Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 06, 2007

Leave the Fake News to Jon Stewart

Maybe we could implement the "Fairness Doctrine," in a small way

I think that I could be talked into a sort of “fairness doctrine” – except that instead of requiring radio stations to present opposing opinions, I would require mainstream news organization to balance lies with truth.
Two massacres have come to light in the last couple of weeks. One was real and one was fantasy. One was widely reported and the other sort of slipped into nearly total obscurity. Unfortunately, it was the imaginary massacre that made the news and the real massacre has been ignored.
You might have read or seen on the evening news the story about the twenty beheading victims discovered along the banks of the Tigris River in Um al-Abeed, Iraq. The Associated Press story was dated June 28, 2007 and quoted two anonymous Iraqi police officers. The story set off alarms among media watchdogs as locations cited were nowhere near the as the policemen’s jurisdiction. It was precisely this sort of geographical incongruity that first alerted skeptics to the improbability of the AP’s former ubiquitous source for all things embarrassing to the war effort – Jamil Hussein.
The imaginary police captain Jamil Hussein managed to serve as the AP’s witness to all sorts of atrocities from just about everywhere in the vicinity of Baghdad, until the Associated Press reported his account of 4 Sunni mosques being blown up and Sunni worshippers being burned alive in the street under the approving gaze of the Iraqi Army. All one had to do to disprove the story was visit the neighborhood, which the AP didn’t bother with. Had they done so, they would have found the mosques standing and no eyewitnesses to the corroborate Jamil Hussein’s tale. When asked to produce Jamil Hussein, the AP couldn’t.
That lesson didn’t have any lasting effect on the AP, because they reported the story about the 20 headless bodies without really looking into the matter and, guess what? It never happened. The AP sent out a brief retraction but, if you saw the original story, I’ll bet that you heard nothing about the story’s retraction.
But there was a massacre that should have been reported, but so far, it has not. One day after the Associated Press disseminated its fairytale, now known as “Decapigate,” freelance journalist Michael Yon posted a story from al Hamira, a village just 3.5 miles from Baqubah. Al Qaida had taken over the town and the US military was there to wipe them out and free the population. Al Qaida was successfully eradicated and all the booby traps neutralized, but there were no villagers to be liberated. Where were they?
As it turned out, they were in a mass grave. Al Qaida had apparently beheaded every last man, woman and child in the village and dumped their bodies into a shallow ditch. The grave was so shallow that it was easily discovered by the stench of decaying flesh.
It should come as no surprise that Al Qaida is comprised of barbarians capable of such savagery. What’s remarkable about this story is the lack of interest from the mainstream media. Several news services (including the Associated Press) have reporters in Baquba to cover the Arrowhead Ripper offensive. As mentioned earlier, Baquba is only 3.5 miles away from this village. But other than Michael Yon, none have bothered to take the trip to see the atrocity with their own eyes and none have reported a word about it. Michael Yon was so distressed by this failure that he offered his own report free of charge to any newspaper that wished to print it. So far, none have. If you wish to read it, and can bear graphic photos, go here:
A poorly sourced, imaginary slaughter gets headlines and a real slaughter is ignored. Why?
The AP’s reporting on the recent terrorist attacks in London might give us a clue. Reporter David Rising noted that the terrorists came “from diverse backgrounds.” He quotes an investigator who speculated that, “they discovered that they shared some common ideology, and then they decided to act on this while here in the UK."
And what might that “common ideology” be? David Rising wouldn’t even speculate, although if you did, you would almost certainly be correct.
The mainstream press has its own common ideology. And that ideology drives it to highlight fake massacres and ignore real ones. You can probably guess why.

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