Accuracy in Media

One day after a series of elected officials called on President Clinton to tell the truth about his alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick, the Washington Post in a lead editorial advocated the establishment of a “truth commission” in the United States. But the Post wasn?t talking about the Broaddrick matter, or the Vincent Foster case, or TWA 800, or the bombing in Oklahoma City. No, the Post wanted to get to the bottom of what the CIA knew about what happened in Guatemala dating back to 1954. The editorial was titled, “The Truth About Guatemala.” Nothing was said in this or any other editorial about getting to the bottom of any Clinton Administration scandals.

This demonstrates what is wrong with the Washington media. Rather than focus on the continuing crimes of the Clinton Administration, they want to go back into ancient history. This is a convenient way to change the subject. Nothing could please the White House more.

But the Post wasn?t the only media organization to follow this line. The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather also seized upon the Guatemalan story, noting that a so-called truth commission in Guatemala had issued a report on February 25th that attempted to fix the blame for the country?s civil war. 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace was brought on to go into more detail about what the CIA knew or didn?t know about events that happened over a period of decades. This is what the Washington Post emphasized in its editorial, saying that the CIA owed us a full explanation. “We need our own truth commission,” said the Post.

We agree, but we would go back in history only about five years, to the three-month period, April through June of 1994, when nearly one million people were massacred in Rwanda in Africa. By contrast, only 200,000 were killed over the course of Guatemala?s civil war. One difference between the two is that those U.S. officials who knew about the Rwanda genocide are still in power and can still be held accountable. They include President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Their knowledge of the genocide was thoroughly documented in a January public television program called “Triumph of Evil.” The program shows that top Clinton officials knew what was happening but chose to do nothing, not even call it genocide.

It is simply incredible that the Post and other media would choose to focus so much attention on a civil war that cost the lives of 200,000 people in Guatemala and yet gloss over a genocide that cost the lives of four times as many that happened only about five years ago.

In calling for further investigation of events in Guatemala, the Post conveniently ignored the Communist role in the civil war, including Castro?s role in arming and training the Guatemalan guerrillas. So it appears the Post version of a “Truth Commission” would be a serious disappointment. This new focus on the CIA?s role in Guatemala has nothing to do with finding the truth. It is a diversion that serves the interests of the White House.

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