The media has had a history of promoting war efforts in the United States. War propaganda has made a huge impact on history, both beneficially and negatively. One positive example of propaganda was during the American Revolution. Propaganda circulated by newspapers throughout the colonies created a fire in the colonists that kept them fighting against such terrible odds. However, as we saw in the Vietnam War, propaganda can also be negative. In Vietnam, the media used propaganda to support the war effort, but ended up looking foolish in the end when the war did little but produce large numbers of casualties.
To put things in a modern perspective for younger generations, such as myself, we have too seen war propaganda. This was apparent in the war in Iraq. The Bush administration led the media to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, fostered by its authoritarian leader, Saddam Hussein. When the media reported this, the American people full hearted supported the war effort, especially considering this occurred just two years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Americans felt that there was a need for America to go to war.
The moment that troops were in Iraq, the media began airing propaganda to support the war. Footage came from embedded journalists who followed troops into war, putting themselves in constant danger. They sent back stories and footage of actual war. Much of the footage aired on American TV included scenes of Iraqis defacing statues and painting of Hussein. This was all fine and dandy until the media took thing a little too far with the airing of the toppling of a statue of Hussein in Firdos Square in Baghdad. The scene was depicted as American troops occupying Baghdad and the Iraqis excited and grateful for the troops, so much so that they tore down the statue. This brought excitement to the American people who felt that the war effort was over.
In reality, this was hardly the case. The fact was that few Iraqis were even present at the scene and it was actually a Marine who decided that knocking over the statue was a good idea. The war was far from over as we have seen.
So did the media go too far? I believe the answer is yes! This portrayal falls away from harmless propaganda to support the war and closer towards misleading sensationalism that is unethical. However, I feel the media has learned its lesson from this mistake. The media seems to have stayed much truer to events later in the war, especially after it was apparent that the WMDs were non-existent. However, only time will tell to see if the media have truly learned the difference between propaganda and sensationalism.