Wednesday, August 02, 2006

NYT & others: Our drag queens of the press show up dressed as Hazel

Reading the news in print today, you might ask yourself, "Who's hiding the dead?" It would be a good question since both the Washington Post and the New York Times run with "at least 44."
When the snapshot was done yesterday, the death toll has risen to 63 people. Having seen the BBC footage (if you couldn't get it to play at the link for Jane Peel, click here, it's in the "watch" column on the right-hand side) *I watched the evening news wondering* if anything like that would air here and the figure used there and on The KPFA Evening News was? 70. Because violence had continued. Is "at least 44" anything like "70"? The Associated Press is standing with the figure of 70 and since the majority of reporters are pulling from the wire services, this idea that "at least 44" is the same as 70 is rather sad.

Here's Robert H. Reid's "Attacks across Iraq kill more than 70" (AP):

Bombings and shootings killed more than 70 people in Iraq on Tuesday in a surge of bloodshed as U.S. forces prepare to take back Baghdad's streets from gunmen. The dead included 20 Iraqi troops, a U.S. soldier and a British soldier.

That includes an American soldier who died on Tuesday (reported after the snapshot) -- not the one that the military announced early (on Tuesday) had died Monday. Go to CBS's Iraq page and you see 70. So who decided to low ball it for print readers?

Kirk Semple, in the Times, tells you this is the figure "officials said." Are we back to that? Letting officials trump what people see with their own eyes? Well it certainly got us into the illegal war -- doubtful it will get us out.

According to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks military fatalities, at least 45 American service members and 1 British soldier died in Iraq last month. It was the lowest monthly death toll for American troops since March, when 31 died.

That's Semple. Oh, I get it now. It was the end of the month, time to spin happy again to please the military? And once again, nobody schills this war quite like the New York Times who titles their piece "44 Die in Attacks Aimed at Iraqi Security Forces." No "at least," no "more than."
It was a bloody day in Iraq on Tuesday, good for the administration that a lot of reporters decided to play Hazel and doing a little cleaning.

When their leashes get pulled, do they ever wish the administration would just provide them with shock collars instead?

In the LA Times (which goes with at least 60 -- "60" in the headline) Jeffrey Fleishman and Saif Rasheed open with:

Gunfire, explosions and kidnappings picked up a withering pace across Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 60 people, including many police officers and Iraqi soldiers. Government forces and U.S. troops raced through flames and smoke from one set of casualties to the next.
The violence that shook Baghdad, the capital, and towns to the north appeared to intensify anger against American soldiers and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki for not stemming unrelenting bloodshed that has led to thousands of deaths and widening sectarian tensions. Most of the attacks targeted Iraqi security forces and suggested a calculated effort to undermine Maliki's new security plans.

I guess that's freedom of the press, depending upon where you live, you're free to get any version of what happened yesterday? You're free to get a bloody day or a really bloody day? (And of course the New York Times and the Washington Post are national papers.) Free to misinformed, free to be underinformed -- not quite what the First Amendment is all about, but some want to pass it off as Free To Be You and Me.

Just don't call it news.

Readers of the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe can feel informed (both run Reid's AP story).

Cindy notes Tom Hayden's "Democrats Pull Down Party Pillar Supporting Iraq War: American Peace Delegation To Meet Iraqi Parliamentarians for Dialogue in Amman" (Common Dreams):

Common ground may lie in the fact that the debate over Iraq, now partisan, will intensify as November approaches. At this point, neither the Republican Party nor the mainstream media have taken a position that withdrawal must begin this year. The stakes are very high, which may draw groups like Move.On and others into the battle for public opinion in key battleground states.
As to the issue of partial versus complete withdrawal, all that can said for now is that partial withdrawal begins a threatening, and perhaps irreversible, disengagement from the Bush and neo-conservative agenda in Iraq. But it could stall.
If the Republican prevail, or perform above expectations in November, the new Democratic unity could fray after the elections.
In the meantime, a delegation of peace activists, including myself, departs this week for Amman, Jordan, for meetings with official Iraqi parliamentarians and human rights activists to discuss the Iraqis proposals for reconciliation. These proposals, including amnesties for many insurgents forces, are crucial to any negotiated settlement in Iraq. Recently, both Democrats and Republicans have expressed strong political concerns about amnesty for anyone involved in fighting the US occupation. An immediate challenge facing the peace movement will be to argue that amnesties always have been included in comprehensive settlements, including the amnesty for Jefferson Davis at the end of the American civil war.

Ryan Lenz (AP) reports:

A U.S. soldier testified Wednesday that four of his colleagues accused of murdering three Iraqis during a raid threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the shooting deaths.
Pfc. Bradley Mason, speaking at a hearing to determine whether the four must stand trial, also said that their brigade commander, a veteran of the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" battle in Somalia, told troops hunting insurgents to "kill all of them." Mason is not one of the accused.
The alleged killings May 9 near Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, have dealt another blow to the reputation of U.S. soldiers over their conduct in Iraq and fueled anger against their presence.

While the media outlets remain silent (when not mopping up -- they really have become the Hazels of the nation), the Troops Home Fast goes on. There are e-mails about a headline or something saying it was over. It's not. Diane Wilson not off it and over 4,300 people were on it yesterday. Those going with Hayden to Jordan are off. The fast itself continues.

And the AP is also reporting that:

Nine people were killed in Iraq on Wednesday in a relative lull in violence, a day after alarming bloodshed left more than 70 people dead in bombings and shootings.

Who knows how the Hazels will try to clean up the above?

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Ava note: Added BBC link which was "open" and took out part of the sentence C.I. had typed. "**" indicates section missing.