TCS Daily


To Live and Die in Toronto

By James Pinkerton - September 8, 2006 12:00 AM

Why is it so dangerous to be a reporter these days? Why are so many journalists being targeted? Two Fox News reporters were grabbed in Gaza, held for nearly two weeks, exploited for propaganda purposes, and then released. They were lucky. Some 30 other reporters have been killed this year, according to the Freedom Forum; hundreds have died in the line of duty in the past decade. And it would be naïve to think that the problem isn't going to get worse.

Reporters, meanwhile, like to say that they are there, in the battle zone, to "tell the story" -- although most people know, or at least most people believe, that reporters are there to shape the story, to shape opinion in a certain way. Therefore, depending on one's point of view, journalists are either an asset, or a liability; but they are anything but neutral. And cable news, in particular, running 24/7 worldwide, is perhaps the biggest prize of all. So whether the network is Fox, or CNN, or the BBC, or Al-Jazeera, it's little wonder that reporters find themselves being cajoled, threatened, supplicated, and perhaps even enlisted in conspiracies. And oh yes: sometimes they get killed. Reporters are, literally, "in the crossfire." And maybe soon, politicians, too -- even presidents -- will be similarly targeted in the crosshairs.

This is, after all, the Information Age. So those who traffic in information, one way or another, are going to be big players in this Age. Just as the Industrial Age led to the industrialization of war and to continuing revolutions in strategy -- machine-made weapons yielded up blitzkrieg, aerial bombardment, and "total war" -- so the Information Age, too, has been yielding up new kinds of thinking. Today, gaining control of the spin, or the storyline, is as important as controlling a city or a province.

As an example, consider what's happening in Afghanistan. The news hasn't been very good of late, at least from a Western point of view. But perhaps one contributing factor to the downbeat coverage has been the effectiveness of the neo-Taliban forces at playing the media. We might consider, for instance, this passage from Tuesday's edition of The Toronto Star, part of a larger story on the combat deaths of five Canadian soldiers. Here's Graham Fraser's report:

In the initial reports of the fighting in Panjwaii district, perhaps the most disturbing was the Taliban contradiction of the NATO casualty claims.

"They are saying that they have killed 200 Taliban but they did not kill even 10 Taliban," said Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban military commander for south and southeastern Afghanistan.

"They are just destroying civilian homes and agricultural land. They are using the media to do propaganda against the Taliban," Dadullah said in a satellite telephone call with an Associated Press reporter. ... This Taliban commander has a satellite phone, the phone number for Associated Press, and some views about the value of propaganda. [Emphasis added.]

Welcome to the world of media-asymmetric warfare. In this Information Age, the tools of info-distribution are widely held. Just about everyone now has access to sat phones, videocams, and the Net. And so the question before the world is this: Who does a better show for watching eyes and listening ears? Who stages a better PR blitz?

It's obvious that the US is doing a bad job. But don't take my word for it: Here's Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, speaking in March of this year, four-and-a-half years into the Global War on Terror: "If I were rating, I would say we probably deserve a D or D+ as a country as to [how] well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place."

So who's doing a good job? Well, as we look around the world media landscape, what are the enduring images? Most obviously, there's 9-11. It sounds almost cruel to say it, but at one level, the attack on the World Trade Center ranks as one of the most spectacular pieces of "performance art" ever. Was it evil? Of course. Was it effective? You bet. The events of Black Tuesday might have galvanized Americans into righteous militancy, but they also made Osama Bin Laden a household name -- and made him a hero to many.

Just how many admire Bin Laden, five years later, became clear last month, when CNN ran a special documentary on the al-Qaeda chief -- a documentary that was so woozy with romanticized Arabism that even The New York Times, hardly a bastion of Western chauvinism, was moved to observe about the show's producers:

"They themselves seem half-seduced by the portrait of the pure-hearted Arab revolutionary that has so captivated parts of the Muslim world. With the heavy rotation of soulful portraits of the soft-voiced prophet of jihad with Super 8-style movies of the warrior on horseback, parts of 'In the Footsteps of bin Laden' could almost double as a recruiting video for Al Qaeda." [emphasis added]

In the meantime, the world is awash with jihadist imagery and meme-ry. We've all seen, whether we've wanted to or not, the beheading videos, the IED-exploding videos, and the post-suicide-bombing carnage videos. These are repulsive to most people, but attractive to some -- enough, anyway, to keep the various insurgent movements going and growing, especially in the era of YouTube.

