How the media’s weapons fetish primes us for war


Cable news loves American weapons. Whether it’s Tomahawk missiles. Tomahawk missiles. Tomahawk cruise missiles. Or the “mother of all bombs.” MOAB, also called the “mother of all bombs” The “mother of all bombs” TV news is saturated with images of American
firepower. They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments. But cable news’ fixation on bombs and missiles isn’t just mindless entertainment. It sanitizes violence and makes it harder to think critically about why America uses deadly force, and what happens when it does. If you watched even five minutes of cable
news last month, you probably saw this. It’s the Pentagon’s footage of Tomahawk
missiles being launched at a Syrian airfield from US
destroyers. You couldn’t watch a segment about Syria
without seeing them, even if they were just playing in the background. They were on Twitter, too, where news networks
just published the Pentagon’s footage unedited and without context. There’s a reason those clips got so much airtime on news networks. On a very basic level, it’s about attracting eyeballs and having
something to look at. Would you rather watch Tomahawks taking off, or would you rather watch Brian Williams? This is Deborah Jaramillo. She wrote a book on the way news networks covered and packaged the Iraq War, and she argues that cable news’ fixation
on images of weapons is essentially about keeping us entertained. If we have CNN, and MSNBC, and Fox, and they’re all showing the same news, they need to differentiate their product. How do you keep viewers watching? You have a good narrative and you have spectacular
visuals. You saw that happen after the US dropped the “mother of all bombs,” the MOAB, on
Afghanistan. Forget the puny explosion of a single Tomahawk
missile, today, the “mother of all bombs.” Tons of impressive military footage, fancy
animations, and segments explaining how the bomb works. One study found that CNN aired almost an hour of MOAB test footage in the six hours after
the story broke. You could almost hear the Team America theme
song playing in the background. America, fuck yeah! Coming again to save the- Jaramillo saw a lot of this kind of thing
during the Iraq War, like when CNN developed special graphics to teach viewers about different types of
weapons. They called these graphics Baseball cards! That’s what we call them here, baseball
cards. It’s got 120mm cannon, three machine guns. Now, I know what you’re thinking: A. Anderson Cooper hasn’t aged a day. And B. Who cares? Of course cable news is going to talk about
weapons in war time. The problem is, when corporate media sees
weapons as a product, they run the risk of sanitizing and even glamorizing
tools of violence. You can see this most clearly from NBC’s
Brian Williams, who fawned over the use of Tomahawk missiles like he was trying to sell them. We see these beautiful pictures. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen, “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.” But the truth is, he wasn’t the only one giddy about the use
of force. CNN, a news network, basically ran an infomercial for Tomahawk missiles. This is the newest version of the missile. Tomahawk can fly 1,000-plus miles. Each Tomahawk weighs about 3,500 pounds, so when 60 of them are fired toward Syria, that was about 210,000 pounds of firepower. So it swims and it flies. Swims and it flies. The same thing happened with the MOAB: segment after segment about how powerful the
bomb was and how it worked. This is such a heavy bomb, such a large bomb. Frightening weapon, it makes a lot of noise. You would want to terrify your enemy, shock
and awe. And Fox News might as well have been doing
body shots the day after the bomb dropped. That is what freedom looks like: that’s the red, white, and blue. Well one of my favorite things is watching
bombs drop on bad guys. The problem is compounded when news networks invite ex-military guests to talk about weapons
on air, framing the discussion around how we engage
in violence, rather than why. General, walk us through what is this thing and how much damage can it do. It will collapse caves, it will blow up things. And it’s guided to the target by GPS. So it’s accurate. Oh, it’s precision accurate. If you’re alive afterwards, you’re going to have perforated eardrums
and a lot of trauma. The use of military analysts to explain the
weapons is a way of giving us the military’s point
of view and getting us to think in terms of strategy rather than in terms of people. You’ve probably noticed by now that all
these clips of America’s arsenal at work have something
in common: no dead bodies. You see the Tomahawk’s launching, but not the casualties they caused. You see the MOAB exploding, but it’s test footage from over a decade
ago. We have video we’re showing of the testing
of the bomb. That’s not an accident. Cable news has an incentive to not show the dead bodies that American weapons create. They don’t want to alienate audiences, so even when they’re dealing with something that’s very uncomfortable, like killing
people overseas, they don’t have a financial incentive to
show us really disturbing things when those disturbing
things directly impact us or the way we feel about
ourselves. Which helps explain why networks use graphics
and animation so much when talking about weapons. Like this 2003 CNN clip showing how a bunker
buster bomb works. You see crates and barrels being destroyed,
but There are no animated figures being blown
to bits, right? Further removing viewers from the actual lethal consequences of these weapons. Now, I know by this point, I probably sound
like an anti-war, tree-hugging beta male, YUP. But this kind of coverage should worry you even if you think these specific strikes were
justified. We can’t make informed decisions about if and when to use military force if cable
news is selling us a glamorized version of what
violence looks like. If we’re focused on weapons and focused
on how mighty our military is, then we’re not
thinking about the consequences. We’re not thinking about what happens when those weapons actually hit their targets. When you see someone like Brian Williams fawning over Tomahawk missiles, he’s not being a monster. He’s showing what happens when tools of
violence become disconnected from their real consequences. When corporate media treats weapons like a product to be packaged and sold for higher
ratings.

