Terrorists Intimidating the Media

Via Honest Reporting, we have another gem of an article this morning:

The Intimidation Continues

"...Two days after the liberation of Baghdad, a senior news executive at CNN disclosed that his network had for years been sanitizing its reports from Iraq. In an op-ed column titled "The news we kept to ourselves," Eason Jordan confessed that CNN routinely chose not to report on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. To have revealed the truth, he wrote, "would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff."

Suppressing news by threatening reporters with violence or death is one of the dirty little secrets of Middle East journalism. In his 1989 memoir "From Beirut to Jerusalem," Thomas Friedman wrote that "physical intimidation" was a major impediment to honest reporting from Beirut during the years when southern Lebanon was in the grip of Yasser Arafat's PLO.

"There were...stories which were deliberately ignored out of fear," Friedman admitted. "How many serious stories were written from Beirut about the well-known corruption in the PLO leadership...? It would be hard to find any hint of them in Beirut reporting before the Israeli invasion." Instead of reporting what they knew, journalists censored themselves. "The Western press coddled the PLO," Friedman acknowledged. "For any Beirut-based correspondent, the name of the game was keeping on good terms with the PLO."

My question is, how much do they continue to suppress? From scoops picked up on blogs around the blogosphere, as well as from voices like Alaa at The Mesopotamian, it's apparent that it's rather a lot.

In fact, the article from Honest Reporting (Go. Read. It.) gives us a glimpse:

The ongoing intimidation of journalists removes the presumption that media coverage is fair and unbiased, as Jacoby writes: 'Journalists like to cultivate a reputation for fearlessness, for a publish-and-be-damned commitment to putting out the story no matter what. The reality is not always so heroic.'

With the magnitude of this problem, one can't help but wonder if some important stories are being suppressed, for example:

August 2: Palestinians accused of aiding Israel are attacked first in a PA prison, then gunned down in their hospital beds. Imagine the outcry in the media and from human rights groups if Israeli troops were to storm a hospital and open fire within! But was this story even mentioned on your local news?

July 22*: When a Palestinian teenager tries to prevent Palestinian terrorists from using his family's backyard as a base for rocket fire into Israel, the teenager is shot dead by the Hamas terrorists. Did this story make your local news?

August 11: After terrorists from Yassir Arafat's Al Aqsa Brigades detonate a bomb at the Kalandiya checkpoint, killing two Palestinian bystanders and wounding more than 10 others, the head of the Jenin branch of the terrorist group apologizes, explaining, 'We didn't expect people to be killed.' And the PA cabinet secretary shows callous disregard for innocent life by stating, "These groups must avoid every spot where there is a possibility that a Palestinian will be there."

Yet news outlets such as Reuters ignore these statements, choosing instead to print PA Prime Minister Qureia's boilerplate announcement that the attack merely 'harmed Palestinian interests.'..."

So, what does this mean?

This means that anyone who relies on mainstream media for their worldview is not getting the whole story, and that everyone should dig deeper to find out the whole story, garner their own understanding, and research every side of any topic.

To be anything less is to be the mind-slave of resources who are self-admittedly tainted.

(*I edited their original link, finding another online reference at Haaretz. This one is in English. -- L.)

posted by Linda on August 17, 2004 06:30 PM