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Media Loses Interest in Iraq War
Lack of 'villain' makes conflict lose luster
Raymond McDonald (ramacdo)     Print Article 
  Published 2006-09-04 12:10 (KST)   
The war in Iraq was big news a few years ago. It should still be, but that appears to be no longer the case. With the regime of Saddam Hussein destroyed, the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction disproved, the link to Ossama Bin Laden dismissed and the intervention of Iraq셲 neighbors unlikely, the war in Iraq is simply no longer a ratings grabber for most news organizations.

Being a regular viewer of the international news channels, I tend to pick up on subtle changes in their coverage of issues, but the increasing disinterest towards the war in Iraq is blatant. The most incredible example of this came yesterday, when I was watching an American news channel. The news reader spoke in great detail about: Tropical Storm Ernesto and how it was going to delay the US Open tennis; polygamist leader Warren Jeffs being arrested; and the danger of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. Then came the line which made me shake my head in disbelief: "and in other news, 29 people were killed in Iraq today." This was said with a smile and no further explanation was given as to who died, how they died, and who killed them.

The nonchalance of the news channels reporting of people dying in Iraq was not a new thing. Since the death of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in June 2006, Iraq has seldom made the front page of newspapers worldwide. It appears, according to the news coverage, that a conflict can be attributed to one man, who acts as the leader of the enemy. Initially it was Saddam Hussein; then after his capture another demon had to be created. Al Zarqawi was painted as some kind of god to all Iraqi insurgents, when in fact he only held authority over, at most, 2 percent of the insurgents in Iraq. Without a one-man enemy to demonize, the media has less interest in the Iraq conflict.

In some cases the demotion of the coverage of the Iraq War has been justified. The obvious example of this was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; however, in terms of violence and casualties, one could argue that Iraq was a much more serious situation. What made the Lebanon conflict more popular with the news media was that there was a one-man enemy, Sayyed Hassam Nasrallah, to whom the conflict could be attributed.

The other issue that stole the thunder from the Iraq War was the countdown to the deadline for Iran to comply with the U.N.'s warning to stop its uranium enrichment program. International news channels all gave regular reports on the countdown to this deadline, as if they were expecting Iran to do something major in response. Fact is, Iran was never going to comply with the U.N. deadline; it had already invested millions into nuclear power. Despite this, Iran's foray into developing nuclear power was considered more newsworthy than the war in Iraq. Yet again, this threat was attributed to one man, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, portrayed as a nuclear wielding tyrant hellbent on destroying the world, despite the fact that Iran is nowhere near creating a nuclear weapon.

Perhaps the most ridiculous issue that overtook the War in Iraq, was the "North Korean Missile Crisis", which consisted of the North Koreans testing missiles based on Soviet technology from half a century ago into the Pacific Ocean. The hysteria which ensued from the American news media was incredible, Fox News showed graphic animations demonstrating how the North Korean missiles could hit America, literally hundreds of times, just to emphasize how "dangerous" North Korea's missiles were.

North Korea is probably the best example of the media's love of attributing a problem to one man. Virtually everyone these days knows about Kim Jong-il, the eccentric heir to Kim Il-sung, who spends all of his money on nuclear weapons, deliberately starves his own people, has the capability to attack North America and has full control over the government of 23 million people -- or at least that's what the media wants you to know about him. North Korea may have nuclear weapons, but it has no real means of using them, akin to having a million bullets but no gun to fire them. North Korea is not a realistic threat to the world, but it does have an eccentric villain at its helm and that's all that matters to the world's news media corporations.

The violence in Iraq shows no signs of stopping. Civilian deaths are a daily occurrence, but they are of little or no interest to most citizens of the nations that started the war. Any distraction from the Iraq War, regardless of how serious it actually is, gets more attention. The disinterest of the general public with regards to the Iraq War will continue until another colossal villain is created, to whom all the bad things in Iraq can be attributed.

- Ignoring the War in Iraq, read by Raymond McDonald 

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Raymond McDonald

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