Accuracy in Media

I’m usually on the opposite side of people from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) group, but Peter Hart’s article, “The New Crossfire: Where Both Sides Support War With Syria,” is right on target. Peter Hart is the activism director at the left-wing group. He is already troubled by the direction of the new CNN “Crossfire” program, even though it is not on the air yet.

He writes, “CNN is bringing back Crossfire next month, but viewers on August 27 got a taste of what they might expect: The left thinks we should bomb Syria, while the right thinks we should have started that a long time ago.” He is talking about a mini “debate” on CNN, during which John Berman, filling in as guest host on the show The Lead, moderated a discussion of striking Syria between “conservative” S.E. Cupp and the “left-leaning” Van Jones.

“I want to commend the President for finally following through on our red line threats,” said Cupp. “That’s important. That’s important for our credibility.” Jones replied, “This President has now said there is a red line. It was not clear before whether the line was crossed. It’s crossed, he’s moving forward. I think we need to stand behind this President and send a clear message to Assad that this type behavior is not acceptable.”

The exchange was captured on YouTube in a video headlined, “Van Jones & S.E. Cupp Agree on Syria Airstrikes!”

This is hardly an example of a real “crossfire” on the issues. A cynic might say that the channel was trying to create the perception of left-right support for Obama’s proposed strike on Syria.

However, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the lead conservative co-host on the new CNN “Crossfire,” had already declared his opposition to Obama’s policy. “Most Americans would agree the use of chemical weapons is frightening and worthy of condemnation,” he said. “Most Americans would also suggest, however, that both sides in the Syrian civil war are terrible, and that there is not a good side in this tragedy.”

Gingrich said the American people should call their congressmen and senators and “demand that they oppose the media pressure and elite pressure to attack Syria.”

Now that Obama has backed away from an immediate strike and says he wants Congress to vote on it, it is time for our media not only to offer both sides, but to analyze the dubious case for war.

First, Obama is falsely claiming there is a direct threat to the United States from alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons.

He told PBS, in a completely convoluted statement, “…when you start talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, where over time, their control over chemical weapons may erode, where they’re allied to known terrorist organizations that, in the past, have targeted the United States, then there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does not happen.”

He went on to say that “we want to make [sure] that they [chemical weapons] are not loose in a way that ultimately, could affect our security.” By taking action, he claimed, we “may have a positive impact on our national security over the long term.”

Obama is spouting a bunch of nonsense, and the media know it. Asked about this rationale on the air, CNN reporter Jill Dougherty pointed out the obvious—that “it is very dubious that Syria could ever launch some type of chemical weapons directly against the United States.”

In fact, destabilizing the Syrian regime would very well lead to the spread of those chemical weapons and a wider Middle East war.

Earlier in the PBS interview, Obama also claimed that “America’s core self-interest” is somehow related to “a well-established international norm against the use of chemical weapons.” This is more gibberish designed to somehow justify the attack on Syria under the War Powers Act. But threats to international order are not cited as justification for military action in the statute.

Whatever their intentions, the political left is doing a better job of debunking the Obama Administration’s rationale for war than are some Republicans.

release from the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) quotes Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law as saying that, by Obama’s own standard, the justification for war falls short. He points out that the Obama Administration document on chemical weapons in Syria uses the standard of “high confidence” that they were used when the appropriate standard by the International Court of Justice is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The release notes that Secretary of State John Kerry claims, “We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons,” but that Carla del Ponte of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said the rebels may have done so.

The IPA release quotes Robert Parry, a critic of the war in Iraq, as saying that Bush’s case for that war “at least had details that could be checked,” but that the Obama administration document contains “no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but ‘trust us.’”

This is a time for honest reporting, like the comments we saw from CNN’s Dougherty, and a presentation of both sides of the story.

Even before it’s officially on the air, CNN’s “Crossfire” has failed.

