Monday, April 10, 2006

Corrupting our sight

Neil Munro at the National Journal has a major article on the pressure to alter Iraqi war news to suit an agenda. Munro asserts that never before has there been such a conflicts of which accounts of an event are actually true. He quotes Patrick Baz, AFP's photo director for Iraq.

Baz said that, today, unlike in wars past, journalists are constantly pressured to choose sides, and that many combatants on either side don't believe that journalistic neutrality exists. This wartime pressure on photographers is "terrible," Baz said. "It is absolutely unbelievable that you are automatically branded East or West, Muslim or Christian, and you have [to] go on one side or the other."

This pressure has resulted in patently faked versions of events or at least, disputed ones. For example, the UK Daily Mirror was embarrassed when the analysis of uniforms and soldier's equipment in a photo purporting to show British soldiers beating up a prisoner turned out to be dubious and probably bogus. Photos, later shown to depict unidentified individuals in a mish-mash of uniforms, were trotted out by the Voz de Azatlan, a leftist website purporting to show American soldiers raping Iraqi women. It was faked and though later discredited the damage had been done. Faced with these problems, Munro says that media organizations have taken steps to reduce the possibility of being misled by their sources.

The New York Times will not publish a picture "if it feels like it was done for us," said Flynn [Elizabeth Flynn, foreign-picture editor] and she cited an occasion when one of her photographers set aside dramatic photos taken in Africa because the crowd had reacted to an audience of 17 cameras and photographers. "People perform for the media.... [They] are very media-savvy; they know what will attract attention."

Still, there is the problem of context. One AP photographer took a track tread and turned it into a story, which may eventually have become two stories.

Last September 17, in Ramadi, Hussein took pictures after a battle at a dusty intersection. At least one U.S. armored vehicle had been damaged and towed away, leaving behind its 40-foot dull-gray metal track tread. Hussein's photographs showed the locals piling debris and auto tires onto the tread, and then celebrating as they lit a fire. Without the fire, smoke, and added debris, the photo would have presented a pretty uninteresting image of people looking at a leftover tank tread. With the smoke, fire, and debris, the image seemed to convey that a major battle had just taken place.

Weeks later, USA Today published a similar Hussein photograph from a different incident in Ramadi, which featured celebrating Sunnis, burning car tires, and a tank tread pulled over on its side.

The National Journal story is good background against which to post a guest column from the family of a veteran which was sent to me via Patrick Hynes of Ankle-biting Pundits. Hynes is getting bloggers to feature guest posts. Derek Bastain is an American soldier who died in Iraq and his parent's post is featured below. Derek helped make the news in the real sense. Which is why it is sometimes a shame to see it distorted.

Dear Friends,

Let us speak candidly; we have earned the right: The media is pathetic and it is a damn shame that they are unwilling to report more of the positive stories developing in Iraq.

 We are not going to sit on the sidelines. With other similar families, we are determined to make a difference. Read more:

Our son, Derek, perished in the Iraqi dessert last May. He was proud of his service and his peers. Derek strongly believed that our Armed Serves were making progress and Derek knew that attacking insurgency camps abroad was the best way to keep his friends and family at home safe. Read more about him here:

Three years ago next week Baghdad fell and so began the long road towards building a new Middle East democracy. Now 11 million Iraqis have voted and the Iraqi security forces have primary responsibility for protecting most of their own soil.

Who will remember Iraqi Liberation Week? Certainly not the media. But you can make a difference. Join us in signing a letter to the media and reminding them of our incredible sacrifice – AND our remarkable progress. Do it now; Iraqi Liberation Week begins on Sunday the 9th:

Debra and Todd Bastain,

Gold Star Parents

Lompoc, California


Blogger DanMyers said...

From neo-neocon's blog -

"Like the Nazis in the 1930s and the Soviet communists in the Cold War, the Islamofascists are emboldened by appeasement and submissiveness. Give the rampagers and book-burners a veto over artistic and editorial decisions, and you end up not with heightened sensitivity and cultural respect, but with more rampages and more books burned. You betray ideals that generations of Americans have died to defend."

4/10/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

This is a complicated issue.

to me the major American media outlets really asked for this by their poor response to 9/11. The refusal to act like patriotic Americans simply cemented the impression that the media was not really supportive.

I really don't expect an impartial media. Ernie Pyle didn't feel compelled to help us understand krauts or japs, he was reporting what he saw as an American.

The recent interview of Michael Ware by Hugh Hewitt made my blood boil. Mr Ware gave me the impression that no one knows a damned thing about the doings in Iraq but him.. His insistence of covering the enemy strikes me as simply a pathetic attempt to garner the spotlight.

