[ba-unrev-talk] Re: [peirce-l] Re: persistent misreporting by news media
I'm tending to agree with you here. Even it one must
finally admit it has a slightly liberal edge, encountering
is a rather mind-boggling experience. See:
Here's something relating to another aspect of this self-same problematic
(cf. continuity in Peirce):
THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION by Roger Normand and Jan Goodwin http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0320-06.htm)
Peter Brawley wrote:
Perhaps we are watching different programmes. Joe's comments seem
right on the money. If you have found a balanced mainstream US TV news source,
I would love to know what it is. For months CNN, Fox and MSNBC have functioned
with rare exceptions as cheerleaders for making war on Iraq, determinedly
demonising any person or country who disagreed. The treatment of the French
and of the UN has been juvenile & shameful. Now that the war has begun,
the cheerleading is louder and the chauvinism is crasser. Just to take today's
stories, did you see, on a US TV network, today, the current death count
of Iraqi civilians? How much coverage have you seen of Iraqi civilian victims?
Did you hear the sounds of the crowds demonstrating in Syria? Did you see
a report of hundreds of Iraqi ex-pats returning from Jordan to fight for
Saddam? Did you see coverage of how psy-op intimidates by design? Did you
see a single US media reporter raise the question of what kind of terrorism "Shock
& Awe" is? Did you see coverage of how Clear Channel Corp organised
to pro-war demonstrations at the weekend?
Perhaps US media's corporate owners find there's profit to be made
from tilting to the right. Perhaps the connections betweeen the corporate
media and the current US administration are more Mussolinian. Or perhaps
the bias is mainly a matter of sucking up to the 45% of the US audience
who are rightwing christian fundamentalists. Or it could be all those things.
I do not know. I do know that in degree and consistency of ideologic/nationalist
bias, it reminds me of nothing so much as listening, 40 years ago when I
lived in Finland, to Radio Moscow. Altogether chilling.
Original Message -----
Tuesday, March 25, 2003 7:21 PM
[peirce-l] Re: persistent misreporting by news media
Isn't the problem just that in their drive to be first they report
early reports that have not been checked out? It seems like they've
done the same thing with reports that are unfavorable to the US, such
as casualty reports and so forth. The problem is less one of bias than
the problem of 24 hour news whose feature of competition is being first
in reports. I know that in several of the press briefings the military
have had they've been critical of trusting *any* initial report and
have said as much about media reports.
Further, the media seems quite willing to correct themselves over time.
So far as I can make out, all of the major US news
media are consistently reporting on the Iraq War as if they are publicists
for the US government. I am not forwarding these reports (as below) with
the idea of generating discussion about the topics reported -- What is there
to say about liars and frauds that isn't too obvious to be worth saying?
-- but only with the idea that there is some obligation to promulgate public
corrections to compensate for the continuing failure of the American news
media to do what they are suppposed to be and claim to be doing, given what
seems to me to be good reason in the particular case for accepting what
the FAIR-L list is reporting about the failures in coverage.
This tendency on the part of the media can only be
expected to increase as the war continues and the military expands its powers
internally in the name of national security. It should be borne in mind
that the US government is continually extending its pseudo-wartime powers
of control over public communication, which includes use of the internet
itself, and there is a very real possibility that with the increasing globalization
of US government control over other governments as well as foreign commercial
operations -- which is clearly a part of the strategy of the so-called "war
on terror", as it becomes increasingly subsumed under the grander program
of establishing The New World Order -- the present independence of the internet
itself because of its international character may become more and more a
thing of the past. As that occurs, even such forums as this -- seemingly
remote from the center of public life -- may be seriously affected by this.
Hence I do not regard this as an intrusion on the proper business of this
You may, of course, disagree that there is an obligation
to do this in a public venue of this sort, and you should feel free to say
so. I do want to stress, though, that I am not posting this with the aim of
diverting the list from its proper function for partisan political purposes.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 3:13 PM
Subject: Lack of Skepticism Leads to Poor Reporting on Iraq Weapons
> Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
> Media analysis, critiques and activism
> ACTION ALERT:
> Lack of Skepticism Leads to Poor Reporting on Iraq Weapons Claims
> March 25, 2003
> A lack of skepticism toward official U.S. sources has already led
> prominent American journalists into embarrassing errors in their coverage
> of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, particularly in relation to claims that
> proof had been found that Iraq possesses banned weapons.
> On March 20, the second day of the invasion, U.S. military sources
> initially described missiles launched by Iraq as "Scuds"-- the U.S.
> for a Soviet-made missile used by Iraq during the Gulf War. They exceed
> the range limits imposed on Iraqi weapons by the 1991 ceasefire agreement.
> While some reporters appropriately sourced the Scud reports to military
> officials, and cautioned their audience about the uncertainty of the
> identification, others rushed to report claims as facts. NBC's Matt
> Lauer's report was definitive: "We understand they have fired three
> missiles. One of those was a Scud missile. It was destroyed by a
> missile battery as it headed toward Kuwait."