100 thoughts on “How the media’s weapons fetish primes us for war

  1. I wouldn't call it a fetish if these idiots still can't distinguish an AK 47 (very rare milled or first version stamped Russian rifles) from an AKM (what every terrorists use).

  2. I do think that vox is knowingly missing one important point: cable news presents war in this positive way not only because they want good ratings (that s not the important reason) but also because they have big economical interests in doing so as well explained by the following tyt video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chgtsiQ7LjY

  3. Who's going to stop sex slavery? Trump is locking down our borders so it doesn't enter… Is that or he doing wrong?

  4. Yay we can (libarate) kill The Bad guys, so beutifull, so majestic and gracfull two! ( Unless yourr one of The civilains getting it in The face Killing You + fam.)

  5. 3:28 "well I love seeing bombs get dropped on bad guys" That news reader should be jailed in a Syrian mail and be bombed by a tomahawk missile fired from hi country!!!

  6. To be fair, the tomahawk strike in response to the gas attack by Assad didn’t kill anyone, it just destroyed an airfield

  7. It really irks me when the media keeps calling the MOAB the "Mother of All Bombs." I don't care if it's more catchy, the official name is "MASSIVE ORDINANCE AIR BLAST"!

  8. I can partly agree with this. Part of being an informed populace entails understanding the significance of the weapons being used. A segment on how Tomahawk cruise missiles or "MOAB" bombs work, and analysis from military experts, can help the audience understand why these weapons were chosen for a particular mission. Those aren't bad in and of themselves. But, you're right in saying that we shouldn't remove these weapons from the consequences of using them, and we definitely shouldn't fetishize them.

  9. Yep we live a violent world and sometimes you have to meet force with force and people buildings blow up and people die but image all the people that died when the chemical weapons Assad used in Syria as a prelude to these missile strikes I think the US response was tepid in comparison my if more people were outraged about that maybe Assad couldn't get away with stuff like that

  10. Admirable sentiments. But the victims are not exactly innocent cuddle bears. In Syria Islamic Terrorists are engaged in ethinic Cleansing resulting in Mass migrations in addition to proxy wars between the saudis and iranians there is the whole business with the Kurds and Turks. Then there is the whole Free World vs Russia thing going on.In the middle of all this chaos You cant exactly have a constructive debate with an islamic fundamentalist Organisation or an authoritarian regime about humanitarian disasters when they would much rather prefer to behead a person for their beliefs and their very existence is seen as an offence.

