Follow the Money: A Study in How Money Matters Work Where Narratives Are Concerned.
"We now have a coalition of the willing that includes some 30 nations who have publicly said they could be included in such a listing.... And there are 15 other nations, who, for one reason or another do not wish to be publicly named but will be supporting the coalition."—U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, March 18, 2003.
Of the 34 nations who were willing to be included in a “coalition of the willing” list, just five provided troops for the invasion: Britain, Australia, Albania, Poland, and Romania. Romania and Albania were attempting to achieve membership in NATO at the time, and for that to happen, President Bush would need to go before the U.S. Senate. They sent hundreds of troops, while Australia sent 2,000 and the U.K. sent 20,000 troops.
Of the remaining nations, Chile and Costa Rica wanted access to U.S. export markets, and at the time they appeared as members on the list of the coalition, they were trying to secure free trade agreements with the United States. 80% of Mexico’s export market was in the United States, with its oil exports being consumed by the U.S. as well. Eritrea and Ethiopia appeared on the list as two African nations vying for U.S. support over their border dispute. Guinea was offered a training program to help its government combat an insurgency. Turkey stood to receive some $15 billion in aid and guarantees for its support. Bulgaria, like other Eastern European countries, was also seeking membership in NATO, and without U.S. favor, there would be virtually no chance of membership for the Bulgarians.
In short, money and access to potential profit ensured the composition of the coalition and the patina of multilateral legitimacy for the invasion of Iraq. There was no groundswell of support in any of the countries for an Iraqi invasion apart from U.S. largesse. The two countries besides the U.S. who sent more than 1,000 troops were Australia and the United Kingdom. The former holds the latter of being the native land of Rupert Murdoch, and the latter, like the former, has a significant number of media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Additionally, in Italy, where the false intelligence had been manufactured under the prime minister’s rule, and the prime minister in question was a man who controlled six of the seven national television outlets either as a private owner or as a prime minister in charge of the three publicly owned outlets; the prime minister’s own print outlet had been the conduit through which a uranium yellowcake purchase by Iraq from Nigeria had first been reported, with Nigeria being the erroneous and soon to be corrected country of record once the Sismi secured Niger embassy stationery to forge documentary proof of the transaction.
There was no legitimate intelligence and there was no legitimate coalition of countries behind the U.S.; there was only a war whose justification had been whipped up by corrupt media outlets owned by two oligarchs who had a history a favoring the policies of George W. Bush and rightist parties in general. Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch’s news networks were used to manufacture and engineer support and consent for the invasion of Iraq, with Berlusconi either owning or controlling six of the seven national networks in Italy, and Murdoch moving into Italy with his Sky Italia, which would come to constitute a near monopoly of Italian cable programming.
`With the U.S. providing military support and aid to over 150 countries throughout the world, the fix was in where the constitution of a multilateral coalition to mount an invasion of Iraq was concerned. With two media oligarchs providing vessels of myth and conduits of official state narratives, the public was directed to buy into a narrative where Iraq was a nation on the cusp of developing a nuclear bomb, with an already vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons to boot.
The above reality, combined with a U.S. government whose Executive Branch used taxpayer dollars to manufacture video news releases which were then disseminated as actual news reports which were never accompanied by any honest disclosure of their origin, the American public had no chance of getting an honest or independent overview of the matter of Iraq from the supposedly free and independent media. What’s more, there was no such chance of an independent overview of any other issue, be it Medicare prescription drug benefits, No Child Left Behind, or marriage initiatives and sexual education programs being pushed by the Bush Administration. The media was demonstrably dependent on a statist narrative which aligned with that of media oligarchs who held investments in defense contractors themselves, or whose shareholders held such investments.
While the majoritarian sentiment was one that worried about statism overrunning the private market, the truth was that the state had been expropriated from the people and turned into a lapdog of oligarchs and shareholders. America was no longer a nation of one man, one vote; it had transmogrified into a land of one dollar, one vote. With less than three tenths of one percent of the American population funding the entirety of the 2006 Congressional election campaigns, the die was set.
