Friday, December 23, 2011

How do you spell 'lie'? ABC, CBS and NBC

Yesterday, Baghdad was slammed with bombings. All week long, ABC, CBS and NBC have chosen to ignore Iraq in the nightly news casts. This despite the fact that Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug, has sworn out an arrest warrant on Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. This despite the fact that al-Hashemi went to the KRG to meet with officials there and now remains there for his own protection. This despite the fact that Nouri is also attempting to strip Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq of his office (and immunity). This despite both men are members of Iraqiya -- the political slate which won more votes than did Nouri's State of Law -- and both men are Sunni.

On their evening 'news,' all three networks have steadfastedly refused to tell their viewers this story. With over 70 dead in yesterday's Baghdad bombings, you knew there was a strong chance that Iraq would get mentioned. But would they do so honestly?

The answer, of course, is no.

So the big question is it whichis the worst lie -- failing to provide any needed information or distorting (intentionally) what is taking place?

Your answer will help you decide which gave the worst 'information' to viewers last night.

We'll note PBS' The NewsHour at the end. They covered Iraq with two segments on Tuesday (here and here) and in the news wrap on Wednesday. (All NewsHour segments are text, audio and video.) But we're not going to use them as a measurement because I've already heard whining about that from friends at various commercial networks who insist that they don't have an hour and they have commercial breaks and blah blah blah. You know you only have 21 minutes and nobody's forcing you to do crap like "the power of healing" (that goes out to one producer who knows who they are). You're responsible for what you choose to air and what you choose to ignore.

But all for the little cry babies at commercial, broadcast network news, we'll go with the CBC. And I know someone will say, "Well that's public TV in Canda!" Yes, it is, but, as last night proved, one commercial network was keen on including footage of the same woman in the CBC report. The same footage.

We're using CBC as the measurement because (a) Canada wasn't officially in the Iraq War, (b) the report is shorter than two of the US networks and (c) a friend at the CBC asked (direct quote), "What the hell is happening to American news?" And he meant the TV news.

This CBC report (link is video):

Peter Mansbridge: In Iraq, a wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad has killed at least 70 people killed and hundreds more injured. It's a scale of violence not seen in months and it comes just days after American troops pulled out of the country. Carolyn Dunne has the details from London.

Carolyn Dunn: Smoke filled the skies over morning Baghdad -- the first ominous sign of what was to come: A wave of coordinated attacks roadside bombings, car bombings, explosions in at least a dozen locations. 'My baby was sleeping in her bed," says this woman, "shards of glass fell on her. Violence came just four days after the US completed its withdrawal of troops

Barack Obama: Iraq's not a perfect place. But we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq

Carolyn Dunn: The surge in violence has shone a light on the sectarian divisions that are not only threatening Iraq's security but also it's tenuous coalition government. Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who is Shia issued an arrest warrant for vice president Tareq al-Hashemi who is Sunni. Maliki claims Hashemi has assembled a murderous hit squad but Maliki's critics say it's all a thinly veiled power grab. "Politicians fight and kill people says this man. "This is not the Iraq anyone had hoped for. But today it is an Iraq that's all too easy to imagine." Carolyn Dunn, CBC News, London.

It was less than two minutes. But they noted the bombing and they noted the political crisis. The networks last night couldn't do that. Made the decision not to. Richard Engel disgraced himself (and his reporting last week), so let's start with him and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. But first, all US troops are not out of Iraq. I know that. I'm not saying they are. If your friend or loved one is still serving in Iraq (as many will be beyond 2011), these are direct quotes from the broadcasts and not me deciding to join in on the lie that pretends no US forces remain in Iraq.

Brian Williams: Overseas now to Iraq, some of the worst violence that country has seen in months. Dozens of people are dead tonight after 16 coordinated attacks across the city of Baghdad today at one point there were columns of smoke rising over the skyline. Of course, US troops pulled out of there and lowered the flag just days ago now. They are no longer a component in patrolling the streets or keeping the peace. Our chief foreign correspondent was with them and Richard Engel just back from there is with us here in the studio tonight. I got to tell you, people saw these pictures, if they saw them today, we heard people on television saying the government is collapsing and there are Americans who are going to be saying, "Don't tell me this means we're going to have to go back in because it's going to fall apart."

