Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I recently read the new epilogue (for the forthcoming paperback edition) to Robert F Kennedy Jr’s book, Crimes Against Nature, which was in this month’s Vanity Fair magazine. Vanity Fair is my favourite magazine, the only magazine I read religiously, and yes, I do recognise that it is snobby left-wing pseudo-intellectual propaganda.

The title of the essay, at least as named in VF, is “The Disinformation Society” and you can probably guess what it’s about. We all know that right-wing religious fundamentalists control the US media, but I was nevertheless surprised by the results of a survey that Kennedy has cited in his book. The survey was conducted in October 2004, i.e. pre-election, by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), which is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes, in Washington DC, and the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland. Here are some of the highlights:

72% of Bush supporters believed Iraq had WMD (26% of Kerry voters).

75% of Bush supporters believed Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda (30% of Kerry supporters).

82% of Bush supporters believed either that the rest of the world felt better about the US thanks to its invasion of Iraq or that views were evenly divided; 86% of Kerry supporters realised that a majority of the world felt worse about our country.

Most Bush supporters believed the Iraq war had strong support in the Islamic world. Kerry’s supporters knew it did not.

In addition, most Bush supporters agreed with Kerry supporters that:
1) if Iraq did not have WMD nor ties to al-Qaeda, then we should not have gone to war;
2) we should be a party to the Kyoto Protocol;
3) we should be a party to the Mine Ban Treaty; and
4) we should have strong labour and environmental standards in trade agreements.

These "Bush supporters" voted for Bush because they thought that these were his views too.

Kennedy quotes Bill Moyers (December 2004):

I think my peers in commercial television are talented and devoted journalists, but they’ve chosen to work in a corporate mainstream that trims their talent to fit the corporate nature of American life. And you do not get rewarded for telling the hard truths about America in a profit-seeking environment…We have an ideological press that is interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that’s interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don’t have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.

Fox News is only the tip of the iceberg. We are completely screwed as a democracy because most people still believe that the media are delivering truth, or at least objective reporting, and you cannot have democracy without a responsible press. - Max

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