|June 1, 2006|
Media Crimes Sanitize War Crimes in Iraq (Ongoing)
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
As events in Iraq continue to slip from bad to worse, the good news brigade is scrambling for new stories -- ('anything, give me anything') to shore up what's left of public support for a bloody war without end.
As some feared and many predicted, the war hovers over our politics and the president who "brought it on." He is, as the journalist Sid Blumenthal puts it, stuck in a "paradigm" of his own making. The operative word is the title and refrain of an early Springsteen song: "TRAPPED."
Another tipping point seems to have tipped.
Fear and exhaustion is evident in our TV newsrooms along with a continuing failure to recognize what is going on. The lack of insight is stunning; the quality of most of the news, pathetic.
Even CBS's brave Kimberly Dozier -- may she fully recover -- was not only embedded in practice with the US military when she was wounded, and her crew killed, but she seemed embedded mentally seeking our a "feel good" story to cheer the homefront that the Bush Administration wants so badly to stay the course of his "long war."
In an email sent to CBS, and only discovered after she went from being an embed to being in a bed -- at a military hospital in Germany no less -- she described the story she was going to be doing before another IED did its awful damage.
Reported the LA Times:
What a tragic loss -- TV journalists dying not in search of deeper truths but to send back another picture-rich but patriotically-correct story along the same good news lines as one filed for 60 Minutes by CBS's now chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. She glamorized the tactics of a brainy American colonel heroically stopping terrorists in the town of Tel Afar.
A Washington Post journalist, filing a report from the same town, debunked CBS's storyline. He found no terrorists killed in what was a sectarian and internal political fight.
Early Thursday morning, the CNN website carried a story by one of its Iraq reporters who realized after the fact that she knew about the marines at Haditha but did not report on them at the time,
When I went back to quote her more extensively a half hour later, the story was off the website and its URL did not work, but I found it anyway through CNN's website archive.
It's a rare piece of media introspection.
"Can you believe it?" Yes, I can believe it. Haditha is coming to light because conscientious marines spoke out and then ex-marine Congressman John Murtha spoke out and then TIME picked it up.
Our fearless TV journalists did not break the story.
CNN had it, but, according to Damon, didn't realize it.
Journalists like Dahr Jamail have been calling attention to many massacres that have gone mostly unreported -- even when US journalist were there, like at Fallujah which was played up for its drama and gun battles, but never fully contextualized or focused on the vast civilian casualties.
When atrocities occur, they are invariably described as "mistakes," rarely crimes. What this means is that many media organizations are acting as accessories. War crimes often lead to media crimes and vice versa.
England's Media Lens discusses this same phenomenon in the UK:
So, there you have the kind of discussion ignored in most of the U.S. press who stand by their colleagues -- as we should -- but rarely call them and their news organizations to account for what they do -- and don't do.
The Administration fears that the reaction to the gore of the Haditha massacre will mark a turning point, not just a tipping point, in support for the war. Let's hope they are right.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
News Dissector and Mediachannel.org blogger Danny Schechter has written "When News Lies" about war coverage and his film WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception). (wmdthefilm.com) Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org.
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