The government not only brought forth programs and proposals to the American public; it also used taxpayer dollars to fund the development of faux news reports which promoted those programs and proposals. Those fake news reports were then disseminated to local news stations, and consent was engineered and manufactured for various government programs with nary a peep of meaningful or effective dissent. The costs were tremendous: deficits under George W. Bush hit record levels, and over 9,000 Americans have died in Iraq as I write this sentence.
When a state spends a people into record amounts of debt, when it lies to those people to extract their consent and extricate itself from culpability after the fact, who pays? Who gets prosecuted for the fraud, for the torture, for the extraordinary rendition? When a state violates the very law it ostensibly exists to uphold and enforce, where is the accountability? The answer is nowhere. Every advance in eroding the rule of law which occurs as a result of state action only serves as a precedent for the future.
Money was the means and the end. Without money, none of this would have been possible. Without a monetary motive, there was no reason to invade Iraq. The defense contractors of the world are not humanitarians. When Saddam Hussein was our ally, the defense contractors sold to him just as they would to anybody else.
Money is the reason why Rupert Murdoch described Barack Obama as “a rockstar” while compelling his print outlet the New York Post to issue an endorsement of Obama. It’s also why that same outlet broke a story in South Carolina detailing that one of Hilary Clinton’s endorsements in South Carolina came after a $200,000 consulting contract had been inked. It’s why Murdoch described Obama as a racist in an Australian television interview by agreeing with Glenn Beck’s characterization only to issue a denial after the fact through his underling. It’s why Murdoch flipped from the Conservative Party affiliation in the U.K. after over a decade of closely aligning himself with Thatcher and Major, because he recognized that by going over to Labor and Tony Blair, he could potentially tip the balance in his favor insofar as media regulation was concerned. It’s why his contributions to the Democratic Party now outnumber his contributions to the Republican Party.
Money is the reason why the insurance industry didn’t really quash a healthcare reform bill, but instead chose to allow it to be cemented into law, because it would give them 30 million additional customers and $300 billion in new revenue. To average people, ideology matters. It is the way in which they cope with the discomfiting realities of their world; it’s the way they pretend that the world is comprised of either/or extremes.
But the world is much more nuanced than this, and the oligarch who finds it convenient to support a Republican one day can just as easily support a Democrat the next while maintaining a facade of the same rhetoric over the course of both days. The people who hold power in this world do not view ideological extremes or national identities as relevant or meaningful to them in any absolute sense. They regard them as relevant only insofar as they relate to their power. Ideology and political creeds are irrelevant: the oligarchs and shareholders of the world go to whoever will cut them the best deal at the present time.
Consider that for all of the talk of Hilary Clinton being a liberal leftist, Murdoch’s New York Post endorsed her during her New York Senate campaign, and Murdoch contributed to her campaign. What you must also consider is that her opponent, Republican John Spencer, was a pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-border control dye in the wool conservative. It would seem odd that an allegedly conservative media mogul would endorse a pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-amnesty candidate over a Republican whose issue stances represented the most conservative positions across the board. Yet that’s exactly what happened.
To understand why, you must go further back into history, and leap across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom, where the Conservatives had run afoul of their benefactor Rupert Murdoch, he of the long documented ties to Margaret Thatcher. The Conservatives were considering media reform laws which would have tightened the regulatory noose on Murdoch’s market share and media dominance in the U.K., so he bolted over to the Labour Party and Tony Blair, who Blair spokesperson Lance Price admitted “quietly dropped the policy” favored by Conservatives and Labour figures alike which would have imposed media ownership limits. From 1997 on 2010, the media outlets owned by Murdoch would support the Labour Party openly and loudly in elections.
