The American National Security State failed to protect the American people yet again, this time in Boston, Massachusetts. Twelve years of ramping up federal, state and local venues with billions of dollars worth of anti-terrorism training, intelligence fusion centers, and equipment was for nought. Chasing “the terrorists” around the world for ten years whether by remotely piloted vehicles (Drones), or Special Forces, could not prevent the carnage of 15 April 2013 at the Boston Marathon.
The USA is bloodied again this time showing that it was unable to provide security at one of the world’s most publicized, legendary athletic events.
The Brothers Tsarnaev succeeded. The mainstream media assisted in the process by channeling their thoughts and emotions of fear and anger that were likely aimed at the elimination of civilians around the globe by the US military and intelligence machinery. The mainstream media was a force multiplier for the Tsarnaev’s as they fanned the flames of their anger rattling American leadership and an intellectually challenged public.
Who designed the security plan for the Boston Marathon? Was it designated a National Special Security Event by the US national government? Should security personnel be fired, demoted? No, wait. There is the lesson of 911: no one was held accountable for the destruction of two of America’s symbols of national power—the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Now that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have stated that the global war on terror is global and waged on the US Homeland, how are we to delineate between terror, crime, and war? What assurances can local, state, and federal officials give the American people besides inane biblical quotes at televised national mourning ceremonies?
Is the US killing of non-combatants (women and children) acceptable around the globe because the intent was to off the enemy and not the child playing with a goat? What’s the dividing line between a American serial killer who downs dozens of children in a school (Sandy Hook) or, over the years, rapes and murders over 30 human beings (Green River), and the teenager and young man who killed and maimed at the Boston Marathon?
In order to obfuscate the failure of the US National Security State, the corporate media takes center stage—with the advice and consent of America’s elite—to get the prevailing national narrative back on track. It’s predictable: everyone in the world is evil; the USA is a force for good; no one could have foreseen the event, and on and on ad nauseam. In short, blame it on someone else and ignore the structural problems in America’s violent, myth-heavy cultural landscape.
The media apparatus must shape the environment, or, post-415 in Boston, get the narrative back on track. The practice is not dissimilar to that of the US military information support operations (MISO). Hence, the New York Times recently said the “the country is jittery.” On what basis did the New York Times make this comment? Were all 315 million people, residing on a landmass of 9.8 million square miles, jittery? And then comes the video from all corporate media outlets showing armed Massachusetts National Guard personnel and Boston SWAT showing force, assuring the public.
And what’s the deal with the State effectively shutting down the city of Boston (technically Watertown) in the search for one human being? “Stay inside,” national security officials say. Chicago, Illinois sported 506 murders in 2012. In the USA there are approximately 16,000 murders each year. And the culmination of evil is a 19 year old from Boston?
Speaking of evil, the World Socialists points this out: “Between the speech Obama delivered in Tucson in January 2011 and the one he gave in Newtown in December 2012, there were—among the many more mass killings across the country—the following incidents: July 2011—A shooting rampage in Grand Rapids, Michigan that claimed eight lives; August 2011—A gunman killing seven people in Copley, Ohio before being killed himself; September 2011—A shooting at a Carson City, Nevada IHOP that killed five; December 2011—Six people shot to death on Christmas morning in Grapevine, Texas by a man dressed as Santa Claus, who then turned his gun on himself; April 2012—A mass shooting at an Asian school in Oakland California that killed seven; May 2012—Five people killed in a shooting spree in Seattle, Washington; August 2012—The shooting deaths of seven at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; September 2012—The killing of six in a workplace shooting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When ‘evil’ recurs with such numbing regularity, it clearly must have deep roots in American society.”
In “Bad News Revisited: The Portrayal of Violence, Conflict and Suffering on Television News” (Journal of Peace Psychology), the authors lay bare the motivations that drive corporate media news coverage. Though the findings are from 1996, their relevancy is timeless.
Stories are often episodic, ahistorical accounts that rely on stereotyped assumptions and fail to provide context or explanation. Instead of communicating substantive information that aids in understanding, television news often focus on emotional and tragic elements that tend to inflame and even obscure what is taking place. Television news thus follows the same pattern of distortion found in entertaining programming. For example, fictitious characters in television are murdered at a rate 1,000 times higher than real world victims. Because television is primarily an entertainment medium, it is not surprising that news divisions tend to select stories for their entertainment value. As a result the distinction between news and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred.
Focusing on conflict reflects the widespread assumption of news directors that people are attracted to violence…the selection of stories is often based on unsubstantiated assumptions, standard production practices and mechanical formulas…The more people watch TV, the more likely they are to have unrealistic fears accompanied by feelings of insecurity, suspicion and hopelessness…the notion that news is determined by events is a myth created by the mass media to shield themselves from criticism…the media manufacture news by what they select and how they present it… the pressures are enormous to treat news as entertainment and to make the news exciting. News gets packaged like soap operas and there is an urgency to create dramatic footage… it is profits and prestige that govern the content of television news, not the desire to inform the public..what is shown on the air is carefully orchestrated to conform to the network view of the world… the construction of reality according to television tends to serve the interests of the disseminators rather than the public…
Back to the World Socialists: “The corporate media, which has cynically dubbed Obama the ‘consoler-in-chief,’ hailed his latest speech as ‘inspiring,’ ‘powerful’ and ‘moving.’ It was all they wanted to hear and in no way conflicted with their efforts to frame the events in Boston within the reactionary narrative of the ‘war on terrorism,’ turning them into another justification for war abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home.”
Already the media has filled the airwaves with disdain for the people of Russia, Chechnya, and Kyrgyzstan. “They are all conspiracy theorists,” some say. Constant references to ethnicity and Islam—to include Cold War rhetoric aimed at Russia—echo the same banter heard post-911. One of the Tsarnaev’s was a US citizen. What turned him?
Isn’t it time for the USA to look inward?