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Twisting the truth

Who's side is the American media on, anyway? Here's one man's opinion:

The operation in Fallujah is only one of the recent examples of incomplete coverage of the events in Iraq. The battle in Najaf last August provides another. Television and newspapers spilled a continuous stream of images and stories about the destruction done to the sacred city, and of all the human suffering allegedly brought about by the hands of the big, bad Americans.  These stories and the lack of anything to counter them gave more fuel to the fire of anti-Americanism that burns in this part of the world. Those on the outside saw the Coalition portrayed as invaders or oppressors, killing hapless Iraqis who, one was given to believe, simply were trying to defend their homes and their Muslim way of life. 

Reality couldn't have been farther from the truth.  What noticeably was missing were accounts of the atrocities committed by the Mehdi Militia -- Muqtada Al Sadr's band of henchmen. While the media was busy bashing the Coalition, Muqtada's boys were kidnapping policemen, city council members and anyone else accused of [...] supporting the Coalition or the new government, trying them in a kangaroo court based on Islamic Shari'a law, then brutally torturing and executing them for their "crimes."  What the media didn't show or write about were the two hundred-plus headless bodies found in the main mosque there, or the body that was put into a bread oven and baked. Nor did they show the world the hundreds of thousands of mortar, artillery and small arms rounds found within the "sacred" walls of the mosque. Also missing from the coverage was the huge cache of weapons found in Muqtada's "political" headquarters nearby. No, none of this made it to the screen or to print.  All anyone showed were the few chipped tiles on the dome of the mosque and discussion centered on how we, the Coalition, had somehow done wrong.  Score another one for the enemy's propaganda machine.

Now, compare the Najaf example to the coverage and debate ad nauseam of the Abu Ghuraib Prison affair.  There certainly is no justification for what a dozen or so soldiers did there, but unbalanced reporting led the world to believe that the actions of the dozen were representative of the entire military. This has had an incredibly negative effect on Middle Easterners' already sagging opinion of the U.S. and its military.  Did anyone show the world images of the 200 who were beheaded and mutilated in Muqtada's Shari'a Law court, or spend the next six months talking about how horrible all of that was?  No, of course not.  Most people don't know that these atrocities happened. It's little wonder that many people here want us out and would vote someone like Muqtada Al Sadr into office given the chance -- they never see the whole truth.  Strange, when the enemy is the instigator the media does not flash images across the screens of televisions in the Middle East as they did with Abu Ghuraib.  Is it because the beheaded bodies might offend someone? If so, then why do we continue see photos of the naked human pyramid over and over?

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Re: Who's side is the American Press on anyway?

When the war started and the right-wing started complaining about Al-Jazeera, I found that a bit annoying, but it was easily ignored. As the war has deteriorated, the clamoring against the press has gotten louder and sillier, and I've kind of laughed it off. Now it has become so loud that I truly believe it is dangerous, and it needs to be confronted directly. So...

America is a great country! Not because we are more powerful or more wealthy, but because we aspire to a set of very wonderful ideals. Among them are the "equality of opportunity" so eloquently discussed here. Freedom to worship unencumbered, or to choose not to worship at all. The right to a fair trial. Freedom of speech. And the Freedom to write anything we want about anything we want.

Now, please re-read the article Mason has posted and ask yourself as you read it: "What solution is this man proposing?" I suspect you will agree with me that he has no well-defined solution. But I think we all have a pretty good idea of where he's going. If you'll indulge me for a moment, here's where I think he's going...

