After Falling For Hoax News Site, Sean Hannity Takes On PolitiFact’s ‘Stupidity’

You really have to give the wingnut media credit for standing firm in the face of flagrant ridicule. On Sean Hannity’s Fox News program last week he cited a statistic that was not only wildly implausible, it was sourced to an Internet website that was obviously satirical.

Sean Hannity Dumbass

The hoax website, Real News Right Now, also prominently displayed plainly absurd (and humorous) articles like “Starbucks Opens Five Stores in Jordan’s 2nd Largest Refugee Camp,” and “Trump: I Would Have Prevented the Asteroid From Killing the Dinosaurs.” The author of these articles is R. Hobbus J.D, who the website says is the recipient of the Stephen Glass Distinction in Journalistic Integrity (Glass was caught making up stories for the New Republic), and the Oscar Mayer Award for Journalistic Excellence. And from this source Hannity reported that…

“You see the backlash emerging now in Europe over the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq. The president said he’s going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country.”

Of course, President Obama never said any such thing. The fallacy of this statement was reviewed by PolitiFact who gave it their lowest rating of “Pants On Fire.” They noted that neither the President, nor anyone in his administration, had ever articulated a policy to allow anything close to 250,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. In fact, they note that that number is three times bigger than the total number of refugees Obama has asked to bring in during 2016 from all around the world.”

Following the exposé of Hannity’s gullibility, he went on the air to denounce PolitiFact as a “liberal website” that was “attacking” him. And after saying that he doesn’t normally waste his time “responding to stupidity” (because he’s normally creating it), he proclaims that “this one time, I’m going to break my rule.” Whereupon he delivers his rebuttal to PolitiFact:

Hannity: Let me teach you simple addition. I was quoting an AP article, entitled ‘Kerry: US to accept 85,000 refugees in 2016, 100,000 in 2017.’ Well, that equals 185,000 right? But that’s not all; according to the same report, the State Department is accepting 70,000 refugees in 2015. In other words, they said the 85 on top of the 70 they took in this year, that equals 255,000. That’s how I came to the number. And by the way, for the record, if you watch my TV show, I never said all of the refugees were Syrian.

As it turns out, addition must not be as simple for Hannity as he suggests. The AP article he referenced did cite John Kerry’s statement that there would be 85,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 more in 2017. However, he was referring to “the number of worldwide migrants,” not just those from Iraq and Syria. What’s more, the other 70,000 refugees Hannity mentioned were also worldwide and not exclusively from the troubled region.

So Hannity found a month old article from the Associated Press and distorted the numbers to try to come up with a justification for his prior disinformation. He failed miserably. He also blatantly lied when he said that he “never said all of the refugees were Syrian.” If you read the verbatim quote above, it’s clear that he was explicitly talking about “the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq.” Consequently, it’s Hannity who is stupid and partisan, not PolitiFact. And to top it off, he’s also a liar. It seems like he might have been better off had he just apologized for the incorrect data and moved on to a new bit of dishonest propaganda. But then he’s Hannity and he’s on Fox News. He’s fulfilling his “Special Purpose.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox News Headline: That Drowned Syrian Boy On The Beach Is Obama’s Fault

The list of things that are Obama’s fault just keeps getting longer. You have to wonder how he has managed to get so much done in so short a time. After all, conservatives have blamed Obama for everything from riots in Ferguson, MO, to California’s drought, to Ebola, to Hurricane Katrina (No, really). And that happened three years before he was inaugurated. He is to blame for high gas prices that hurt consumers, as well as for low gas prices that hurt oil companies. They blame him for increased immigration (which has actually gone down), and for the rising number of abortions (which are declining).

It really doesn’t matter what the subject is. Conservatives will spin it as evidence of America’s doom and blame Obama for it. And if you need another example, look no further than Fox News, where today they ran a story with the headline “That Drowned Syrian Boy On The Beach Is Obama’s Fault.” Because, of course it is.

