Conflicts such as the Gulf war of 1990–1991 raise a range of issues pertaining to the role of force in the foreign policies of democratic states, and to the role of the media during such conflicts. The controversies that raged over the Gulf war tended to fuse these questions: those opposed to the War saw the media as collusive with illegitimate western policies, whilst those backing war tended to regard the media as either supportive, or not supportive enough, of the western campaign. This article focuses upon three aspects of this media coverage: first, the character of that coverage itself; second, the issues upon which, with hindsight, distortion can be said to have occurred; and third, the political and ethical issues raised in discussion of the media coverage. This analysis, of the functioning of the media during war, serves both to probe underlying assumptions about the functions of the media in democratic society and to re‐examine debate on one of the most controversial international events of recent times
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