5 Years Ago: Why Was Public So Misinformed On Facts Leading To War?

Source: mediainfo.com

By E&P Staff
Published: March 23, 2008 11:10 AM ET

NEW YORK Five years ago today, as the U.S invasion of Iraq continued in its early stages, E&P published an article by Ari Berman, then an intern here, that examined the public attitudes on the eve of the war. He probed polls that found, on the most basic point, that roughly 2 out of 3 Americans backed an assault on Iraq.

But the attitudes driving those numbers raised serious issues about a misinformed public and the media's role. He found that a startlingly high percentage falsely believed that Saddam helped plan the 9/11 attacks or Iraqi hijackers were involved that day, and that Iraqi WMD had already been found.

An excerpt is reprinted below.

When the war dies down, editors and media analysts should catch their breath and ask themselves: How much did press coverage (or lack of coverage) contribute to the public backing for a pre-emptive invasion without the support of the United Nations?

When it came down to crunch time, the American people — as evidenced by opinion polls conducted after President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam on March 17 — supported the attack by about a 2-to-1 margin. Some of this reflected the usual rallying 'round the flag that accompanies every war, but the truth is, Bush always had strong (if nervous) popular support.

So, what motivated Americans to back their president throughout the winter of discontent — when much of the rest of the world strongly disagreed with the need for war now?

Of course, there were many reasons, ranging from partisan politics to genuine hatred and fear of the evil Saddam. But there was another key factor: Somehow, despite the media's exhaustive coverage of the post-9/11 world and the Saddam threat, a very large segment of the American public remained un- or misinformed about key issues related to the Iraqi crisis. Let's look at a few recent polls.

In a Jan. 7 Knight Ridder/Princeton Research poll, 44% of respondents said they thought "most" or "some" of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were Iraqi citizens. Only 17% of those polled offered the correct answer: none. This was remarkable in light of the fact that, in the weeks after 9/11, few Americans identified Iraqis among the culprits. So the level of awareness on this issue actually plunged as time passed. Is it possible the media failed to give this appropriate attention?

In the same sample, 41% said that Iraq already possessed nuclear weapons, which not even the Bush administration claimed. Despite being far off base in crucial areas, 66% of respondents claimed to have a "good understanding" of the arguments for and against going to war with Iraq.

Then, a Pew Research Center/Council on Foreign Relations survey released Feb. 20 found that nearly two-thirds of those polled believed that U.N. weapons inspectors had "found proof that Iraq is trying to hide weapons of mass destruction." Neither Hans Blix nor Mohamed ElBaradei ever said they found proof of this.

The same survey found that 57% of those polled believed Saddam Hussein helped terrorists involved with the 9/11 attacks, a claim the Bush team had abandoned. A March 7-9 New York Times/CBS News Poll showed that 45% of interviewees agreed that "Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," and a March 14-15 CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll found this apparently mistaken notion holding firm at 51%.

The significance of this is suggested by the finding, in the same survey, that 32% of those supporting an attack cited Saddam's alleged involvement in supporting terrorists as the "main reason" for endorsing invasion. Another 43% said it was "one reason."

Knowing this was a crucial element of his support — even though he could not prove the 9/11 connection — the president nevertheless tried to bolster the link. Bush mentioned 9/11 eight times during his March 6 prime-time news conference, linking it with Saddam Hussein "often in the same breath," Linda Feldmann of The Christian Science Monitor observed last week. "Bush never pinned the blame for the [9/11] attacks directly on the Iraqi president," Feldmann wrote. "Still, the overall effect was to reinforce an impression that persists among much of the American public."

Carroll Doherty, editor of the Pew Research Center, told me last week: "It's very rare to find a perception that's been so disputed by experts yet firmly held by the public. There's almost nothing the public doesn't believe about Saddam Hussein."

The question, again, is: Did the press do a solid enough job in informing the public about the key contested issues?

"If the U.S. war against Iraq goes well, then the Bush administration is likely not to face questions about the way it sold the war," Feldmann conceded. "But if war and its aftermath go badly, then the administration could be under fire." Newspapers could be, too.

FSOP . . . . False Sense

FSOP . . . . False Sense of Patriotism (toward questioning government officials); corporate ownership of media outlets alligned with GOP policies (or Friends of Bush) - six media conglomerates today, 250 + independent outlets 10-15 years ago . . .

Maybe the wars were pre-planned for an agenda that the "events" of 9/11 was the tool and switch . . . . (*sardonic smile*) . . . so the planners had a leg up on the unsuspecting media & public to counter ANY questioning via use of intimidation through FSOP and other techniques, basically.

Article today on similar topic:

U.S. Threatened Allies on Iraq, Diplomat Writes

Chilean Envoy to U.N. Recounts Threats of Retaliation in Run-Up to Invasion

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer

23/03/.08 "Washington Post " -- - - UNITED NATIONS -- In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries who withheld their support, spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that resisted U.S. pressure to endorse the war, according to an upcoming book by a top Chilean diplomat . . .

Full article:



"Democracy cannot survive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in news."
-- Dan Rather

"Journalism's job is not impartial 'balanced' reporting. Journalism's job is to tell the people what is really going on."
-- George Seldes

Yes. There were laws against one owner or one group owning

multiple sources of mass media & creating a monopoly! These laws have been broken, and the result is that 99% of our mass media is the hands of those promoting mass deception!

The internet is our strongest ally to help us get the truth out.

Consider mass emailing truth messages. More info here: http://www.911blogger.com/node/13321

Yes . . . In my 20's I was

Yes . . . In my 20's I was against a lot of (the) regulation. By my mid-30's and now In my 40's, I see now why we need it . . .

For starters, we need the Fairness Doctrine reinstituted.

Then we need to re-look at the Sherman Antitrust laws . . .


William Schaap and Disinformation

The entry about William Schaap and his testimony at the Martin Luther King conspiracy trial ought to be looked at very closely. Hundred's of millions of dollars per year are spent on disinformation by government agencies to influence US public opinion. It is no wonder at all that people are so misinformed. Besides operatives on the payrole of FBI, CIA, or NSA, there are "friendlies" in the media that plant misleading to patently false stories for public consumption. His testimony is really very clear on who, and how they accomplish pulling the wool over most everyone's eyes. Especially on something as divisive as war, this network would kick into high gear, distorting the facts, preaching fear, reporting support as strong and unified, when in all likelihood it was as weak as was support in much of the rest of the world.

Look at all of the newscasts from 9/11 and the few days after. Many of them were reporting correctly. They were reporting what they were seeing and experiencing... explosions, secondary explosions, foreknowledge the buildings were coming down, bombs planted in the buildings, controlled demolition... much of what they were saying... even FOX... was in the heat of the moment, and pretty accurate. Then the narative we now know and despise was only beginning to be spread. It was only a matter of days before the myth we now have got firmly rooted through repetition ad nauseum right up to this day.

This is certainly one aspect of the manipulation. A large proportion of the US audience doesn't or can't think beyond the narrow confines of what their TV, or talk show host tells them. And the ultimate sources of the information imparted there is highly suspect.

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