Tomahawk’s Stall Talks

News Abuse

Written by: Matthew Allred (California State University, Maritime Academy)

Edited by: Aimee Casey (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)

On April 7, 2017, President Donald Trump ordered an attack on several Syrian airfields involving the use of tomahawk guided missiles. While independent media outlets covered the missile story honestly, corporate media outlets used the missile strikes to further fan the flames of war and conflict in the Middle East. Dr. Peter Phillips defines the discrepancy as news abuse in which a newsworthy story is presented in a slanted or non-newsworthy format. Subsequently, the corporate media relegated the validity of the missile story to push the agenda of increased conflict in the Middle East for vested economic interests.

On April 7, 2017, in the early hours of the morning, over 50 tomahawk missiles slammed into the tarmac and outlying facilities of the Shayrat air base in Syria. This is significant because it was the first direct strike on Syrian military facilities since the beginning of their civil war. The attack received both praise and criticism in the international political arena. Many proponents of this attack included elements of corporate media, who have continued to support and promote interventionist policies in the Middle East. Among the independent media, coverage of this event was far more detailed and many outlets, such as Mother Jones, attempted to point out the future effects of such attacks for the region as a whole.

The tomahawk missile story raised valuable questions regarding further involvement in the Middle East. Corporate media along with numerous Democrats and Republicans have called for a larger American presence in the region, while President Trump has previously leaned towards an anti-conflict policy. The effects of American involvement in Syria and the Middle East remain unclear despite similarities to the Iraq war, yet the well-being of and long-term ramifications for Syria’s inhabitants, both personally and economically, continue to be left out of political discourse.

Corporate media used this attack to promote additional military intervention in the region. Both CNN and NBC have sought to establish anti-Syrian and anti-Russian sentiment in the American population, pushing the country closer to supporting the war.  The Washington Post warned that the Cold War-esque situation threatens future conflict with Russia but failed to note any economic interests that benefit from continued conflict.

The corporate media reported the story with slanted and biased coverage for one reason: increased profits. They corporate media served the interests of its owners and shareholders who manage some of the largest energy and defense firms in the world. Continuous war in the Middle East increases profits through government contracts in addition to other economic opportunities for these companies. Therefore, their firms utilize the established audience of the corporate media to increase support for additional conflict and intervention.

Over the last few decades, corporate interests have pushed corporate controlled media to promote an intervention-necessary narrative onto Americans regarding senseless conflicts that benefit only a few monetarily. By using corporate media to control public opinion, the transnational capitalist class has attempted to secure more of its own interests abroad. The airstrikes in Syria are simply the latest in a long timeline of calls to war by the corporate media for the almighty dollar.

News Abuse

Nolan Higdon is a professor of English, Communication, and History of the US and Latin America in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation, Sacred Heart University's Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, the Union for Democratic Communications Steering Committee, and the Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. Higdon is ta co-founder for the Global Critical Media Literacy Project. He has contributed chapters to Censored 2013-2017 as well as Stephen Lendman’s Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (2014). He has published articles on media and propaganda including “Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones War on Your Mind (2013),” “Millennial Media Revolution (2014),” and “Justice For Sale (2015).” He has been a guest on national radio and television programs.
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