the prime objectives of a state are also reflected in the foreign policy.
*Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Bahauddin Zakariya University , Multan , Pakistan .
** Professor , Department of Mass Communication, University of Sargodha , Sargodha , Pakistan .
*** Associate Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Bahauddin Zakariya University , Multan , Pakistan
The significance of foreign policy can be gauged from the following statement of a scholar “a state without foreign policy is like a ship without radar which drifts aimlessly with out any directions by every storm and sweep of events” (1).
Prof. Taylor has rightly said that foreign policy of a sort will go on so long as there are sovereign states (2).
DEFINITIONS AND MEANINGS OF FOREIGN POLICY
Various definitions have been coined and offered by different scholars. For instance Prof. Joseph Frankel says that “foreign policy consists of decisions and actions which involve to some appreciable extent relations between one state and others (3).
While according to the point of view of George Modelski it is the system of activities evolved by communities for changing the behaviour of other states and for adjusting their own activities to the international environment” (4).
Huge Gibson says “foreign policy is a well rounded comprehensive plan based on knowledge and experience for conducting business of government with rest of the world” (5).
Literally speaking, protection and promotion of the vital interest of the state is the primary objective of foreign policy. The Brookings institution in its book “Major Problems of United States foreign policy, 1952-53”has mentioned that foreign policy of a nation is more than the sum total of its foreign policy (throughout the courses of action for achieving objectives) for it also includes its commitment, the current forms of its interests and objectives and the principles of right conduct that it professes (6).
It can be said conveniently that foreign policy of a country is an expression of its fundamental self identity as a civilization at given point of its history (7).
While on the other hand, Padel Ford and Lincoln have defined foreign policy in these words “a state foreign policy is the totality of its dealings with external environment (8).
Padel Ford further says that foreign policy is the key element in the process by which a state translates its broadly conceived goals and takes interests into concrete courses of action to attain these objectives and preserve interests (9).
Foreign policy briefly can be defined as the sum of official external relations conducted by an independent actor (usually a state) in international relations (10).
It can be said that foreign policy is the pursuit of national interest, which may largely depend upon the perception of the ruling party in tune with its ideological orientation (11).
Moreover, in a democracy the policy making role normally is supposed to lie in political leadership, which derives its mandate from the parliament. While on the other hand, foreign office is basic instrument of policy implementation (12).
It can be concluded on the whole, that foreign policy is external relations which states generates continually on all fronts (13).
By analyzing all definitions, it is rather convenient to reach this conclusion; this is the crux of all definitions, that the foreign policy is concerned with the behaviour of a state towards other states.
OBJECTIVES OF FOREIGN POLICY
The vital objectives which the foreign policy of a state seeks to achieve are as under (14).
First objective, foreign policy seeks to safeguard the territorial integrity of a country and protect the interests of its citizen, both with in and outside the country.
The second priority of foreign policy is maintenance of links with other members of international community and adoption of policy of conflict or cooperation towards them with a view to promote its own interests.
The third objective is that the foreign policy of a country seeks to promote and further its national interests. The primary interest of any country is self preservation, security and well being of its citizens.
The fourth purpose is the foreign policy aims at promotion of economic interest of a country. The fifth objective of foreign policy focuses at enhancements and aggrandizements of the influence of the states either by expending its area of influence or reducing the other states to the position of dependably. For instance, the posts World War II policy of former USSR and USA have been largely motivated by these considerations.
Determinants of Foreign Policy:
Foreign policy of a country is influenced by several factors; these factors are classified into two broad categories, viz, internal and external.
Internal factors: The experts of international relations have explored these factors which influence the foreign policy of any state. Internal factors are as under: (15)
Apart from internal factors which influence foreign policy of any country as mentioned earlier a number of external factor also exercise marginal / considerable impact on the formulation of foreign policy of country. External factors are as under (16)
? Power structure: ? International organization
Foreign policy decision making process takes place with an environment partly created by the media. It is believed that mass media is involved in all stages of foreign policy formulation processes. Political leader, take the mass media into consideration in its national and international aspects. Political leader, learn about international events, through media, subsequently this information is processed through several image components, and eventually, foreign policy decision process is set in motion. Media consultant and PR professional participate in this process, official consult with these professional and pay heed to their expertise. Finally, when official define there policy, give significance to media editorial line of direction and match it to the appropriate media tools (17)
ROLE OF MEDIA IN FORMULATION OF FOREIGN POLICY
The media is also playing vital role in broadcasting / telecasting and publishing the foreign policy of the country. However, attitude of govt., literacy rate and political system influence the role of press in formulation of foreign policy of the country.
Generally speaking, print or electronic media also contributes, significant role in the foreign policy formulation process. The media contributes to this process by disseminating factual information on the basis of which people take decision by publishing specialized articles on current international developments, which enable the masses to comprehend the importance of development in their country as compared to the past developments: and by analyzing the policy of the govt. related to foreign affairs.
