U.S. Media — Hyping the Terror Hysteria

Media mania: There is a good chance the individuals arrested by British police last week were up to no good, but so far there has been no proof that they were about to launch an airline bomb attack of “unprecedented proportions,” as was breathlessly reported last week. No formal charges have been brought against them. Indeed, British authorities just went to court to ask for more time to hold and interrogate them without bringing charges. It’s not even clear how close they were to actually trying to perpetrate the alledged plot.

CNN, for example, chose ‘Target: USA’ as its phrase, Fox News opted for ‘Terror in the Sky,’ and MSNBC neatly combined the two with ‘Target America: Terror in the Sky.’

But that has not stopped the U.S. media — especially the squawking heads of cable TV — from heralding the beginning of “World War III.” The din of dumbness has proved particularly irksome to David Walsh, columnist for the World Socialist Web Site, who provides a comprehensive and compelling case for turning off the television and reading a book:

Since August 10, when British authorities arrested two dozen individuals in connection with an alleged plot to blow up a number of airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean, the American mass media has worked ceaselessly to create a climate of fear.

For the first several days after the news of the alleged plot broke, American news programs were virtually unwatchable. The lurid logos and wild, unsubstantiated allegations made a mockery of claims that the networks and cable channels are in the business of “news-gathering.”

The responses of the cable news channels to events like the August 10 arrests are predictable. One knows ahead of time that each of the channels will have its own sensationalist logo and catch-phrase. However, the combination of limited imaginations and shared political goals—centered on keeping the US population in a state of constant panic—often results in a certain overlap. CNN, for example, chose “Target: USA” as its phrase, Fox News opted for “Terror in the Sky,” and MSNBC neatly combined the two with “Target America: Terror in the Sky.”

Read the rest of the column here.

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