And now, the new actor on the world-media stage is Hezbollah, which might have lost the battlefield war against Israel, but surely won the mediafield war. Assured of a plum role, the Shia militia is ready with its summer look and winter look. To us, they might appear as Islamofascists, but to the people of their region -- who never thought that fascism was a bad thing, anyway -- they come across as heroic counter-crusaders.

These Muslims aren't just operating on the battlefield, they are consciously operating on the mediafield. The mediafield is the larger political, intellectual, and historical landscape in which all our thoughts -- about war, peace, and everything else -- are played out. The idea that war is bigger than the battlefield is not new, of course: In On War, published almost two centuries ago, Carl Von Clausewitz asserted, "War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by other means." The electronic media didn't exist in Clausewitz's time, of course, but if he were alive today, he would recognize that the battlefield is the more lethal subset of the mediafield.

But wait, there's more! Now we see that the mediafield just got deadlier. We might have thought that the principal source of enemy propaganda came from the Middle East, but now we learn that a new and noxious spigot has opened up in our back yard, in Great Britain. If you believe that the Great Satan of the current mediafield is George W. Bush, then you're going to love a new made-for-TV movie, "Death of a President", which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival this Sunday, the day before the fifth anniversary of 9-11. No doubt there will be some cheers, or at least smiles, in the audience as a CGI-ed President Bush is shot and killed.

For the record, Peter Dale, chief of the UK's More4 TV, denies that his film is advocating any such thing, or even that he is putting assassinationist thoughts into the international meme-stream. As he puts it, the film "raises questions about the effects of American foreign policy, and particularly the war on terror." That is, Dale would have us believe that he is just asking innocent questions -- you know, as Rush Limbaugh might ask aloud about the killing of, say, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Just asking! Dale's obvious false-frontery led Alex Massie, writing in The Scotsman, to observe: "I think we know what those 'questions' are: would America have brought this upon itself? Isn't a bully with a bloody nose still a bully? Wouldn't the killing be justified or, failing that, wouldn't it be understandable?" Massie puts his finger on it: "Death of a President" is, at minimum, an indictment, and, at maximum, an enticement: C'mon, somebody, be a hero for the anti-American team. Hurry up and rid us of this troublesome president.

So that's the mediafield. It's apparent that America can triumph on a battlefield, but the mediafield is a different story. So far, at least, as Rumsfeld says, we haven't been doing very well.

And the greatest media event of our time -- the first big WMD attack on a city in the 21st century -- is still ahead.

In the meantime, reporters find themselves on both the battlefield and the mediafield. They aren't just pawns, they are major pieces. And they aren't just passive, they are also active. So of course they are spun, schmoozed, and sat-phoned -- and, sometimes, targeted for kidnapping and killing. Do something to a newsgatherer, and you've gathered yourself some news.

So the struggle to shape world public opinion -- who's good, who's bad, who's winning, who's losing, who deserves to live, who deserves to die -- continues with escalatingly deadly intensity, featuring new asymmetric eruptions all across the mediafield. Including in such unlikely fronts as Toronto, Canada.

James Pinkerton is TCS Daily's media critic.

Categories:

164 Comments

Reuters, AP, BBC, CBS, NY Times, etc. reflexively anti-American, anti-Israel
I simply do not trust the "Western" media to be accurate. It seems that they reflexively take at face value any "news" that comes from a Taliban, Iranian, Hezbollah, Hamas, or any other terriost group. They do not subject the "news" coming from these groups with the same skepticism as they do if the info is coming from the US or Israel. They simply report what comes from terriosts as facts.

Whether they do this due to fear, they believe they are "one-world" citizens, hatred for the West, or that their local stringers are ideologically linked to the terriosts, I don't know. I do know that they have lost credibility with me.

