When Media Goes to War: Hegemonic Discourse, Public Opinion, and the Limits of Dissent

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In this fresh and provocative book, Anthony DiMaggio uses the war in Iraq and the United States confrontations with Iran as his touchstones to probe the sometimes fine line between news and propaganda. Using Antonio Gramsci's concept of hegemony and drawing upon the seminal works of Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, and Robert McChesney, DiMaggio combines a rigorousempirical analysis and clear, lucid prose to enlighten readers about issues essential to the struggle for a critical media and a functioning democracy. If, as DiMaggio shows, our newspapers and television news programs play a decisive role in determining what we think, and if, as he demonstrates convincingly, what the media give us is largely propaganda that supports an oppressive and undemocratic status quo, then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that they are responsive to the majority and not just the powerful and privileged few.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A pioneering book. It tells the story of how public debate on issues is restricted to the agenda of political elites. The scholarship is superb and the narrative is direct and convincing. I recommend it to students, scholars, and libraries. It is a must read for any journalist dealing with foreign affairs."
-Jamal R. Nassar,College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, California State University, San Bernardino

""In this meticulously researched, highly informative, and timely volume, DiMaggio skillfully explores how hegemonic media messages are shaped and transmitted in mainstream media's reporting of international events. Zeroing in on political coverage of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rhetorical war with Iran, DiMaggio methodically illustrates the interconnections between media, government, and commerce."
-Yahya R. Kamalipour,Center for Global Studies, Purdue University Calumet

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583672006
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony DiMaggio teaches American Government and International Relations at Illinois State University in the department of politics and government. He publishes regularly in Z Magazine and Counterpunch, and is the author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the “War on Terror”;.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent study of the media's role in recent wars

    Anthony DiMaggio teaches American Government and International Relations at Illinois State University. In this well-researched book, he aims to "examine how the U.S. media frame foreign policy in accord with the views of political officials. I demonstrate this point by examining media coverage of U.S. relations with Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan."

    Chapters 1 and 2 examine U.S. and British media coverage of the question of withdrawal from Iraq. Chapter 3 asks whether the media cover human rights violations differently in allied and enemy states. Chapter 4 studies journalistic norms and practices. Chapter 5 examines U.S. and British media coverage of Iran and its civilian nuclear programme. Chapter 6 reviews reporting on Iraq across the world. Chapter 7 asks whether the public responds to changes in information about U.S. acts in Iraq. Chapter 8 looks at the media's effect on public attitudes towards war. Chapter 9 looks at propaganda, celebrity gossip and the decline of news. A postscript reviews media coverage during the Obama presidency.

    DiMaggio examines Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's propaganda model. They alleged that the US media serve, and propagandise on behalf of, society's power holders. Its main features were: growing ownership concentration; advertising as its main source of revenue; reliance on government, business and approved 'experts' for information and opinion; and anti-communism as the overriding ideology.

    The media select topics, distribute concerns, frame issues, filter information, limit debate, 'give little voice to civil society', and marginalise and demonise anti-war protestors. For example, The New York Times never mentioned any critics who called the war illegal, imperial, or as a war for oil.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 that there was 'no evidence' that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme. 2007's National Intelligence Estimate, by 12 US intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

    The New York Times admitted in late 2003 that it had been wrong about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2002-03. But this did not stop it making the same mistake about Iran's WMD, as when it editorialised on 13 January 2006 that Iran has 'no other plausible intent' than 'to produce nuclear weapons'.

    By October 2004, 75 per cent of Americans said that if Iraq did not have WMD, or back Al Qaida, then the USA should not have gone to war. By late 2004, most Americans opposed the war as not 'worth it' and backed withdrawal. But The New York Times backed the war for another three years.

    The author sums up, "an increasingly critical public set the conditions for eventual media opposition to war, rather then the other way round." He concludes, "Members of the mass public reject official spin when it conflicts with their own experiences."

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