Second Front


By John R. MacArthur, Published in 2004



Second Front documents in vivid detail the behind-the-scenes activities by the U.S. and Kuwaiti governments which limited the American media’s constitutional right to observe, question, and report on activities during Operation Desert Storm. In frank and startling interviews with, among others, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Ben Bradlee, Katharine Graham, Robert Wright, and Pete Williams, John R. MacAuthur shows how the press corps was treated more like a fifth column than as representatives of a free people. He demonstrates how, despite the torrent of words and images from the Persian Gulf, Americans were systematically and deliberately kept in the dark about events, politics, and simple facts during the Gulf crisis.

With a reporter’s critical eye and a historian’s sensibility, he traces decades of press-government relations—during Vietnam, Grenada, and Panama—which helped set the stage for restrictions on Gulf War reporting and for a public-relations triumph by the government. His analysis of the issues that confronted the media in this war is frightening testimony to what happens when the government goes unchallenged, when questions go unasked.

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