The prime objective of the article is to find out the correlation between foreign policy and media with special reference to US mass media Coverage. Similarly to trace the role and impact of media in formulation of foreign policy is another major concern of this part of article.
US FOREIGN POLICY AND ROLE OF AMERICAN MASS MEDIA
American mass media irrespective of print or electronic media play gigantic role in formulation of public opinion. Media in USA also play vital role in influencing policies and decisions of Washington / states departments as well as to help out in resolving foreign policy matters (18)
Generally speaking, it is said that mass media in USA are not as pervasive at home as they have potential impact and influence upon other countries (19)
Graber Doris emphasizing the pervasiveness of American mass media” says that “the mass media are not only the chief source of every American's view of the world but are also the fastest way to disseminate information throughout the entire society(20)
Moreover, mass media in the USA play significant role in the process of foreign policy making through their contribution as observer, participants and catalysts (21).
It is pertinent to mention here that US mass media generally follow White House official's line of direction. The media follow the official line in war time and in foreign policy coverage (22).
Bartholomew H. Sparrow has described / resembles American Journalist, as lapdog rather than watchdog. He further highlighted that “American mass media is harbinger and mouth piece of American policies on various international issues and explains the rudiment objectives of US foreign policies to the domestic and international audience. However, American media have been criticized for not being unbiased and fair in their coverage of national and international events (23).
FOREIGN POLICY DECISION MAKING PROCESS: MASS MEDIA OR WHITE HOUSE
It has been discussed in earlier portion of the chapter that Mass Media in US follow the official line of Washington as well as media also influence decision making process of top executives. In this part of the chapter, two aspects i.e. do the media make foreign policy or media follow White House line of direction would be discussed.
In this connection, two theories have risen to explain the relationship between the news media and the foreign policy decision making process. First one is CNN effect and second one is manufacturing consent thesis. According to the point of view of Livingston , these theories are in conflict, thus, agreement about the direct impact of the media on foreign policy is yet to be obtained. Even though for many journalists, policy makers and scholars, there really is little doubt that mass media profoundly, influence the foreign policy process (24).
Similarly, Kovach Bill says in this regard that media either take foreign policy out of the hands of the elite or open the process to an ill informed public or they are indentured servants of the foreign policy elite. These are well known poles in foreign policy debates. Most govt. officials are comfortable arguing either position depending upon whether they are recently formulating foreign policy or seeking to make policy. For instance, Richard Nixon found the print media as effective tool in his efforts to influence US policy toward the new Russia as it emerged from the old Soviet empire (25)
Neumann, foreign editor of USA Today, has the same notions regarding the influence of White House on the media out lets in foreign policy formulations process. In this connection, she says “media technology is rarely as powerful in the hands of journalists as it is in the hands of political figures who can summon the talent to exploit the new invention. In this contest for public opinion what Teddy Roosevelt called the bully pulpit of high office the platform from which to summon great cause and marshal political will, is mightier then the power of the pen or the press. (26)
She further demonstrates that certain leadership has effectively utilized the power of communication technology for achieving their goals. For example, Abraham Lincoln used the telegraph to project his statures and political leadership just as his successor would bend new communication technologies to their political will. (27)
ROLE OF JOURNALISM IN FORMULATION OF US FOREIGN POLICY
In this part of the chapter the contribution of US Mass media / press in foreign policy processing before First World War till present era would be described from the early days of the Republic. The press has contributed significant and multifaceted role in the development of US foreign policy. Throughout US history, presidents have employed several media practitioners, as private agents including Woodrow Wilson who sent William Bayard Hale to Mexico during another crisis. Similarly john F. Kennedy, asked john Scaly of ABC to play his role as intermediary during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and Norman cousins of Saturday Review to help with negotiations in the Soviet union that culminated in a partial test ban treaty the following year.
WAR WITH MEXICO 1846-1848
During the war with Mexico journalists supported the US policies and wrote stories strongly supporting of controversial military efforts (28)
Even when president Abraham Lincoln imposed strict censorship, journalist supported policies of the govt. they tended to under estimates causalities and report uncritically about strategic and tactical blunder, so indirectly journalist contributed in maintaining / keeping the morale on the home front(29)
It is said that newspapers, played their most important role in the history of US diplomacy during the period prior to the Spanish- American- Cuban – Filipino war in 1898 (30)
In view of critics, President McKinley was the first person who knew how to established cordial relations with press, he handled editors in skillful manner in 1898. He prepared the public for United States intervention during Cuban crisis. Mckinely's modernization of presidential press relations, his skilful tactics were adopted by successive presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taff and Woodrow Wilson. For instance, how the press in United States follows instruction of the govt., it can be understand from this event. The publisher of the Time Magazine, in light of advice of president Roosevelt didn't publish the exclusive sensational interview of the Flamboyant William (Wilhelm) II of Germany in 1908 (31).
