WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004)

movie_213685“WMD” is a shocking, sometimes much too disturbing account of the biggest crime that went completely unnoticed, and will continue to go unpunished. This is not a study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, but what this does probe in to is the utter destruction and obliteration of the American journalistic sentiment. Growing up, I was taught that journalists are the people who keep those in power, in line, and catch them in their misdeeds and wrong doings to better serve the public and teach them that we are being looked out for, so that those in power do not abuse what they’ve been given. People like Woodward and Bernstein who helped unravel the Watergate scandal and the legendary Edward R. Murrow who gave the art of journalism the reputation that it was a dynasty of honesty, and truth, and seeking to help those who don’t have a voice. What documentarian Danny Schecter does is give the audience a message we’ll never be given.

That the media lied to us, the media became one of our worst enemies, and allied with those in power and served them instead of us. I’ve given up watching the major news stations, because this is a prospect I was all too aware of before this documentary aired, but what this ultimately did was serve my fears and suspicions. This is ultimately better than “Fahrenheit 911” because, what director Schecter has over Moore is he’s worked in the belly of the beast, and now seeks to expose it. And that’s what he does here all too well. Years ago, when the Iraq war was about to start, the world stopped in its track to watch what unfolded, and what we learn here is while we saw everything, we weren’t given a damn thing. The question one has to ask now is can we ever trust the American media again? For me it’s no. You can’t, but it’s up to you read the news and then decide for yourself what is truth and what is bogus. What helped the media succeed in fooling the world was that we trusted them, and let them decide for us.

Major stations like CNN, CNBC, and (big surprise) FOX News did was act in a coalition with the government months ahead and helped to create anticipation for this war making it in to a production with the dramatic Bruckheimer-esque countdown clocks, and reporters speaking about the war as they were performing a play, while some gave reports of the war as a play-by-play of a sports event. And they helped create an illusion for the audience in a pre-orchestrated, masterfully directed song and dance which took what was a horrible war, and sensationalize it on the air for us. We learn here that people like Tom Brokaw are very unapologetic in their stations coverage and lack thereof of the war, and their refusal to portray it as a serious matter.

We learn many sequences made famous during the war were staged or influenced for cameras such as the tearing down of Hussein’s statue in the towns square, we learn here that the stations made this world war in to an action entertainment spectacle, and we’d never be able to step back and take a second look. The film makes a lot of sense when I was able to gloss over all the memories of news coverage again, from dramatic opening sequences, lack of true war footage, and the government’s refusal to let any graphic imagery shown on-screen while right wing companies like FOX news only helped the cause by making it seem like a game. At one disturbing sequence, a reporter from FOX News on air laughingly calls for even more, larger missiles to be launched upon Iraq and with a laugh calls for more obliteration. It’s a disturbing scene when you take in to account how many lives were lost during this war.

And Rush Limbaugh completely dismisses the Abu Ghraib torture as “soldiers blowing off some steam”, and others, with their more deceptive audacity, even helped to perpetuate the completely mis-informed declaration that Saddam Hussein had connections with the Al Qaeda in the attacks on 9/11, which is furthest from the truth but was believed by much of the US population whom were willing to accept anyone as the culprit thus giving the government a cause to go to war with Iraq. Meanwhile, we learn that, while not all the press were in on this, some of the reporter outlets were intimidated in to thinking the war was more dangerous than it really seemed through soldier manipulation, and those who spoke out against such were silenced and put in to a state of fear afraid to speak further. One of the great things about America is that I can say whatever I want, hell, I can pepper this review with many swears and expletives as I want and not be censored, but after watching “WMD”, we’re seeing it happen before our eyes.

While we were at home watching this fiasco go on, many reporters used this as an advantage to further their career trading the truth for a bigger paycheck. What Schecter further examines is the public’s awareness of this fact that was all too little too late, and how they’re now seeking independent forms of media for truth (As I am now). “WMD” is less a document about deception and manipulation and more a requiem for honest journalism and how we must live with a media that prefers to lie to us instead of give us the facts, and how they now serve the government, instead of the common man. What a legacy to set forth to our future. Left Wing, Right wing, independent, or just interested in the world events, I highly suggest you watch “WMD” simply because it will help you to take a second look at the media and the journalists you come to know and trust presenting a stunning presentation of the media’s efforts to romanticize a horrible war. But, as the FOX slogan goes: I write, you decide.