Accuracy in Media

Last week, the mainstream media speculated that the Iranian military purposely missed killing United States military service members in a missile attack on an Iraqi airbase. A CBS News report on the airbase told a much different story.

CBS News reported from the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and the video footage contradicted the media’s earlier claims that the Iranian military purposely launched missiles where it would not inflict casualties among United States military service members. The video footage showed piles of rubble, debris, and demolished buildings at the airbase.

An anonymous military official told the news outlet that the Iranians were “shooting to kill” and multiple service members said they were grateful that the bunkers they sheltered in did not receive a fatal direct hit.

CBS News’s report directly contradicted two narratives: first, the media’s public narrative that Iran will not escalate tensions and second, the implied narrative that Iran has peaceful intentions in their military response. Neither was proven correct in the CBS report.

Reuters, CNN and USA Today were among several of the news outlets that reported Iran deliberately missed hitting U.S. forces at the airbase almost a week ago.

CNN has since updated its original report to include a new headline, which read, “Top US general says Iran tried to kill US troops as some administration officials believe they purposely missed.” The updated CNN report included a quote from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Iranians “intended to cause structural damage destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel.” Neither Reuters or USA Today updated their original articles on Iran’s actual intentions in the missile attack.

Though the media relied on anonymous sources that claimed Iran intended to spare the United States of casualties, it did not do adequate on-the-ground reporting to verify those sources’ claims.

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