Our biggest enemy
I fear the Media as much as if not more than Muslim extremists.If the people who run the NY Times, BBC,CNN and just about every other news outlet were around during WW2. We would all be eating saur ***** and listening to Wagner.
As we all know Journalists get there ideas and form there world views while in college.This is the root of the problem. Left wing anti- western culture professors indoctrinate young kids with there hate America hate, Isreal hate, the west ideas. They then send them out to work for these news agencies and thus the big lie is spread to the rest of the world.
Quite a stroke of genius when you think about it.

Blaming the messenger
The author offers an odd example to make his point that we are being manipulated by a sinister media. His proof is the discrepancy between Taliban death tolls as reported by the opposing teams.

But one figure has been given by the American military, while the other has been given by the Taliban. Would we expect the two numbers to be the same? This has been the case in every battle in history, that the command centers of either side have a different official take on what exactly happened.

All the reporters do is report. And unless one is actually on the front line, seeing the battle himself, he reports what he has heard-- no more, no less.

When reading such a report you have to consider the source, and critically evaluate what you are reading. If you're reading a Taliban statement, that's exactly what is being reported. Same thing from the Pentagon.

I know, I know. It's all Big Media's fault.

Are you sure?
From what you're saying, the way you can detect a media bias is that whenever a story contains bad news it's proof of intentional spin, whereas if the story contains good news, it's obviously true. Am I reading you correctly?

The corollary of this kind of thinking would be that all bad news would have to be suppressed in an honest publication. Again, is this the way you see it?

In the example in the article, the reporter clearly identifies the source of the discrepant number as being a Taliban leader, over the phone. Isn't he then just reporting the news, which was the content of the phone call? Everyone can read exactly who the source was.

If, on the other hand, he had obscured the source, but just said baldly that the American figures were "wrong", that would certainly be proof of bias. But he's given us everything we need in order to be able to form an informed opinion. I don't see the problem.

Hmmmm...
I would have to agree with you. Out of all the examples of bias you could choose from I wonder why he picked this one? Pretty bad example.

I think what the author is asking for is to totally ignore any chatter that comes out of the mouths of terrorists but as long as they note the source, I have no problem with it. Especially if it comes from news organizations outside of America. I would hope that an American news organization would have the moral fortitude to call terrorists "terrorists" and propaganda "propaganda" but we know that ain't going to happen.

Not to say the MSM isn't horriblly, terribly biased and slanted towards the left. Of that there is no doubt but it is surprising to write such an article using such weak evidence.

Roy, You are a real work of art....
C'mon, Roy. It really isn't that hard...Pinkerton wasn't complaining that the Canadian article was reporting a simple -- and predictable -- difference of claims between the NATO forces and the Taliban....he was complaining about the VERACITY reflexively given to the Taliban leader's statement by a left-leaning reporter:
"In the initial reports of the fighting in Panjwaii district, PERHAPS THE MOST DISTURBING WAS THE TALIBAN CONTRADICTION of the NATO casualty claims..."

This from a leader of the facist force that held Afghans prisoners/victims in their own country for nearly a decade. The reporter, and by extension, the newspaper, is simply incapable of making a moral distinction between a statement coming from a respected and responsible international organization such as NATO and the self-serving statement made by a blood-thirsty thug who, if given the opportunity, would kill as many innocents as possible in order to make a political "statement."


as always roy disregards evidence that refutes his belief
That the terrorists are expert at faking news, and lying to the press is overwhelmingly documented.
That the media is eager to pass on, without comment, the propaganda of the terrorists is plain to see.
That the media only passes on statements from the west with big proviso's is also plain to see.

no roy
the way you detect bias is when the media passes along easily disproven lies, but only from one side.

Why didn't Pinkerton mention that Fraser is a COLUMNIST
The quote isn't from a news report. It's from a column that Fraser, a "national affairs writer," does for the Star.

One point the column is making is exactly the one Pinkerton is: that the Taliban are media savvy and do publicity.

