President Bush in his speech at the Virginia Military Institute on April 17, 2002:
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“And, finally, the civilized world faces a grave threat from weapons of mass destruction. A small number of outlaw regimes today possess and are developing chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. They’re building missiles to deliver them, and at the same time cultivating ties to terrorist groups. In their threat to peace, in their mad ambitions, in their destructive potential and in the repression of their own people, these regimes constitute an axis of evil and the world must confront them (WHPR, 2002)”.
With all these statements made in the presence of media persons and the way, it had been made that a major part of America and the world really believed that Saddam Hussein and Iraq is the real threat to the civilized society.
The world as of now understands that it’s the information that rules; and in this age of global communications, planting a phony pro-war story overseas is simply unstoppable with one thing is quite certain that the veiled message would certainly get conveyed to American citizens as something sensational and against national interest. This is the power of media and especially electronic media. It has the capability to make anyone believe in what it wants to convey. The beautiful newsreader on a TV channel giving us the news. After that, the news analysis program is aired. The program brings a battery of analysts to our bedrooms, drawing rooms, or shops. These serious-looking intelligent faces sitting in front of the camera with a list of burning issues are giving their view on the issues. Their facial expression and smartness over words, language, and contents can make anyone feel ill-informed. This makes us glued to the television screen. And once the program gets finished we have an unusual feeling that now we have gained great information on issues about which we were quite ignorant a few minutes or hours before. A single program made some change in our self and our personal database of information. This is the actual effect of one of the most popular forms of media called electronic media (McDonald, 1996).
But the point of concern is not its power or ability to influence the human psyche. The actual issue which has been raised this time is the way it makes an impact on our world views. The authenticity of the content which is aired is now being discussed. The focus is shifting towards the way it influences religion, culture, and social beliefs. After all, the US govt., with all its efforts didn’t found a single weapon of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was defeated by the combined US and UK armies. But the main issue that led to the war was the weapons of mass destruction which Saddam Hussein’s regime was allegedly possessing, which was nowhere present. This means what the US govt. and its allies were telling the whole world was actually a farce. It was nothing more than a propaganda war against a nation that was adamant to pursue those policies which were not influenced by the US.
Now, let’s take the case of a farmer in South-Western America. He was very happy with the money he was earning and was comfortably taking care of his family. The main worry for that man was nothing but the stem rust disease which causes a great loss in wheat farming. But when he comes under the influence of electronic media, he sees that the condition is not as good as it appears and his problem is actually not a problem. The actual problem the country is facing is that of possible terrorist attacks and its war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. The news of the slowdown in the world economy and the rising of Asian economy giants like India and China and job outsourcing makes the same guy more frightened. He feels threatened. And this perceived threat results in a physical reaction as much as actual physical injury (McDonald, 1996).
The CNN effect is making its impact. The same person in a large crowd sees perhaps twenty people around him, but a camera above the crowd reveals a crowd incomprehensible to human imagination. The widespread anxiety among people in the first world about there being too many people is an effect of them seeing thousands of faces on television, whereas someone may walk for hours on the streets of the suburbs without seeing a single person (McLuhan, 1964). The reality is that the electronic media with its capability to beam information can cause disturbances in a normal community and family relations illusion of fear thereby affecting the level of sensation that affects our intellectual judgment.
The White House Press Release (2002), Web.
McDonald, H. (1996) Asceticism and the Electronic Media: Technophilia and Technophobia in the Perspective of Christian Philosophy, Web.
McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media, McGraw-Hill, 1964, ch. 4, “The Gadget Lover”.