War Made Easy: Exposing the Spin Doctors of Death

As we mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, attention is focused more and more on the role the media played in the days and months that followed.

The war in Iraq was justified as a retaliation against 9/11. The Pentagon marched on to the cheer-leading of American media, which barely asked the basic questions, let along challenge the military-political logic.

A new documentary probes how this shameless acquiescence took place in full public glare. WAR MADE EASY: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, narrated by Sean Penn, features Normon Solomon, on whose 2005 book the film is largely based.

Here’s the trailer for the film:

And its synopsis:

War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.

War Made Easy gives special attention to parallels between the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq. Guided by media critic Norman Solomon’s meticulous research and tough-minded analysis, the film presents disturbing examples of propaganda and media complicity from the present alongside rare footage of political leaders and leading journalists from the past, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, dissident Senator Wayne Morse, and news correspondents Walter Cronkite and Morley Safer.

Norman Solomon’s work has been praised by the Los Angeles Times as “brutally persuasive” and essential “for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee.” This film now offers a chance to see that context on the screen.

Approx. 72 minutes
English subtitles
Directed & Written by: Loretta Alper & Jeremy Earp
Produced by: Loretta Alper
Co-produced & Edited by: Andrew Killoy
Executive Producers: Jeremy Earp & Sut Jhally
Associate Producer: Jason Young
Sound: Peter Acker, Armadillo Media Group
Motion Graphics: Andrew Killoy & Sweet & Fizzy
Additional Music: John Van Eps & Leigh Philips
Narrated by: Sean Penn
Based on the book by Norman Solomon

Image courtesy War Made Easy website

I haven’t yet seen this film, but it’s certainly one I want to catch soon. Not the least because I live and work in a war-ravaged country – Sri Lanka – where the politicians and generals have engaged in their own (increasingly sophisticated) acts of spin doctoring. Most alarmingly, large sections of the Sri Lankan media find absolutely nothing wrong to play along, all in the name of patriotism….

Sounds familiar?

Read the full transcript of War Made Easy

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

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