Fox News Obama

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson is the one assigning the blame on this occasion. He has to stretch mightily to justify his ludicrous opinion that the responsibility for the death of a child refugee from Syria rests on the President’s shoulders. He does this by twisting the facts beyond all recognition and inventing motives that aren’t supported by reality. The sad story began when the boy’s family, along with thousands of others, fled the oppression and atrocities perpetrated by ISIS in Syria. Erickson viewed that situation as the “direct result” of Obama’s alleged pride and cowardice.

Erickson: “ISIS only became a thing when the White House, out of pride and arrogance, decided it was better to placate the left by withdrawing all troops from Iraq rather than help the Iraqis maintain their stability.

“A young boy has died, washed up on the shores of Europe. His picture has shocked the world and his death is direct result of Barack Obama fleeing the Middle East, tail tucked between his leg, so he could pridefully say he ended a war he never wanted.

“The boy is dead because Barack Obama chose to abdicate American leadership in the world.”

Apparently Erickson either doesn’t know, or is deliberately lying, about the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The truth is that a “Status of Forces Agreement” was negotiated by the administration of George W. Bush that called for complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. The Obama administration attempted to extend the agreement, but the Iraqis were opposed to any extension so Bush’s deadline was carried out.

Since the withdrawal date was not chosen by Obama, it can hardly be attributed to him as placating the left or resulting from his pride and arrogance. He didn’t “flee” the Middle East. He complied with the binding agreement of his White House predecessor. If Erickson is looking for someone to accuse of abdicating leadership, then he should be looking at Bush.

Furthermore, Erickson’s insinuation that Obama was responsible for the rise of ISIS is just as faulty as his understanding of international treaties. Many of the soldiers who formed ISIS were former officials and military operatives of Saddam Hussein’s Bath Party. They were only available to start their radical Islamic army because Bush’s operatives in Iraq prohibited them from having any role in the new Iraqi government. That move turned them into rebels who eventually aligned with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Erickson argued that the destabilization of Iraq that led to much of the region’s turmoil was Obama’s fault, even though one of the reasons that Obama had opposed the Iraq war from the start was the risk of destabilization. So Erickson was wrong about Iraq. He was wrong about the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. He was wrong about the beginnings of ISIS. He also failed to note that the dead child was not from Iraq, but was a refugee from Syria, where they were having problems of their own.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Nevertheless, Erickson flatly stated that “That little boy would not have died had Barack Obama stood strong in Iraq. […] That dead child is Barack Obama’s fault.” But that opinion is so much more than merely wrong. It is contrary to the facts. It is slander against Obama. It is absolution to ISIS, the real perpetrators of so much death and misery. And it is perversely exploitative of a tragic loss of innocent life. However, it is exactly the sort of despicable smear campaign that Erickson, and his comrades on the right, and Fox News, have been engaging in for at least the last seven years.

Jeb Bush Thinks Taking Out Saddam Hussein Was ‘A Pretty Good Deal’

One of the biggest drawbacks of having a world-class ignoramus like Donald Trump in the running for the Republican nomination for president is that he consumes the media’s capacity for stupid pronouncements. After all, there are sixteen other candidates working hard to say idiotic things every day and they don’t get nearly as much attention as Trump. For instance, Jeb Bush appeared today at a campaign event in Iowa and told the few people listening that

“I’ll tell you, taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.”

Jeb Bush - Saddam

Really? A good deal for whom? Certainly it was a good deal for the defense contractors who sponsored the ill-advised invasion (and the event at which Bush was speaking). And it was a good deal for the neo-cons who soaked the feds for cushy government jobs and sold books to readers of WorldNetDaily. But most of all it was a good deal for Al Qaeda and ISIS and Iran, who are the biggest beneficiaries of a destabilized Iraq and the general chaos throughout the region.

However, it was not such a good deal for the 4,000 plus American soldiers who died fighting a war of aggression whose justification was built on lies. It was not such a good deal for the 32,000 plus Americans wounded and who are now suffering with physical disabilities, brain damage, and PTSD. The estimated 150,000 plus Iraqi civilians who died for no reason probably don’t think it was such a good deal either.

For Jeb! to suggest that there was anything positive about an unlawful war that brought so much misery tells us just how unfit he is to lead this nation. But for him to pick out the deposing of Saddam as his choice for what made the war “a good deal” is simply deranged. If that was their goal it could have easily been accomplished for much less money and loss of life. Does Jeb! really think that spending two trillion dollars to knock off Saddam was a display of fiscal responsibility? If that’s his idea of a good deal, someone should ask him what WE got out of it.

