Skip to content

20 years ago there was a movement in Grand Rapids to oppose the US war and occupation of Iraq: Part VII – How the Grand Rapids commercial media reported on the US invasion/occupation of Iraq

March 27, 2023

In Part I of our series looking back at the 20th anniversary of the public resistance to the US invasion/occupation of Iraq in 2003, we focused on early organizing efforts to build an anti-war movement before the US war on Iraq even began. In Part II, we looked at the protest when President’s Bush’s visited Grand Rapids the day after his State of the Union address and the GRPD’s response during that protest. 

In Part III, we looked at the Women in Black actions, the global protest against the war march that took place in Lansing, along with the People’s Alliance for Justice & Change workshops on civil disobedience that were offered to a growing number of people who wanted to do more than just hold signs.  Part IV focused on student organizing against the imminent US war against Iraq, along with civil disobedience that was done at Rep. Ehlers office before the war began. In Part V, we looked back on some of the plans that anti-war organizers had put in place once the US invasion/occupation of Iraq began, along with increased GRPD surveillance. Part VI focuses on what actions took place once the US war/occupation of Iraq had begun, along with the increased intensity of GRPD surveillance and repression against anti-war organizers.

In today’s post, we look at local media reporting on the US war in Iraq and how one radio station was overtly promoting the war.

A Pro-US Invasion of Iraq bias 

The national media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did excellent work monitoring the national news outlets leading up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, with a report entitled, In Iraq Crisis, Networks Are Megaphones for Official Views.

Once the US invasion of Iraq had begun, FAIR followed up with another study of US media coverage, Amplifying Officials, Squelching Dissent, which was consistent with the study that GRIID conducted on local news coverage of the US invasion/occupation of Iraq.

GRIID conducted a six-week study of the Grand Rapids Press and the three TV news stations (WZZM, WXMI and WOODTV8) from a few days before the war began (March 17) through the first full week in May. The GRIID study looked at sources, framing, historical context and home-front coverage. You can view a 38 minute video analysis of their study, Searching for the Smoking Gun: Local Coverage of the War in Iraq.

In addition to the GRIID study of local news coverage of the US Invasion/Occupation of Iraq, some involved in anti-war organizing decided to challenge the local media with their hyper-nationalistic reporting and cheerleading. 

In mid-April, anti-war protestors decided to hold a demonstration outside of the office of Citadel and Clear Channel radio, both of which were not only providing one-sided reporting on the US war against Iraq, but some of their DJs were using their airtime to dismiss and mock those who did not support the war. One DJ in particular, Rich Michaels would mock anti-war demonstrators, saying they were cowards and during the early months of the war would begin his show saying, “Born and raised in America, it’s Michaels in the Morning.”

Check out the Grand Rapids Press coverage of the anti-war protest at Clear Channel and Citadel radio stations at this link, pages 18 – 19.

In our next post, we will look at other anti-war actions that were organized in Grand Rapids month after the war started and what kinds of tactics and strategies that anti-war organizers were using. 

%d bloggers like this: