Media watch

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This page is intended as a collaborative weblog to protocol distortions, inaccuracies, omissions and lies both in mainstream and alternative media. Op-Ed pieces are just as much open to criticism as regular news reports -- labeling an article "opinion" does not excuse the author from doing their homework.

Whenever you see something in the media that you feel is not quite right, check here -- or make an addition to the weblog yourself. In reporting these distortions, please be careful to use neutral, factual language. This log was started on December 1st, 2003. Old entries are archived regularly.

December 1, 2003


CNN reports: "Ambushers killed in battles with U.S. forces. U.S. troops fought off two simultaneous attacks on military convoys Sunday in northern Iraq, killing 46 attackers, wounding 18 and capturing eight others, military officials said." With few reporters on the ground, CNN has come to rely primarily on official military sources. But with 46 people killed, questions should be asked about the nature of the deaths, especially as CNN notes briefly that three buildings were destroyed. Instead, the killed Iraqis are simply labeled "insurgents" and "attackers".

In guerilla warfare, there are no easily identifiable military targets. Attackers deliberately mix among the civilian population. Al Jazeera's report on the incident quotes "local residents" saying that "US troops killed innocent bystanders when they opened fire on anything that moved". The report continues: "Workers at a nearby pharmaceutical plant said at least two colleagues were killed and many wounded as they walked out of the factory gates at the end of their shift."

It is not the job of the media at home to justify US military operations, it is their job to accurately report what is happening without prejudice. Simply repeating the official Pentagon line without even asking an independent expert, let alone doing any reporting on the ground, is propaganda at its worst.

The attitude of Tony Blair, who knowingly misled the British people on the WMD in Iraq, says it all. The press have given him an easy ride, while the populace simmer in impotent rage - the press needs to be more independent, more critical and, above all else, they need to analyse all sides of the argument - not all Iraqis are insurgents, and who are the illegally occupying army anyway?