Accuracy in Media

Senator James Inhofe has made several trips to our troops fighting the war on terrorism and has returned to convey their thoughts about how our own media undermine their mission. But Inhofe has gone farther. His office has compiled research into how America’s two leading newspapers, the Washington Post and New York Times, have covered the war in their editorials. The results demonstrate a tendency to emphasize examples of misconduct by U.S. troops and largely ignore the atrocities committed by the enemy.

The Inhofe survey, compiled from the LexisNexis data retrieval system, shows that the Post and Times have run 90 editorials since March of 2004 about U.S. detainee policies and treatment of prisoners at facilities such as Abu Ghraib. By contrast, since March of 2001, these papers have run only eight editorials about the terrorist tactic of beheading hostages in Iraq and elsewhere. These papers have run only three editorials about the estimated 290,000 to 400,000 bodies found in 300 mass graves in Iraq. These papers have run no editorials about the accusations of rape of women and children committed by U.N. peacekeepers and U.N. personnel in the Congo in Africa.

Earlier this year Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan, a Task Force Commander in Iraq, had some very unflattering words about the Fourth Estate.

He accused the media of running distorted and exaggerated stories of “failures” in the war in Iraq. He said, “Print and video journalists are covering only a small fraction of the events in Iraq and more often than not, the events they cover are only the bad ones. Many of the journalists making public assessments about the progress of the war in Iraq are unqualified to do so, given their training and experience. The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international public support for the United States’ efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents’ resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.”

But with the advent of Al-Jazeera International, an English-language version of the Arab propaganda network, the media landscape will get even worse.

USA Today reports, however, that the new channel “has yet to reach any agreements to be carried by cable systems and satellite operators that serve the USA. A spokesman, Mike Holtzman, said Al-Jazeera is confident it will sign such contracts in time to be on the air in the USA next spring.”

By signing people like David Frost of the BBC and ex-marine Josh Rushing, Al-Jazeera apparently believes that federal agencies will approve this access to the U.S. market and overlook the network’s activities as a mouthpiece for America’s enemies. But what do the American people and its elected representatives have to say about that?

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