Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Giuliana Sgrena, Danny Schechter, Bonnie Anderson, BuzzFlash, Amitabh Pal

At Naomi Klein's site,, she has posted an article from CounterPunch by Jeremy Scahill entitled 'Sgrena Sets the Record Straight: "There was No Check Point; No Self-Defense.' From that article:

Giuliana Sgrena would probably be the first to say that to focus on her case would be to miss the point on the extent of the daily, horrific violence Iraqis face at the hands of US soldiers. Sgrena is the Italian war correspondent that was shot by US forces as she was en route to the Baghdad airport after being freed from a month of being held hostage by an Iraqi resistance group. She knows better than most that if she and the senior Italian intelligence official killed by US troops as he tried to save her were merely Iraqi civilians, this would be even more of a non-story than it already is in the US press.
With Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson to cover, it is pretty difficult for most media outlets to find the time to report on any of the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion 2 years ago. That’s why cases like Sgrena’s become so important--because they represent a chance to show the world that part of the reality Iraqis face every day of their lives: They are kidnapped in alarming numbers; they are shot by trigger-happy US soldiers; their deaths are justified--if they are even acknowledged‹by US officials floating flimsy cover stories that would never stand up in any US court (except perhaps a military court). New details are emerging about Sgrena¹s shooting and the death of the Italian official, Nicola Calipari, that bear reporting in English (this, of course, remains a significant story in Italy). Independent journalist Naomi Klein recently met with Sgrena in the Rome military hospital where she has been since returning to Italy on March 5.
[. . .]
Klein says that Sgrena is very frustrated by the US government’s claim, repeated consistently by the media, that the Italians were fired at from a checkpoint. “She says it wasn't a checkpoint at all,” Klein says. “It was simply a tank parked on the side of the road that opened fire on them. There was no process of trying to stop the car, she said, or any signals. From her perspective, it was just opening fire by a tank.” "It was not a checkpoint. Nobody asked us to stop," Sgrena told Klein "All the streets we were on were USA controlled so we thought they knew we were going through. They didn't try to stop us, they just shot us. They have a way to signal us to stop but they didn¹t give us any signals to stop and they were at least 10 meters off the street to the side."

At Danny Schechter's News Dissector, Schechter notes:

Thanks for tuning in this morning, I will be up at Brandeis University tomorrow afternoon to show WMD at 2PM. On Saturday, I will be in the Poconos for a screening there. A full list of screenings is listed at

And from the WMD site, let's note Danny Schechter's column entitled "Miscovering Anti-War Protest (Again)." From that column:

Not surprisingly, the absence of members of the political elite in the streets was mirrored by the paucity of coverage in the elite press -- which is not particularly partial to covering grass roots activism. The New York Times focused on one small civil disobedience protest at military recruiting office in Times Square, just down the street from the Times office. A protest at the Times itself may have made real news.
There were more anti-war actions in more cities than ever but that proliferation of protest or the presence of military families seemed not too newsworthy. A media that routinely plays down the size of all protests in this case seemed to be obsessed with nothing more than their size, as in the protests were "smaller than ever." What were they saying?
While the U.S. press is still showcasing Administration claims that democracy is on the march in Iraq, international news agencies reported that many of Iraq's voters turned out to oppose the US occupation, not embrace it as the White House implies. (See Iraq expert, Professor Juan Cole's refutation on this point at
While the NY Times reports on a Marine General's claim that the insurgency is sputtering out, no insurgents are interviewed nor are their claims reported. Its totally one-sided. Yes, there are websites carrying reports from their side claiming far more attacks than are reported here.

Now let's note this re: Fox "News:"

Orders to laud President Bush appear regularly in the note, says G. "It would say things like 'the President was amazing and brave and cunning in the Middle East today. Make sure we hit that note all day long.' And it would specifically say, 'On-air anchors plese note,'" he said. "When Bush laid out his road mad for peace, the exact words in the editorial note were, 'By laying out the road to peace in the Middle East, the Bush administration takes unprecedented action to bring peace to the Middle East." A, it's flat out wrong. Every administration has tried to do that. It's editorializing, and it's not true. It read like it came straight out of Roger's [Ailes] mouth. It read like a piece of Republican Party talking points."
When accused Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph was captured in North Carolina in 2003, the editorial note warned staffers to stay away from certain parts of the story. "There was some talk that people in North Carolina had been aiding him," said G. "The note was in very plain Englihs: There's a lot of speculation why people there supported Rudolph but let's be clear: No one in North Carolina supported Eric Rudolph's penchant for violence. The rest of the country would think it's repugnant and it won't look good for us, meaning conservatives."

What's it from? Page 194 of Bonnie M. Anderson's News Flash: Journalism, Infotainment, and the Bottom-Line Business of Broadcast News. Worth noting at any time but especially when BuzzFlash is offering the book as premium and has part two of their interview with Anderson.

From the interview:

BuzzFlash: We interviewed David Cay Johnston, a New York Times reporter, some time back. He had written a book called Perfectly Legal, which became a bestseller. It was on the growing income gap between the wealthy and the poor and the middle class in America. The wealthy have just been getting dramatically wealthier. If you look at a graph of it, the trend is straight up. And the gap between the very wealthy and the wealthy and the middle class and the poor just has increased steadily over forty years. What could news do with a story like that, a trend story that may manifest itself sometimes in a specific piece of legislation, like the bankruptcy bill which just passed the Senate. Where is there room in the news, if at all, to approach a contextual story like that?
Bonnie M. Anderson: There should be a place in all newscasts for something like that. Unfortunately, some decision-makers would feel that it’s not a "sexy" story. And they might say, we don't have too many people who are going to truly care about this, at least not people that they are hoping make up their viewership or their readership. That, to my mind, should not eliminate any news story. You should tell people what they need to know, and not just what they want to know.
Secondly, though, it points out a real fault of American journalism, which is that there’s very little follow up. You do overkill on a story, and then let it drop, and never go back to it, never continue an investigation. Whatever happened after the anthrax scare, for instance? After all, this nation was terrified. Even at CNN, all the mail was delivered to an outside building and sorted, and assistants had to go there to pick it up and bring it into the building. Any mail that was coming from unidentified sources was destroyed, which made recruiting rather interesting, by the way. You get a lot of tapes that are unsolicited. But whatever happened after that? You can't even go back to the whole hunt for Osama bin Laden. That was the number-one story for quite some time, and now it really has been overtaken by other stories.
This is a great fault of American journalism, and it’s lousy journalism. There should be room in newscasts for the story you just mentioned on wealth and lack of wealth in this country, and poverty in the world. So many issues like this drive policy decisions and drive political fallout. These are things that people need to know about, so they can put the stories in context.

Lastly, we'll note that at The Progressive, Amitabh Pal's latest blog entry is up. It's entitled
"The Bush Administration initiates an arms race." From that entry:

The New York Times has made my last few days miserable. As soon as I glanced at the front-page lead story on Saturday morning, I became sad and angry, and these feelings haven't left me since."U.S. is Set To Sell Jets to Pakistan," the headline announced. The story detailed how the United States was going to hawk two dozen or more F-16 fighter jet planes to Pakistan. ( The deal is said to be yet another sign of the strengthening alliance between the two countries, with the aircraft ostensibly to be used to hunt down terrorists on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. (Yeah, right.)So this is how the Bush Administration shows its friendship, by selling expensive hi-tech weaponry to a nation that is too impoverished to provide even basic education and health care to its people. And that's what the Pakistani people really need: more weapons for their military rulers.

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