War and the Media

April 22-28, 2004
War and the Media
By Connie Cissell/ SUN editor
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman Speaks at Annual Le Moyne College Peace Lecture

A packed Panasci Chapel was the site of the Fourth Annual Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ/International House Peacemaker Lecture at Le Moyne College on April 5. Father Berrigan’s brother, Jerome, gave the invocation followed by an introduction by Michael Pasquale, director of International House. The guest lecturer, Amy Goodman, is an award-winning journalist known for her criticism of mainstream media. The annual lecture is named for activist, writer, professor Father Daniel Berrigan, formerly of Syracuse and now a member of the West Side Jesuit Community in New York City. The peacemaker lecture is inspired by Father Berrigan’s commitment to non-violence and peace. He and his brother, Philip, were among those convicted of destroying federal draft records with homemade napalm in 1968 at the Maryland Draft Board in Cantonsville.

Goodman opened her presentation with a video presentation highlighting discrepancies in news reporting during the current war on terrorism. She used the example of the day in Iraq when the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down and compared the coverage of CNN and CNN International. “On CNN all day, we watched that statue go up and down. On CNN International, they showed a split screen. One side showed the casualties of the war and the other showed the Saddam Hussein statue. That corporation knows exactly what it is doing,” Goodman said. “Think about what we see and what the rest of the world sees.” Goodman said that all over Europe there are pictures of casualties shown day and night, but not here in the U.S. Goodman speculated that if the U.S. public saw the true face of war for just one week, there would be no more war. “If we saw the kids blown apart, body parts sheared off, it would be different,” Goodman said. “We see the video war game. We don’t see those people as targets.” The more recent trend of including retired generals as noted experts on the payroll of media corporations also is cause for alarm, Goodman noted. “Why are there no peace activists on those payrolls?” Goodman asked.

“We see romanticized pictures of soldiers against sunsets,” Goodman said. “Why not have doctors and generals talk about the bombs that Lockheed-Martin made and then the doctor could talk about what happens when a cluster bomb hits you.” Goodman spoke about the fact that Michael Powell, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s son, is the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). She spoke about MTV’s decision to drop war-themed music videos and the unpopularity of music that is critical of war. In recent years, Goodman said, Clear Channel Communications has gone from owning 47 media outlets to 1,400. “Dissent is what makes this country a democracy,” Goodman reminded those listening. There are local efforts to gain Goodman’s radio broadcast, “Democracy Now!” air time on public radio stations. The show is broadcast in major cities such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The show questions the Washington establishment and big corporations. There is a responsibility, she noted, to use the airwaves to present the full diversity of thought. One of Goodman’s observations regarded the journalists that are or were “embedded” in Iraq. They are there because they can only report what the U.S. allows them to see, Goodman said. Reporters who were not embedded with U.S. troops received much different treatment, she said. So far, Goodman said, 14 journalists have died in the current war with Iraq. The media here represents an elite minority, not the majority of the people. “The media is not an extension of the government,” Goodman said. “We’re not supposed to be a conveyor belt for those lies.” Goodman talked about her recent trip accompanying Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Jamaica and his forced exile. She has raised questions as to the U.S. involvement in the affair. Goodman stated examples of others who have asked questions, criticized or doubted U.S. policies, reminding those gathered of the Berrigan family and their history.

She said that Father Daniel Berrigan referred to Vietnam as the “land of burning children.” “The Berrigan family has taken this to heart more than any other family — what it means for Americans to take a stand,” Goodman said. “Whenever Americans can speak out it can make a difference. We can turn those guns around. We represent the sword. We provide weapons to these regimes. Every decision we make affects someone, somewhere in the world.” Goodman quoted a recent guest on her radio show who was from a Ghana saying that the guest said that “everyone in the world should get to vote for the president” of the U.S.

Goodman’s first book, a collaboration with her journalist brother, David Goodman, is titled The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them.

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