Last month, an article by Fair.org went viral in republications by popular alternative media outlets ranging from Salon to Zero Hedge to Alternet to Truthdig, among many others. The article was initially titled “ACTION ALERT: It’s Been Over a Year Since MSNBC Has Mentioned US War in Yemen”, but many subsequent republications went with variations on the more attention-grabbing headline, “MSNBC has done 455 Stormy Daniels segments in the last year — but none on U.S. war in Yemen”.
The centerpiece of the article was the following graphic, which I saw shared on its own many times in my social media feeds:
That’s about as in your face as it gets, isn’t it?
Ever since the Saudi-led assault on Yemen began in March of 2015, alternative media outlets everywhere have been repeatedly and aggressively decrying the mainstream media in the US and UK for their spectacular failure to adequately and accurately cover the violence and humanitarian disaster with appropriate reporting on who is responsible for it. After the 2016 US election, journalist Michael Tracey wrote an essay documenting how throughout the entire year and a half that Americans were pummeled with updates from the mass media about candidates and their campaigns, not one single question about Yemen was ever asked by any mainstream outlet of any candidate.
War is a Racket: The A... Best Price: $2.50 Buy New $2.82 (as of 11:50 EST - Details) This is of course outrageous, but because of how media coverage works, mainstream attention was never drawn to the problem. It hasn’t been a total media blackout, but because it only turns up in mainstream media reports every once in a while with little if any emphasis being placed on who is behind the devastation, it occupies a very peripheral place in western consciousness. The average American would probably be able to tell you that some parts of their government appear to be concerned about Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea, because those rival nations have been the subject of intense mass media coverage, but if you asked them about Yemen you’d likely be told something like “I think there’s some kind of humanitarian crisis there?”, if anything.
This has all changed in the last few days. Suddenly, the atrocities being inflicted upon the people of Yemen are being pushed into mainstream attention by the mass media outlets which have been ignoring them for more than three years. The Washington Post editorial board published an op-ed titled “End U.S. support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war”. CNN did some actual, real journalism for a change with a viral exclusive documenting which American war profiteers were behind some of the more devastating Saudi bombings. And yes, MSNBC finally did cover the violence in Yemen, breaking its year-long silence to report on a US-supplied bomb which killed 40 children with such urgent condemnation of those responsible you’d never know they’d been consistently ignoring such incidents which have been going on for years. Now politicians and celebrities everywhere are shoving the horror of their government facilitating the slaughter of innocents into mainstream attention.
Astonishing graphic from @CNN, identifying civilian massacres in Yemen with the bomb makers – Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. This should be standard in war reporting. Searing images. https://t.co/EZqkSsAri6 pic.twitter.com/NWJvPuN7ct
— Tim Shorrock (@TimothyS) August 18, 2018
You know the world has been turned upside down when the Washington Post editorial board opposes a US military intervention https://t.co/rlPb4iYd45
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) August 19, 2018
What’s interesting here is that nothing at all has changed except for the coverage. US-supplied bombs have been dropping on marketplaces, hospitals and funerals and slaughtering civilians in far more deadly incidents for years, and the US has also been providing extensive assistance to Saudi airstrikes, as well as attacking Yemeni targets directly. The only thing that has changed is that now it’s being reported with an urgency and volume that is appropriate for such a horrific incident instead of an occasional low-profile mention with little or no mention of responsibility.
Nobody with their eyes open believes that the mainstream media have just suddenly developed a conscience and now deeply care about the mass murder of Middle Eastern civilians. So why the change? If you ask some of the Trump supporters I’ve seen responding to the shift, it’s because their president can now be unfairly blamed for a military campaign which began long before he took office. But that doesn’t really hold water, does it? I mean, the aforementioned year in which MSNBC didn’t cover Yemen took place entirely during this administration, and every American with cable TV knows that MSNBC markets itself as the anti-Trump network. If they’d wanted to use Yemen as another angle from which to criticize this administration they would have done so, instead of not doing so at all. The entirety of mainstream media have been grossly neglecting this issue up until the last week despite having every opportunity to condemn Trump for it.