Dozens More Soldiers are Killed in Iraq. Headlines: “We Don’t Care.”

June 3, 2006 | By | 4 Replies More

Remember all of the 2002 beltway sniper killings committed by John Muhammad and Lee Malvo?

Each one of those deaths garnered loads of front page media attention.  That is because human life was sacred and because every preventable death needed to be publicized to prevent further deaths.  I remember the media detailing the deaths of each of those victims.  Yes, the media described it as “terror” when those guys ran loose killing hundreds of people . . .

What?  Only ten people were killed in the beltway sniper killings?  I don’t understand that, because 70 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in May and 76 more were killed in April, but details of those deaths aren’t on the front page. In fact, those details aren’t anywhere in my local newspaper.  Nor have I seen any details about the more than 2000 Iraqis killed in the past two months as part of our effort to save them from Saddam Hussein.

Nor do I see any headlines like this: “Our President is Clueless about Iraq.” Nor do I see any headlines like this: “U.S. MEDIA IS TIRED OF COVERING IRAQ DEATHS.  HAS NO INTEREST IN COVERING THE WOUNDED.”

What about those dozens and dozens of injuries in Iraq–you know, the lack of coverage about all those people lucky enough to be wheeled home without legs?  Barely a blip. Their families are probably wondering what the deal is.  After all their loved one comes home, his or her life shattered by a horrible injury, and the national silence is deafening.  Maybe each of those families can point to lists of statistics with some solace:  “Look! There were 42 soldiers suffering injuries during the week of May 18, 2006!  That statistic includes YOU!”

Nor have I yet seen this headline:  “U.S. Media Would Rather Cover Sports and Entertainment — Yankees Trounce Red Sox.”  Such a headline would be true, of course.  While endless blood is spilled in Iraq, more newsworthy things are happening:  The higher-up flashier headlines update us on the results and in-depth coverage of every baseball game played in the U.S. and every tiny detail of the life of every Hollywood celebrity. 

I’m tempted to say that we cared more about human life back in 2002, but that conclusion would fail to recognize the widespread corruption of the mainstream media.

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Category: Culture, Iraq, Media

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Colleen says:

    Hi, Erich.

    I couldn't agree more with your observations about this ridiculous occurence in Iraq. I am incredibly appalled that anyone would allow this to continue. I do know that one of the President's latest issued comments is that this "war" will continue for as long as it needs to/indefinately. AYE CARUMBA!! I just about blew a gasket when I heard this one!!

    On a side note: do you know about any really good "anti-Iraq invasion" bumper stickers or other forms of protest materials that bring this point home well? Where would I purchase/find them?

  2. Erika Price says:

    I have to echo Mark Fiore on this one:

    Cough, cough. Sudan. What?

    The American public and the American media feed off of eachother, like most business-customer relationships. The media has neglected to report several world issues of signifigance, and the American public happily devours media on more pleasing things (sports) or more trivial (Terry Schiavo, the DC "terrorist" you mentioned). But as much as it disgusts me, I think we all commit this crime of misdirected attention.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    [I received the following email]

    The media is a business and seeks to make money like any onther. Primarily, they seek to exploit fear to keep people watching. Killer bees, ebola, flesh eating bacteria, y2k virus, etc etc. If you think about it over the past 10 years you could probably go on forever. Their favorite cash cow is "dangerous minorities" in my opinion. The belt way sniper killings were mana from heaven for television news.

    The only people that are "afraid" of troops dying are troops and their families. The general public is so desensitize its not a headline anymore and its the normal state of affairs.

    Besides pragmaticly how could they possibly cover 2,500 + indivudual lives?

    [my response]

    I agree with everything you've written.

    As to your question, I would suggest that the media could TRY. Whenever our local sports team deems it timely, the newpaper cranks out a special supplement to the newspaper–pages and pages of information to keep up FULLY informed as to the baseball statistics, personal and family background on the players (including the subs), stadium information, price of beer, whatever.

    2,500 soldiers dead and we read only the most cursory of statistics. Where are the photos? Where is coverage of the soldiers' funerals (at least when that homophobe nutcase preacher isn't hanging around)?

    I think that our involvment in Iraq hinges tremendously on our media's involvement in covering Iraq. The present sterilized (non)version of coverage, combined with the media's failure to relentlessly ask hard questions, invites widespread national apathy. For those of us who don't have family members in the military, it's almost like the war is just a fictitious television show.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    I believe newspapers make most of their money from advertising, not from selling subscriptions. Thus, the true "customer" that the newspaper is trying to please isn't the reader, and it certainly isn't the public good. Accordingly, newspapers publish what advertisers want them to publish. Mostly, that means publishing nothing that will reflect poorly upon the advertisers; i.e., nothing controversial.

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