Last night's broadcast of the PBS NewsHour (11/29/10) offered a discussion of the WikiLeaks documents. Who were the guests? As Judy Woodruff announced: "We turn to two former national security advisers with extensive experience in making and carrying out U.S. foreign policy. " That would be Carter's Zbigniew Brzezinski and George W. Bush's Stephen Hadley. The discussion was about as illuminating as one might expect. Hours later on the Charlie Rose show, guest host Jon Meacham featured a typical Charlie Rose discussion: two reporters from the New York Times and former Clinton State Department aide Jamie Rubin. The Times reporters [...]
WikiLeaks document dumps are largely what media want to make of them. There's one conventional response, which goes something like this: "There's nothing new here, but WikiLeaks is dangerous!" But there's another option: "There's nothing here, except for the part that confirms a storyline we've been pushing." In those cases, WikiLeaks is deemed very, very useful. That was the case with the last batch of WikiLeaks documents, when the New York Times wrote a long piece about what the documents alleged about Iran's involvement in the Iraq War. Journalist Ali Gharib wrote about that issue (and talked to CounterSpin about [...]
From one of the Washington Post's stories about WikiLeaks: A senior U.S. intelligence officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified, said: "No one should think of American diplomats as spies. But our diplomats do, in fact, help add to our country's body of knowledge on a wide range of important issues. That's logical and entirely appropriate, and they do so in strict accord with American law." The source is anonymous because he must remain…anonymous. Got it.
After being fired by NPR, Juan Williams made an appearance with Fox host Bill O'Reilly (10/21/10) where he explained that he wasn't likely to get support from prominent African-American leaders like Al Sharpton because "I'm not a predictable black liberal." It's not totally clear what he means by that, but Williams does a pretty good job as a Fox News Liberal– i.e., someone willing to attack left-liberal groups and leaders while doing very little topromote an actual left-leaningperspective.This point was echoed in a column penned by Newsmax's Ronald Kessler (10/25/10), who wrote that he's known Williams since the 1970s and [...]
On the October 22 broadcast of ABC World News With Diane Sawyer,the anchorweighed in on the WikiLeaks Iraq Wardocumentsby noting, "Arab television is already trumpeting the revelations." Not exactly a promising start, but the correspondent Martha Raddatz did a pretty good job of conveying the findings:hundreds of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints, thousands of unreported civilian deaths andtorture of detainees. Then the report went back to Sawyer for a follow-up question: "I know there's a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?"
Agence France Presse (9/28/10) has an interview with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales about WikiLeaks–apparently because of their proximity in alphabetical order. Wales says that he wishes WikiLeaks didn't have "wiki" in its name–fair enough; he's free to wish that. But he goes on to say: In the most recent round of leaks, the New York Times…actually redacted certain information that could put people in harm's way whereas WikiLeaks is planning to publish absolutely everything…. I think it is really important, when we have sensitive information, that we do rely on responsible journalists to sort through it for us…. It's much [...]
We often heard during the WikiLeaks controversy thatcivilian deaths in Afghanistan are well-covered in the corporate media, so the revelations in the documents about such incidents were "old news." A report in today's Times from Rod Nordland ("Afghans Say NATO Strikes Killed Civilians," 8/6/10) teaches a useful lesson in howsuch reporting appears. There are actually two different attacks discussed in the piece, butthe more revealing coverage concerns fallout from a July 26 attack. The Afghans say 52 civilians died. But theverdict from the U.S./NATO side is very different–andthe Times delivers it via an anonymous source (emphasis added): In another case [...]
The Afghanistan documents posted by WikiLeaks were obviously the big story of the week. So how did the network Sunday shows react to these disclosures, which have the potential to open up a real debate about the Afghan War? NBC's Meet the Press interviewedchairman of the Joint Chiefs of StaffMike Mullen. ABC's This Week featured an interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. On CBS, Face The Nation had Mike Mullen. What would state broadcasting look like again? CBS also had an interview withRichard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations (formerly of the Bush administration), who urged the U.S. to [...]
In case you thought the WikiLeaks story might change everything: The forthcomingTime magazine (out tomorrow) has acover photo ofa disfigured Afghan woman with the headline "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." The implicationwould seem to be that the Taliban will commit similar atrocities without the presence of U.S. forces. You can see the cover (and a portion of the story) here. Something tells me that no one at a the magazine'seditorial meeting suggested a "What Happens If We Stay in Afghanistan" cover headline, which would have been accompanied by a photo of the corpse of an Afghan child killed in [...]
Fresh from her comments slamming Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings for reporting things the military wouldn't like, CBS reporter Lara Logan weighed in on the WikiLeaks story on last night's CBS Evening News, where she argued that reporters should do more to stress the Taliban's record of killing civilians: KATIE COURIC: Also mentioned in these documents is the number of Afghan civilians who have been killed. How do you think this will damage the war effort? LARA LOGAN: Well, the issue of civilian casualties is a major one. And the U.S. has taken a lot of criticism because of this. However, [...]
The stories in today's Washington Post tell you everything you need to know about the media establishment's reaction to the Wikileaks Afghanistan documents: WikiLeaks Disclosures Unlikely to Change Course of Afghanistan War By Greg Jaffe and Peter Finn …The documents' release could compel President Obama to explain more forcefully the war's importance, military analysts said…. Senior White House officials said the classified accounts bolstered Obama's decision in December to pour more troops and money into a war effort that had not received sufficient attention or resources from the Bush administration…. In the near term, the Obama administration seems intent on [...]
Former special ops squad leader/current think tank fellow Andrew Exum noisily yawns at the WikiLeaks Afghan document release on the New York Times op-ed page today (7/27/10): The news media have done a good job of showing the public that the Afghan war is a highly complex environment stretching beyond the borders of the fractured country. Often what appears to be a two-way conflict between the government and an insurgency is better described as intertribal rivalry. And often that intertribal rivalry is worsened or overshadowed by the violent trade in drugs. As it happens, Extra! (12/09) devoted an entire article [...]