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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Media Bias: Bush’s Secret Weapon?

“We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun. It could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” stated a concerned George W. Bush in the documentary “Uncovered: The Whole Truth Behind the Iraq War,” which played in the Media Auditorium in the Healey Library, Wednesday, February 26. The documentary was the first in the William Joiner Center’s Spring 2004 Film Series, “Images of War: International Films from Algeria to Vietnam.”

Robert Greenwald, producer and director of “Uncovered,” has to his credit 49 television movies, miniseries and feature films, and is the executive producer of the compelling 2002 documentary, “UNPRECEDENTED,” about the the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

His Iraq documentary attempted to uncover what lay behind rhetoric like, “weapons of mass destruction” and “Saddam Hussein’s link to terrorist organization, Al Qaeda,” used by the Bush administration to justify a war on Iraq. The film pieces together information gathered from longtime government officials and captured the spin of media coverage leading up to the Iraq War.

Media coverage relied on many statements made by the Bush administration, which is exemplified in a scene which shows George W. Bush stating, “Secretly and without fingerprints he [Saddam Hussein] could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists or help them develop their own.”

In direct contrast to Bush’s statement, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and current President of the Middle East Policy Council Chas Freeman said, “Well the war really had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. There was no connection whatsoever between Iraq and the secular regime there and the religious fanatics who perpetrated 9/11.”

President Bush also claimed Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” saying, “Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard gas and VX nerve agent.”

Peter Zimmerman, who served as the Chief Scientist of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from August 2001 until January 2003, retorted, “Any sarin that they were making in 1990, 1991 had a known shelf life of about 2 months. I have confirmed this with inspectors and analysts who were deeply involved in the 1990’s analyses. Well if you made it 12 years ago and it had a shelf life of two months, it may not be safe to drink, but it isn’t sarin nerve gas any longer. And there’s no way the agency could not have known that.”

Greenwald’s documentary did an exceptional job capturing the slant in media coverage which helped incite widespread public fear, but it was actually more successful at portraying the Bush administration as no more than a bunch of imbeciles.

The film series promises more thought-provoking films in the months to come. All films will be shown in the Media Auditorium, Healey Library, Lower Level at 2:30 on Wednesdays, March 3, March 24, April 7, April 21 and May 5. All members of the UMB community are welcomed and encouraged to attend, admission is free.