American taxpayers are shelling out $12.5 billion every month to fund George Bush’s misadventure in Iraq, yet this country’s third longest war has fallen off the media’s radar screen. Things have gotten gotten so bad, only 28 percent of people polled in March by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press knew that more than 4,000 Americans soldiers have been killed in Iraq.
The American Journalism Review (June/July) carries a cover story about the media’s lost interest in Iraq. It is a pretty damning piece. One of the best explanations about the lack of coverage comes from Harvard University professor Howard Gardner, a psychologist and social scientist. He said when a story becomes repetitive- - like daily reports of suicide bombings in Iraq -- people “habituate,” or no longer process information. They become numb.
The media must arouse America from its stupor. Tell America about how the $3T cost of the war is ruining the economy and financially burdening the next-generation. Blame Iraq for $4-plus gas. Reveal White House lies/propaganda/con jobs. Expose corporate corruption. Shine a bright light on the political quagmire in Iraq. Scream against expanding the war into Iran. Explain the utter futility of it all. Just do something, rather than playing scorekeeper of violence in Baghdad.
Gardner believes the media are turning a blind eye to Iraq because the “children of the political, business and chattering classes are not dying, so the war is no longer on the radar screen most of the time.”
The Presidential election gives the media another chance to focus on Iraq. Let’s hope they make the difference between Obama and McCain crystal clear. It’s a choice of a timely withdrawal or endless occupation. We have already been in Iraq for too long.