In a similar situation in 1961, President Kennedy was successful in convincing the Times not to publish a story detailing the military preparation on the eve of the Bay of pigs invasion (32).
UNITED STATES MEDIA, TWO WORLD WARS AND FOREIGN POLICY
During the First World War, Wilson established the committee on public information (CPI), also called Creel Committee. This committee encouraged support for the war efforts by controlling and manipulating information that reached the public. Journalists play their role in developing and encouraging patriotism, hatred for enemy and support for the administration, military and diplomatic policy (33).
As World War II approached, despite the general non interventionist posture of the most editorial pages, United States media supported the British cause. In this connection, Time, Life and Fortune rendered their meritorious services for the cause of United States policies (34).
In June 1942, President Roosevelt established the office of war information (OWI) and this organization provided information about the war and buttress support for aspects of the war effort. Official of OWI tried to pursuit media executives, including Hollywood studio heads to suggest themes to promote the war efforts (35).
Additionally, radio journalists, had come to play an increasingly significant role in the United States by the beginning of World War II (36).
During the World War II, almost all journalists accepted censorship willingly including being forbidden to transmit photographs that graphically portrayed United States wounded and dead. Moreover, media in United States play down incidents of timidity during the battle of the Bulge (37).
Succinctly, it can be said in convenient manner that United States media supported Washington diplomatic, political and military strategies.
COLD WAR AND UNITED STATES MASS MEDIA
At the beginning of the cold war, the unprecedented involvement of United States in international politics, the United States mass media fully supported the foreign policies. It was dangerous for print and electronic media practitioner to defy or challenge administration policy after 1947 because the media men might be labeled as the communist or agents of former USSR . The establishment media, including such newspapers as the Times and the Herald Tribune and such news magazines as Time and News Week, these magazines rarely criticized the foreign policies of Harry S. Truman during Cold war (38).
The radio and emerging TV networks followed the footmarks, of print media in supporting United States foreign policy.
Moreover, prominent opinion builders, and states department officials enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. For example renowned columnist Walter Lipmann and James Reston rendered their expertise in promotion of United States policies.
Nevertheless, during the Korean War, United States mass media carried out the line of direction of United States govt. in December 1950, after complaints from Seoul , full censorship imposed by White House was accepted by the United States mass media in the name of greater national interest. (39)
Literally speaking, the public in United States had accepted such popular instruments of containment as the Truman Doctrine; the Marshall plan and the North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) because United States mass media supported policies and rarely criticized these policies in their publications (40).
Even the media had not published any material against CIA's covert activities (CIA orchestrated civil war in Guatemala to empower pro western regime).
In spite of exclusive stories dug out by New York Times and the Times, the publisher compliance with Washington request and had not published any thing about it may be called nefarious, subversive activities of CIA (41).
According to one classified report, CIA also recruited journalists, on the pay role and these worked for promotion of United States foreign policy. Moreover, it often planted false stories in press to fulfill certain foreign policy goals. For instance, several media men backup by CIA, initiated a disinformation campaign in the media against Libyan President Moammar-al-Qadaffi in order to lay the ground work for military attacks against Libya (42).
THE VIETNAM WAR AND UNITED STATES MASS MEDIA
Generally speaking, there is popular view about the role of United States media in Vietnam War that mass media played an unpatriotic role in Vietnam that the war was lost more than in the pages of the New York Times and on the CBS evening news than in the battle field. Due to this popular perception about media, the military authorities kept journalists at arm length from the combat (e.g. United States military invasion of Grenada in 1983) (43).
Apart from the popular view which created negative impression about the role of journalists, in the war. There is another positive view with perspective of United States foreign policies, that most of the times, media men tended to follow pentagon / White House line on military
progress not only in field but on the combined United States and South Vietnamese efforts to win the hearts of the people.
It is also true that TV depiction of dead and wounded American soldiers helped to demoralize TV viewers. Moreover, the media had given sufficient coverage to antiwar movement on the home front. The media is generally blamed for ignoring the silent majority that supported United States foreign policy regarding Vietnam War. Nevertheless several journalists such as David Halberstan, Charles Mohr and Neil Sheehen, supported United States movement in the war. (44)
Last but not least sentence regarding the media men that they more or less supported United States policies, for example even journalist with an antiwar bias, tended to treat anti war movement in an unfavorable manner (45).
TV AND FOREIGN POLICY
TV has been significant to American foreign policy in two rather distinct ways. Since the 1950s, most of the American consults TV transmission for keeping alive to what happens outside United States . Secondly, TV has itself become an instrument and an issue in foreign policy formulation process (46).
As Mc Namara Kevin has rightly remarked that news media particularly TV appear to be assuming an ever larger and significant role in vital affairs of state. For instance, the first major international crisis following the cold war witnessed endless jostling by Washington and Baghdad to score propaganda points during the months leading up to the operation Desert Storm (47).
One of the United States leading magazines News Week has written about the role of TV as an instrument of propaganda in days of crisis that “TV has once again become the water in which world events swim” (48).