  11. I pretty much agree with the point you're making here, but one thing I'd like you to do…if you have already I missed it…there's no analysis of how foreign news agencies like al-Jazeera covers the same topic.
    Many Americans will follow Fox and CNN uncritically but many in the other parts of the globe may look equally uncritically at BBC or al-Jazeera or RT or whatever. If American opinion can be swayed so can that of others. There's a LOT of focus on US media but none on other nation's/region's media practices.

  12. Damn! This is so similar to the scene in 1984 where people laugh as they watch a movie in which women with kids are shot as they swim for their lives.

  13. Your country's is so weird! Only times my countrys media talks about weapons is when they explain what weapon killed the people.

    "usa used drones to attack the building"
    "Russia used clorin gas to kill those people"

    Only time my media talk about a weapon was when usa used MOBA. That was the only time Swedish media was like usa media.

  14. I'd argue they have huge financial incentives to show dead bodies and the carnage of war. that sh** would generate MASSIVE amounts of views and "clicks" some of the most horrendous images and video footage are also the most famous/infamous. and gets people talking about your story fast.

    the only thing you gotta ask then is why is it sanitised? well it's down to either A, Propaganda. B, copyright/legal reasons or the deceased families complaints.

  15. If every country nuked each other, it still couldn't suck as much as fallout 76.

    Let's set goals as a society, let's play fallout in real life.

  16. In all honesty though, the media in this case is not exactly to blame. They are the symptom, we the audience are the cause.
    Simplistically… Supply and demand.

  17. That is what freedom looks like, you can see the red white and blue

    This could be a meme and i would belive it, how stupid is murica

  18. I love Carlos Maza and Vox all together, but he has a weird and repetitive way of moving his hands that distracts me a lot. I feel like I’m looking at the human pierced/tattooed version of C3PO. If you haven’t noticed, now you will…

  19. thank you for the informative video. It just me a bit about how to view and listen to news on today's news channels. This happens in lots of country not only in America.

  20. Weapons are meant to kill people that's it also why would the media show the pictures of dead ISIS members blown to bits? This is "War" war brings violence and death

  21. am I the only one who noticed this guy's left arm is shaved till that tattoo. Not full. Not the right arm. Whats going on here

  22. Excellent piece Vox. Americans can be very violent and someone needs to constantly call them out on it. There’s tons of gun play on prime time shows for Christ’s sake. Don’t watch corporate news. Find non profit news

  23. Stupid box watching idiots dont realize we need them because if we dont make them some other not so friendly country might.

  24. We look at controversial wars that that we have entered in the past and site the resultant terrible cost we had endured with American deaths yet we failed to sight the fact that we might have been responsible also for the deaths of millions of combatants caught up in our folly. In addition, these wars did not enhance our standing in the world as a leader of goodwill, peace and freedom. Perhaps that’s why we are referred to as the ugly americans.

  25. we're so proud of dropping bombs on bombs babies women& innocent civilians. i'm ex military btw.

  26. The news might as well be Cercei Lannister blowing up the sept with wildfire with the way they say “kill our enemies”
    Yuck

  27. A mother gives birth to lives while a bomb destroys lives. Isn’t it weird that we call a bomb “Mother”?…

  28. Poor Carlos you ok Bub, we have organised a safe space for you, it’s in side a echo chamber just so you feel safe and only hear your own voice and the far away from mean words or the worst of all a different opinion, you’ll be ok my poor petal, remember stay out of the sun ☀️, you don’t want to melt away snow ❄️, ps this might hurt a little, but it 2019 no-one cares anymore about your sexual proclivities, I know you want them to but most people are only trying to get through day by day it a bitter pill to swallow but no-one who doesn’t know could care less who you love, grow up. People are waking up to your censorship and divisiveness tricks.

  29. Killing people, the American way of bringing freedom…

    Stop trying to be the bloody police officer of the world, yet it's called "commiting war crimes". And you need to be put responsable for that, not block the UN…

  30. "Fareed Zakaria, if that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it." – Jeremy Scahill.

  31. All true. Excellent analysis. But cable news coverage in this manner also sends a strategic and political message to foreign nations which is no accident.

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