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How the media, through their coverage of 9/11, legitimized the future US military attack on Afghanistan, in the United States

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  1. Legitimizing through technical devices
    1. The organization of the newspaper
    2. Eliminating the emergence of dissent
    3. Reaching consensus
  2. Legitimizing through the trauma of 9/11
    1. The Pearl Harbor analogy
    2. Need for a proportional response
    3. War as the logical outcome of the attacks
    4. Creation of fear among the population
  3. Legitimizing through mind-numbing
    1. Self-congratulation and complacency
    2. Lack of historical background
    3. Lack of cultural analysis
  4. Noble motives
    1. For the United States
    2. For Afghanistan
    3. For the world

Here we will study the media and more particularly the press. Their role will be crucial since they will be the link between the government and the population. The attacks on New York and Washington triggered an overflow of articles for weeks on end, with the press mainly displaying an inclination towards military action from the United States against Afghanistan. Thus, the goal of this research will be to show how the press managed to legitimize the future U.S. military intervention on Afghanistan. This will be largely exemplified through a close analysis of the coverage of two major American newspapers, the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune starting from September 12 and ending on October 8, the starting day of the U.S. bombings of Afghanistan. This event and how the media will rally the population to the American cause triggers a number of interesting issues such as the influence exerted by the media on the population, the context of war which is an exceptional context and therefore should bring to light many tendencies, in addition to the fact 9/11 became an event known worldwide. This state of affairs then brings about the question related to how the media will cope with such popularity. While it emphasizes the role and influence of the media, this subject also brings about the issue of the role of the public when the nation is on the verge of waging a war and how, the media turn out to be an entire part of the policy process and from that, how important it is to have an objective and broad knowledge of the world at large so as to be able to make one's own opinion free of the official view imposed by the administration and its officials. To paraphrase Susan L. Carruthers, "what influence does television (or other mass media) have on the audience? How far and in what ways, does media shape rather than reflect public opinion, remains the subject of much academic discussion." (Carruthers, 2000, p. 7-8)

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