This latest Bushism (yes, it runs in the family) follows closely remarks he made this week blaming Hillary Clinton for the mess in the Middle East. His perverse logic relies on absolving his brother George of any responsibility for the utter disaster he created. And it was an entirely predictable disaster. But Jeb! contends that President Obama and Clinton are to blame for adhering to the Status of Forces Agreement that was negotiated and signed by George W. Plus, this is the fourth or fifth position Jeb! has taken on whether the Iraq war was justified. After first saying that he would have approved the invasion, even knowing what we know today, he later recanted saying that he had misheard the question and insisted that with hindsight he would not have ordered the invasion. And yet, this boondoggle that he would not have ordered is still a good deal?

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Jeb!’s solution this go-round appears to be to continue a full military deployment in Iraq indefinitely, incurring and suffering more fatalities with no end in sight. Presumably, that would make it an even better deal in his eyes. The obvious absurdity of this position could have a crippling effect on his campaign. Fortunately for him, few people will ever know that he said this bit of lunacy (It has yet to be reported on Fox News). That’s the benefit of having Trump around to act as a human gaffe shield, protecting the other candidates from their own crackpottery.

FACT CHECK: ISIS Leader, Baghdadi, Was Released By Bush, Not Obama

In yet another example of journalistic malpractice, the folks at Fox News broadcast a number of reports that got the most significant facts completely wrong. In order to do so, they relied on the assertions of a single, uncorroborated account, and failed to do the most basic follow-up with the people in a position to know.

Fox News

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

The latest lie-riddled reporting on Fox concerned the circumstances of the capture and release of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Fox and other conservative media outlets are endeavoring to place the responsibility for Baghdadi’s brutal march through Iraq on President Obama. Representative commentaries include these by Fox hosts Jeanine Pirro and Megyn Kelly:

Pirro: The head of this band of savages is a man by the name of Abu al-Baghdadi. The new Osama Bin Laden. A man released by Obama in 2009, who started ISIS a year later.

Kelly: We are also learning more about the leader of the terror group, a man described as the new Bin Laden, the heir to Bin Laden. It turns out he had been in U.S. custody until 2009, over in Iraq, when he was then turned over to the Iraqi government as part of our troop drawdown. And then he was released.

On Pirro’s Saturday program she led into the subject with a mouth-foaming harangue about Obama’s “feckless” leadership and socialist designs on America. On Kelly’s primetime program she interviewed Col. Kenneth King who claimed to have been present when Baghdadi was transferred from the custody of U.S. forces to the Iraqis, who later allegedly released him to go on to form ISIS. However, an investigation by PolitiFact uncovered a very different story, confirmed by the Defense Department, and branding the Fox report as “false.”

“Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “He was held at Camp Bucca. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time.”

Since the right-wing is so intent on assigning blame for Baghdadi’s campaign of terror on the president who was in office when he was set free, then according to their logic it is all Bush’s fault. But don’t expect Fox News to report the facts as laid out by actual journalists. They won’t even report the comments of their own witness, Col. King, who appeared on another network (ABC) and admitted that he “could be mistaken.” It turns out that he never knew the name of the man he presumed to be Baghdadi, he just thought there was a resemblance to the man he encountered. Nor will they report Col. King’s remarks to the Daily Beast where he downplayed the threat posed by Baghdadi, saying that “He was a bad dude, but he wasn’t the worst of the worst.”

PolitiFact went on to note that, even if Col. King’s account were correct, and Baghdadi was still in custody in 2009, Obama still could not be held to blame for Baghdadi’s release. The terms of the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required the U.S. to turn over all prisoners to the custody of Iraq’s criminal system. That agreement was negotiated and agreed to by the Bush administration in 2008.

Baghdadi and Bush

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So virtually everything reported by Fox News was wrong. And, not surprisingly, all of the misinformation leaned toward blaming President Obama for the mistakes of President Bush. It’a pattern that is all too familiar. Now that the truth has been revealed and confirmed, we can expect Fox to issue a correction at the earliest opportunity. And if you believe that you are probably already a dimwitted, gullible disciple of the Fox Disinformation Society.