In point of fact, the caption above the Sun said it all on the morning after the Conservative victory over Labour in 1992: “It’s the Sun wot won it.” But when the Conservatives went in the direction opposite to Murdoch’s business interests by supporting regulatory limits on media ownership, he deployed the Sun on behalf of the Labour Party and Tony Blair. At the conclusion of Labour’s twelve year run of dominance in 2009, Labour figure Lord Mandelson accused the Conservatives of having agreed to a contract with Murdoch’s News International.
The Conservatives did not deny that an agreement existed; they merely responded that Labour should disclose their own contract with Murdoch over the prior twelve years in which Murdoch’s Sun had endorsed Labour. According to Lance Price, author of Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v the Media, the contract was real:
“Blair and [Alastair] Campbell took to heart the advice of the Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, on how to deal with Murdoch: "He's a big bad bastard, and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too. You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength."
Blair and his team believed they had achieved exactly that. A deal had been done, although with nothing in writing. If Murdoch were left to pursue his business interests in peace he would give Labour a fair wind.”
In exchange for Labour allowing Murdoch to continue buying up a greater market share and continuing unfettered in his media business, the Labour Party would receive little in the way of meaningful dissent. But when Labour ran afoul of Murdoch, the writing was on the wall in 2005, as the Sun warned Labour that it was down to a final chance. The Sun’s political editor George Pascoe-Watson went on Sky News, itself a Murdoch holding, to note that “"We warned back in 2005 in that election that Labour was on its last chance” after painting the front page of the Sun with the caption “Labour’s Lost It.”
Additionally, another Murdoch outlet, the tabloid News of the World, had a series of illegal surveillance operations conducted on various figures within the British government, including deputy prime minister John Prescott, secretary of state for culture Tessa Jowell, and the Conservative spokesman on higher education Boris Johnson. One of the investigators who worked for News of the World, Glenn Mulcaire, faced charges of tapping the phone of Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes. The private investigator who ran a network of investigators whose specialization was illegally gaining access to private information from police computers, phone companies like British Telecom, and various government agency computers was a man by the name of Steve Whittamore. 27 journalists from News of the World and 4 journalists from the Sun order over 1,000 such searches from Whittamore and his associates, with executives of Murdoch’s companies engaging in 70 such searches, with no fewer than 22 of those searches being outright illegal.
Despite angrily claiming that the public had a right to know in the aftermath of a damages award to Max Mosley, who was videotaped by News of the World with prostitutes, News International, the parent company of News of the World, paid chief executive of the Professional Footballer’s Association Gordon Taylor £400,000 to stay silent about the various illegal wiretappings committed against him by News International’s various papers like the Sun and the News of the World. This had the net effect of preventing the public from ever seeing just how much criminal wiretapping and surveillance had taken place.
And just who was the editor of the News of the World while all of this illegal wiretapping and information procurement was taking place? None other than Andy Coulson, who would go on to become Conservative prime minister David Cameron’s chief press adviser. There would a £1m payoff to the victims of the illegal wiretapping and data procurement operations mounted by Murdoch’s papers, and this would also have the effect of purchasing their silence and burying any public disclosure of the extent of the illegalities in question.
After criminal activity involving Murdoch’s media outlets and the subsequent payoffs to the victims, Murdoch’s media empire was free to continue its campaign against Labour, slowly decimating Gordon Brown over the period of the campaigns in the lead up to the election. As noted by columnist Liz Stephens in her commentary “Murdoch delivers body blow to Brown,” Murdoch’s decision to throw his support to Conservative might have been due to “Mr Murdoch's dissatisfaction over the government's new Digital Britain strategy.” The Digital Britain strategy would have imposed regulatory constraints on Murdoch’s media interests, and Murdoch had traditionally opposed such regulatory constraints in a virulent manner. It would further be revealed that David Cameron had met with Rupert Murdoch in 2008, accepting free private flights from Murdoch’s son in law Matthew Freud in August 2008, and he would wind up on the Greek island Santorini, where he would meet Murdoch on his yacht. A year later, the Sun would flip its endorsement to the Conservative Party just hours after Gordon Brown’s address to the Labour Party in which he urged his supporters to continue fighting on.