Read the whole story and then see how well Pinkerton's argument holds up.

http://tinyurl.com/g9qzm

Roy...the last man on earth who thinks the media is not biased
Roy,

I took politics in high school. This was in the fall of 1992 during the final stretch of the Bush/Clinton campaigns. My teacher was a rare breed; a leftist educrat who gave both sides of the story. One lesson from him I never forgot was the following; he had us clip out the front page of a newspaper (any newspaper we wanted) for a full week. Then in class, we compared the coverage given to Bush and Clinton. It became clear to everyone in class just simply lookig at the pictures and headlines, that every paper, with no excetions was in favor of Clinton. Photos of Clinton were usually larger and showed him laughing while Bush photos were smaller and showed him in an unflattering pose. Headlines seemed to always be positive for Clinton, negative for Bush. This of course was not in the editorial pages but on the so called "news coverage" front page.

This was probably the most important lesson I had in my 4 years of high school and like I said, given to be by a self-confessed liberal. Thank you Mr. Gilchrist.

Since that day every news story I read, see or hear the image of those news clippings come to mind. And you know what Roy, it is only getting worse in the MSM. The headlines are always misleading, the pictures always say 1000 false words.

At least have the decency to admit what is happening like old Mr. Gilchrist.

A COMMUNIST?
Not surprising the journalistic field.

Finally! The media analyst doing media analysis
Jim, I've roundly criticized you in the past for straying from your forte by delving into political history & theory and things afar (e.g. "the world is becoming more conservative" in the face of Latin American evidence to the contrary, to cite only one instance).

In returning to media analysis you provide your readers with much more accuracy and relevance.

I think we all appreciate today's column...it's thoughtful and fact-based. Please stay within the lines of your expertise.

Thanks

One man's terrorist...
A problem with asking that every member of the media use the word "terrorist" to describe the nonstate terrorists of one side is that you are also asking them NOT to describe the state terrorists, who actually kill far more innocent civilians every year than do the nonstate terrorists, as also being terrorists.

In other words you are asking the media to take sides. And they don't want to do that. Whether or not you consider them to be objective, THEY consider themselves to be objective.

I would consider news outlets in the United States to mostly be biased toward noncontroversiality. Therefore in their efforts to offend no segment of the public, they downplay Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza, for a current example, by ignoring them completely. At present there are many Gazans being killed by IDF activities, and virtually no resistance to the IDF being offered on the Palestinian side. Do we hear anything about that? No.

You overlook the fact that "the media" are in the business of making money. They are corporately owned, with a mandate to maximize viewership or readership. Therefore their every move is made in light of the need for ratings or for circulation numbers. THAT is the root of whatever bias they actually work under.

Learn how to read
This is a totally ridiculous assertion. When the reporters get a news release from the Pentagon they say "Military sources stated that X number of Taliban were killed in an engagement." And when they get a phone call from the Taliban they report that "The Taliban disputes this figure."

Exactly how is this proof of bias? All they are doing is reporting the news-- accurately. In neither case are they saying "WE believe the body count to be Y." Unless, of course, the reporter filing the story did the actual counting himself.

Hardy har har har
No. He's a columnist. And the cold war's been over for decades. Why not find something substantive to comment on.

Or maybe you don't understand what a columnist does. He doesn't simply report news. His job is to add his understanding and take on it. Which makes complete nonsense of what Pinkerton says about what he writes.

Easily disproven lies
Are you sure about that?

""They are saying that they have killed 200 Taliban but they did not kill even 10 Taliban," said Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban military commander for south and southeastern Afghanistan."

Tell you what, Mark. Easily disprove the Taliban's contention that fewer than ten Tals were killed. Alternatively, easily prove the truth of the military's assertion that 200 were killed.

Do not rely on unsupported beliefs such as that the T's always lie, or the the US government always tells the truth. Give us some objective and credible third party account.

In the eye of the beholder
I've no doubt you saw bias during a campaign season. Newspapers all offer endorsements of one candidate or another, and few are surprised when a paper declares for one over another. Papers are mostly well known as being pro-Democrat, pro-Republican or center.

My home town paper is widely known as being extremely left-leaning by the Republican majority, despite the fact that they rarely run stories that contradict the official sources that provide most of their news.

Their Washington bureau chief dutifully transcribes whatever news releases he has been given, and makes no effort to search out an opposition view.

