The Quick and the Dead

Brevity is the Soul of Wit: This cartoon by Chris Muir sums up the recent controversy about Iraq war reporting as only a cartoon can:

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It directly addresses how is it that the premier news organizations – AP and Reuters – would too quickly publish a completely false story but ignore a real one. Chirs Muir has the short answer right – because one fit their narrative on the war and the other didn’t. Michael Yon’s story Bless the Beasts and the Children, like WWII concentration camp footage, is not for the faint hearted. But it is another example of how talented bloggers are publishing material that reveals the hidden agendas of the MSM.

Bob Owens, blogging as Confederate Yankee, has been the blogger leading the charge on this story here. He makes a compelling case against AP and Reuters. In a slightly earlier account of the story Owens published at Pajamas media I found this comment from someone calling themselves ‘troothsurch’ which is a spirited defense of the news organizations that is worth considering:

I’d like to inject a little reality into all this outrage. First of all, it didn’t take AP “days” to cast doubt on the story… It in fact took hours. The day they reported the 20 beheaded bodies, they immediately had sources saying it may not be true. This is the AP’s lead that day:

BAGHDAD (AP) _ A car bomb killed 22 people Thursday in a bus station in western Baghdad, and police said 20 beheaded bodies had been discovered on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of the capital. Government security officials raised doubts about the decapitation report.
The AP story says a U.S. aircraft spotted what appeared to be 5 bodies, but a search team went out and found nothing. Giving a reason why someone might believe the report to be credible, but at the same time, raising the likelihood that is was false.

But more broadly…. All this fury that the MSM is purposely “ignoring” al-Qaida massacres puzzles me, in light of the 20 bodies story from Salman Pak. Note this paragraph in the Salman Pak story:

Salman Pak and the surrounding area have been the focus of new U.S. military operations to oust extremists from the Baghdad’s outskirts. Salman Pak was once a major headquarters for Saddam Hussein’s security services and was long reported to be a training center for non-Iraqi Arab terrorists.

“Non-Iraqi Arab terrorists”? ie- al-Qaida. In other words, AP and others were TRYING to report on what appeared to be an al-Qaida massacre. It turned out to be false and incorrect. Now they’re getting attacked for trying to report one al-Qaida massacre, AND attacked for NOT reporting on another. Seems odd to me.

I don’t know why the AP and MSM aren’t reporting on the massacre reported by Michael Yon. Someone has to ask them. But I do know that some people are going nuts over a non-issue.

I agree with the commenter that the news agencies getting it wrong is no big deal in itself, but it just wont do to slough off the issue of why they are not publishing the Yon story. To do so ignores the fundamental difference between the two. The first is a story of sectarian violence which fits the narrative – partly true – that the Coalition and the Iraqi government are having great difficulty preventing all out civil war. The second story – Michael Yon’s story – demonstrates beyond doubt that there is another, newer, war going on – one between the Sunni tribes of Anbar province and al Qaeda and that there are very concrete reasons why many of the former opponents of the Coalition and the Iraqi government have changed sides. In the larger context of the two narratives the news agencies’ clear choice to support one and not the other reveals – yet again – their partisanship. What outs the MSM as bad journalists is not that they made a mistake, but that they wont publish a story at odds with the political views they wish to promote. The fuss being made about it is justified because of the continuing denial by the MSM that they are doing it. It certainly not new. Back in December 2003 I blogged here about how the MSM failed to report a 10,000 strong demonstration in Baghdad against the insurgency until Blogger Zeyad of Healing Iraq did so here with photos. (The permalink to the exact post is broken, but if you scroll halfway down the page the story is headlined ‘A Great Day for Iraq.’)


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