News Nay Sayers Caught In The Act

by Q

Like many Americans, I was glued to my television set on Monday night as President Bush told the nation what he had in mind for Saddam Hussein. Despite the fact that Bush delivered his message in a somber mood, the speech seemed to me to be thoughtful, informative and to the point. Although most every broadcast and many cable channels carried the event, I decided to watch it on ABC. Not surprisingly, the President had barely finished speaking when Peter Jennings began his attack on virtually every word that was uttered. In fact, ABC News devoted the remainder of it’s primetime schedule to a special broadcast entitled, When Diplomacy Fails.

Talk about pulling out all the plugs! ABC used every possible scenario of doom to illustrate the apparent foolishness of the President’s decision and what terrible consequences we would all have to face as a result. But not all went as planned. As if oblivious to the Stock Market rally of the same day, reporters issued stern warnings about what would happen to the market as a result of the President’s decision. Faced with the fact of extremely low casualty rates in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, they had no choice but to display forty year old images of from the Vietnam War apparently hoping to convince Americans that their kids would be returning home in body bags thanks to Bush’s failed policy toward Iraq. This was nicely packaged in a thinly-veiled piece on embedded journalists.

If there was an evildoer or power-mad dictator featured in the ABC News special, it wasn’t Saddam Hussein. Instead, it was President Bush who was painted as a man fixated and obsessed; a decision maker who had made his decision based on a misguided sense of fate or religious conviction. Viewers were constantly reminded how the U.S. stood virtually alone against world opinion and that even staunch allies like Canada and Mexico had turned their backs on us. Little was made of the fact that many nations are standing with us and polls taken in the last twenty-four hours showed that most Americans agreed with the President’s handling of the situation. But ABC News is not the only large news organization guilty of presenting one of the most slanted and biased reports I have ever seen.

CNN spent most of the day before the President’s speech airing coverage of anti-war protests. Although they tried to portray the coverage as that of reporting on both anti-war and pro-war rallies, the slant was obvious. What seemed like hours of reporting was devoted to the anti-war movement. We were told how that millions were expected to take part in anti-war rallies, while a few were expected to join in pro-war demonstrations. Ant-war protests were now “rallies” and pro-war rallies were now “demonstrations”. To make matters worse, a pro-war rally held in CNN’s hometown of Atlanta was painted as an “event organized by a local radio station in support of President Bush.” Despite the fact that a huge crowd showed up, CNN never mentioned any numbers and merely stated that “a larger then expected crowd attended.” So this pro-Bush, pro-war “demonstration” was painted as a staged event, while viewers were lead to believe that all the anti-war “rallies” were spontaneous expressions of Americans frustrated with Bush’s Iraq Policy. I wish that I could say that any of the other major news networks faired much better when it came to unbiased coverage of the conflict between America and Iraq, but many were as bad or even worse.

It seems that journalists have simply come to the conclusion that unless Americans agree with their conception that “it takes a village” to attack an enemy, we’re unable to come to an intelligent conclusion regarding the current crisis and how it should be handled. If we’ve become dumbed-down in any way, it’s in the opposite direction. Public schools have spent much of the last fifty years decribing anyone who doesn’t lean left as a racist, bigot or misguided zealot. While the founders of our nation are portrayed as heartless slave traders, womanizing reprobates like Jesse Jackson are elevated to near god status as saviors of their people who always take the moral high ground. People like George Bush are described as narrow-minded, big money folks who support corporate raiders and care more about religious conviction, then they do world peace. Like most of us, they simply don’t understand the need for coalition building and international cooperation. Hey, maybe their right! I guess that I shouldn’t be concerned that the next glass of water I drink might be filled with anthrax germs. After all, what’s the death of a few hundred thousand Americans compared to adherence to the doctrine of political correctness?

It might be time for news gathering and reporting organizations to take a long, hard look at how slanted they really want their reporting to be. If they feel it’s their job to deliver news in the form of a non-stop commentary that supports a particular view or panders to a certain group of true believers, they are succeeding. But if bringing news to the people simply means reporting things are they happen, then most news organizations are failing in what was once thought to be a sacred duty and trust. The obvious betrayal of that sacred duty is a loss of confidence in news reporters that, according to the major news organizations themselves, grows stronger each year.


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