Murdoch’s former editor at The News of the World, Andy Coulson, under whose watch Sun journalists illegally surveilled various public figures including members of the government, would go on to become Cameron’s chief press adviser. Additionally, Clarence Mitchell, who had previously described his job as Director the Monitoring Unit in Britain’s Central Office of Information as ‘control[ling] what comes out in the media,’ would go on to work for the aforementioned Matthew Freud at Freud Communications, until taking a position as Coulson’s second in command.
With regulatory control clearly established as Murdoch’s major motivation in throwing political support to specific candidates either directly through his own statements or indirectly through his papers and television outlets, we may proceed to the United States to illustrate the same pattern in order to explain how a supposedly arch-conservative media mogul came to support Hillary Clinton in her Senate campaign only to reverse course and support Barack Obama.
In June of 2007, the New York Times published an article detailing a congressional push to bar any company from owning local television stations that reached more than 35%. Rupert Murdoch owned television stations which reached 39% of American homes, and he would thus be forced to sell if the regulatory effort were successful. Rupert Murdoch’s lobbyists and minions worked to raise the ceiling to 39%, and they were successful despite the fact that the initial bar of 35% had achieved broad bipartisan support which included Senator Trent Lott. As the article noted, Lott had signed a $250,000 book deal with Murdoch’s publishing imprint HarperCollins just months before.
In 2004, another crisis would confront Murdoch’s News Corporation when Nielsen Media Research began to switch its technology to calculate ratings, and initial trials of the technology revealed a steep ratings drop for News Corporation. Ratings are the means by which advertising rates are computing, and the lower the ratings, the lower the advertising rates. Murdoch’s strategy was simple: he cried racism, since the ratings reflected a particularly steep drop in programming directed at minorities. He hired the Glover Park Group, a group with connections to the Clinton Administration, to develop a campaign to delay or prevent the implementation of the technology, and the campaign attracted support from Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who wrote to Nielsen expressing her opposition to the technology.
Murdoch’s New York Post ran stories which were critical of Nielsen’s proposed ratings technology, and Republicans Senator Conrad Burns and Representative Vito J. Fossella took up legislation to subject Nielsen to government regulation. The delay which resulted enabled Murdoch to get the ratings from the old technology during the sweeps season, which coincidentally was also when advertising rates were set.
But Murdoch wasn’t done with Nielsen by any means. He continued his opposition to the set top technology used by Nielsen until it became apparent that his connection with the manufacturer might give him some leverage: the founders of the People Meter manufacturer Wegener Corporation had their start in Scientific-Atlanta, which just so happened to manufacture equipment for Gemstar, a subsidiary of the Murdoch-owned TV Guide. And after the implementation of the People Meters which were manufactured by Wegener, a company which was itself comprised of principals of Scientific-Atlanta, whose business relationship with the Murdoch owned Gemstar was documented fact, Fox’s ratings did the exact opposite of what they had done in the initial run of the new technology. Instead of going down, they went up, and Fox News now sits firmly entrenched atop the cable news heap.
Incidentally, Murdoch’s son Lachlan was one of the key members of a group seeking to purchase Nielsen Business Media in late 2009 and early 2010, which was a print subsidiary of the Nielsen Company which held both Nielsen Media Research and Nielsen Business Media. Lachlan would later withdraw from the deal.
In the aftermath of Murdoch’s encounters with a Congress that had tried to lower the ceiling of media ownership to just 35%, and his successful efforts to raise that ceiling to 39%, Murdoch would go on to contribute double the amount of money to Democrats he contributed to Republicans from 2006 on. His Fox News Channel would remain critical of Democratic candidates, but it largely avoided the sort of hard hitting stance it had taken during the Clinton Administration. His newspapers would take contrarian positions by endorsing openly liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton even when they faced staunchly conservative opponents in the general election. Whatever was good for Rupert was the determining factor in the endorsements and coverage of his newspapers and television outlets.
