Accuracy in Media

On April 18th, both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran long stories about how the Clinton Administration got involved in the no-win war in Yugoslavia. Both papers said that the key incident which sparked U.S. military involvement was the alleged Serb massacre of Albanians in the village of Racak in Kosovo. We say “alleged” because it’s not at all clear that what happened was a massacre. In fact, some evidence suggests that Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists attacked the Serbs and then dressed up some of the victims to make them look like civilians. But “massacre” is how the Post and Times described it.

The point is that this incident is what started the U.S. on the road to deeper and deeper military involvement. In other words, the Clinton Administration may have gotten the U.S. involved through an incident that was manipulated and staged for propaganda value.

The Times said that NATO commander General Wesley Clark was so outraged about this alleged massacre that he met with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic and presented him with photographs of the victims. The Times reported that Milosevic said the killings had resulted from a firefight between Serb security forces and the KLA. Here’s how the Times reported how Milosevic described what happened then: “The rebels, he continued, rearranged the bodies and dressed them to make them look like peasants and farmers, shooting the bodies through the heads and necks to make the incident look like a massacre.”

The Times didn’t report how Clark responded to this, and the paper didn’t explain what was wrong with Milosevic’s explanation. But the fact is that his explanation of what happened is consistent with how some foreign newspapers reported the incident.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only dubious report or claim that has come out of the White House, NATO or the American media during this war. Some other phony reports include NATO’s claim that two Albanian Kosovo leaders had been executed by the Serbs, the alleged transformation of a soccer stadium in Kosovo into a death camp, and blaming the Serbs for the bombing of a refugee convoy. One of those Kosovo Albanian leaders was the subject of a recent article in the Washington Post. The Post said he was sitting in a friend’s living room when he heard the news of his death broadcast live from NATO headquarters. NATO apparently based the report of his death on the fact that his offices had been ransacked and his security guard killed. Obviously, however, NATO released the “news” of his death publicly without having a shred of hard evidence to justify the claim.

It is quickly becoming apparent that NATO, at least in some cases, has been less than forthcoming in reporting the truth. In a related matter, a Bosnian Serb TV station in the NATO-occupied state of Bosnia has been ordered to stop broadcasting because its coverage of the war was deemed inflammatory and inaccurate. The order could be enforced by a NATO-led Stabilization Force, whose troops could literally take over the station at the point of a barrel of a gun.

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