The Mainstream Media and the US Military, by William J. Astore

The mainstream media has become the military’s biggest cheerleader. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

(I prepared these notes for a talk I gave on “Truth-killers: The Corporate Media and the Military-Industrial Complex,” sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action. David Swanson also spoke.)

I served in the U.S. military for 20 years, and for the last 15 years I’ve been writing articles that are generally critical of that military and our nation’s drift into militarism and endless warfare. Here are two lessons I’ve learned:

1. I agree with I.F. Stone that all governments lie.

2. As a historian who’s read and studied military history for most of my life, I agree that the first casualty of war is truth.

Because all governments lie and because lies are especially common during war, a healthy democracy must have an outspoken and independent media that challenges and questions authority while informing the public.

But the mainstream media (MSM) in America is neither outspoken nor independent. The MSM in America serves as stenographers to the powerful. Far too often, the US military/government lies and leaks, the MSM believes and repeats.

The result is clear: disastrous wars (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) from which little is ever learned, enabled by a media culture that is deeply compromised by, or openly in league with, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC).

Here’s the fundamental issue: We need a skeptical and powerful media to deter the MICC from wars, war profiteering, and folly. The MSM should, and must, serve as a check on the MICC while holding it accountable when it fails. By doing neither, it serves various “big lies,” enabling future abuses of power by the national security state. There is no accountability for failure, so failure is neither punished now nor is it curtailed in the future.

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