News Value of Shame: The Abu Ghraib's Scandal

“Leiden, Trauma, Folter: Die Bilder von Abu Ghraib” special Issue

The combination of factors in Abu Ghraib’s informative cocktail comes close to what we could regard as a media perfect storm. Such cocktail necessarily spawned a scandal of worldwide dimensions. This paper identifies the elements of the explosive cocktail and discusses the consequences of that perfect storm. The U.S. government suffered a legitimacy crisis as a consequence of the publication of the pictures that made evident the abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison. President Bush had presented the war in Iraq as an essential part of the war against terror. The decision met with opposition from practically the whole world. In its last section, the paper analyzes the U.S. administration’s coping strategies during the Abu Ghraib crisis and assesses their effectiveness.