He made no assertion as to the nature of the enemy that was "news" to me. Perhaps the people still reading Time need this sort of spoon feeding but I don't and I doubt the regular posters here do either.

Again, Ernie Pyle felt no need to cavort with the Japanese as the hid in the hills. This isn't some management excersize at a retreat somewhere, this is America at war.

the big challenge for the media now is how to regain its lost audience. Any attempt at overt patriotism will be met with doubt by the right and anger by the left.

So we watch as a once proud profession sinks to tabloid status.

Oh well.

4/10/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The photos themselves are seen as extensions of the battle. The photographers are often chastised for conspiring with the Enemy, no matter which side they shoot.

We have done it here, claiming the photag to be part of the ploy, inditing AP for printing the photos.

Which is well justified, to my thinking. The pictures are part of the ploy as well as the play. Terrorism is street theater, and all the Worlds a stage.

But those are from the new rules of War, not at all "old school".

The US, oft laments Mr Rumsfeld, plays "old school rules" in the Info Wars.

4/10/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Since the "war" will be won by the hearts and minds in America -- how long we will continue to fight evil -- all news is, directly, part of the war effort.

There are 2 main axes: pro-Bush/ pro-War; anti-Bush/ anti-War is the main American axis. There are also the pro-Saddam/ pro-Islam/ pro-Hamas; anti-Saddam/ anti-terrorism axis.

All truths in Iraq fit on these axes -- with the extremes as propaganda/ PR.

The Moral Hazard of a Free Press is that the minimum number of Americans killed will be if the press reports only, or the vast majority, of pro-war and anti-terrorism articles. The maximum number of Americans killed will be the reverse, when the MSM reports anti-war and pro-terrorism articles.

A "balanced" press will kill less than the max, more than the min -- except that, in keeping the struggle going longer, the "minimum" occurs by helping the future victor the most, now.

NOT printing the Mohammed cartoons was essentially pro-Islam, pro-terrorist; but there aren't so many of these.

The West needs to get used to this.

4/10/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: media that lies.

Creates an opportunity. There's only short-term disadvantage, if any, to the victim. Eventually the listener discovers the lie and punishes both themselves and the liar to the degree the lie appears intentional. Remember how bad you felt when you discovered that the earlier reports from New Orleans were either lies or blown wildly out of proportion? We all knew the MSM could not be trusted but we still were inclined to believe them because we believe in the worst of ourselves.

Vote with your feet (and wallet). Drive up readership at sites and institutions that show respect for you and your time. Reading TBC and other Pajamas Media sites is a good start. Clicking thru on their ads is even better. And when time comes to vote, remember those who suffered the lie in silence, focusing on the work at hand v. playing-to-the-popularity-polls.

This matters more than any letter to the editor or verbal complaint.

Do it today.

4/10/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Tex said...

skipsailing: So we watch as a once proud profession sinks to tabloid status.

It sinks, yet the pride remains.

The pride of ego.

Satan's pride.

His pride
had cast him out from Heaven,
with all his host.
Of rebel angels,
by whose aspiring
To set himself in glory
above his peers.

-Milton, Book I

4/10/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Anyone familiar with great press lies surely knows the name Walter J. Duranty.
He won a Pulitzer prize for reporting on the Soviet Union in the 1930's.
He constantly denied the claim that Stalin was starving TENS OF MILLIONS of his own people in the Ukraine. He KNEW it was a lie but reported it with no difficulty.
He was a propagandist for Stalin plain and simple.
This past year the Pulitzer committee reviewed his prize and REFUSED to revoke it.
That the press lies is not new.

4/10/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Figures of 30 million Ukranians starved to death are usually reported. Stalin surrounded the Ukraine with NKVD secret police and simply took the bountiful harvest's to sell to the West for hard currency.
The NYT managing editor Carr Van Anda, assistant managing editor Fred Birchall and later managing editor EAdwin James all knew of the flase reporting and did nothing about it...Walter J Duranty was the biggest liar in journalism and the Pulitzer committee let stand his award.
It was well known that Duranty idolized Satlin, so ,as he was quoted, "Any report of famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda".
Reporters have to have access to report or they don't have a job. Most of these print whores will do anything for that access, including watching 30 million people perish.

4/10/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

When New York Herald Tribune reporter asked Duranty what he was going to write Duranty replied:
"Nothing, What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated".

At this time 25,000 Ukranians a DAY were dying.
Go ahead buy the NYT with a free conscience.