The publisher, eager to counter the impression that the paper is lefty, is scrupulous about running equal numbers of right and left op-eds, and right and left editorial cartoons. This doesn't matter one iota.

He has even hired an ombudsman to provide a sounding board for anyone who feels there is bias. And he has created a listeners' forum on the web site so everyone out there can have a sounding board.

Doesn't matter. No one is listening.

People read into the paper what they think. And if they think it's left leaning, they don't read it very closely-- or at all. They have their opinion and they are satisfied with it.

Nope.
"But one figure has been given by the American military, while the other has been given by the Taliban." No one figure came from the Taliban and one from the Canadian military. Now who do you believe?

Understanding journalism
When you trouble yourself to actually look at the article in question, the first thing you notice is that it's not a news report. It's an op-ed.

This distinction may be meaningless to you, but I assure you it's not to a great many of us. A news report is supposed to objectively describe factual events. An op-ed is supposed to use such facts in providing an interpretation. So the writer is entitled to his opinion-- just as we are entitled to have different opinions than his.

What the writer is NOT entitled to do is to distort the facts. And glancing over the piece, I don't think he has done that. He has, hover, provided the kind of emphasis that would not be tolerated by a halfway decent editor in a news report.

Read it closely yourself, and see whether he has misrepresented any facts-- as opposed to offering a personal opinion. I'd like to hear what you come up with.

"One man's terrorist..." is a load
First of all, I did not "ask" that reporters use the same word. I said I would prefer if reporters actually reported terrorists as terrorists. You do not need to wave a flag, just report what is happening accurately without their intense hatred of Bush interferring. Was it wrong for reporters to be supportive of Americans over the ***** and Japanese?

Your "one man's terrorist" crap is moral equivalency at it's worst.

You have been quite quick in the past to automatically expect the worst of the IDF and US armed forces while giving very little question to the propaganda and false reports of Hezbollah and Hamas. I am quite unafraid to state that the IDF and US military, while not above investigation and infrequent abuses, has the moral high ground to be trusted over the word of terrorist organizations. Verify by all means but trust.

For American news to be orientated towards treating their fellow country-man's word above the words of people who have the capacity of strapping bombs on their children is not bias but a simple and easy equation to figure out.

Who is under more scrutiny? American and Israeli forces hands down. They HAVE to be more accurate and do things better and consistently so.

That is why you don't hear all of those stories of "Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza". Because they are not occurring. When a rare instance occurs those who perpetrate those crimes are tried for them instead of being treated as heroes.

Fox is definitely more pro-American than the other networks and news agencies and they are making money and have the highest ratings. If money were the true measure of bias then all the news organizations would now be like Fox.

As it stands, the leftist mentality and blame-America/Israel first mentality is the major motivating factor with money as a distant runner-up.

Hey stupid!
It was joke. Is there no room for silly Friday humor in your soul anymore? You poor thing.

And yep, the Cold War is over but Communists never seem to figure that out. I saw some handing out flyers just the other day. Could you give me your email address so I can hand it out to them next time? Then you could inform them they don't exist anymore.

An even more resonant Hardy har har har!
You made a joke and I gave a big, big belly laugh, sure was funny, yessir!!!

A bigger joke is you calling anyone else "stupid."

If you really think a few true believers standing on a street corner represent a big threat, stupid is much too mild a word for you.

While this one hasn't been disproven yet, hundreds of other claims have.
...

in roy's world, bias is defined as telling the other sides story.
...

I have, I wish you would
It's also in how they describe the people presenting the evidence.

in roy's world, only people who hate the US can be trusted.
everyone else is a liar, and he won't even look at the evidence.

Beg to differ
I'd like to offer a word in defense of the media's methods, as well as one in defense of my own opinions.

The media want to sell newspapers or to get ratings so they can charge more for ad space. They are run as a profit-making enterprise. Therefore they run whatever they think will interest their reading, or viewing, public.