In general, influencing outcomes for a conservative ideology was a secondary motive to ensuring that his ability to do business as he saw fit, regardless of any concerns for media consolidation and the gradual erosion of an independent media. Conservatism was a marketing gimmick for Rupert Murdoch rather than a deeply held personal ideology. He recognized an absence in the marketplace, and he tailored Fox News to meet the demand for a conservative news outlet to great success and profit. It was a business decision, and nothing more. Murdoch’s own political predilections and propensities were malleable rather than fixed.
Murdoch’s ability to switch his favor from one candidate to another was an important role for him; it enabled him to play the role of kingmaker, or at least to ensure an easier passage for any candidate who could pass through a campaign without the sort of hostile scrutiny deployed by Murdoch towards Bill Clinton. This would be a critical advantage for Barack Obama, as Murdoch’s outlets generally refrained from castigating him or holding his prior life up to any sort of exhausting scrutiny. The bare minimum was done, but by and large, the sort of in depth exposes which had characterized Fox News’ examination of the Clinton Administration were largely absent during Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign.
Moreover, the tenor of regulatory oversight was set: if you left Rupert Murdoch alone, his media outlets would leave you alone. As noted in a previous quote which concerned an agreement between the Labour government of Tony Blair and Murdoch:
“You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength.”
If you failed to leave Murdoch alone, his outlets could and would cut you to pieces. Their methods could include illegal wiretapping and data mining of sensitive information, videotaped sting operations of your advisors and underlings in compromising situations, and embarrassing revelations about your past. Far from being a far and balanced outlet, Fox News was a powerful tool of intimidation that could be deployed to deter any politicians from wandering too far in a direction that Murdoch and his peers considered undesirable or inconvenient.
Moreover, an ally like Murdoch could be your best asset in trying to sell a political narrative where a war or a policy initiative was concerned. What is perhaps unsaid in all of this is quite simple: if there was an agreement between Murdoch and the Labour Party in Britain during their twelve years of dominance, who’s to say there wasn’t a similar sort of understanding during the Bush Administration that carried over into the Obama Administration? After all, the Administration came down on the side of Murdoch during the debate over the 35% ceiling. While Murdoch might not have owned the U.S. government outright, politicians within that government understood the necessity of remaining simpatico with Murdoch’s interests and concerns. When you left office, his print outlets could be the publishers who offered you a lucrative book deal, or not.
The fact is that ideology plays well in Peoria, but in the world occupied by Rupert Murdoch and other oligarchs of power, ideology is a means to their end: increased power and regulatory flexibility. This reality is not confined to Barack Obama; it is also present among other purportedly right wing publishers like Mort Zuckerman, whose newspaper endorsed Obama and who is publicly on record as having voted for Barack Obama. Mort went on to claim that he had written a speech for Obama, only to draw back somewhat in an ambiguous clarification after the initial claim.
While the folks at home get irate over this, that, or the other where ideology is concerned, the oligarchs continue consolidating their market share and the power that goes along with that market share. The same oligarch who brings you Fox News and pays Glenn Beck contributes twice as much money to Democrats as he does to Republicans; he endorses a pro-choice, amnesty-supporting, gay marriage advocate over a pro-life, anti-illegal immigration, traditional marriage advocate. Your support of his networks increases his rating share, which in turn enables him to gain higher advertising revenue; revenue which he then gives to the likes of Hillary Clinton and Harold Ford.
