Here’s Robert Fisk’s on-the-scene report of the explosions that killed at least 15 civilians in a northern Baghdad market yesterday: It was an outrage, an obscenity. The Pentagon briefers made it clear yesterday that if the blasts were the result of US bombs or missiles, they were off-target. I think I buy that, as far as it goes. We’ve obviously been trying to avoid events like this (well, at least within the context of having launched an invasion that requires events like this). Other comments I’ve seen have focused on the possibility that the explosions were caused by Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles. But whatever.
CNN carefully edited the Iraqi TV footage to omit the most gruesome parts, while the rest of the world saw it in all its pulpy, bloody glory. And of course, it’s not hard to draw a connection between the sanitized images the US public sees, and that public’s willingness to go along with the lame justifications for the war, while the rest of the world was saying, hey, wait a minute. Do you understand what you’re unleashing here?
Our much-praised free market compels our media outlets to refrain from upsetting us too much. Parents like me would be outraged if our 5-year-olds, whom we persist in leaving unmonitored in front of the TV, were seeing that footage in its original form, and we’d let CNN (and if need be, their sponsors) know in no uncertain terms that we wanted that shit off the air, pronto. And CNN would do it, or their viewers would quickly migrate to another channel that would.
I guess we’d be okay with this stuff being broadcast on some pay channel, like HBO, after 10:00 p.m., when our children are safe in their beds. Too bad those three kids who were burned alive in their overturned car yesterday didn’t enjoy the same sort of protection from this war’s effects.