There were two wars going on in Iraq - one was fought with armies of soldiers, bombs and a fearsome military force. The other was fought alongside it with cameras, satellites, armies of journalists and propaganda techniques. One war was rationalized as an effort to find and disarm WMDs - Weapons of Mass Destruction; the other was carried out by even more powerful WMDs, Weapons of Mass Deception.
The TV networks in America considered their non-stop coverage their finest hour, pointing to the use of embedded journalists and new technologies that permitted viewers to see a war up close for the first time. But different countries saw different wars. Why?
For those of us watching the coverage, war was more of a spectacle, an around the clock global media marathon, pitting media outlets against each other in ways that distorted truth and raised as many questions about the methods of TV news, as it did the armed intervention it was covering-and it some cases-promoting.
WMD, a 100 minute non-fiction film, explores this story with the findings of a gutsy, media insider-turned-outsider, former network journalist, Danny Schechter, who is one of America's most prolific media critics. Schechter says he "self-embedded" himself in his living room to monitor media coverage, by fastidiously tracking the TV coverage on a daily basis. He wrote thousands of words daily about the coverage for Mediachannel.org, the world's largest online media issues network, and then collected his columns, blogs and articles in a recently published book, EMBEDDED: Weapons of Mass Deception (Prometheus Books) . He has continued his one-man investigation with WMD, a two-hour indie non-fiction film that asks the questions that his media colleagues refused to confront before, during and after the war. Featuring footage from inside Iraq, and inside the media, WMD tracks the media war through February 2004.
A Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, and radio news director turned CNN and Emmy Award winning ABC News Producer, Schechter wears several hats at the same time. He is now an award-winning independent investigative journalist and filmmaker as well as an outspoken author. Danny Schechter is not afraid to take on his own industry. WMD busts through so-called "objective reporting" to challenge media complicity with the government and its cooperation in presenting the Iraq War the way it did. This is a hard-hitting, yet personal film that looks at the television war and asks why the American audience lapped it up and how the Pentagon helped shape media coverage.