Let Go of the Joystick

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What is it about the media powerhouses that make them such suckers for Pentagon fairy tales?

One would think that multibillion-dollar media giants (from CBS to CNN, the New York Times to the Washington Post) would bring at least a smidgen of journalistic skepticism to the Pentagon's incredible claims about its technological prowess. Yet, you might recall that during the Gulf War a decade ago, the media gullibly swallowed the military's daily press assertions that some 99 percent of our whiz-bang, computer-guided missiles were on-target against Saddam Hussein's forces. Months later it had to be admitted that these gushing reports were slightly misleading — indeed, about 90 percent of the missiles had missed their targets.

Recently the Pentagon put out another whopper — and once again the media barons swallowed it whole, then regurgitated it to us as truth. At issue was a widely ballyhooed test of the razzle-dazzle, video-arcade, anti-missile-defense scheme known as Star Wars. The Bush team is determined to dump about 160-billion of our tax dollars into this boondoggle, even though it's so technologically flawed that military experts think it's silly.

So, the Bushites and their corporate partners scheduled a test in July in which a "bad guy" missile was fired at the United States and our "good guy" missile was launched to shoot it down in mid-air. Sure enough, the Pentagon claimed that this technological impossibility had worked, asserting that our "good guy" blasted the "bad guy" out of the sky. "Success," shrieked the media in union with the Pentagon.

Only now have we learned from watchdog groups that the July test was rigged — our "good guy" missile was programmed with information about the time and location of the "bad guy" launch, and the "bad guy" even had a beacon in it to guide the "good guy" to it.

It's hard to take the media establishment seriously about anything as long as it continues to act as a straight man for the jokesters of the military-industrial complex.

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