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Manufacturing Consent: How the Mass Media Helps the Government Mobilize for War

September 19, 2001


In the wake of the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, most commentators and editorsfocused on one theme: violent revenge. Here are a few selections:

Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter wrote in the New York Daily News the day after the attack: "This is no timeto be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack.... Weshould invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious aboutlocating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’swar. And this is war."

The same day, Steve Dunleavy wrote in the New York Post: "The response to this unimaginable 21st-century PearlHarbor should be as simple as it is swift— kill the bastards. A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens,poison them if you have to. As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said on CNN the day of the attack, "There is only one way to begin todeal with people like this, and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not immediately directlyinvolved in this thing."

And In a letter to the Washington Post on September 13, Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Reviewwrote, "America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force for good... If we flatten part of Damascus orTehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."The media not only media also amplifies the voices of pundits who call for war, but also citizens: very fewproponents of peace are given a forum on television or the newspapers.Right now we’re going to take a look at the media coverage of the devastating September 11 attack and thepreparations for war, as well as the role that the U.S. media has played in previous wars.


  • Jenine Jackson, program director of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) and co-host of Counterspin.
  • Dan Hallin, professor of communications at the University of California, San Diego, and author of ??The"Uncensored" War: The Media and Vietnam, and ??We Keep America on Top of the World: Television Journalism andthe Public Sphere.

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