More and more from the 1970s through the 1990s, TV has played a role in influencing foreign policy and has been effectively used by the United States officials for accomplishment, of the goals of United States foreign policy (49).
TV has become the best source of information and disseminates the news of events happenings around the globe. It is all possible due to technological developments of mini cam cable systems and innovation of satellite system.
It is significant to mention here that TV has played a notable role in Egyptian peace talks with Israel in 1977, when Jimmy Carter was sheet anchor behind the Middle East peace process. Similarly, role of TV in Iranian hostage crisis when the militants who had taken United States hostages in Tehran in 1979., inflamed anti Iranian feelings in United States literally speaking, proved its worth and significance in decision making process (50).
TV AND GULF WAR
The main stream media in USA had to go along with Washington line of directions. For example, when in late January 1991, more than one hundred thousand American demonstrated in Washington to oppose the launching of the air war over Iraq , most of the TV network plays down and ignored the event. Prior to that demonstration “approximately 3000 minutes of coverage of the Gulf War build up on network evening news cast from August 8, 1990 through 3 rd January 1991, only 29 were allocated to those who opposed the buildup in Saudi Arabia (51).
It is said that it was TV and not the print media, however that most influenced the development of the Persian Gulf War “that was the first” living room war in the sense that viewers in America and around the globe watched some of the action in real time (52).
During Gulf war, the Bush administration, kept in its mind the lesson of Vietnam War in light of role of media, imposed strict censorship to the work of more than one thousand media practitioners, who covered the action from Saudi Arabia (53).
William Hatcher has written in his article that during Gulf war “Western journalist chafed at the restraints on coverage, complaining that there was an enormous amount of news that they were prevented from reporting (54).
However, journalist had to be content with polished renditions of events offered by the allied forces; consequently they became merely “Supernumeraries to general Schwarzkopf and his brigade of medal-bedeckel smooth talkers (55).
In the case of Gulf war of 1990-91, American had a clear opponent, Iraq , and objective of allied forces was victory, the military imposed the censorship on the news media to control the free flow of news from the battle field (56).
Under these uncongenial circumstances only few journalists tried to by pass the censorship imposed by the military, eventually, those daring journalists had to face hardships in form of displeasure of allied forces as well as anger and indignations of all and sundry in United States (57).
Edward & Herman has comprehensively analyzed the submissiveness of mainstream media in the Gulf War. He writes that United States mass media cooperated with Bush administration in its various strategies for mobilizing consent. The main stream media was used by the white house for its foreign policy objectives. In return, the United States mass media used classical propaganda techniques against Iraq and portrayed Saddam Hussain as villain and Hitler (58).
It is ironical to mention here the double standards of American that the Reagan - Bush administration had actively supported Saddam policy of aggression against Iran from 1980 to 1988. At that time United States media had followed the official line of directions and supported Saddam Hussain policies (59).
The mainstream media fabricated stories regarding atrocities of Saddam Hussain and depicted him as an evil force. Demonization campaign against Iraqis and Saddam Hussain was accompanied by new fabricated story. A classic was the alleged of several hundred babies from incubators in Kuwait hospitals following the occupation (60).
The main stream media in United States , without any verification and authenticity accepted the story and same was disseminated by the United States mass media including CNN (61).
Another important aspect of the Bush administration, Gulf War program was to place United States military in Saudi Arabia . In these connections, American media leveled the ground and created a hype that Iraq was planning to invade Saudi Arabia . This claim was almost certainly a part of propaganda campaign against Iraq as Iraqi officials categorically asserted that it had no such intention. But mainstream media, nevertheless accepted the Washington version without questions and suggested vigorous military action against Iraq (62).
Another important area, where mainstream media cooperated with Bush administration was the rejection of diplomatic track for averting war. For instance, Iraqi govt. made at least five diplomatic approaches, and proposals, all summarily rejected by the United States govt. (63).
In this process the United States media served Bush administration policy by giving nominal attentions for these diplomatic efforts. The last but not least when the Washington kept repeating that the Bush administration had tried and exhausted the diplomatic option, the main stream media in United States also accepted it as true and served as subservient to United States policies (64).
Moreover, the United States mass media had given minimal attention to the demand of public opinion poll as reported in Washington post that two third of American public favored a conference on the Arab Israeli conflict, if that would lend to an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait (65).
It can be said that media, as desired by pentagon and White House official, suppressed and failed to encourage a debate on political solution favored by the public. As mentioned earlier, the Bush administration imposed censorship on free flow of news. In return the mainstream media mildly protested against the censorship and helped the Washington to produce genuine war hysteria (66).
Douglas Kellner has done critical analysis, of coverage of mainstream media during the Gulf War in these words. “the main stream media presented incredible PR for the military, inundating the country with images of war and new high tech military for months, while the brutality of war was normalized and even glamorized in the uncritical media coverage. The culture of militarism became the main stream culture after a period when war and the military were in disfavor throughout the Persian Gulf TV war (67).