4/10/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger genwolf said...

Micheal Ware is a good a example of the fundamental confusion that even the well intentioned media labour under. Ware is a pretty fearless correspondent and and he has actually delivered some valuable inside looks at the insurgency. But what emerged most clearly from his interview with Hugh Hewitt was that his reporting was informed solely by the immediate here and now and lacked any historical context at all - and not just Iraqi history but also that basic historical literacy that would have allowed him to actually answer the question about the relative oppressiveness of Krsuchevs and Stalin's regimes. When people complain about the media's lack of undertsnading of context this is what they mean - when even Bureau cheifs appear to be this ignorant of history, let alone the subject they report on it is little wonder that they are easy prey for those who are able to package their narative in the form of spectacular events. Activists have long understood this which is why they eschew argument for "direct action", which is simply a euphamism for creating media events.

But there is a deeper confusion to which most of the media is prey, and many of it's critics as well - thsi is the confusion between objectivity and neutrality, the reflexive response of media types when they are accused of being objectively pro-terrorist is that there commitement to objective reporting requires them to be neutral - though the truth is they don't really distinguish the one from the other. In their own minds their are only 2 positions either one is scrupulously neutral and thus objective or one is an outright propogandist. In truth much of the time this vaunted neutrality and spposedly brave moral indifference in the name of Journalistic integrity is more honoured in the breach than otherwise - one need only compare the way that insurgent atrocities are commonly told as part of the narrative of insurgent invincibility and coalition impotence, complete with a studious avoidance of any comment upon the deliberate targeting of civilians by those insurgents, whilst even a rumoured American infraction against the norms of war will be treated with an almost hysterical degree of sanctimony and outrage - with "atrocity" "torture" "barbarism" etc be bandied about with gay abandon - cf Kevin Sites, Abu Graib, Falujah, Gitmo - the litany is endless -so so much for neutrality.

But even if the media's claim be even Neutral is largley spurious, amd it is easy to perceive an intense anti-American bias , I think it is worth atacking the premise that they are even required to be neutral at all to be objective. As an example we could say that we would scarcely expect General Eisenhower to have been neutral in respect of the outcome of D-Day, but at the same time 100' of thousands of lives dpended upon him and his staff and intelligence services being ruthlessly objective about the judgements they made about both their own and their enemies weakness's and strengths.

Anoother axample that might make it easier for even the dimmest foreign correspeondent to understand the differencxe between neutrality and objectivity and the role of bias is your standard Jury trial. Commonly in major criminal trials such as murder both defense and prosecution are given the opportunity to try and elimiante bias from the Jury - the ideal being that what will remain after the dismisal of prejuidiced Jurors is an objective Jury qualified to make a determination of guilt or innocence on the evidence. But what should be noted about this process is that what a competent counsel or prosecuter seeks is a juror who has not pre-judged the defendants guilt or innocence - not a juror who is indifferent or neutral about the alleged crime itslef actaully being a crime. If someone told the defense and prosecution Attorneys that for true impartiality they should seek only Jurors who were indifferent on the question of whther Murder actually constituted a crime they would rightly be vwiewed as insane - yet it is a similarly insane species of argumanet that the media uses to defend it's impartiality all the time. The idea that there really a middle a middle position from which one can impartially triangulate between the likes of Zarqawi and his cause and the coaition, Iraqi Goverment and their cause is what causes many to find the reporting from Iraq to be as insane as some of the vents being reported.

4/10/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/10/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tex said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/10/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

psychological operations.

Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of pyschological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP. (JP1-02)

It seems pretty clear to me that the MSM conveys information/news to Americans to influence their emotions, their motives, their objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of the Bush Administration. How well planned this operation is I don't know, and who the originator's are and what their objectives are I don't know for sure. I have my suspicions.

U.S. military policy is not to aim psychological operations at Americans, said Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003. "It is ingrained in U.S.: You don't psyop Americans. We just don't do it,"

Well, somebody's gotta do it. The enemy already is.

4/10/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tex said...

Related thought for wretchard: it might be good to have a set of MSM links on the BC homepage, perhaps below the Resources links. I'm thinking of links for media fact-checking, confessions of bias, and biographies of ninth-circle nominees, like Duranty.

"WhoreShame" would be a good header, you think?

I'll offer one link to start the bidding. A good place to check for bias in the media (and by "bias" I do mean "undue influence", not honest disagreement) is the Media Research Center.

More links for WhoreShame?

4/10/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Arthur Salzberger Jr. would be a good place to start.