Maybe you haven't noticed, but it's extremely unfashionable in most of America to be overtly cynical about the US government. So all news sources, up to and including the NYT, tend to mostly run unedited quotes from official sources as though they were God's word on earth. My home town paper, for instance, is considered leftist by the usual sorts. yet it never ran anything about Taliban counterclaims. Instead every day we've been reading that our forces are killing hundreds of enemy soldiers over there, while losing only the occasional American boy.

During the Lebanese bombings the paper had to run stories about hundreds of Lebanese civilians being killed, against dozens of Israelis, because that was where the facts lay. They can't kill the facts entirely. Yet they have thus far totally ignored the current carnage in Gaza, because there was no pressure from the public to include it.

Meanwhile they do remember to run lots of Lindsey Lohan news, as a service to interested readers.

And they neglected to include a story I thought was very big indeed-- the fact that the US was resupplying Israel with weapons currently being used against civilians, reported elsewhere during the height of the conflict. So in fact I could offer credible evidence that my "leftoid" newspaper is in fact biased toward the right.

**

As for my "giving very little question to the propaganda and false reports of Hezbollah and Hamas", I don't think that's so. I automatically discount everyone's official reports, and consider their releases to be of no more value than are our own. I look instead toward legitimate third parties, like B'Tselem, Ha'aretz or the various human rights organizations monitoring events. And all the reports I saw of the conflict in the Israeli media happened to show very little in the way of actual damage.

So I did not end up of the opinion that Hezbollah was evil, while the IDF were all knights in shining armor. They were cruel and callous, and the devastation they deliberately caused in the cities was widespread and very thoroughly documented.

It is, in fact, still happening. During the closing days of the campaign they littered south Lebanon with unexploded cluster bomblets, made in America. As of last week the UN had identified 405 such areas, and denied entry to the returning families. They estimate the number of bomblets in these areas, not counting the new ones they are still discovering, to be in the range of 100,000. Ninety percent of these bombs were dropped during the last 72 hours before the truce took effect. (from an AP report by Todd Pitman)

There were eyes on the ground on both sides. An honest man will look at both before composing his opinion. If you can find fault with the facts I've given in the above paragraph, please bring it to me. I'd like to know if it's wrong. But if you're just complaining about my alleged sentiments in the matter, please learn to live with it.

Yeah, but...
he would probably like ot think of the Canadians as being entirely on the anti-American side with him. Instead Canadian soldiers are machine gunning hundreds of Talibani wife-beaters and he has to feel sorry for the illiterate, goat-screwing pedarest Talibani losers.

Looking for bias
This is how the comentator describes Mullah Dadullah:

"This Taliban commander has a satellite phone, the phone number for Associated Press, and some views about the value of propaganda."

And this is how he describes the Taliban:

"This is a sophisticated, battle-hardened enemy fighting a foreign army on terrain it knows well. It has already succeeded in driving out the Russian army, and is determined to repeat the achievement."

Any problem with either description?

That's merely your belief
Come on, Mark. That's a cop out. This one's up to you.

You have contended that the Mullah's body count of ten is false. And I think you're maintaining that the official body count of 200 is correct. Back up either claim.

What I think is that we've counted 200 bodies in various villages. And, as is our custom, we consider every last one of them to be Taliban, not civilian. Of course that is only my opinion. The facts will never become so fully known as to be universally agreed upon.

Unless, of course, you can make the case that the Government of the United States has never in any event lied. That the Tonkin Gulf actually happened as advertised, and that Saddam really was supporting Al Qaeda. Etcetera ad infinitum. Care to make that case?

Who ya gonna believe?
Actually we're both wrong. The report came from NATO.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14653529/

http://www.cnn.com/rssclick/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/09/04/afghan.taliban.ap/index.html?section=
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060903/ap_on_re_as/afghanistan

The account I like best is the AP version, here published in the Post Intelligencer. I think it's well written:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1104AP_Afghanistan.html?source=mypi

So that one is an account I will choose to believe, pending further information.

No deaths in Gaza
You tell me that "you don't hear all of those stories of "Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza". Because they are not occurring. When a rare instance occurs those who perpetrate those crimes are tried for them instead of being treated as heroes."