The main stream media carried out Bush administration policy during the war, United States mass media as instrument of propaganda, disseminated innumerable rumors, fabricated stories regarding the size of Iraq's military forces in Kuwait and chemical and others arms capabilities, alleged exclusive Iraqi responsibility for oil spills, number of Iraqi hostages taken from Kuwait in the final exodus and the legitimacy of United States targeting (68).
Moreover, the United States mass media provided an apologetic cover, when in the last round of the war, American forces, on the so called, “Highway of Death” ruthlessly massacred / genocide thousands of fleeing Iraqis. The mainstream media deliberately neglected the bombing of United States forces and portrayed that fleeing Iraqis were freebooters (69).
During the Gulf war, United States military forces openly violated the UN mandates and international law and morality, brutalities and atrocities of United States forces were at its peak and unprecedented in history of media war, for e.g. United States forces destroyed infant formula factory in Baghdad . ( United States official claimed it was preparing biological weapons). Later on, it was proved baseless, but United States mass media without any verification, accepted the version of United States official (70).
Succinctly, it can be said that mainstream media served the goals of United States foreign policy in the Gulf war. Similarly, after the war, the United States mass media touched very lightly on the fact that the fight for democratic grounds did not includes bringing democracy to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia . As pin pointed by Edward Harmon, American media paid little attention to the retaliatory killings in Kuwait , which may have exceeded the inflated and indignantly publicized Iraqi execution of Kuwaitis (71).
It is significant to describe here that main stream media in its aftermath coverage had given more attention to Iraq obstruction and refusal to permit inspection, over flights and destruction of its military resources. These issues were highlighted by the United States mass media; eventually it resulted in limitation on Iraqi trades and oil sales. The United States govt. imposed economic sanction on the Iraqi govt. (72).
The mainstream, media in perfect accord with the American foreign policy agenda, deliberately paid no heed/ attention to Iraqi civilian hunger, sickness and death but focused unrelentingly on Iraq alleged foot dragging on weapons control (73).
In short , it can be concluded without any complexities and in convenient way that during the Gulf War, United States media coverage was to an extra ordinary degree a servant of white House policy. In the crucial month, before the Gulf War, the media was used as tool of war mobilization.
The mainstream media failed to disseminate factual and opinion basis for pubic evaluation. The last but not least it can be said, after the war, the main stream media served on going United States govt. foreign policy.
COVERAGE OF FOREIGN NEWS BY THE AMERICAN MASS MEDIA:
In view of Timothy J. the United States mass media/channels have been criticized for slanting, biasness and negative approach in connection of coverage of foreign news. American media pay great heed and consideration to United States foreign policy objective in coverage of international events (74).
United States official, always talk about freedom of press, free access to information as well as owners of US mass media claim with stentorian voice that their channels are harbinger and custodian of objectivity, on the contrary many American journalists have been threatened / prevented for covering foreign issues in ways that threaten the interests of corporate powers (75).
For instance, several media practitioner have been deprived access to first hand information during American military actions in Panama and Gulf war (76).
For example, when reporter of New York Times submitted news story about the genocide implication the United States backed regime of El Salvador , upon this the reporter was dismissed from the job (77).
Several mass media studies depict the way United States govt. took every measure to keep the freedom of media within its limit, whenever American interests were at stake. But media mangers always try to remain step ahead to govt. in order to pursue the objectives of American foreign policy (78).
Critically speaking, American media is blamed for policy of dichotomization for pro American and anti American states. As Graber Doris has remarked about American media that the media routinely accept official designation of whom America 's friends and enemies are, and interpret their motives accordingly (79).
Double standard or policy of dichotomization has been used by the United States mass media in dealing with the coverage of similar events in countries with cordial and unsmooth relations with United States . For instance, soviet fighter plane shot down Korean Air Line flight, 269 passengers had lost their lives in this incident, in 1983. While in 1988, American navy ship shot down an Iran air flight, death toll was 290. American mass media portrayed soviet actions as moral out rage but on the other hand declared United States action merely as a “regrettable technical failure”. Time Magazine published this head line about Soviet actions “shooting to kill / the soviet destroy an airliner. While labeled American action “What went wrong in the Gulf?. News week labeled the soviet actions as “Murder in the air, while American downing of Iranian plan with the headline “The Gulf tragedy, why it happened” (80).
Moreover in this tragic incident of shot down of Korean Airline flight 007 September 10, 1983 at that time the Reagan administration was eagerly maneuvering to demonize USSR . The mainstream media joined the Washington campaign with great zeal and zest, expressing great anger and employing invidious language, such as “barbarian”, “savage” and cold blooded murder. In this connection, the main stream media totally neglected and discarded Soviet point of view regarding the incident soviet official claimed that the plane was on a spy mission, and that they were unaware that it was a civilian aircraft (81). In its editorial the New York Times asserted that “there is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner (82).