You can pretend that you’re striking a blow for conservative causes by watching Fox News and disdaining MSNBC and CNN as part of a liberal media, but the reality of the matter is that you are merely a manipulated individual buying into an illusion. The shows of the Fox News Channel represent an effort to pander to a previously unaddressed demand or demographic and nothing more. Ideology does not matter to man behind the curtain, be it Rupert Murdoch or Mort Zuckerman. Their beliefs, like the product they package in the form of news and punditry, are transient and malleable. For the short time that it suits them to be right wing, they are; but the moment it becomes necessary for them to adapt their beliefs for the purposes of profit, they can compromise principle as necessary.
The net result is that individuals like Barack Obama are not thoroughly vetted before they attain high office, and that the hard questions about experience and qualification are not asked. What is substituted in the place of those hard questions is a tabloid tangent, a venture down the Reverend Wright winding road of invective and hyperbole. Ultimately, it is irrelevant what Reverend Wright says from the pulpit in church, just as it is irrelevant that a John Hagee rants and raves to no end about the impending apocalypse and homosexuality, because neither Barack Obama nor John McCain have any real belief system rooted in those remarks. They, like the oligarchs who make or break their candidacies, have transient and malleable belief systems which enable them to adapt their convictions to the context in order to maximize their own power, or at least what they perceive to be in the interest of furthering that power.
The fact remains that neither McCain nor Obama had any real plan which would have addressed the economic crisis in any meaningful sense. The election of either man would have ushered in the same old hands whose policies of deregulation and unfettered derivatives markets, combined with a loose monetary policy and easy credit, led to the current crisis. On McCain’s side, we would have had the re-emergence of Phil Gramm. On Obama’s side, we had the resurrection of Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and Tim Geithner. The difference between McCain and Obama’s economic approach would have been quite simple: in the case of the former, a hands off approach to the financial sector would have been accompanied by a deficit increasing tax cut; in the latter’s case, the same approach to the financial sector will be accompanied by a tax hike when the Bush tax cuts expire.
None of the four men mentioned had any interest in fixing the crisis if it meant substantially changing the regulatory environment. Their interest was resolving the crisis in such a manner as to allow the banks to continue in the same manner as before. Nearly two years after the crisis began, toxic assets are still on the balance sheets of the banks, even after an infusion of $23.7 trillion in loans and guarantees through the exploded TARP bailout. In point of fact, the crisis is demonstrably worse because the banks have used the loans and guarantees to purchase more exposure to the securitized debt and the sovereign debt of nations who are themselves insolvent.
Far from unraveling the crisis, our government has compounded it, and the various news channels have been complicit in the crimes of the government, be it in the torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite incarceration, denial of trial and legal counsel, or the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, or the banking crisis. So long as the regulatory proposals of the government aligned with the increasing consolidation of the media monopolies, there was no real effort to investigate until well after it was too late to prevent the egregious behavior of the government. Instead of interventions, we were left with autopsies after the fact which served as much to exculpate the government as they did to explain what happened.
The narrative of the state as a hapless entity unable to foresee the crisis due to extenuating circumstances prevailed every time, be it where 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, the mortgage fraud which led to the subprime housing crisis, or the spread of that crisis to the wider market was concerned. We were expected to believe that our government was too incompetent to foresee the problem on the one hand, but that it was entirely qualified to fix it after the fact. This was pure myth. Our government was never that incompetent. It was, however, corrupt and willfully ignorant.
And why not? The fact remained that there were hundreds of billions of dollars to be made in such crises, be it Halliburton in Iraq or various contractors who made their fortunes rebuilding New Orleans and converting its public education system into a charter school system. Any journalist who betrayed their own ethics in order to foist a fake narrative on the public would simply jump from their present job to employment with Fox News and a position with the neoconservative Manhattan Institute. Though such sloppy reporting was in many ways responsible for drumming up a groundswell of public opinion in favor of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, an occupation which has led to over 9,000 American soldiers dying, the reporters who went along with the narrative and the myth would escape any real culpability for their role.
If you were on the left, it was no different. Peter Arnett of MSNBC and National Geographic was terminated for stating the obvious during an Iraqi TV interview:
"The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan. Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces."
