Xymphora points to what would otherwise be an unnoticed example of the Washington Post in coordination with the Defense Dept rewriting a factoid from the Iraq war that the Post got right the first time. Along the way, Xymphora suggests that we are living under a military dictatorship. An interesting blog assignment would be to suggest the qualifications necessary to make that statement conform somewhat closer to our reality. --Ronald
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Eschaton catches the Washington Post in blatant media manipulation of the war in Iraq, manipulation so bad it can be called lying. The original Reuters story contains the following paragraph concerning an American attack on the Iraqi city of Diwaniya, quoting American military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl:
“Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced ‘explosively formed penetrators’ (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.”
These are, of course, the famous explosives that the propagandists claim must be coming from Iran, as the locals in Iraq lack the sophistication to manufacture them. Another lie busted.
But don’t count the Washington Post out yet. In an extensive rewrite of the Reuters piece – in fact, so extensive, you can only see the original framework by looking carefully – the Washington Post scrubs the paragraph about the origin of the EFPs, but ensures that the following is inserted (emphasis in red):
“The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers died in separate roadside bombings in the east and west of Baghdad on Friday.
One of the bombs was an explosively formed projectile, a particularly deadly type of device which Washington accuses Iran of supplying Iraqi militants.”
In other words, they use the classic Judy Miller/Michael Gordon technique from the New York Times of passing on Bush Administration propaganda by ensuring that it is prominently placed – together with the appropriate weasel words referring back to the original, completely unquestioned, government source – so that there is no technical lying, although the intent is obviously to deceive (the last two honest paragraphs in the Reuters article have also gone missing).
It’s even worse. As Eschaton notes, the Google News capture of the original article contains the original paragraph from the Reuters article. In other words, the truth accidentally slipped out, and they had to rush to fix it. I have to wonder whether the Washington Post news room has some kind of alarm that sounds in those rare cases when the truth is published and the entire staff is mobilized to suppress it.
And they wonder why people no longer buy newspapers.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The general behind the curtain
I think the rewrite story is extremely important, and won’t receive the attention it deserves. This type of military control over the mainstream media no doubt happens all the time (and is one of the key identifying points of a military dictatorship such as the United States), but it takes a very rare combination of events for it to become so obvious:
A Pentagon spokesman has to misspeak, i. e., tell the truth, and say something outside the ambit of Pentagon propaganda.
A reporter has to honestly report on what the spokesman said, and not engage in the usual self-censorship to bend the story to follow the Pentagon propaganda line.
The editors have to miss the big problem in the story, and allow it to go out over the internet.
Google News has to pick it up and preserve it for posterity.
There has to be a discrepancy in the speed at which the two stories, the original and the rewrite, are fixed (Daily Kos commentator seesdifferent notes that the original Reuters story was fixed subsequent to the fixing of the Washington Post story), so that the editing in the rewrite is obvious.
Some eagle-eyed internet sleuths have to pick it up.
This extremely unlikely series of events directed us to the fact that the Washington Post fixes stories to follow the official Pentagon line. Not only that, but it will go back and rewrite stories that mistakenly go out saying something different than the official Pentagon line. One can only assume that the Pentagon is reading all the mainstream media stories on a real time basis, and is ordering rewrites in those rare occasions where the self-censorship by the mainstream media fails, and it mistakenly allows the truth to escape (the fact that the Washington Post and Reuters both fixed the story to remove the same part which disproved the Pentagon propaganda line is damning).
The outrage, of course, is that mainstream media outlets go along with Pentagon requests, and fit their lies to the required Pentagon pattern. This isn’t a case where there is any possible argument that military censorship is required in order to protect the lives of either American soldiers or civilians. This is a part of a pattern of lies told by the American government about the alleged role of Iran in the Iraqi insurgency, lies with absolutely no legitimate military or political purpose. These lies are intended to excuse the Pentagon’s abject failure in Iraq, and to provide the basis for an attack on yet another innocent sovereign nation that poses no threat to the United States. People are increasingly obtaining their information about the world from sources other than the mainstream media because the mainstream media continues to demonstrate that it is not worthy of trust.