An eye-opening case study of the news at war, introducing a critical perspective on our mass mediaThe Pen and the Sword is the only comprehensive examination of how the media have covered the 21st Century’s #1 news story: terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is the full story—from 9/11 to the Obama doctrine, and including:The increasing importance of entertainment media and soft news in shaping our views.

“And the Lord Did Shock and Awe Them That Blasphemed Him”

“And the lord did shock and awe them that blasphemed him”

Coverage of the war itself was, among other things, a hymn to the thrilling power of America and an entertaining fascination with the techniques and technologies of battle: war as football, war as PlayStation—a “ballet of machines,” as one news story called it.

Content analysis shows not only that the news presented us with the “official” story, but that, in this case, the particular officials chosen to explain the war were a strangely truncated group. Only 3% of the news sources during this period opposed the war, and most of them were allowed only single-sentence sound bites.

A brief history of the press at war since ...

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