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Public Opinion and Iraqgate

November 05, 1992

I applaud The Times for its "Media Impact" series (by David Shaw, Oct. 25-27), a refreshingly candid exploration of journalism's role in shaping public opinion, and--perhaps even more importantly--the role of perceived public opinion in shaping the nature and scope of news coverage by the media.

Perhaps the public's seeming lack of interest in the Iraqgate revelations is at least partially due to the failure of reporters to clearly draw the connections between our government's foreign policy, military adventures, and the painful financial woes of those for whom "I need a job, I need money" are the urgent issues of the day. A whole lot of taxpayer money was involved in arming Saddam Hussein and then fighting him in the Gulf War. The ones who came out ahead were the high-technology manufacturers and weapons builders that supplied both sides, not the U.S. citizens who are stuck with paying for everything.

The context in which Iraqgate and other complex events are reported can change a public reaction of "Who cares? That's just history" to "That's why my pockets are empty and I better do something about it."

JEAN BERNSTEIN

South Laguna

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