Mar 19 2008

Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

Given the common media rhetoric of “supporting the troops,” to ignore these same troops when they speak out about the horrors of the war is unconscionable.

Aug 1 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 1 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 1 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 1 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 1 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 […]

Nov 1 2001

Covering the ‘Fifth Column’

Media present pro-war distortions of peace movement's views

Antiwar rally, Washington, DC, September 29, 2001

Media present pro-war distortions of peace movement’s views

Oct 1 1989

Biased Afghan Coverage at CBS

Print Media Protect Rather

Despite mainstream journalists’ claim of strict objectivity in covering the news, they make exceptions: Some stories are covered without even the pretense of neutrality. Dan Rather and CBS News, for example, adopted a cause throughout the 1980s–that of the Afghan mujahedeen. Sloppiness in the advocacy of that cause created a recent scandal for the network. Beginning September 27, a series of articles by Janet Wilson in the New York Post charged that Dan Rather’s CBS newscasts had repeatedly “aired fake battle footage and false news accounts” of the Afghan War. Among the charges: Fakery: CBS presented staged “action-packed commando” footage […]