Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.
News Brief: Media Adopts Israel's Simplistic 'Hunt for Hamas' Narrative, Providing Cover For Ethnic Cleansing
In this News Brief, we detail how American media focusing entirely on discrete "counter attacks" and adopting cool military-speak play-by-play ignores the much bigger and important reality of forcible population transfers and overt plans to remove Palestinians from Palestine.
Episode 193: How Military Jargon and Cliches Make Mass Death Seem Sterile (Part II)
“U.S. shipment of 'lethal aid' reaches Ukraine amid Russia tensions,” NBC News reported in January 2022. “U.S. adopting 'deterrence posture' as aircraft carrier heads towards Israel,” France 24 announced in October 2023. The same month, The Hill warned about “Nutrition: The national security threat no one is talking about.”
This is part two of our two-part episode on the language of war. Last week, we discussed terms like “boots on the ground” and “military footprint;” “precision” or “targeted airstrikes;” “terrorism” and the very Orwellian phrase “enemy noncombatant.”
If you haven’t listened to that episode, we definitely encourage you to do so. On this episode, we examine more of the most insidious terms that U.S. media and government officials use to sanitize military aggression worldwide, how this is affecting coverage of Israel’s nonstop murderous bombing of Gaza, and discuss how we all can and should use clearer, more accurate terms to describe the real human stakes of state violence.
Our guests are Maha Hilal and David Vine.
Episode 192: How Military Jargon and Cliches Make Mass Death Seem Sterile (Part I)
“Israel Called Them ‘Precision’ Strikes. But Civilian Homes Were Hit, Too.,” The New York Times equivocated back in May 2023. “US Military Footprint in Australia Expands to Counter China,” Bloomberg announced in July 2023. “NATO to launch biggest military exercise since Cold War,” the Financial Times reported in September 2023.
Far too often, media accept and parrot the terminology of the Pentagon, never pausing to consider how deceptive and pernicious this language may be. War reportage is regularly littered with euphemisms, metaphors, jargon, and esoteric acronyms that obscure the enormity of the warfare and war crimes waged and backed by the US, warping public perceptions of the violence happening throughout the world in service of US empire.
Some major news outlets, such as the New York Times, have adopted policies not to use terms like “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a Bush-era phrase used to sanitize the committing, sanctioning and outsourcing of literal torture by the US government. More recently, the BBC has said it will no longer use the term “terrorist,” as it is “a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally.” But, troublingly, many loaded, euphemistic words and phrases remain in the vocabulary of leading news media, painting a woefully inaccurate and incomplete picture of both the past and the current state of US-led and US-backed violence around the world.
On this episode, Part I of a two-part series on the language of war, we’ll examine five of the 10 most insidious terms that US media and government officials use to sanitize military aggression worldwide, discussing how journalists, writers, and others in media can use terms that are clearer and more representative of the human stakes of war. Next week, we’ll complete the list of 10 with Part II.
Our guests are Maha Hilal and David Vine.
Ep 191: How Media's Use of 'The Economy' Flattens Class Conflict
“Writers Strike Fallout: $2B Economic Impact May Be Just the Beginning,” the Hollywood Reporter states. “Looming UAW strike could cost US economy more than $5B in just 10 days,” Fox Business announces. “In a Strong Economy, Why Are So Many Workers on Strike?” the New York Times wonders.
We’re regularly exposed to news media’s updates on some vague notion of “the economy.” Though it’s never really defined, “the economy,” we are told, is something that will suffer if a work stoppage happens, even though striking workers might stand a chance to reap some real economic benefits. It’s also something that somehow does just fine, even thrives, despite rising homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, and general stress and anxiety among the public about their ability to afford basic needs.
Against all of this, pundits wonder why people in the US have doubts about the strength of the economy, when, by their standards, it’s doing so well. But when “the economy” is at odds with the interests of the working public, what does that tell us about media’s understanding and use of the term? Whose interests are truly reflected in mainline media’s definitions, or lack thereof, of the economy?
On this episode, we examine media’s use of the term and concept of “the economy,” looking at how and why metrics reflecting the interests of capital– like the GDP, the Dow, or IMF reports–are positioned as more important and accurate indicators of economic strength than metrics reflecting the needs of the average person. And how “the economy” is presented as a fragile precious thing that striking workers, protestors, and those seeking to interrupt the normal flow of life want to avoid damaging, at all costs.
Our guest is writer Kim Kelly.
Live Show 10/30/23: 4 Arguments Against a Gaza Ceasefire and Why They're B******t
In this Live Show from 10/30/23, "4 Arguments Against a Gaza Ceasefire and Why They're Bullshit," we break down the four main arguments against a ceasefire in Gaza and why they make no moral, intellectual, or strategic sense.
Live Show 10/16: Gaza Siege and the Liberal Handwringing Industrial Complex
In this impromptu Live Show recorded 10/16, we breakdown the latest efforts by Democrats to support Israel's brutal bombing and collective punishment of Gaza while still looking "deeply concerned" about the logical outcomes of this bombing and collective punishment.
This is an incredible show. Love the analysis and way it helps me understand things.
Citations Needed has really been slapping lately. Keep it up.
Horrible and hateful
Terrorist apologists might be the wrong phrase but its close enough. Their discussion of what is going on in the middle east is disgusting. This should not be on Apple.