> His colleague Tim Russert was similarly certain, saying, "Because of
> night's activity, clearly the Iraqis are now trying to respond with
> least one Scud fired at the troops mapped on the border of Kuwait and
> Iraq." Fellow NBC anchor Brian Williams added, "We learned one Scud
> been intercepted, but two missiles had made it to Kuwaiti soil."
> On NPR that day, anchor Bob Edwards was equally sure about what happened:
> "Iraq this morning launched Scud missiles at Kuwait in retaliation
> American strike on Baghdad a few hours earlier." Correspondent Mike
> Shuster helpfully pointed out that "these Scuds are banned under U.N.
> Security Council resolutions and have a range of up to 400 miles."
> ABC's Ted Koppel, "embedded" with an infantry division, reported
> matter-of-factly that "there were two Scud missiles that came in.
> intercepted by a patriot missile." ABC anchor Derek McGinty had earlier
> explained that "there was a Scud attack, one Scud fired from Basra
> Kuwait. It was intercepted by an American patriot battery, and apparently
> knocked out of the sky. There is still no word exactly what was on
> Scud, whether or not there might have been any sort of unconventional
> weaponry onboard."
> Fox News Channel's William La Jeunesse was not only asserting that
> had been launched, but was drawing conclusions about its significance:
> "Now, Iraq is not supposed to have Scuds because they have a range
> up to 400 miles. The limit by the U.N., of course, is like 95 miles.
> we already know they have something they're not supposed to have."
> As the day went on, however, the Pentagon was less definitive about
> kind of missile Iraq was using, prompting some journalists to back
> story. Associated Press reported on March 22 that "Maj. Gen. Stanley
> McChrystal, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of
> told a Pentagon news conference that the Iraqis have not fired any
> and that U.S. forces searching airfields in the far western desert
> have uncovered no missiles or launchers."
> Even so, the next day, columnist Peter Bronson (Cincinnati Enquirer,
> 3/23/03) was still writing, "The Scuds he swore he did not have were
> at Kuwait, and Iraq was launching lame denials while the craters still
> smoked." Apparently the corrections of the earlier, incorrect reports
> not reached even all of those whose job it is to follow the news.
> Reporters were also embarrassed on March 23 by an evaporating story
> a "chemical facility" near the town of Najaf, Iraq, that was touted
> U.S. military officials as a possible smoking gun to prove disputed
> about Saddam Hussein possessing banned chemical weapons. While journalists
> were not typically as credulous of this claim as they were with the
> story, and generally remembered to attribute it to military sources,
> accounts still tended to be breathless and to extrapolate wildly from
> unconfirmed report.
> ABC's John McWethy promoted the story with this report: "Amidst all
> fighting, one important new discovery: U.S. officials say, up the road
> from Nasarijah, in a town called Najaf, they believe that they have
> captured a chemical weapons plant and perhaps more important, the
> commanding general of that facility. One U.S. official said he is
> potential 'gold mine' about the weapons Saddam Hussein says he doesn't
> NBC's Tom Brokaw described the story thusly: "Word tonight that U.S.
> forces may have found what U.N. inspectors spent months searching for,
> facility suspected to be a chemical weapons plant, uncovered by ground
> troops on the way north to Baghdad." NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim
> Miklaszewski added what seemed to be corroborating details: "This huge
> chemical complex... was constructed of sand-casted walls, in other
> meant to camouflage its appearance to blend in with the desert. Once
> inside, the soldiers found huge amounts of chemicals, stored chemicals.
> They apparently found no chemical weapons themselves, and now military
> officials here at the Pentagon say they have yet to determine exactly
> these chemicals are or how they could have been used in weapons."
> Fox News Channel, less cautious than some of its competitors, treated
> report of a chemical weapons factory as fact in a series of onscreen
> banners like "Huge Chemical Weapons Factory Found in So. Iraq."
> Some print outlets also hyped the story the next day, as when the
> Philadelphia Daily News (10/24/03) reported it as the "biggest find
> Iraq war" and "a reversal of fortune for American and British forces
> the end of the war's most discouraging day."
> As it turned out, however, the "discovery" seemed to be neither a big
> nor a reversal of fortune, but simply a false alarm, and TV reporters
> began changing their stories. The Dow Jones news service reported
> (3/24/03), "U.S. officials said Monday that no chemical weapons were
> at a suspected site at Najaf in central Iraq, U.S. television networks
> reported. NBC News reported from the Pentagon that no chemicals at
> were found at the site. CNN, also reporting from the Pentagon, said
> officials now believe the plant there was abandoned long ago by the
> Iraqis." On March 25, the New York Times reported that "suggestions
> Sunday that a chemical plant in Najaf might be a weapons site have
> out to be false."
> U.S.-based journalists are generally quick to caution readers, when
> describing an allegation made by Iraq, that the information "could
> independently confirmed." The fact is that information provided by
> government should be treated with skepticism; reporters might try
> extending their critical approach to the U.S. military's statements.