On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart not only argued for the release of the Bin Laden photos, but he also hammered the media for not showing the true cost of war. Stewart said, “The best reason in my mind for releasing the pictures is that we have been fighting this war for nearly ten years, thousands of US deaths, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis have died, and we’ve seen nearly zero photographic evidence of it.”
Here is the video from The Daily Show:
Jon Stewart began, “Remember last week the President of the United States released his birth certificate and you thought finally we will have a rest period for those clamoring to see documentation of an event most are comfortable already occurred, and then we killed Osama Bin Laden. I hope you enjoyed your respite…A photo will end the speculation, just like the Zapruder film put a rest to all that JFK business.”
After playing clips of various news outlets calling the photos too gory for release, Stewart said, “Too gory? Too gory Have you met us? From 8 PM on every show in television we watch begins with an internal tracking shot of a gaping wound above someone’s left eye, pulling out only to reveal half a hooker in a dumpster discovered by a child on a bicycle. You know what we call it? Prime time. Let us help with the autopsy. Show us the picture, we won’t be disgusted. You’re more likely to hear from us, well you can tell from the subcutaneous hemorrhaging the shot was fired from a close proximity, although the exit wound suggests an AR-15 assault rifle. I learned that on Bones.”
Stewart got to his real point that the US is fighting two wars that the American people never see, “Come on, man. We can take the gore.” He then addressed the excuse that the photo will inflame extremists, “Yeah, the extremists there already hate us, and I don’t know if you know this, but the Muslim world sees pretty graphic images of people will kill on purpose or accidentally all the time. Jarring , huh? Sometimes they don’t have to see it on TV, just out the window. You know, the tragic collateral damage of war is the subject of Al-Jazeera’s entire 6 AM show, Morning Joe.”
Later The Daily Show host said that more pictures of all of the elements of these wars need to be released so people can see what is really going on, “The best reason in my mind for releasing the pictures is that we have been fighting this war for nearly ten years, thousands of US deaths, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis have died, and we’ve seen nearly zero photographic evidence of it. Remember how long the media had to fight to show military coffins returning from overseas? You probably don’t remember, because you saw pictures of it the day they won the case and not since.”
Jon Stewart concluded, “Maybe we should always show pictures, Bin Laden, pictures of our wounded service people, pictures of maimed innocent civilians. We can only make decisions about war, if we see what war actually is and not as a video game where bodies quickly disappear leaving behind a shiny gold coin, which from what I understand is going up. By the way, the White House announced today that they have officially decided not to release the Bin Laden photo. Instead to keep it a secret they are going to airdrop it into an affluent Pakistani suburb, so it won’t be found for years.”
I am not surprised that many of the stories on this have discussed Stewart’s argument for releasing the photos, but have omitted the media criticism. The media has been complicit in keeping the American people in the dark on these two wars. Don’t buy for a minute that they don’t show the American people what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan because it is an issue of access. The footage is shown every day in the Middle East, but the US corporate controlled media has decided that we don’t need to see that here.
Everyone who writes a story about Jon Stewart and the Bin Laden pictures who doesn’t discuss the media blackout on these wars is complicit in the cover up. Jon Stewart’s logic for releasing the Bin Laden photos applies to all war coverage.
The weak point of Stewart’s argument is the false premise that the gore on CSI is the same as seeing real dead and wounded people on the news. It isn’t. Americans have been desensitized to fake violence, but how would we handle the being confronted with the ugly truth of war?
It is the shame of the media that they have not seen the consequences of the real thing. Sure Americans could handle a death photo of Bin Laden, but how would an America that has been sheltered by a generation of bad news blackouts react to seeing scenes of innocent civilians maimed, or our troops missing limbs? That’s what’s really going on a daily basis, and nobody knows because the mainstream media has decided to keep us in the dark.
If people really want to end the war in Afghanistan, don’t just pressure the White House. Pressure the media to show the American people that 21st Century warfare is not Call of Duty. Only when the American people are confronted with nightly images of the horrors of war, will they demand change.
After the media coverage of Vietnam, the Pentagon learned its lesson and has tightly controlled what reporters can see firsthand, but this isn’t an excuse. We live in an age of instantaneous global media. The footage is shot everyday. The cable news networks and nightly network newscasts could show these images, but they have chosen not to.
Since 9/11 the corporate media has used patriotism an anesthetic of ignorance, but if journalism came before profit, the American people would see the true consequences of these wars.