The role of the media
In Mass-Mediated Terrorism: The central role of the media in terrorism and counterterrorism, Nacos states, ‘The terrorism catastrophe brought Americans and the press closer together, closer than in recent times of normalcy and during previous crises, in particular, the Gulf War.’ This highlights the positive relationship between the media and the people which would mean public opinion was in support of media claims at the time. While researching I found that it was quite clear that the American public’s understanding of the war on terror was directly shaped by mainstream media reports associated with US endeavours in the war. Moreover, exploration of the role of the media posed questions left by the understanding that media reports on the war on terror shaped the beliefs of the majority. I examined how the media were able to generate such support in public opinion for the War on Terror when the public and media relations had been strained in recent times. In 9/11 and The War on Terror, Holloway states, ‘However, early accounts of how corporate news outlets in the US covered 9/11 agreed to a remarkable extent that ‘the media was complicit in narrowing, rather than broadening, meaningful discourse’ about the attacks, and had contributed significantly to a ‘confinement of the parameters of meaningful citizen debate’ about appropriate American responses.’ These comments suggest that the media were initially quite successful in their propaganda attempts as public opinion had been narrowed in regards to 9/11. This supported my research into what extent the public were misled into forming a narrow range of opinions on why 9/11 happened and whether the War on Terror was the right course to undertake.
Some accounts claim the public were unaware of the background of the 9/11 attack and this made it easy for the media to influence public opinion at the outset of the War on Terror. Holloway again supports this notion, ‘the US media had failed to provide even an outline discussion of the contexts from which the 9/11 attacks had sprung… (They should be) providing ‘clarification of the historical background of the event…’ The public had no idea of the history of the middle East and USA’s involvement in the conflict of dictatorships and resources in that part of the world. This again supports the view that the information the public received was limited allowing the media’s propaganda to be successful. The effect of the media on public perceptions is considerable; the public are left forming their own beliefs and interpretations of the War on Terror based on the dubious information given by the media. The research also poses the question whether 9/11 was in fact an act of war or an international crime. The media did not question the appeals of George Bush in the prelude to the War on Terror about the legitimacy of their findings and actions and this was unusual for the US media.
In the lead up to the Iraq War,...