While, in the case of Iranian airline 655 shot down by the United States, the main stream media had not used invidious language the News York Times editorial in this case adopted / presented this excuse base point of view that “the ones for avoiding such accidents in future rests on civilian air crafts: avoid command zone: fly high; acknowledge warning (83).
The main stream media of United States focus in this incident was on the anguish of the naval personnel ordering the shoot down. The mainstream media, without any reluctance carried out the Washington line of direction and portrayed and the incident according to the desires and aspirations of state department. Consequently, due to the media coverage as shown by opinion polls, a majority of the masses believed that it was a justified action (84).
The policy of dichotomization of American main stream media can be assessed by the incident in which the Israel air force shot down a Libya civilian air liner in February 1973. It is an admitted fact that USA is staunch supporter of Israel . Both states share mutual understanding common interest on several issues. The friendship between Israel and United States is exemplary in the arena of diplomatic politics. In this case, the main stream media had not used invidious and dramatic language.
It was labeled as tragic incidents, the Washington and the mainstream media were hand in the glove in this case to keep publicity and anger indignation at a minimal level (85).
In its editorial, the New York Times stated that no useful purpose is served by an acrimonious debate over the assignment of blame for the downing of a Libyan airliner in the Sinai Peninsula last week (86).
CASE STUDIES OF ELECTIONS IN El Salvador , NICARAGUA AND DOMANIAN REPUBLIC and ROLE OF THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA :
Another subject in which comparative facts and figures sheds light on the subservience of the United States media to the Washington foreign policy objectives in the dealing of third world elections in places of conflict. United States govt. supported the elections in Dominion Republic in 1966, and El Salvador election in 1982 and 1984. These elections were even organized by American officials, as a means of legitimizing the regimes in place. While in other cases, as in Nicaragua in 1984, the Washington sought to discredit an election that threatened to legitimate the Sandinista govt. which CIA were manipulating to topple down (87).
It is highly significant therefore, that United States followed the white House agenda in two sets of elections, without notable deviation. The main stream media allocated more than sufficient coverage to the Salvador elections and stressed alleged rebel attends to disrupt the elections yet on the other hand, American media deliberately by passed the absence of fundamental yard sticks required for a free and fair elections.
While in the case of Nicaragua elections, the United States mass media ignored the turn out and efforts of the contras. The media had not highlighted the efforts of United States govt. to disrupt and sabotage the elections. The main stream media focused incessantly on the trials and tribulations of La prensa and complaints and eventual withdrawal from candidacy of Arturo Cruz. It was later disclosed that Arturo Cruz was on the CIA payroll (88).
Double standards or policy of dichotomization or in other words media submissiveness to United States govt. agenda can easily be comprehend from the policy of the New York Times regarding the treatment of elections in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The New York Times published 28 articles on Salvador election of 1984. In which, the news paper never mentioned freedom of the media or the ability of candidates to run without fear /bug bear of murder. Whereas the newspaper published 21 news stories on Nicaragua election of 1984.
Findings indicates that eight out of 21 (38%) discussed free speech and Assembly; six articles (29%) focused on freedom of press; and eleven (52%) discussed the freedom of candidates to run in the elections. (89)
More over, during the 1980s the Reagan administration agenda was supported by the main stream media regarding more aggressive policy towards USSR (90).
The American media have frequently allowed themselves to be mobilized to serve the White House agenda and foreign policy goals. For instance, the polish govt. has crackdown on Poland 's. Solidarity movement from 1980-82 was assailed furiously by the Washington officials and mainstream media supported White House in this issue. While the Turkish military regime's crackdown on Turkey union movement, this brutal act was ignored by the United States govt. (91).
In this connection, the mainstream barely notices the issue and followed the line of direction, determined by the high ups of foreign affairs. It can be said, different responses of United States main stream media regarding the same nature of event prove that United States mass media, act upon the policy of dichotomization and follow the United States foreign policy.
Joytika Ram Prasad in her PhD. dissertation about foreign policy and press coverage has remarked about policy of dichotomization by American press in these words foreign news coverage by the American media has more or less followed the twists and turns in America foreign policy. That is, when relations with a country improved, coverage of the country also became favorable and vice versa (92).For example, before the tragic incident of 9/11, Pakistan was not in the good book of United States . Mr. Bill Clinton refused to General Pervaiz Mushraf for photo session during his short visit to Pakistan . At that time, United States press was not presenting positive images of General Pervaiz Musharf and Pakistan . The region was obvious, relations between United States and Pakistan was not smooth and cordial. By after 9/11, Pakistan joined the camp of USA in war against terrorism. Eventually relations between both countries improved, American media
also followed a policy of twist. General Pervaiz Musharaf became apple of the eyes of United States Government as well as of United States mass media. The media portrayed him as a great ally and friend of United States Government. It is interesting to mention here that even before the tragic incident of 9/11, American magazine declared General Pervaiz Musharaf as Genteel General due to his westernized and liberal approach/lifestyle (93).