How About An Apology Mr. Rove?

Karl Rove, the former Deputy Chief of Staff, and Chief Political Adviser to President George W. Bush, has a new book coming out. “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” is a memoir by the former White House aide and current Fox News contributor. The New York Times has an advance copy of the book and has published some interesting excerpts.

Chief amongst the revelations is that Rove acknowledges that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction severely damaged Bush’s presidency. He blames himself for not sufficiently countering the bad publicity generated by having started an illegitimate and illegal war. Specifically addressing the decision to invade Iraq Rove writes…

“Would the Iraq War have occurred without W.M.D.? I doubt it. Congress was very unlikely to have supported the use-of-force resolution without the W.M.D. threat. The Bush administration itself would probably have sought other ways to constrain Saddam, bring about regime change, and deal with Iraq’s horrendous human rights violations.”

Oh great! So tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of innocent Iraqis – not combatants or terrorists, but civilian men, women and children – are dead because of this brutal and unjustified assault, and the only thing for which Rove takes responsibility is a weak response to shore up Bush’s image in the press.

Rove admits that the Congressional authorization for war would not have been approved without W.M.D.’s. That certainly raises the likelihood that an administration determined to embark on this strategy would provide the Congress with what they wanted, whether or not it was true. And the administration’s determination has been well documented, even to the point of trying to pin 9/11 on Saddam Hussein two years before the Iraq war began.

Rove also admits that the administration could have developed “other ways to constrain” the Iraqi regime. So the oft-repeated insistence that war was the last resort is and was a lie. By conceding that alternatives were available, Rove makes it clear that the military solution was the only one to which they gave serious consideration.

And for all of the human costs, including more than 4,000 Americans, Rove is only sorry for not having conducted a better PR campaign. He does not apologize for the loss of life. He does not apologize for depleting our nation’s treasury. He does not apologize for soiling our reputation internationally. The only reputation he is concerned with his his own. And the thousands of grieving American families don’t enter into his consciousness – not to mention the many thousands more in Iraq.

If that isn’t enough, in another excerpt from the book Rove expresses his regret for the ill-advised fly-over of New Orleans after Katrina. Once again, his concern is for the unflattering appearance of his actions, not for the suffering of the people on the ground. His appalling egocentrism is displayed in utmost clarity when he reveals that, not withstanding the horrors of 9/11, Iraq, and Katrina, the thing that drove him to tears was when he learned that he would not be indicted by the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case.

What a despicable waste of flesh. And this is the man presently employed by Rupert Murdoch to provide insight into the public affairs of our government and social institutions. The question I have is how would Rove know anything about the human interest stories he is being asked to comment on? Wouldn’t being human be a requirement for such a job?

George W. Bush: Lame. Duck!

On what George Bush must think is his victory lap, the president surprised the country he destroyed with one last visit before he slips off into irrelevancy. However, during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, one of the reporters slipped off his shoes and hurled them at Bush.

After the incident, Bush dismissed it saying that it was merely “one way of getting attention.” But in the Middle East, the symbolism of shoes is much deeper than that. Even crossing your legs in a manner that shows the sole of your shoe to someone is considered a supreme insult.

Take this, Bushie…

The FCC Probes Pentagon Propaganda Program – Finally

“World War Three will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, 1968

The FCC is finally beginning to take some action on perhaps the most egregious propaganda assault ever directed at the American people by their own government. From the International Herald Tribune/AP:

“The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday said it is investigating whether five television networks and 19 former military officers violated government disclosure rules in providing on-air analysis of the war in Iraq and other issues.”

It’s about time! The FCC is only now getting around to reacting to reports, originally published in the New York Times last April, that the Pentagon was actively engaging in possibly unlawful activity wherein they supplied supposedly retired military spokespersons to the media who were in fact trained and deployed to promote views favoring the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq.

Even worse, these unethical officers were simultaneously employed by defense contractors and received financial gain as a result of their brazen propagandizing. It was further disclosed in the Times that many of these spokespersons provided commentary they knew was false in order to protect either their access to the media or their profits. Was that their idea of supporting the troops?

