Aug
18
2009

CBS Re-Airs Drone Propaganda

Back in May, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a terrible report on the Air Force's use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan– see FAIR's action alert for all the details. CBS never responded to the criticism, but they did re-air the segment this past Sunday, without any major changes. To let CBS know how you feel about this one-sided reporting, here's the contact info: CONTACT: CBS 60 Minutes 524 West 57th St. New York, NY 10019 Email: 60m@cbsnews.com Phone: (212) 975-3247

Aug
17
2009

The Washington Post's Non-Debate on Afghanistan

The escalationof the Afghanistan war is the "Topic A"discussion on the Washington Post op-ed page on Sunday (it's a regular feature where they ask a panel of Important People to weigh in onan issue of the day). The title was "How Many Troops for Afghanistan?"–one can already spot the problem with that–but the panel they assembled left a lot to be desired.On the one hand, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (a strong critic of escalation) was given space to make his argument.But hispresenced was 'balanced' by four others, three of whom are definitely pro-escalation(they quibble over the details, perhaps) and onepollsterwho addressed […]

Aug
16
2009

Media's Afghan 'Metrics' Exclude 'Value of Human Life'

As "official Washington is buzzing about 'metrics'" of success in the U.S. war on Afghanistan, Norman Solomon (ZNet, 8/13/09) notes of media's persistent question, "Can the war in Afghanistan be successful?"–"Don't ask the dead": On August 7, under the headline "White House Struggles to Gauge Afghan Success," a New York Times story made a splash. "As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan buildup, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with a long-promised plan to measure whether the war is being won." Don't ask the dead. They don't count. The Times article went on: "Those […]

Aug
10
2009

A Look 'Behind the Propaganda' About Afghanistan

Johann Hari (ZNet, 8/6/09) has an in-depth write-up of "the story of Malalai Joya" that "turns everything we have been told about Afghanistan inside out": In the official rhetoric, she is what we have been fighting for. Here is a young Afghan woman who set up a secret underground school for girls under the Taliban and–when they were toppled–cast off the burka, ran for parliament, and took on the religious fundamentalists. But she says: "Dust has been thrown into the eyes of the world by your governments. You have not been told the truth. The situation now is as catastrophic […]

Jul
17
2009

War 'Fixers' Make Unembedded News, at High Cost

Afghanistan writer Ann Jones has an essay on TomDispatch (7/16/09) in which she calls The Fixer "the best documentary I've seen on Afghanistan–so good it's hard to imagine a better one." Her description of a scene she found particularly moving demonstrates the harsh reality of unembedded reporting, begetting a corporate media output that merits her headline, "Everything That Happens in Afghanistan Is Based on Lies or Illusions": It is 2006, late in the year. A reporter stands on a rocky hillside near the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan and points a wobbly camera at dark-clad gunmen ranged at a […]

Jul
15
2009

'Freed' Afhan Women Suffer 'Rape, Pillage, Plunder'

The latest segment to be made available online (7/7/09) from Robert Greenwald's Rethink Afghanistan documentary features the president of the Global Fund for Women Kavita Ramdas challenging U.S. media tropes about improved women's conditions since the U.S. invasion: "The perception of the women of Afghanistan having been severely oppressed only under the regime of the Taliban, and then having been freed by the united States' military intervention in 2001, is a false perception." The film continues: Ann Jones, author Kabul in Winter: We got reports back that indeed that had been accomplished and the women had thrown off their burqas […]

Jul
15
2009

NYT and the Pro-Withdrawal Majority (of 2004)

New York Times reporter John F. Burns turned in a piece on Sunday about the debate in Britain over the Afghanistan war ("Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain," 7/12/09), in light of the increase in British casualties in recent weeks. Burns writes: So far, however, the reaction in Britain has not run to the kind of popular groundswell for withdrawal that President George W. Bush faced when the war in Iraq worsened after his re-election in 2004. To careful readers of the Times, this is more than a little jarring. While there is certainly some truth […]

Jul
12
2009

Big Media Push Escalation in Afghanistan and at Home

Noting how "the president has set a limit on the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. For now," FAIR associate Norman Solomon is letting Huffington Post readers know (7/9/09) "that's how escalation works. Ceilings become floors. Gradually": A few times since last fall, the Obama team has floated rising numbers for how many additional U.S. soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan. Now, deployment of 21,000 more is a done deal, with a new total cap of 68,000 U.S. troops in that country. Solomon warns that "'escalation' isn't mere jargon. And it doesn't just refer to what's happening outside the United […]

Jul
02
2009

Big Media 'Lenses…Ground With Ideology, Nationalism'

Noticing that "the New York Times used three square inches of newsprint on Tuesday to dispatch two U.S. Army soldiers under the headline 'Names of the Dead,'" Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, 7/1/09) points out how apparently "there wasn't enough room for any numbers, names or ages of Afghans who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations." Having observed wartime media long enough to know that "that's the way routine death stories go," Solomon has also observed that "reporting on life is like that, and reporting on death is like that: even more so when the […]

Jun
30
2009

A Massive 'Press Blackout' for a Massive Press Outlet

Calling the six months of unanimous news media silence on New York Times reporter David Rohde's kidnapping "the most amazing press blackout on a major event that I have ever seen," Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher, 6/23/09) now wonders if a great debate will break out over media ethics in not reporting a story involving one of their own when they so eagerly rush out piece about nearly everything else. I imagine some may claim that the blackout would not have held if a smaller paper, not the mighty New York Times, had been involved. Or is saving this life […]

Jun
29
2009

Why Read the Press Release? Just Blame the Taliban

Investigative reporter Gareth Porter's careful reading (Dissident Voice, 6/28/09) of "the official military investigation into the disastrous May 4 airstrike in Farah province" of Afghanistan, which "omitted key details" and "gave no explanation" for reasserting "that only about 26 civilians had been killed"–"well-documented reports by the government and by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission [showed] that between 97 and 147 people were killed"–yields a "central contradiction between the report and the U.S. military's 'human shields' argument" that "was allowed to pass unnoticed in the extremely low-key news media coverage of the report." In fact, news coverage of the report […]

Jun
17
2009

NPR's 'Sanitized, Propaganda-Laden' War Reportage

NPR Check blogger Mytwords has some advice (6/14/09) "in these times of austerity and job 'shedding' at NPR": "Instead of spending all the money it must take to embed a reporter like Tom Bowman with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, why not cut him out of the picture and just hand a microphone to one of the officers or commanders there?": Heck, if that's too expensive, why not just get on the Internets and pull some hard-hitting journalism from the military website of whatever unit Tom would have been embedded with? It sure would be a lot cheaper, even though […]

Jun
14
2009

On the WaPo's 'Tacit Faith in Massive Violence'

Writing that "it takes at least tacit faith in massive violence to believe that after three decades of horrendous violence in Afghanistan, upping the violence there will improve the situation," FAIR associate Norman Solomon (Huffington Post, 6/8/09) tells us that, when last Sunday's edition of the Washington Post printed the routine headline "Iraq War Deaths," the newspaper meant American deaths–to Washington's ultra-savvy, the deaths that really count. The only numbers and names under the headline were American. Ask for whom the bell tolls. That's the implicit message–from top journalists and politicians alike. A few weeks ago, some prominent U.S. news […]