But that is absolutely not so. We don't read stories about the deaths in Gaza because American publishers don't think of them as being newsworthy. But they are most certainly happening. Read this:

http://www.btselem.org/english/Press_Releases/20060905.asp

Our failure to cover this kind of killing is an excellent proof of the fact that the American press does indeed show bias-- toward the right. 76 deaths would certainly be ignored by no one had they been Israelis.

Wouldn't you think...
...the ideal would be to tell the story three ways? Our side, their side, and impartially?

Everyone missed it...
...including James Pinkerton and Graham Fraser (author of the offending op-ed), There is no contradiction between NATO claims of 200 Taliban dead (actually they are currently claiming 270 deaths) and Mullah Dadullah's fewer than ten Taliban. The number of dead in the Panjwaii battle was reported by NATO as being 21. Which is probably an accurate body count.

It would appear that the Mullah is contesting whether all are actual Taliban. And that may well also be the case. There's not much we can go by, since we weren't there.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1104AP_Afghanistan.html?source=mypi

Roy, you're underestimating the radical conservative mind
I mean, some people might be put off by this cricumstance:

>There's not much we can go by, since we weren't there.

This is true, hardcore pre-9/11 thinking.

But for the right kind of right Republican, first hand knowledge is irrelevant. They know the truth - know it even before it happens, regardless of who was there and what they saw or said. They know what has to be true, and therefore that must be true, no matter what happened.

A hollow laugh...
Your stupidity is a sidenote at most.

>"If you really think a few true believers standing on a street corner represent a big threat, stupid is much too mild a word for you."

Perhaps the person who believes there are but a "few true believers" is truly the idiot. Those who worship Marxism, class warfare and envy, and wealth redistribution are all around us whether they go by the name of Communist, Progressive, or Liberal. The end product always seems to be the same: lots o' dead people.

You have the last word and a nice weekend.

Of course you do.
>"There were eyes on the ground on both sides. An honest man will look at both before composing his opinion."

The hospital story? The ambulance story? The Qana "massacre"? You ran with all of those and more before the facts were known. The proof of staged photo-ops are legion. Meanwhile, back in Israel I saw no evidence of the Israelis staging photo-ops or threatening reporters at gunpoint or by holding their visas. Nor did I see the media mouthing the words of the Israeli government.

Are you honest Roy?

You can answer but first conduct a thought experiment:

Compare two scenarios.

The first is that the Israelis unilaterally lay down their arms and give them to Hamas and Hezbollah.

The second is that Hamas and Hezbollah, along with all the other terrorist organizations in the area, unilaterally agree to lay down their arms and give them to Israel.

Both would bring peace. In the first, Israel would withdraw into its borders and resume their democratic way of life. In the second you have an awful lot of dead Jews.

So yes, compared to who they are fighting, the IDF and US military ARE knights in shining armor.

I have given you volumes of sources, facts, and data and I tire of providing them over and over. If you look at the coverage in the media and belive it to be slanted towards Bush and Israel then I have no doubt but to believe that you are dishonest or impervious to the obvious.

So you have the last word and have a nice weekend.

What kind of deaths and who determined them?
Deaths are happening but are they justified? You seem hung up on the numbers scheme but that only works if you consider a dead terrorist to be equal to a dead civilian.

Israeli deaths are ignored all the time. You are a good example of this ignorance and the dishonest attempt to blame the victims for being in the way of random rocket and suicide attacks.

If only that damn Israel didn't exsit huh?

Once again, have a nice weekend.

Sorry Roy...
There is no death greater for any argument then to have the Mule agree with it. Better luck next time.

We should encourage all Taliban leaders to regularly call reporters
It should go even farther. Reporters should publicize a list of hot line numbers that Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Quaeda leaders can call from their cell phones whenever they want to be quoted. Reporters should also give out video equipment with satellite uplink capability to those terrorist leaders who can't afford them.

By all means we need to hear the truth as they see it, and we need to hear it from their own mouths as often as possible, and in as close to real time as possible. After all, these folks are in a battle for their very lives. Who knows whether they will be alive tomorrow to be quoted tomorrow.

ideally yes, but all the media tells is their side. That's why it's biased.
...