When revealed, the Pentagon acknowledged the potential conflicts and announced that they would temporarily suspend the program “pending further review.” Barack Obama released a public statement saying that he:

“…is deeply disturbed by this latest evidence that the Bush Administration has sought to manipulate the public’s trust. From its misleading case to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, to its argument for keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely, the Administration has depended on spin because its assertions have not been supported by facts.”

More than 150 retired officers participated in this program, and most of them worked for – you guessed it – Fox News. However, letters sent by the FCC have only been received by CBS and ABC so far. None of the networks have commented on the investigation.

Another prominent figure who has not commented is John McCain, despite the fact that this issue directly impacts the welfare of American soldiers in harm’s way. McCain, of course, has been as vigorous a defender of the administration’s specious war policy as the lying Pentagon mouthpieces that hyped it. And he’s been just as honest as well.

McCain’s silence on this issue is further evidence of the hypocrisy and disingenuousness of his alleged support for soldiers and veterans. It should surprise no one that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a “D” for his voting record on veterans issues (Obama got a “B”).

Whether the FCC will conduct a fair and comprehensive inquiry under Republican hack Chairman Kevin Martin is uncertain at this time. But commissioners Copps and Adelstein will do their best to make this a productive investigation. And there is a likelihood that the process will extend into the next (Obama) administration and an FCC with a new Democratic majority.

Journalists Say Most Of Iraq Too Dangerous To Visit

While the White House and its legions of RepubliPundits are busily pounding out praise for the newly tranquil environs of Iraq, observers at the scene have a very different tale to tell. The Project for Excellence in Journalism recently completed a survey of war correspondents that describes harrowing circumstances wherein 57% report that at least one of their Iraqi staff had been killed or kidnapped in the last year alone, and that…

“A majority of journalists surveyed say most of the country is too dangerous to visit. Nine out of ten say that about at least half of Baghdad itself. Wherever they go, traveling with armed guards and chase vehicles is the norm for more than seven out of ten surveyed.”

The survey recounts the experiences of seasoned reporters on a dangerous assignment. Many of them are frustrated that they are unable to thoroughly report on the everyday lives of Iraqi civilians because of the risk undertaken to gather information for a story. They cringe at scolding from stateside critics who complain that there aren’t enough “positive” stories about newly painted schoolhouses.

“…when journalists cannot cover a playground being rebuilt because it’s too dangerous to travel around the city, then that playground is not the primary story.”

Amongst the difficulties for reporters is access to sources. The survey reveals that the easiest sources to acquire are Iraqi civilians and foreign diplomats. It’s interesting to note that one of the most guarded groups are private contractors (i.e. Blackwater). Eighty-one percent of reporters say that they are “hard” or “impossible” to reach. That is second only in difficulty to Iraqi insurgents (90%). When enemy combatants and security firms paid for by American tax dollars share the same aversion to press inquiry, you have to wonder about the motives of each of them.

The safety impediments are not the only barriers to effective journalism. The Iraqi authorities are refusing reporters access to the sites of bombings and other violent incidents. That may make for a more uplifting tone from the media, but also one that is less representative of reality. You also need to take into consideration that some in the media are already soft-peddling the horrors of war. Take CNN’s John Roberts who admittted in an interview with Broadcasting and Cable that he is more concerned with not frightening away viewers or stirring up complaints from warmongers than he is about do his job:

“If we showed people the full extent of what we see every day in Iraq, we would either have no one watching us because they couldn’t stand to see the pictures, or we would get so many letters of complaint that some organization would come down on us to stop.”

The survey overall conveys a reality far removed from the emerging Eden of Democracy that the Bush administration is trying peddle. The tribulations of reporters are an important factor to consider when evaluating news items from war zones. If reporters are prevented from posting comprehensive accounts of their experiences because security concerns keep them from relevant scenes and sources, then that is a story in itself. And they shouldn’t have to suffer insults from the homefront studio-potatoes that whine about excessively “negative” coverage.

