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.



This chapter will take up the question that by now seems urgent: Why? Why has the press failed, in its coverage of 21st-century wars, to watchdog elites and to stock a full shelf of alternative perspectives? We will focus on three powerful forces that contributed markedly to this tragic failure.

The first is the defining characteristic of American media. The fact that they are mostly owned by a few, very large, very profit-centric corporations means that, for U.S. news, the bottom line is the bottom line: The commercial imperative—maximize profit—is the industry's first commandment.

Add to this picture the fact that several media sectors are now experiencing the corporate equivalent of oxygen deprivation—declining profits—and we have a commercial imperative in crisis, driving the news business into ...

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