War media double standard

19 Apr

I’m posting about this article from the Washington Times with some hesitance.  I generally don’t like to draw attention to stories that paint American soldiers in in a negative light, especially when the media seldom points out all the good that they do.  The aim of this article is not to report on the bad behavior of soldiers — it is to report on the blatant double standard of the main stream newsmedia.  The Afghan war is constantly referred to as “Obama’s War” (i.e., the ‘good’ war or the ‘right’ war, as opposed to the bad Iraq War of Bush).  But there have been two war-time atrocities or scandals in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq, under Bush, there was Abu Graib, in which soldiers took photos with hooded prisoners stacked in a pyramid.  President Bush was horrified (called the worst moment in his presidency) and the newsmedia, as well as the Democratic Congress (and Senator Obama) behaved like sharks in bloody water.  But the second atrocity, although it involved soldiers murdering Afghan civilians, has received scant attention from anyone.   Here’s an excerpt:

In 2004, CBS News broadcast an array of photographs showing American jail guards abusing Iraqi detainees. The most famous: a forced pyramid of naked, humiliated prisoners. The depictions touched off an avalanche of media coverage. In Congress, liberals called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Democrats launched inquiries and held a string of well-covered hearings.

In recent months, another wartime embarrassment has emerged. The Army charged five soldiers with murder in the deaths of Afghan civilians in what amounted to a “death squad.” The German magazine Der Spiegel published several digital photos of soldiers posing with the dead last month.

Yet the U.S. media have given relatively little coverage, and no one in Congress has called for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to quit, planned hearings or raised questions at budget hearings.

Conservatives, while not seeking negative coverage of the armed forces, say it is another example of a blatant double standard. The reason the mainstream media have barely touched the story, conservatives say, is because it happened under President Obama, not George W. Bush.

“I think any assignment editor would think a story about soldiers murdering people is a bigger story than soldiers putting prisoners in a naked pyramid,” said Tim Graham, an analyst at the Media Research Center, which seeks to expose what it says is liberal press bias. “When you reverse those, what you’re seeing is political opportunism.”

Mr. Graham offered an example. Time magazine, which devoted much coverage to Abu Ghraib and the killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha during the Bush presidency, had a “tiny paragraph in the front of the magazine” a few issues ago on the death squad photos, he said.

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