The Fear Of Censorship

John Roberts has been CNN’s senior national correspondent and its anchor of the awkwardly-named This Week at War (sounds like a VH1 Top 20 Countdown). He was recently named a new co-host of CNN’s American Morning. In his former position at CBS he served as the network’s White House correspondent and was embedded with Marines during the invasion of Iraq. Now, in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, this experienced and connected professional speaks out about the handling of the coverage of the war in Iraq and, despite his participation, he has some rather unflattering critiques of what transpired.

In the article, Roberts concedes that the media was unprepared to properly cover events on the ground and should have been more vigilant in the run-up to the war. But by far the more notable observation that Roberts imparts is one that reflects on current coverage:

“If we showed people the full extent of what we see every day in Iraq, we would either have no one watching us because they couldn’t stand to see the pictures, or we would get so many letters of complaint that some organization would come down on us to stop.”

With current polls showing that two thirds of the American public are already opposed to the war in Iraq, the notion that we have not yet reached the nadir of our disapproval is somewhat unsettling. Especially if the reason is that, as Roberts contends, the “full extent” of what the press sees every day has been withheld from us by a media establishment that is afraid of mail and of losing viewers. And I get no consolation from Roberts’ informing me that things are much worse than I ever imagined.

Indeed, the pictures that are presently darkening our TV screens with bloodshed, blasts, and blackened smoke, are enough to sow depression in the most optimistic amongst us. But that is not sufficient reason for responsible journalists to soft-peddle even a harsh reality. In an open democratic society, citizens need to be fully informed because, contrary to the monarchal delusions of President Bush, we are the deciders. If exposure to the truth produces more dissatisfaction, it is not up to editors and programmers to shield us from our own tender sensitivities. That is not the way to cultivate an informed electorate. That is not the way to promote Democracy.

The public’s appetite for this war has steadily declined over the past four years and would likely have declined further and faster had the news been presented impartially and honestly. In fact, we might never have gone to war in the first place if the vigilance of which Roberts spoke had been practiced at the outset by a conscientious and ethical press corps.

There are two problems (at least) with Roberts’ statement above. One is that he gives too much weight to the notion that Americans don’t have the stomach to manage the nation as our Constitution requires. The other is that his fear that “some organization” would put a stop to honest, unfettered reporting, resulted in that fear becoming manifest. The fear of censorship produced censorship and the people were deprived of knowledge. The only organization that profited from this suppression is an administration that was predisposed to execute a war of aggression and preferred to avoid the pesky interference of the will of the people.

To paraphrase Roberts:

If we, the people, show the full extent of what we see and feel every day about Iraq, they would know that we are watching, and they would get so many letters of complaint that our organization of citizens would come down on them to stop suppressing the truth; stop embracing unscrupulous pseudo-leaders; and stop this god-awful war.

This practice of Nanny Journalism is all too common in American media. They think we can’t handle the truth. But it’s funny (by which I mean pathetic) that they keep coming back after the fact to confess their mea culpas.

Voice Of America Silenced In Baghdad

The Baghdad bureau of the Voice of America closed six months ago when it’s last reporter left due to security concerns. Alisha Ryu asked to be transferred after an attack that killed a member of her security detail.

Iraq is the world’s most dangerous country for the media, with 69 fatalities since 2003. The closing of VOA is just the latest example how difficult it is to get reliable news out the country. The VOA could not say when there might be another reporter assigned to Baghdad but Ryu was quoted as saying that there were no volunteers.

Ryu has published stories detailing occurances of abuse and torture by Shiite militias in conjunction with Interior Ministry prison authorities. These reports may have targeted her for retribution.

While the VOA ostensibly operates independently, it is an arm of the U. S. government and is required by its charter to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively.” If they can’t keep the mood upbeat, I don’t see why any other news organization (other than Fox) can be expected to do so.

The Bush administration is fond of complaining that the media is ignoring all the positive stories in Iraq. It must be hard to ferret out all those postitive stories when you can’t even leave your hotel without getting kidnapped or shot at or killed. Jill Carroll, Bob Woodruff, and 69 disembodied souls can attest to that. If the environment is so dangerous that field reporters, an uncommonly sturdy bunch, can’t be recruited, it puts the lie to the administration’s lament that there is an abundance of good news that is just being missed.