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A fresh war could drive US media ratings

The United States military and partners from 19 countries will soon start a massive series of war drills in Ukraine. This comes amid "rising threats from Iran and Russia", according to the Defense Department.

Published: June 26, 2019, 9:48 am

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    From July 1 to 12, American military assets will join with “19 nations, 33 ships, 26 aircraft, and over 3 000 troops to participate in a maritime, air, and land exercise that will enhance capabilities, improve interoperability and build upon decades of partnership and friendship,” according to a statement from the US Defense Department.

    The drills, an annual exercise known as Sea Breeze that has been ongoing for 19 years, are set to begin at a tense time in international politics.

    The Trump administration appears to be on the brink of war with Iran after it downed an unmanned American drone over Iranian airspace. “Russia also has been increasing its threats, with new reports indicating Moscow will begin conducting ‘observational flights’ over America,” the Washington Free Beacon reported. The fear-mongering article failed to mention the context of such flights.

    There now appears to be a “Trump slump” across all forms of media ahead of 2020. That may be why so many war hawks have been dominating discussions and interviews relating to Iran, Russia, Venezuela and North Korea in the media.

    According to traffic analytics company Parse.ly, digital demand for information on Trump dropped by 29 percent between the first six months of Trump’s presidency and the most recent six months.

    Media outlet Axois also provided evidence of the “Trump slump”. In March, New York Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien told Axios during a panel at SXSW that the paper’s subscription “Trump Bump” ended in mid-2018.

    In December, media research firm MoffettNathanson found that live news network ratings were down “in the -10 percent to -20 percent range” for most of 2018. Overall, the firm found that ratings around TV news coverage already began to decline after the 2016 election.

    Cable TV networks, which still reach a majority of Americans with political news coverage, cut reporting on Trump campaign rallies late last year because they were no longer driving ratings, according to Politico.

    According to New York-based Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, the mainstream media has been painting US escalations against Iran as “defensive countermeasures”. This indicates that war would be a good thing for US media ratings.

    Also notable is a survey of opinion journalism released last month by FAIR which revealed that when it came to violent regime change in Venezuela, there were “no voices in elite corporate media that opposed regime change in that country”.

    And thanks to persistent negative media coverage, more than a third of Americans would support a nuclear strike on North Korea, according to new research, even if such an attack killed a million civilians.

    The survey of 3 000 Americans was conducted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and British research firm YouGov.

    “As we have previously found, the US public exhibits only limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians,” the researchers noted.

    They added that the study confirmed that “some Americans lack any sense of a nuclear taboo, and some appear to hold a kind of atomic attraction”.

    “The results also display how poorly informed the public is about nuclear weapons, missile defense, and North Korea.” The reserchers called for “a renewed effort at mass public nuclear education”.

    Those US citizens who were surveyed and support a nuclear attack on North Korea, appear to believe that the North Korean survivors could not or would not retaliate. A North Korean missile could easily target Seattle, Washington DC or anything between those cities.

    Kim Jong Un will naturally conclude from this study that North Korea will have to keep its deterrent.

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