He was fired for the remarks on Monday, March 31, 2003 and hired by the Daily Mirror on Tuesday, April 1, 2003. NBC News President Neal Shapiro’s statement on the matter included the following:
“"It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time of war, and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview..."
Why was it wrong for Peter Arnett to say this, given that it was obvious that the current American approach in Iraq wasn’t working? Because it conflicted with the narrative being pushed, one which left no room for any possibility that the American plan might fail or was currently failing. The fact that Peter Arnett made the statement that he made wasn’t going to make the strategy any Iraq fail any more than it already had at the time. But the reaction of NBC and the U.S. government was in keeping with a pattern of dissociating blame for failed strategies onto critics who dared to dissent, as opposed to insisting that the neoconservatives who had put forth the failed strategies step down and allow the military to run the war and proceed without interference from draft evaders like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and various others within the Bush Administration.
Given the reality that U.S. military personnel had said more than Arnett about the failures of planning at the beginning of the invasion, one wonders why Arnett’s remarks were such a big deal. Colonel Alan King, who was the head of civil affairs for the 3rd Infantry Division, recalled that “I had got to Baghdad and was told, ‘You’ve got twenty-four hours to come up with a Phase IV plan..On the night of April 8, Colonel Sterling, the chief of staff of the 3rd ID, came to me and said,’I just got off the phone with the corps chief of staff, and asked him for the recommendation plan, and he said there isn’t one. So you’ve got twenty-four hours to come up with one.’” The after action review was even more damning: “There was no guidance for restoring order in Baghdad, creating an interim government, hiring government and essential services employees, and ensuring that the judicial system was operational.”
The reality was that at the time Arnett made his remarks, the die had already been cast and the American war planning had long been exposed as a case study in ineptitude. By all available accounts, other than the narrative being pushed by the media and the state, the War in Iraq was a massive failure of execution and planning. As it turned out, General Eric Shinseki knew a bit more about war logistics than, say, Douglas Feith or Paul Wolfowitz. Arnett’s remarks did not endanger American lives; however, the failures of Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and other neoconservative armchair generals did. But no matter: due to the ideological polarization of the media and the fractious narratives it generated in order to keep the larger population off balance and uncertain of which narrative was accurate and which was inaccurate, Arnett had a soft landing over at the Daily Mirror, just as Judith Miller had a soft landing at Fox News and the Manhattan Institute.
More than anything else, the regulatory environment put forth by various governments determined the coverage of the wars being waged, or the political intrigues undertaken; often with little if any demonstrable connection to objectivity or neutrality on the part of the media outlets covering such matters. What mattered was not the ideology, other than the fact that it roused the rabble, but instead the way in which that ideological outlook kept the masses focused or confused about this matter or that matter. The narratives which shape crises in either case serve the purpose of directing the mob into a mass, so that the masses can be won over to the support of a war or a policy; or so that they might be directed to reject a proposed war or policy. In crisis and in confusion, there is a profit to be made and a gain to be had. Ideology on the part of those who direct the media, be it those individuals within the government or those individuals in the private media conglomerates, is secondary to the profit motive at all times. It is a means rather than an end.
- Coalition of the willing. Steve Schifferes, US names ‘coalition of the willing,’ BBC News, March 18, 2003. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2862343.stm
- Motivations for coalition members to join up. Phyllis Bennis, John Cavanagh and Sarah Anderson, “Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced?” Institute for Policy Studies. February 26, 2003.
- Further documentation of motivations. Jim Lobe, US Building a ‘Coalition of the Coerced,” Inter Press Service, February 27, 2003. Retrieved from: http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0227-03.htm
- Romania and Albania NATO, subsequent difficulties. Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker, NATO Expansion, and a Bush Legacy, Are in Doubt, New York Times, March 15, 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/15/world/europe/15nato.html
- Costa Rica free trade through DR-CAFTA vote. http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00170
- Chile, Turkey, Guinea, and Bulgaria payoffs for coalition membership. Lobe, Ibid.