It is reality that General Pervaiz Musharaf is an autocratic dictator, military ruler. But United States mass media presented the soft image of Pakistani president because it was in the interest of United States foreign policy.
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky have tried to explain, in their propaganda model, this twists and turns in nature and extent of foreign news coverage. In their model of propaganda, they have devised five factors or filter which determine news production and dissemination.
These five factors /filters are as under (94).
Size , ownership and profit orientation of mass media
The advertising license to do business
Sourcing mass media news
Flack and the enforcers and
Anti. Communism as a control mechanism
They pinpointed that media conglomerates / media moguls have been playing significant role in determining flow of news, but these media giants (like NBC, Time Warner news corporation, Viacom, Sony, PolyGram, depend heavily upon the government for protection and promotion of commercial interests, with in USA (favors in form of taxes, interest rates, labor policy etc) as well as for conducive climate i.e. diplomatic support to penetrate in foreign countries for their oversees sales. Ultimately, these media moguls tried to fulfill foreign policy goals of United States Government (95).
Similarly, they have explained another factor, due to which mass media channels work for white house agenda regarding the coverage, nature and extent of foreign news. That is “the mass media are drawn into a symbolic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interests (96).
Subsidizes are granted by the Government to the media, in return these channels publish or broadcast extremely dubious stories in order to support Government foreign policy, so for the sake of mutual dependency and close relationship, media, generally speaking, don't vex their sources or people in power corridors. Due to these economics interests, the media rarely criticize United States policy regarding foreign affairs (97).
Moreover, whenever any media channel fail to follow the line of direction of US Government on foreign policy, in such situations, various organizations like American legal foundation, the Media Institute, centre for media, and public affairs etc exert pressure on the channel even the media practitioner are intimidated and threatened (98).
The last but not least, American Government have used the anti communism ideology to influencing the channels policies regarding the coverage of foreign news. Due to the popular wave against communism in USA , the media moguls followed the Washington line on foreign policy. After the disintegration of USSR , communism is no more eye opener /threat to capitalism.
Since then, Islam, Muslims and Islamic world has been portrayed as emerging threat to the west and United States capitalistic societies.
After 9/11, entire paradigm of propaganda has been shifted from communism towards Muslims. The United States mass media, in view of Muslims analyst, have been distorting the image of Muslims overwhelmingly since 1989.
Because Muslim analyst, presented this perception that United States Department related to foreign affairs invented a new bogy, bugbear to fill the vacuum created by nearly world wide dissipations of communism in shape of disintegration of the USSR (99).
CNN EFFECTS OF FOREIGN POLICY
Primarily, foreign policy decisions making and significance of mass media is analyzed in two ways. They are called
Manufacturing consent means mass media follow the line of direction as suggested by Washington or white house and Pentagon with perspective of USA . While CNN effects, as it is obvious from the term, that media plays a significant contribution in development of Government policies as well as drive and motivate Government official, to take up prompt measures for addressing the issues. In first part of the chapter, foreign policy formulation process has been discussed, analyzed and described in light of manufacturing consent perspective.
The scope and impact of media in formulation of United States foreign policy or in other words CNN effects and foreign policy would be slightly discussed in this part of the chapter.
Paula J Dobriansky and Diana McCaffrey have explained and discussed the media influence in foreign policy making in United States . Similarly, Patrick O Heffernans conducted an empirical study of mass media influence on America foreign policy. He analyzed media effect, with perspective of Somalia , Middle East and Vietnam War. He found that the American mass media have a pervasive impact and influence in the foreign policy process, shaping the tone style and emphasis of United States foreign policy in various ways and varying degrees. His findings also indicated that United States mass media have played an active role in foreign policy development and execution (100).
It is said that TV has been performing various roles in the foreign policy making process. These roles are:
In view of Heffernan Agenda setting is perhaps the most frequent role the press plays. Media coverage of an event, especially on TV can magnify an issue on the nation's foreign policy agenda (101).
IMPACT OF TV NEWS ON UNITED STATES INTERVENTION IN SOMALIA
In view of Kevin J. TV news drive and dictate the American agenda from Ethiopia to Kurdistan, from Somalia to Haiti, through Rwanda, and Bosnia, the White house has responded with public hand wringing, relief efforts, token military strikes, and peace keeping contingents. Such responses supported the claim that TV images expedited American initiatives in foreign countries (102).
For instance, in the case of Somalia, Ted Koppel, an anchor person of ABC News explained that TV highlighted the images of starving / Somalis, these images resulted in United States led United Nations rescue operations. Similarly when, during the rescue operation few American service men died. According to Koppel televised image of one of those men in particular, the dead ranger being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu . Due to these images, public opinion forced the policy makers for the withdrawn of American forces from Somalia (103)
It can be said that televised images caused the American to intervene in Somalia in 1992.