4/10/2006 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

“Baz said that, today, unlike in wars past, journalists are constantly pressured to choose sides…” Say, what?

From the Revolution (Sam Adams & Franklin) through the Civil War, Spanish American War (Hearst, Pulitzer), WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, journalists (so called) have taken sides. Until Korea and especially Vietnam, they often were home team propagandists, they worked to keep the home team on-track, with the program. Do note, until Korea and particularly Vietnam, journalists unabasedly rooted for the home team; they were not post-modern, relativistic deconstructionists. They might be muckrakers, yellow-journalists, and profiteering warmongers, but first, foremost, they were patriots.

The MSM has taken a side, unreservedly. Appling Occam’s Razor, their myriad “mistakes” have been far too many to be statistically registered as mere chance. No, as in wars past, the MSM has chosen a side; they support the enemies of the United States. In Lincoln’s time, absent Writ of Habeas Corpus, they would be harmlessly sitting out the war. And, although it would be claimed that, thereby, Americans are uniformed, are they not now?

4/10/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

This has been a long recurring problem. Previous eras dealt with it with conviction and dispatch.

He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
Psalm 101:7

4/10/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Allen is right on the money. It's been a situation, as he points out, that until the Korean and Vietnam wars they pulled for the home team.
It always surprised me that year in and year out Walter Cronkite was voted by the public as one of the most trusted,upstanding Americans. I wondered just what tough policy decisions he made during his career for the USA.
Then when he declared that we could not win in Vietnam (after TET) the anti war crowd turned up the wick.
Both Ho Chi Minh and General Giap stated that they would have lost that war in all ways had it not been for the press turning against it and fomenting anti war sentiment. Many in the MSM aided and abetted the North Vietnamese and caused thousands of addditional US deaths.

4/10/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


I just found an article on asymmetric warfare that might be to your liking. Being a thoroughly vindictive soul, I do like the sound of blitzing Somalia the old fashioned way, one terrorist at a time – always, of course, with compassion and sensitivity to the Somali people.

Clarity and Resolve

Official: U.S. Backing Somali Militants

4/10/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...



Correct me if I am wrong; was it not Napoleon who said that the victor was the one still having reserves at the end of the battle?

By the end of TET, the enemy had not only squandered his best forces, but had futility thrown in his reserves as well. Had the administration followed the lead of Grant in the Wilderness and pursued (balls out, per buddy larsen) instead of following the example of Meade, the war would have taken an altogether different path.

It simply cannot be said too often, "Audacity. Audacity. Always, Audacity." Hannibal risked everything at Cannae; Washington at Trenton and Princeton. This is as true now as ever.

4/10/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Off the subject but I see where Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) is seeking an alliance ith Iran, and desirous of buying uranium.
Says he's on the "offensive", and wants Castro in his corner too.
I say have special forces wack that guy tomorrow.

4/10/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Exactomundo brother get the big cigar and brandy snifter with...Napoleon brandy

We had them crushed but the psychology of our citizenry turned to jello. It was an amazing transition to watch and live through. Too much reefer on campus and too many not willing to administer the coup de grace.

4/10/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

habu 1,
you are off course, my man.
Hugo, the Castro Brothers and MS-13, the Ace up the Persian sleeve.

Viva la Raza!

Open Borders, Long Wars and Economic growth.

Stay the Course, habu 1, stay the course.

4/10/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

It seems to me that the media, including American press, have been guilty of a mite more than mere prejudice and tilting bias. CBS, for example, is known to have Iraqi stringers on their payroll. These Iraqi stringers are related to terrorists, and so can position themselves in advance to be in the best place to get the best pictures of Americans being killed.

To me, this means that CBS -- and Reuters and AP and all the other "journalists" who routinely hire Iraqi's and accept their photo's and their stories without question -- are paying terrorist enablers to kill Americans.

I think it's appalling that four years into the war on terrorism with example after example after example of this murderous perfidy by "journalists", that no one has been prosecuted for murder or treason or just really really bad journalism. Geraldo and Peter Arnett being the only two who have even received a disapproving "tut tut".

4/10/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Good run-down on Pulitzer-Walter Duranty. I think people rationalize black lies because white lies are good. If it's good to tell the homely gal that she's beautiful, who can say it's bad to hide 30 million murders by slow-starvation of people Standing in the Way of the Future?

We oughtta have different words for different types of lies. I mean, we do, probably, but who knows 'em? "Calumny", and "deceit" for example have very precise definitions.

