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Say it Ain’t So, Osama May 18, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Media, War on Terror.
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Published on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by TomDispatch.com

His take-down was the story that grabbed almost 69% of the American “news hole” the week it happened, and from a media point of view it turns out to be the gift that never stops giving.  Small wonder, since it’s got just about everything: multiple wives, lost high-tech stealth helicopters, brave cyborg canines, killer tractors, championship-style celebrations, tiny helmet cams, private diaries, evil plans for future destruction, recalcitrant Pakistanis, shots of the world’s arch-villain changing channels whenever his arch-enemy, the president of the United States, comes on-screen, and now — the ultimate fundamentalist hypocrisy — “a stash of porn.”  If that isn’t God’s gift to web traffic, what is?

As Reuters first reported and no one on this planet can now not know, in the treasure trove of computer hard drives and thumb drives collected by the Navy SEAL team that hit bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, CIA analysts claim to have found a cache of now-classified pornographic videos.  News of this was leaked to the press in hopes of “tarnishing” the reputation of the man who, in 2002, denounced American culture for its “exploitation of women’s bodies in dress, advertising, and popular culture.”

Of course, with so much crucial news pouring out and news staffs shrinking across the media landscape, choices need to be made.  Under the circumstances, there are always a few stories that have to give way before what’s truly crucial, and so go unreported.  In recent years — explain it as you will — the Pentagon’s ongoing weapons trade with Middle Eastern despots has largely fallen into this category.  Someday, perhaps, this trade, which can take place with the most fervent of Islamic fundamentalists, might be reclassified as pornographic and so get the attention it deserves.  In the meantime, thanks to the reporting of Nick Turse, TomDispatch will continue to spend time in the unexplored interstices between what fascinates the media.

© 2011 TomDispatch.com

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Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books).

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