  • The author of that article (and like-minded folks) think the lesson of Abu Graib is "Don't give soldiers cameras".
  • They think the press should be free to write about any subject - as long as it "promotes our cause".
  • In their version of the United States, the press marches hand-in-hand with the government.
  • They were secretly pleased to see Al-Jazeera reporters killed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they applauded the Coalition attempts to shut down Al-Arabiyah and expel its reporters.
  • They support the decision by the Senate investigating committee to not release further pictures of abuse, torture, or murder (yes, murder) of prisoners in Iraq.
  • They want to know how many soldiers have been wounded in Iraq, but they don't want that number to be printed in their newspaper or shown on their television.
  • They are quick to label Kevin Sikes as un-American, a reporter who had the temerity to suggest that one American soldier on one occasion may have acted badly.
  • They want the American equivalent of "Baghdad Bob" - the guy who stands in front of a camera with rifle fire and explosions going off behind him, and says "Everything is going great!"
  • They think the FOIA is evil.
  • They supported closed hearings on WMD, secret meetings between VP Cheney and Energy lobbyists, and the non-disclosure of the whereabouts of "ghost detainees". The less the American people know, the better.

  • To these people I say: Freedom of the press is a big part of what this nation is all about! Learn to live with it, or move to France! (I've always wanted to say that.) :)

    Finally, in answer to Mason's question: "Who's side is the American media on anyway?"...

    The American media should be on the side of "getting us information". As much information as possible. Information about good things, and information about bad things. The moment they chooose a "side" is when we will have lost the media that is today the envy of the world.

    Freedom of the Press

    In similar fashion to LaurenceB's remarks

    • Two lessons came out of Abu Graib... 1)DON'T GIVE SOLIDERS CAMERAS!!! 2)Somebody higher than the rank of Specialist (whatever that is) needs to be held accountable for the actions at a prison. If majors, colonels or generals were in charge and ultimately held accountable for such actions I'm willing to bet that the MPs charged with the care of the prisoners would be MUCH better behaved.
    • Freedom of the press is guaranteed. I can see a legitimate argument for restrictions in cases of state secrets (such as nuclear launch codes, what spies we have where, etc. etc.) but other than that, the press should air whatever dirty laundry we have.
    • I'm live under the belief that if a member of the press is granted access to a military unit in combat situations and gives up information of an upcoming offensive, provides information on the weakness of our defenses, or something to those regards, that member of the press should be executed for treason. The dude who filmed the solider shooting that one almost dead Iraqi dude wouldn't qualify for the treasonous acts, therefore the soliders should just stop being stupid period.
    • I was kinda happy when I heard about the Al-Jazeera reporter type pukes dying. I think that they have a pretty good lead on how to find Osama, and the help to perpetuate Al Qaeda's garbage.
    • There is a difference between disclosure and freedom of the press. I think if the press finds something (ie, the Abu Graib photos) they should be free to run them as often as they like. I don't think the press needs to be freely given materials to run stories with. Freedom of the press does not translate literally into "we have the right to know."
    • Bring on the numbers of wounded and dead soliders from the Iraqi conflict. And if anybody wants to make static from them I can point to almost every other armed conflict the US has been in and show how we have gotten very good at what we do.
    • That one dude who was lucky enough to have his camera on him that one day isn't un-American. I don't question his patriotism, and if he see's a solider doing something wrong, that's what the camera is there to record. Maybe having more cameras around would keep soliders from screwing up more often.
    • I want both the good news and the bad news out of Iraq. I could do with a little less weight given to the bad news, but that's what makes a story... bad news. It wouldn't hurt to show more stories about how us being in Iraq has helped the country out though.
    • I have no clue what the FOIA is, but it looks like a four letter word to me.
    • As I said earlier, I don't think that the press should have free access to whatever information they desire. If they dig up the information on their own, let them run with it. If I want to meet with some dude about this deal and I want the details to be under wraps, I don't think that I should have to give every reporter who calls up the notes from the meeting. Also, like I said earlier, freedom of the press does not equal the right to know everything. The one is written into the constitution, the other is a myth that the press likes to perpetuate.

    I agree with your last thought, that the press should be free to get us whatever information they can get their hands on. I'm a little more conservative (funny how that word popped up) in the belief because I don't think that they should be given free access to whatever they want to see. If they see it, freedom of press... If they don't see it, but want somebody to hand it over, right to privacy (not that it actually exists, but most people on the left side of the aisle like to believe it does.)

    I'd rather move to Italy... the chicks are hotter there and so are the cars.