Aug
25
2009

Where Is the Afghanistan Debate?

When public support slips, TV packs in war boosters

With new polls showing the American public becoming increasingly critical of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, the Sunday morning network talkshows turned primarily to Pentagon officials and war boosters to discuss the issue, continuing the media marginalization of critics of the escalation of the war (Extra!, 4/09). The most recent ABC/Washington Post poll (8/13-17/09) found that 51 percent of respondents believe the war is not worth fighting--the first time that position has received majority support. Just 24 percent supported sending more troops to Afghanistan, while 45 percent think the level of troops should be decreased. As the New York Times […]

Apr
03
2009

Mark Weisbrot on the G20, Gareth Porter on the Afghanistan surge

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Barack Obama’s military surge in Afghanistan has caught very little flack in the media, even though experts on the region say it doesn’t make sense and distorts realities on the ground in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. We'll talk to journalist Gareth Porter about coverage of the Afghanistan surge, an Obama policy he calls "a stunningly irrational blunder.” Also on CounterSpin today, the G-20 summit in London has attracted a lot of media attention; that this is Barack Obama's first major sit-down with other world leaders is probably one factor. But looming over the event […]

Mar
19
2008

Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?

Dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars gathered in Silver Spring, Maryland last weekend for the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings (3/13/08-3/16/08), where they offered harrowing testimony about atrocities they had witnessed or participated in directly. The BBC predicted that the event, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, "could be dominating the headlines around the world this week" (3/7/08). The hearings were covered as far afield as the U.K. (Guardian, 3/17/08), Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/14/08), Croatia (Javno, 3/16/08), and Iran (Press TV, 3/14/08). Yet there has been an almost complete media blackout on this historic […]

Aug
01
2007

'Accidents' Will Happen

Excusing civilian deaths in Afghanistan

When they’re discussed at all by corporate media, civilian deaths in Afghanistan are often presented as a tactical or public relations problem for U.S. military and political officials, or labeled as “accidental” or “errant.” The civilian deaths are not accidents, however; they are the predictable result of a deliberate decision to protect American troops by putting Afghan noncombatants at risk. A Chicago Tribune story on July 8 commented, “Such bombings and the allegations of civilian casualties, exaggerated or not, are now the biggest challenge facing foreign forces trying to prop up Afghanistan’s government.” This is an odd construction; U.S. media […]

Feb
01
2002

New York Times Buries Story of Airstrikes on Civilians

Extra! Update February 2002

On December 30, U.S. airstrikes hit the village of Niazi Kala (also called Qalaye Niaze) in eastern Afghanistan, killing dozens of civil­ians. The attack was major news in several British newspapers, with the Guardian and the Independent running front-page sto­ries. The headlines were straightforward: "U.S. Accused of Killing Over 100 Villagers in Airstrike" (Guardian, 1/1/02); "U.S. Accused of Killing 100 Civilians in Afghan Bombing Raid" (Independent, 1/1/02); –100 Villagers Killed' in U.S. Airstrike" (London Times, 1/1/02). In contrast, the New York Times first reported the civilian deaths at Niazi Kala under the bland headline "Afghan Leader Warily Backs U.S. Bombing" […]

Feb
01
2002

Indirect From the Battlefield

EXTRA! Update NEW YORK CITY—If the first casualty of war is the truth, any dispatch from Afghanistan was likely to slay it in its very first word. The dateline says: We are there, we saw it happen. But they weren’t. They didn’t. Poor Geraldo Rivera got slugged for pretending otherwise. A crossover from MSNBC to Fox News in the rating wars, he was on his first combat mission for Rupert Murdoch (Extra!, 1-2/02). He let it be known that he was armed to the teeth, or at least to the ankle holster, raring to track the enemy into his cave. […]

Jan
01
2002

It's Not Just the Veil

Media need to look deeper at women's role in Afghanistan

There was a moment in the war against Afghanistan when the Bush administration appeared to care about nothing so much as women's liberation. Out came first lady Laura Bush to talk to the nation about the matter. On November 16, she became what her publicists cheered was "the first first lady to deliver an entire presi­dential radio address" when she denounced the "severe repression against women of Afghanistan." Laura Bush's speech was coordi­nated with the release of a State Department report that condemned conditions for women and children under the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terror network. "The fight against […]

Jan
01
2002

See No Evil

PR war, not death toll, is nightly news' focus

How many civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of U.S.-led bombing? It's an admittedly difficult question to answer, but many U.S. media outlets don't even seem to be trying. None of the major networks' nightly newscasts are offering even rough estimates of the overall number of civilians killed. It may be some time before a full accounting of the civilian toll from the U.S.-led bombing in Afghanistan is possible, but relief agencies and a few noteworthy news stories do provide information about the scale of the devastation. As a "conservative" estimate, Doctors Without Borders reports that civilian […]