Los Angeles, March 29 (Reuters): The CNN early morning anchor grows impatient with the live broadcast of an Iraqi press conference just as the information minister slams the “stupidity” of Iraq’s American invaders.
So she tells viewers: “All right, we are going to interrupt this press briefing right now because, of course, the US government would disagree with most of what he is saying.”
A Los Angeles TV reporter covers an anti-war demonstration wearing a belt with an enormous American flag buckle. Flags also dot the corners of TV screens above crawl lines declaring that this war is called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
News readers sport American flag lapel pins. A reporter in Kuwait tells viewers back home that US troops have “tuned up their weapons like an orchestra on opening night.”
Patriotism has burst out all over the airwaves since the Iraq war begun — with some broadcast news consultants saying it is good for business to play the National Anthem at least once a day and to shy away from reporting too many anti-war protests. The Washington Post’s ombudsman is peppered with complaints that anti-war news is getting relegated to the back pages.
Talk show hosts are warned by one consultant that “this is not the time to take cheap shots to get reaction” because young American soldiers are in harm’s way.
Some television critics call Fox, which has had the highest ratings of any cable news outlet, the “Stars and Stripes” network because it seemingly never misses a chance to praise the President or blast Saddam Hussein.
“Fox is so blatantly one-sided, it is appalling. Every time I turn it on, someone one is saying something evil about the protesters or being pro-Bush,” says Los Angeles Times television critic Howard Rosenberg of the network that maintains that its reporting is fair and balanced.