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by Bruce Cumings

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-86091-374-0
Publisher: Verso

An eloquent critique, from a politically progressive perspective, not only of TV's coverage of war but also of its treatment of topical and historical events and of ``politics in contemporary America—an imperious, camouflaged politics known best to those who transgress implicit limits, tread on unvoiced premises [and] traffic in the heterodox....'' Cumings (East Asian and International History/Univ. of Chicago) uses TV's coverage of Vietnam and the Gulf War as a way of analyzing the assumptions underlying its treatment of all sorts of political issues. Drawing on his own experience as an expert consultant on a TV documentary about recent American wars, Cumings shows strikingly how a type of consensus evolves about America's role in wars, a consensus that prevents alternative views from being expressed. The TV coverage of the Gulf War perfectly illustrates this situation, in which, Cumings contends, TV not only failed to present a sophisticated analysis of Arab culture or of the true issues in the war, but also allowed itself to be stage- managed into producing a false account of the fighting (the author claims that the precision of America's ``smart weapons'' was greatly exaggerated, and that the destruction wrought by the war was not adequately covered). Cumings argues convincingly that the purported ``objectivity'' of the camera is an illusion, and that TV is a medium that makes points and takes sides despite its supposed impartial coverage of news events. A provocative and intelligent analysis. (Illustrations—not seen.)