Day By Day

Monday, February 28, 2005

Aha! Journalistic Integrity and Iraq

Katie Grant, writing in the Scotsman, faces a moment of truth:
THE thought is heretical, but I’m having it all the same. Iraq, notwithstanding future setbacks that will undoubtedly occasionally spin it off course, is slowly turning into a good-news story....

Slowly? It seems to be going pretty damn fast.... Oh! I get it. She's referring to the glacial pace at which truth is illuminating the minds of the British press corps.
While horror there is in plenty, horror is not the whole story. According to the quirkily named Bartle Bull, writing in this month’s Prospect magazine, it is not even half the story; it is simply the only story in which most of the western press corps is interested.

The good news in Bartle Bull’s piece is that, since the elections, "Iraq is not about America any more". Bull recounts his experiences on 30 January, the day Iraqis turned out in their millions to vote on their country’s future, missing out none of the violence, but also telling other stories, for example of the moment when the "floodgates burst", as he puts it, and the roads were thronged with brave voters; and how the streets, empty of traffic, were turned, after the polls closed, into temporary football pitches full of impromptu games. One Iraqi girl described the day to Bull as "orgasmic".


Ah, I see! If the US were part of the story, it would have to be negative. Taking the US out of the equation allows the press to inject a positive spin.

But even without the US in the stories it was hard for British reporters to sustain a positive slant. The strain was killing them, but then:
There was a brief flicker of hope for the press pack when a British Hercules aircraft crashed, killing nine RAF personnel and one soldier.

At once the British media made it the main story of the day....

The crash gave commentators what they wanted: an excuse to downplay the success of the first democratic elections in which many Iraqis had ever taken part, and imply that they were a failure.

Well, Katie, now that you are telling the truth, why not go all the way?

The truth is that hatred for George Bush and all he stands for is so entrenched in the eyes of bien pensant western commentators, that using the word "success" about Iraq would choke them. If word ever slips out..., it comes hedged with such portentous and lugubrious caveats that it sounds more like a distasteful disease....

There, now, that felt good didn't it? Confession is good for the soul.

Read the whole thing here.

No comments: