The story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. In 2003 the media surrendered its independence and skepticism to join the government on a march to war, a war that was so poorly planned that it soon turned into a real disaster. The Bush Administration seemed to have taken a leave on reality when it misled the Americans into thinking that it was necessary to attack a country that had not attacked America. The media helped justify this invasion by spreading the Administration’s false propaganda.
The atmosphere in the United States after September 11, 2001 was so overwhelmingly patriotic that it wasn’t difficult to get everybody onboard with the idea of revenge. People felt it was their duty to do something about the terrorist attacks, and so they eagerly lined up with the president’s plans. In so doing, they allowed their emotions to guide them. Little space was left for any scrutiny from journalists, and anyone who questioned the decision to invade was pointed out and deemed unpatriotic.
When the media informed about the civilian casualties of the war, advertisers and viewers condemned them through hundreds of threatening emails and calls. So a memo was sent out telling networks not “to focus too much on the casualties or hardships in Afghanistan”. The reporters were asked to balance the images of civilian devastation with reminders of September 11. That way people would remain focused on the reasons why the war was justified.
Saddam Hussein was quickly targeted as the enemy and there were publications stating that 9/11 had been “sponsored, supported and perhaps even ordered” by this man. A few analysts and experts found this connection to be absurd, and felt that Washington was stretching bits and pieces of information to connect Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, but had no concrete evidence. Intelligence was being manipulated in order to make the case for war. And so young men and women were sent to kill and to be killed for no good reason.
By the time troops were finally withdrawn from Iraq in 2011 after nearly nine years, the number of Americans killed exceeded the number of victims killed in 9/11. The war on Iraq took much longer than it took to defeat the Nazis in WWII. The cost of the war was reckoned at over one trillion dollars. The number of Iraqis killed is hard to determine, and the country was left in chaos.