Smear, smear, smear
Chump, nobody here is advocating communism in any form.

You lumping everything you don't like as communistic simply indicates that you're thinking is nothing but a pack of labels. Have a great weekend.

Nothing to say but can't stop talking
I'm really flattered by the attention, but I'm not the issue. But namecalling is much easier than making a case, isn't it?

body count statistics are meaningless in the absence of context in any event
Just saw a documentary on Mao's Long March. He arrived in Yenan with a few thousand survivors out of the more than 200,000 who started out with him. So it can be argued that the Nationalists (and the hardships engendered by the march) imposed casualties of over 90% of his force.

Similarly I recall that the (unnameable on this web site) bad guys in WWII killed or deported the vast majority of people in the Warsaw Ghetto before the revolt broke out. Then they found that the remaining hard core of resistors were very hard to dig out of the rubble.

There is also a long history of the two combatants in a fight grossly overestimating the effects of their own efforts. The Japanese Navy, for instance, would have sunk the U.S. Navy a half dozen times in WWII if it's ship sinking reports had all been accurate.

So - arguing over the accuracy of body counts is not very productive. I tend to trust our own side reports more than I trust enemy side reports, if only because reporting bad things or countervailing things about our side will not get a reporters head cut off.

Hopefully our commanders in the field are being skeptical of the reports they are getting, and even more hopefully they recognize that it is not how many enemies they put down but rather which enemies they put down.

please read what I wrote
I never contended whether the referenced article was accurate or innaccurate.
Every post I have made in this thread has been about media accuracy in general.

It has been done
I believe that Reuters and the BBC already do what you have suggested.

Maybe he should report . . .
that the number killed was between 10 and 200. Of course, he wouldn't do that because it would make him look like bonehead. This idea that to be balanced you have to give the Taliban equal time is just fatuous, because few if any serious people would believe him.

I think the reason so many reporters get killed is that they insist on trying to cover and humanize the enemy. They may not want to be seen as Americans, but the terrorists see them that way. Why worry about being used by our military and then just repeat the propaganda from the other side?

I doubt that either side has a precisely accurate count because there could be some of the Taliban hit and killed that the NATO troops couldn't see or verify. Most of the folks reading at home are not really interested in body counts, especially inaccurate ones.

We watch the news to see how our side is doing, not to be lectured on multicultural studies.

Dishonest
Reporters will tell you all they do is report, but since Watergate that has changed, and in the past 5 years the press has become practically partisan. An editor at Newsweek admitted as much, when he said that the media bias is worth about 15 points to the Democrats in any election, and he wasn't a conservative.

If you can't see the spin in the big news dailies and network news, you're either ignorant or dishonest.

There will always be some opinion even in the best reporting, but when the prevailing attitude among reporters and editors is hatred for Bush, belief that he's a liar, etc. you can't expect fairness.

If I were an editor, I'd be skeptical about hiring people who (a) went to journalism school (b) went to an Ivy League school. I'd rather teach them myself what evenhanded reporting is.

I KNEW that saw would come up.
A terrorist is someone who is too weak to fight with conventional arms and so strikes at civilians on the theory that terror will cause them to support capitulation.

It doesn't really work against dictatorships. How many terrorist incidents were there in Iraq under Saddam that weren't approved by him or his sons?

Another part of the definition of a terrorist is that he is an illegant combatant under the Geneva Accords. He dresses as a civilian so he can blend in with the population. In the recent campaign into Lebanon, the Israelis wore uniforms and tried to limit civilian casualties. Hezbollah used rockets that they couldn't aim, trying to kill any Israeli they could. They located their troops in the midst of civilians so they could use pictures of dead people in their propaganda.

There is no moral equivalence between freedom fighters and terrorists, no matter what they claim. Anybody who uses terrorist tactics cannot be a freedome fighter because the lives of civilians have no value to him. If he gets power, he won't allow freedom.

"..while losing only the occasional American boy". - not boys, men
A minor point, but I was struck by how you call the enemy soldiers and our side boys. Our fighters are made up of men (and the occasional woman). These brave souls are American (and British, Canadian, etc.) soldiers. My 3 year old son is a boy.

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