October 17, 2002
DON'T MISS THIS PIECE BY FRANKLIN FOER IN THE NEW REPUBLIC ON how Iraq manipulates the Western media.
When journalists are accused of being unpatriotic for reporting from enemy countries, their excuse is that they're delivering the truth. But they're not, as Foer makes clear. So what's the excuse for delivering untruths from an enemy country in wartime?
The same media-ethics types who get their panties in a wad over journalists accepting free t-shirts from corporations seem much less exercised over this far more serious question. Excerpt:
It's not because American reporters have an ideological sympathy for Saddam Hussein; broadcasting his propaganda is simply the only way they can continue to work in Iraq. "There's a quid pro quo for being there," says Peter Arnett, who worked the Iraq beat for CNN for a decade. "You go in and they control what you do. ... So you have no option other than to report the opinion of the government of Iraq." In other words, the Western media's presence in the Ministry of Information describes more than just a physical reality.
If you'd rather report propaganda than not report at all, is what you're doing journalism? And people say weblogs aren't objective?
UPDATE: This piece says that American journalists are just as bad where Iran is concerned: "So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America's leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. We hear them talk about how young people and women still support President Khatami! No. We do not!"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Gillies writes from Costa Rica:
Franklin Foer's piece in TNR was an eye-opener. It of course raises the possibility that the surreal coverage of the recent Iraqi 'referendum' in the
mainstream press is simply a reaction to the whip hand Saddam's regime has over the foreign news corps. It might explain the tenor of the coverage; it certainly does not justify it.
No, it doesn't.