Day By Day

Friday, June 02, 2006

Haditha Update -- Is the MSM Blowing the Story?

The MSM is in full feeding frenzy over reports of a "massacre" in Haditha. Many are comparing it to My Lai and are accusing the administration, the military in general, and the Marines in particular of orchestrating a "coverup."

However, since the Katrina debacle, when the MSM went on a similar rampage and got nearly everything wrong, the veracity and objectivity of news sources has come under widespread suspicion.

I noted yesterday that the BBC [of all sources] seems to be taking a much more temperate, objective, and less condemnatory stance toward the developing situation than the American MSM. The beeb is not jumping to wild conclusions [at least not yet] and is quick to point out that many of the sources of information being uncritically reported in the US media are extremely biased and that the information itself contains glaring inconsistencies.

Other disturbing inconsistencies in the coverage are beginning to emerge.

Here is a description of the political climate in Haditha from the Guardian. There is good reason to doubt any report coming out of this hotspot.

Clay Waters at TimesWatch notes that the inflammatory NYT headline, "Iraqi Accuses U.S. Of 'Daily' Attacks Against Civilians -- Premier Assails Troops..." was not reflected at the time in any reports from any other news service. The Times alone seems to have heard accusations of "daily" attacks. [here] Of course the charge was picked up by broadcast media who uncritically trust anything the NYT prints [it does after all style itself as "the newspaper of record"], but today PM Maliki claims he was "misquoted" by the Times and the paper has had to retreat citing the difficulty of getting accurate translations from Arabic to English. Earlier Eric Umansky at Slate had pointed out that not only was the NYT alone in reporting the "daily" assaults, but it had neglected to report important contextual qualifiers to the supposed statement. [here] So much for the objectivity and reliability of the "paper of record."

Dean's World [here] notes that a prime source of information relied on by the MSM, a local doctor, is not, perhaps, a very reliable source. He is a hightly partisan Sunni "US hater." At the least his claims that innocent people had been shot should be reviewed with a skeptical eye. The same might be said for other Haditha "witnesses" some of whom seem to have been coached.

Perhaps I spoke too soon when I called for a strong, denunciatory statement from President Bush. He has promised, in the strongest terms, to get to the bottom of the matter and to punish any malfeasance, but as Tony Snow pointed out today, cannot go beyond those statements to discuss the particulars of the matter without possibly prejudicing future judicial proceedings. Unfortunately, members of the MSM seem to have no similar qualms.

Once again we see a lazy and confrontationa media falling back on templates developed during the Vietnam Era rather than trying to come to grips with matters as they really are.

And then there's this:

I had breakfast with a retired senior military guy this morning and he made an important point. He said, "look at how the military is responding to the situation, and that will tell you just how serious it is." He added that from what he could see, being retired and all, it seems that they were taking it very seriously indeed.

There are some horrific images coming out of the mutilated bodies of infants supposedly shot by Marines. I didn't include them here for obvious reasons but if you have a strong stomach they can be seen here.

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