Allen, fair & balanced, Napoleon and Lee and whazziz faces the two Roman generals were showing audacity at Waterloo, Gettysburg, and Cannae, too.

4/10/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

desert rat,
well come to think of it I am headed to Montana and the Florida home needs a new roof....and the part about economic growth ....yeah what was i thinking ..I'm going to take a fresh look at some natural gas options in the morning ..could be a play there pending maturity and strike price!

4/10/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

On Walter Duranty:I may be wrong but I believe post USSR documents showed him not only to be a Stalin sympathizer,but an actual paid Soviet agent.If I'm wrong no apology required he was still an enabler for Stalinist atrocities.Maybe Duranty is Stalin's press agent in hell.
A good read on Duranty and other fellow travelers is Paul Hollander's "Political Pilgrims".Read it up against "The Gulag Archipelago" for a contrast between genuine evil and western fools who put lipstick on the pig.
I daresay many on the left today are consciously rooting for the triumph of our enemies,out of despising their own nation and its myths and traditions.A pox on their house.

4/10/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

thanks for the good read. another very definitive book, generally considered tops is "Harvest of Sorrow" by Robert Conquest.

4/10/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

habu_1, 7:11 PM

Let me run this by you. Eventually, no matter what, the US will control the flow of petroleum products through the Straight of Hormuz. Seventy percent of the petroleum needs of both Japan and China pass through the Straight. Europe would collapse without its needs being met thereby. In short, the Eastern Hemisphere relies on the flow of petroleum products through a three to five mile wide band of water at a relative point.

With American control of the Straight of Hormuz comes the ability to reward friends and punish enemies, e.g. the future sheikdoms of Eurabia, vacillating Eurocrats, or overly aggressive Sino-militarists.

Both China and Russia, well aware of their inability to project themselves directly in the coming struggle for possession of the Straight, have compensated by courting Mr. Chavez, knowing our dependence on Venezuelan crude. Of course, Venezuela alone could not cripple the US to the same extent as closing the Straight of Hormuz could harm America’s adversaries. Venezuela is a good first step. Don’t be surprised to see Mexico soon the focus of Sino-Russian attention. Any disruption of Mexican petroleum supplies to the US would definitely hurt. With that in mind, the immigration mess takes on a whole new meaning.

Just say’n, the trip from Venezuela to either Russia or China is a long, long journey. One hopes that Mr. Chavez would not be overtaken by an untimely accident. I do hope the administration has some plan for supporting the growing opposition to Mr. Chavez within his country. A little in your face, Hugo, would be appreciated here.

Tough lessons learned by a few of those who choose to contest the US would be clarifying. Was it Johnson who said in effect, "Nothing clarifies a man's thoughts so well as the thought of hanging in the morning." Goodnight Mr. Chavez.

4/10/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Once again a very penetrating and accurate (IMO) of the developing paradigm.
All in all I think we're in for some very interesting and perhaps societal changing world events.
A bit like Europe in 1848 when there were revolutions all over the place. Life will not be dull.
But then I'll be in Montana ..

4/10/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

good night friends and neighbors..early day tomorrow

4/10/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

13 carrier battle groups, the Boomers and hunter-killer subs, are the best sleep aids in the whole wide world.

4/10/2006 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Thanks for the kind words.

To all, it is the time for a good thing to end. Fair thee well.

4/10/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Thanks, allen.

4/10/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

8:52 PM

"fare thee well"

4/10/2006 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger crosspatch said...

The media is just out of control. I just read an opinion piece in the Seattle Post Intelligencer with the headline "Situation in Iraq could not be worse"

Excuse me? It could be one HELL of a lot worse. Or maybe I should take that with a bit of relief because if it couldn't be worse, then it can't do anything but improve.

I just can not believe the drivel that newspapers will publish these days.

4/10/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger blert said...

There is a persistent meme that Chavez can sell his crude elsewhere. That is not true.

His exports are so heavy and sour that the only refineries geared to accept them are American.

His powder is wet.

No matter what he does, his crude ends up in Texas.

Because of the technology involved, Chavez can't even refine the bulk of his own crude.

4/11/2006 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger Starling said...

genwolf, I am a man who appreciates fine distinctions. It was a real pleasure to read your discussion on the failure of journalists to distinguish between objectivity and neutrality.

4/11/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Desert Rat,

Way OT, but IIRC you have often raised the (quite reasonable) question of why Muqtada al Sadr has been allowed to remain alive. Austin Bay addresses the question here

and the answer is a subtle and rather surprising one.

Jamie Irons

4/12/2006 07:12:00 AM  

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