Journalistic ‘Integrity’ 101: How to Drown-Out the Good News from Iraq
And there I was, wrapped-up in my jaded delusions, thinking that I had seen it all.
I was under the mistaken impression that the Washington Post and the New York Times can sink no deeper in how they’ve misreported the Iraq story.
I was so foolishly wrong.
A new lowly record in disguising propaganda as journalism was set today.
Remember how often the WaPo and the NYTimes were imploring us, for months now, to flee for the hills ‘cause the Iraqi parliament was not managing to pass the Provincial Elections law? Remember how much ink was spilt—by these two papers and their auxiliaries in the ‘expert’ class—warning us that the sky was about to cave-in on our heads any moment now unless Kirkuk’s smoldering powder-keg was not dealt with?
Well, in an anti-climactic turn of events, the Iraqi parliament passed a very reasonable and fair Provincial Elections Law yesterday. The parliament also decided to put Kirkuk on hold, referring the matter to committee.
‘REJOICE, THE PLANET IS SAVED’—that’s the kind of headline one would have expected the NYTimes to run given all their previous panicked hype.
No, they have another trick up their sleeves to fog-up the prospect of clarity as to where Iraq is going.
The NYTimes suddenly remembered a couple of Western lawyers with gripe to spew about procedural and bureaucratic errors that took place, from their perspectives, during the Saddam Hussein trial. Saddam was hanged back in December 2006, but the editors of the NYTimes, who had been sitting on these unsubstantiated allegations of minor misconduct for some months now, chose the very same day on which the elections bill was passed—a major benchmark of the media’s own creation—to give these lawyers their 15 minutes in the spotlight.
So the editors had been sitting on this story/non-story, waiting for a big positive event to come out from Iraq in order to run it, thereby fudging the impression that things are heading in the right direction. Is there any other way to explain it? “Blow some smoke into their eyes, so the public won’t see”—Yup, that seems to be the plan, and don’t tell me this ain’t related to Obama’s run for the presidency on the premise that Iraq is floundering.
Not to be outdone by their main rivals when it comes to duplicity, the WaPo pulled the exact same trick but went a step further into the realm of deceit by putting their own back-burner piece of negative distraction on the front-page!
A dated and dusty account of corruption allegations at Iraq’s charitable Red Crescent Society gets the front-page treatment while the story on the provincial elections law is buried deep within the back-pages. Sure, no editorial agenda here either.
The Red Crescent stuff is old news; the arrests warrants were issued at least six weeks ago. The politics behind all this is that some in Maliki’s office (…his chief aide, Tariq al-Abdullah) are out settling scores with former PM Ja’afari’s camp by going after Ja’afari’s acolytes. It is all about inside political jockeying within the Da’awa Party and has at its heart personality clashes and feuds among ex-exiles that go back decades.
But why didn’t the WaPo run the story six weeks ago when it first broke? Why did they pick today of all days? And does a stale story about a few tens of thousands of dollars that may or may not have ended up in someone’s pocket merit the front-page treatment over a breaking news story on breakthrough legislation that may shape Iraq’s future?
It just doesn’t make any sense, unless one factors in a deliberate effort at distorting the news being reported from Iraq. And who benefits from such distortion? Well, it certainly ain’t McCain, the guy who is partially running on the success being achieved in Iraq and his role in making that happen.
The self-styled ‘serious’ media organs, such as the NYTimes and the WaPo, have too much power in this elections cycle, and their pro-Obama slant is dangerous. It runs from newbie and starry-eyed cubs carrying water at the Metro Desk to cynical left-leaning old-timers in the editorial boards: the overwhelming majority of the staff wants Obama to win. Fine, everyone’s entitled to their biases. But when these biases are coated with the supposedly unassailable decorum of ‘journalism’ and ‘professionalism,’ then something very dodgy is going on: there is no oversight over the fact that several hundred individuals get to mold the opinions of millions.
Sure, the media should be kept as free as possible. I agree, the line should be drawn at irresponsible libel and we’d leave it at that, but while one could live with these biases in the past, it seems that this time around it is unprecedented in shilling for one candidate over another. There is something immensely undemocratic and illiberal about allowing 300 activist reporters and editors to ram their opinions down the throats of their readers who mistakenly pick up the paper hoping for a ray of authenticity from within its folds.
Something should be done about it. Nothing will be done about it.
Be sure to pick-up the NYTimes if Osama Bin Laden is killed or arrested ahead of November, the main front-page headline will probably scream: ‘POLL: PAKISTANIS AND INDIANS STILL DON’T LIKE EACH OTHER AFTER DECADES OF SEPERATION,’
Page A17: ‘Bin Laden, Inconsequential One-Time Terrorist, arrested by Pakistani Forces.’
PS: if the Sarah Palin's issues with her brother-in-law got spun into 'Trooper Gate' by the media, then what about this fine piece of reporting on Obama's "graft" (literally!) buddies back in Chicago: Behold, I give you 'Garden Gate'...Now just watch as the editors and reporters who are supposedly covering this election ignore this story, just like they did with Rezko, and leave it to "die on the vine" (literally, again!)...