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  • Sarah Conner

    Congress needs to vote no on Syria involvement and get back to America’s business…obamacare,amnesty,Benghazi,IRS,NSA,DOD,DOJ,DOE,NO GUN CONTROL EVER…once again it is smoke and mirrors,distracting from what is happening at home,diverting our attention to a civil war that should not involve U.S.,period…we have business here at home that needs to be tended to and let Syria take care of Syria…REPUBLICANS…YOU ARE BEING DISTRACTED BY ‘SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’…SHAKE IT OFF,THE SIDE EFFECTS OF DRINKING THE KOOL AID…

  • Jaime L. Manzano

    I wish the decision on Syria were just its crossing Obama’s “red line”
    over the use of gas by Assad on his own people. I think not. It is
    linked to other “red lines” and the reliability of the word of the U.S.
    The slide begins in the Middle East, but then skids downhill to Iran,
    then to other geographic areas which rely on the power balance that the
    American security umbrella provides. Other Middle East and Asia are the
    obvious ones, along with North Korea, and China, edging up to the bar
    of national hubris. But then there is South Asia, and its WMD
    competitors. And the uncertain trumpet of U.S. leadership affects old
    allies and enemies alike – the U.K., France, previous satellites of the
    USSR, and of course, the aspiring revanchist, Russia. Early diagnosis
    and prevention may limit the spread of war. by early intervention. Of
    course, all efforts may fail, and the world make face Armageddon. An
    alternative is to surrender “all who enter” the gulag of aspiring
    suppressors of freedom. Reminds me of a bad joke that circulated in
    high school. “Want to prevent rape? Liay there, and enjoy it.”

  • Joyce Stotts

    I just found out this a.m. on-line that the gassing done in Syria is actually by using SODIUM FLOURIDE, the exact same thing that is being consistently put into U.S. municipal water supplies! Actually, they are using both Sod. Flouride and Potassium Flouride.

  • Mr E

    Do you mean the same Sodium Fluoride that has been used in toothpaste in extremely low dosages for decades to fight cavities? The same stuff added to water to disinfect it and make it safe to drink? Any chemist will tell you that the poison is in the dosage, not inherently in the chemical itself.

    The two chemicals you mention are used as precursor chemicals in the
    manufacture of chemical weapons (such as Sarin) in much the same way that potassium nitrate (used to cure salami and corned beef, and in blood pressure medications) is used to make gunpowder.

    A course in basic chemistry may help to keep your paranoia in check.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    I liked these article also
    Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible ?

    Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack
    America is moving toward a atheist Communist leadership.
    Their policies and political action are beginning to reflect that. Or maybe Obama ( Pontius Pilate ) is a Sunni ! No President should be elected with out identifying their religious beliefs. Were backing Christian Genocide ! The Rebels / Al Qaeda want to murder or displace 12 million people with U.S. military assistance.

  • Joyce Stotts

    Hello, Mr. E.

    I appreciate your clarification, although I DID already know the information you added to the discussion. Perhaps you should direct your “paranoia” comments to the articles released by PROFESSIONALS who declare that Sodium Flouride and Potassium Nitrate are not actually safe in ANY dosage, regardless of their historical uses. You may wish to read yesterday’s Natural News article on this issue, to which I was referring. See the following:

    In future, try to find a little humility in your heart, keep your disdain to yourself, and stop slamming other people whose levels of expertise is COMPLETELY UNKNOWN to you!

  • Mr E

    Sorry for offending your sensibilities Joyce. And pardon me for not trusting any organization or news source that has the words “truth”, “natural”, “green”, or “peace” in its title.

  • Mr. Gingrich seems to have conveniently forgotten that, at the beginning of the protests – yes protests – in Syria for democracy – double-check: democracy – those protesting were rounded up and arrested and shot at by Assad’s internal security forces. The rebels didn’t start as rebels, they started with a peaceful protest! The ‘peace at any price’ (almost) people have amazingly selective memories.

  • For info on how the protests were peaceful and what happened, see this:

  • Have you thought that sodium flouride and potassium nitrate may be safe until inhaled? Eating chilli peppers is pretty safe unless you eat far too many, but if you atomised them and used that as an attack mechanism it would be devastating.