- Rupert Murdoch describes Obama as “a rockstar.” Jake Tapper, Rupert Murdoch Effuses Praise for...Barack Obama? Political Punch, ABC News, May 29, 2008. Retrieved from: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/05/rupert-murdoch.html
- Murdoch’s New York Post exposé on Clinton endorsement coming on heels of $200,000 consulting deal. Post exposes Hilary endorsement deal in South Carolina for 200k Maggie Haberman, Shocking 200G Hill Deal: Key Dixie Pol Backs Her-&Gets Paid, New York Post, February 15, 2007 Retrieved from: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/item_OFqmlyOsALNCKoZ9UUBJhL
- Murdoch says Obama will win. Hilary Rosen, Rupert Murdoch Says Obama Will Win, Huffington Post, May 29, 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-rosen/rupert-murdoch-says-obama_b_104018.html
- Video of Murdoch saying Obama is a rockstar at All Things Digital Conference. Retrieved from: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid452319854?bctid=1579802959
- Murdoch agrees with Glenn Beck’s assessment of Obama as a racist. Original Sky News Interview here:
- Written account of Murdoch calling Obama racist. Eric Deggans, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch agrees with star Glenn Beck; says President Obama made racist statement, The Feed tampabay.com. Retrieved from: http://blogs.tampabay.com/media/2009/11/fox-news-owner-rupert-murdoch-agrees-with-star-glenn-beck-says-president-obama-is-racist.html
- Murdoch flip-flops in Politico on Obama as a racist. Michael Calderone, Murdoch doesn’t consider Obama racist: Spox, Politico November 10, 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.politico.com/blogs/michaelcalderone/1109/Murdoch_doesnt_consider_Obama_racist_Spox.html
- Deals between Tories and Murdoch, Labour and Murdoch. Andrew Sparrow, Revealed: the deal between Murdoch and Blair, Politics Blog, guardian.co.uk, February 24, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/feb/24/revealed-deal-between-murdoch-blair
- Sun endorses Conservatives. Stephen Brook and Patrick Wintour, Sun turns its back on Labour after 12 years of support, guardian.co.uk, September 30, 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/sep/30/sun-ditches-labour-for-tories
- Sun political editor goes on Sky TV Brook and Wintour, Ibid.
- Illegal wiretapping at the News of the World and the Sun. Nick Davies, Trail of hacking and deceit under nose of Tory PR chief, guardian.co.uk, July 8, 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-newspapers-phone-hacking
- £1m payoffs to victims of illegal wiretapping and data procurement. Nick Davies, Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims, guardian.co.uk, July 8, 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-papers-phone-hacking
- Decimating Gordon Brown. Liz Stephens, Murdoch delivers body blow to Brown, politics.co.uk, September 30, 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.politics.co.uk/news/conferences/murdoch-delivers-body-blow-to-brown-$1330827.htm
- Digital Britain as a motive. Stephens, Ibid.
- Cameron meets Murdoch off the coast of Santorini in 2008. The Madeleine Foundation, The McCanns, Clarence Mitchell, Rupert Murdoch, and The General Election Result, April 15, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk/PDFs/Madeleine%20Foundation%20NEW%20ARTICLE%20-%20The%20McCanns,%20Mitchell.pdf and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1080179/Cameron-took-free-flights-Greece- meet-Rupert-Murdoch-luxury-yacht.html
- Clarence Mitchell ‘control what comes out in the media.’ The Madeleine Foundation, Ibid. Espresso Magazine profile.
- Murdoch and the 35% ceiling. Jo Becker, Murdoch, Ruler of a Vast Empire, Reaches Out for Even More, NY Times, June 25, 2007. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/25/business/media/25murdoch.html?ei=5065&en=b994dee2875bfa23&ex=1183435200&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print
- Murdoch and the Nielsen ratings war. Becker, Ibid.
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