Bernard C. Cohen has commented about the impact of TV in these words that TV has demonstrated its power to move Government officials. By focusing daily on the starving children in Somalia , televised images mobilized the conscience of the nation public institution, compelling the United States Government into a prompt policy of intervention for humanitarian reasons (104).
Jonathan Mermin has focused on coverage of Somalia on ABC world News tonight, CBS evening news, NBC nightly news and CNN from January 1 through Nov 29, 1992 . The findings of the coverage also proved the impact of United States mass media on policy of intervention in Somalia (105).
Similarly, Marc Genest has focused on the Mass media influence on the 1981-87 negotiations between United States and former USSR over intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe . In this connection, he has studied 2000 minutes of report on intermediate range nuclear forces coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs. He also analyzed a random sample of the 4800 articles, columns and editorials on the issue in the New York Times and Washington post. His findings presented convincing proof that United States media established the agenda for policy makers (106).
Another example in this connection, how the media set the agenda for policy makers is often quoted of Bosnian coverage in US Mass Media in 1995, it was declared the top international news story. According to the center tabulation of 13617 reports had been telecast on the evening news program of ABC, CBS and NBC.
The findings indicate that 70% of news sources who offered an opinion criticized the White House policy regarding Bosnian crisis. Similarly, American mass media criticized Clinton 's Haiti policy. It was one of the top TV news stories of 1994. The report highlighted that 88% of news sources were critical of Washington policy about Haiti (107).
The scope and impact of televised image on United States policies further can be understood from these instances. United States have responded quickly to the famine in Ethiopia and Somalia , because the camera magnified the issue. Similar, famines in the Sudan was not highlighted because TV cameras were not there. As the United States government was more hostile to the 1989 shooting of pro-democracy demonstration in Beijing because these could be seen on “idiot box”, than to similar shootings in Burma in the same year, where more people lost their lives but no TV camera were on hands (108).
But on the other hand, several researchers like Livingston (1995) Jacobsen (1996, 2000), Robinson (1999, 2000, 2001) in general and Mermin (1997) particularly have negated the concept of CNN effects and proved from his findings that TV images are not as pervasive, powerful in formulations of foreign policy process (109).
Mermin, in his research article entitled “TV news and American Intervention in Somalia ” has explored that white decision were the key to the subsequent coverage of the events, which fluctuated in amount and significance in connection to what was going on in Washington . He pinpointed that broad cast was also drawn in relation to the preference / priority Somalia played in the United States agenda. He concluded that Somalia were never in the top of the news coverage during July, 1992, because it was not on the priority of foreign policy agenda (110).
In this connection it can be said that TV only provides a lens but leadership provides the focus (111).
The debate about relationship between the mass media and foreign policy decisions making process with perspective of CNN effect and manufacturing consent may be called unending process or unfinished agenda. Because much has been said and written about the both aspects Generally speaking, several researchers are still arguing whether the American foreign policy agenda is established or decided at the White House or at CBS. Nevertheless, after conducting in-depth analysis of United States mass media and foreign policy development process, it can be concluded in convenient manner that manufacturing consent factor has been remain more visible and dominating in connections of role of American Mass media in serving the goals of US foreign policy.
The war with Mexico
First world war
Second world war
Case studies of elections in Dominion Republic
El-Salvador and Nicaragua
Campaign against Islamic revolution of Iran
Diplomatic relations with China
Propaganda campaign against Libyan president Qaddafi
Cast studies regarding the coverage of India in American press
Relations with Cuba ,
Image of Iraq during Iraq - Iran war & Gulf war
It is the admitted fact and clear evidences have substantiated this concept of manufacturing consent, that United States mass media have served the White House agenda and foreign policy goals. It can be concluded in simple words that American mass media performance has been driven or dictated by the states political communication regime, Government communication policy and according to the priorities set by the foreign office.
As Mermin has rightly concluded that American journalist turns to politician and White House official for guidance in deciding what constitute news. Furthermore, Washington constitutes a place where news worthy information is made public every day (112).
In other words the American mass media has covered international affairs from the perspective of United States perceived foreign policy interests and priorities.
It can be said in convenient manner, that it has been observed that American mass media proprietors, and practitioners became extremely patriotic and nationalistic during period of crisis. They have highlighted president's view and policies and thus contributed to the phenomena of relying around the flag.
This was clearly evident in umpteen crisis as mentioned earlier about role of Mass media.
After 9/11 the American mass media have adopted the policy of submissiveness and served the White House agenda related to Iraq , Iran , Syria , Afghanistan , Pakistan and above all war against Al-Qaeda /terrorism. On the other hand, CNN effect or impact of media in changing government foreign policies has been relatively lesser as compared to manufacturing consent concept.
Succinctly, various structural analysis and empirical evidences of United States media performance in the periods of crisis have strongly supported these perceptions / view that United States main stream media have followed White House agenda in reporting on foreign affairs or policies.
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