1/31/2005

Iraqing the Vote and the Media

From James Wolcott's blog:
Yesterday on one of the Fox financial shows, James Rogers was asked by host Neil Cavuto whether the elections in Iraq would be successful. Rogers said, "They'll be successful because the media will say they're successful," adding impishly, "Fox News probably already has the results."
Rogers was right. Barring catastrophic violence, the media was prepared to hail the elections as a triumphant day for democracy. Despite all the talk about the Liberal Media playing spoilsport and wanting the elections to fail, the coverage yesterday was resolutely upbeat and near-ecstatic today. Yesterday, CNN had cameras around the U.S. where Iraqi expats were voting...one correspondent mentioned that only 26,000 Iraqi exiles out of nearly a quarter million eligible to vote even bothered to register, a remark completely ignored by the glossy, Desperate Housewives-looking anchor, who chirped something about the "pride" beaming from every face. Dan Rather couldn't have sounded more positive about what was unfolding, talking about the blue ink on the thumbs of voters bearing the indelible sign of freedom, etc., not that such inspirational talk will do him a damn bit of good with his fanged detractors. Peter Jennings also highlighted the most positive developments taking place, with none of the raised eyebrows or sardonic undertones for which he's always accused. No, despite all the talk of the Liberal Media or the MSM sympathizing with the insurgents and rooting for disaster, the coverage was geared for good news.
Robert Fisk, in the Independent UK: "The media boys and girls will be expected to play along with this. 'Transition of power,' says the hourly logo on CNN's live coverage of the election, though the poll is for a parliament to write a constitution and the men who will form a majority within it will have no power. They have no control over their oil, no authority over the streets of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police force. Their power is that of the American military and its 150,000 soldiers whom we could see at the main Baghdad intersections yesterday. The big television networks have been given a list of five polling stations where they will be 'allowed' to film. Close inspection of the list shows that four of the five are in Shia Muslim areas, where the polling will probably be high, and one in an upmarket Sunni area where it will be moderate. Every working class Sunni polling station will be out of bounds to the press. I wonder if the television lads will tell us that today when they show voters 'flocking' to the polls."
They did just that.
Which is not to take away from the bravery of the Iraqi people who did make it to the polls, particularly in the most dangerous cities. As Chris Albritton concludes in Back to Iraq, today was a symbolic victory for the Iraqi people over the bombers and beheaders. Indeed, their example should shame Americans, who have curled up into a fetal position with cowardice since 9/11, wanting to the state to make them feel "safe" no matter what the cost to civil liberties and personal freedom here and abroad.
What I dread is how this day will be used by the new centurions. The Iranian blogger Hoder observes today, "On the one hand I'm really excited that Iraqi people have been able to start the path to a potentially democratic political system, on the other hand I'm really upset that this will embolden neoconservatives and will be seen as a confirmation of their dangerous plans for the world."
The Iraqization of Iraq, the democratization of Iran--it's all part of the same endless, widening bombing run.

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