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US TV networks 'kissed ass', says Wolff

by Ciar Byrne Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:37 AM

"Ass kissing has gone on to a profound degree. It's pervasive throughout all these news organisations. They need the FCC to behave in certain ways. In order to do this we have got to go along to get along," said Wolff, who delivered the keynote speech at today's MediaGuardian forum on war coverage.

US TV networks 'kissed ass', says Wolff

Ciar Byrne

Wednesday June 25, 2003

The Guardian

Michael Wolff, the media commentator and New York Magazine columnist, has accused American television networks of "kissing ass" in their coverage of the Iraq war in return for a relaxation of media ownership rules in the US.

Wolff put forward what he described as the "semi-conspiracy theory" that major media companies in the US meekly followed the flag-waving agenda of the Bush administration in order to persuade the federal communications commission to change its regulations.

"Ass kissing has gone on to a profound degree. It's pervasive throughout all these news organisations. They need the FCC to behave in certain ways. In order to do this we have got to go along to get along," said Wolff, who delivered the keynote speech at today's MediaGuardian forum on war coverage.

He added the FCC's decision to relax media ownership rules came shortly after the end of the war.

"Any reporter in America who would see that quid pro quo in any other business says: 'No, that doesn't happen in the news business'," Wolff added.

Wolff also claimed the system of embedding journalists with troops in Iraq was little more than a public relations operation.

"I have difficulty in understanding why somebody didn't say: 'You're not becoming a war reporter, you're becoming a PR guy'," he said.

Journalists who thought the Bush administration took a risk with the embed system were mistaken, Wolff said.

"One of the thoughts was - this could potentially be very devastating to the Bush administration. What if we saw carnage? What if the coalition forces really were bloody?

"A lot of media people went round talking about that without any realisation that this was the most one-sided war that will ever have been fought in history.

"From the beginning the embedding was safe. They couldn't lose.

"I think the whole principal is intrinsically dangerous. I don't think we should be attached to military forces. There's no way you wouldn't become an adjunct to those forces.

"I don't know how we launched into this without any form of scepticism."

He added journalists who were promised access to the "head of General Tommy Franks" at Central Command in Dohar were forced to become "Jayson Blairs" because of the pressure on them to provide news when they were being starved of information by the US military.

New York Times journalist Blair was fired for fabricating and plagiarising large parts of his stories.

Wolff ran into trouble with the Bush administration when, at a Dohar press briefing, he dared to ask the question: "What are we doing here? What is the value proposition? What do we get out of this?" © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 19 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
The Moral of the Story is... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:40 AM
Dio Eric Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 11:57 AM
^ anti-moron Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:12 PM
Ernie Pyle history bff Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:17 PM
It was me. Eric Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:50 PM
it just goes to show B. Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 12:54 PM
To history Buff Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 2:38 PM
Dio history buff Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 2:43 PM
Whether Rightly or Wrongly... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 2:57 PM
Dio history buff Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 3:05 PM
Oh spare me davie... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 3:14 PM
Dio history buff Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 3:20 PM
Wassamatta'... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 4:06 PM
the people don't discuss things with nutsos like you, dio the people Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 4:12 PM
There are now 3... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 4:20 PM
Of course,.... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 4:26 PM
And another thing.... the people Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 4:51 PM
Let's examine another point... Diogenes Saturday, Jun. 28, 2003 at 8:32 PM
Logical reference 3200fps Sunday, Jun. 29, 2003 at 1:00 AM

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