[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] Indexes: Main | Date | Thread | Author

[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

What Is FAIR?
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 -----
From: Clark Goble
To: Peirce Discussion Forum
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 7:21 PM
Subject: [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 list.  
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 -----
From: "FAIR" <fair@fair.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 3:13 PM
Subject: Lack of Skepticism Leads to Poor Reporting on Iraq Weapons Claims

>                                  FAIR-L
>                     Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
>                Media analysis, critiques and activism
> 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. name
> 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 Patriot
> missile battery as it headed toward Kuwait."
> His colleague Tim Russert was similarly certain, saying, "Because of last
> night's activity, clearly the Iraqis are now trying to respond with at
> 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 had
> 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 for the
> 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.  One was
> intercepted by a patriot missile."  ABC anchor Derek McGinty had earlier
> explained that "there was a Scud attack, one Scud fired from Basra into
> 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 that
> 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 a Scud
> had been launched, but was drawing conclusions about its significance:
> "Now, Iraq is not supposed to have Scuds because they have a range of 175
> up to 400 miles.  The limit by the U.N., of course, is like 95 miles. So,
> we already know they have something they're not supposed to have."
> As the day went on, however, the Pentagon was less definitive about what
> kind of missile Iraq was using, prompting some journalists to back off the
> story.  Associated Press reported on March 22 that "Maj. Gen. Stanley
> McChrystal, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
> told a Pentagon news conference that the Iraqis have not fired any Scuds
> and that U.S. forces searching airfields in the far western desert of Iraq
> 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 fired
> at Kuwait, and Iraq was launching lame denials while the craters still
> smoked."  Apparently the corrections of the earlier, incorrect reports had
> 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 about
> a "chemical facility" near the town of Najaf, Iraq, that was touted by
> U.S. military officials as a possible smoking gun to prove disputed claims
> about Saddam Hussein possessing banned chemical weapons. While journalists
> were not typically as credulous of this claim as they were with the Scud
> story, and generally remembered to attribute it to military sources,
> accounts still tended to be breathless and to extrapolate wildly from an
> unconfirmed report.
> ABC's John McWethy promoted the story with this report: "Amidst all the
> 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 a
> potential 'gold mine' about the weapons Saddam Hussein says he doesn't
> have."
> 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, a
> 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 words,
> 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 what
> these chemicals are or how they could have been used in weapons."
> Fox News Channel, less cautious than some of its competitors, treated the
> 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 of the
> Iraq war" and "a reversal of fortune for American and British forces at
> the end of the war's most discouraging day."
> As it turned out, however, the "discovery" seemed to be neither a big find
> 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 found
> at a suspected site at Najaf in central Iraq, U.S. television networks
> reported. NBC News reported from the Pentagon that no chemicals at all
> 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 on
> Sunday that a chemical plant in Najaf might be a weapons site have turned
> 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 not be
> independently confirmed."  The fact is that information provided by any
> government should be treated with skepticism; reporters might try
> extending their critical approach to the U.S. military's statements.