Richard Engel: Well it is falling apart. The government is collapsing. The violence is starting, we're seeing all the of the symptoms of the civil war in Iraq starting up again. I don't think that means the US troops are going to go back in. The US troops left, they are handing it over to Maliki and they're going to leave the prime minister to try and sort this out. I think the -- It would be very unlikely US troops are going back in even if we're going back into the phase of civil war which -- at this stage -- seems likely.

Brian Williams: Well you've spent -- as I said, the other night, you were talking from there -- you've spent a good percentage of your adult life living in Iraq. How bad, in your worst fears, does this get now?

Richard Engel: This is going to get a lot worse. There was a civil war in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. The surge happened. And this was between Sunnis and Shi'ites. And the surge happened with all the extra American troops, 40,000 of them, and that civil war stopped. Now the US troops are gone so that civil war is coming right back again. So I think it could get very, very ugly. The Shi'ites in the country -- who were never in power for 1400 years -- are now in power, they are consolidating their rule and the Sunnis who used to rule under Saddam Hussein feel like they have no future in this country. So they're fighting. They're fighting for their survival. It was the Sunnis who carried out all the bombings today. There were nearly all in Shi'ite districts. We're going to see more of this.

Brian Williams: Alright. It was a bad day. We'll keep watching it.

Was it bad day, Bri-Bri? Was it? It was horrible day for NBC News and for Richard Engel. First off, Richard, no one knows who's responsible yet. You can offer a guess but don't pass it off as fact ("It was the Sunnis who carred out all the bombings today.") -- not if you want to be considered a reporter. Second of all, the surge did stop the violence.

That would be the surge in refugees.

The period Richard's speaking of is when Iraqi refugees -- predominantly Sunni and Christians -- begin fleeing. IDP and external refugees, we're talking over 4.5 million. That surge is the largest refugee crisis in the MidEast since 1948. They didn't flee because they heard there was a hot new resort opening in Syria.

They fled for their lives. Many were not able to flee because they were killed. Nouri oversaw that. It was ethnic cleansing. And, strange thing, last week in his text reports, Richard Engel, could mention that cleansing and how Sunni and Christian neighborhoods in Baghdad were now Shi'ite.

But last night, he wouldn't tell that truth, now would he?

As for Sunnis fighting?

Why are they fighting, Richard?

And the government's falling apart, why is that?

Better question, Richard, do you really need to go along with Brian Williams when he tells you -- right before the segment starts -- that there's no need to mention Nouri al-Maliki or Tareq al-Hashemi?


I have no idea why Williams issued that instruction. But he did.

I can guess. I can guess that we're going to see the US networks continue to pretend that what Nouri's done is not taking place. That's because they whored for the White House when Bush was in it and they'll whore for the White House when Barack is in it. They know no honor, only how to bend or spread.

No honor? That's George Stephie. The creep made a total ass out himself last night and we'll probably take it up at Third on Sunday but we'll stick to Iraq for this. From last night's ABC World News with Diane Sawyer:

George Stephanopoulos: We're going to go overseas now to Iraq where Baghdad has suffered its deadliest day in more than a year, at least 69 people were killed and in a wave of bombings just days after the last American forces left the country raising the question tonight: Are all those hard won security gains now at risk? ABC's Nick Shifrin was in Baghdad earlier this week and he files this report.

Nick Schifrin: These were the scenes from Iraq Americans waited so long to see. ["Going home!" someone shouts.] Joy. Relief. For the US the war was over. These are the scenes from Iraq today. The all-to-familiar violence started at dawn. Car bombs and IEDs ripped through every part of Baghdad. More than a dozen blew up markets, schools and government buildings. "My baby was sleeping in her bed when glass fell on her head," she says. "Why don't we have any security?" Fears about security worried US commanders until the moment they left.

Gen Lloyd Austin: We know that al Qaeda's going to do what they've always done. They're going to continue to try to focus on the government and the Iraqi security forces. And the Iraqi security forces are going to have to deal with that. Even Iraqis who are happy to see the Americans leave are worried their own forces aren't ready. Dr. Mayad is building a new hospital. A shiny example of progress. But he says people here don't trust the government to keep them safe. The fragile coalition that runs the government is already collapsing. Do Iraqis have confidence in their government?

Dr. Mayad: There is very little confidence. There is gap.

Nick Schifrin: Today that worry appears well founded. The war in Iraq might be over for the US but that doesn't mean the war is over. Nick Schifrin, ABC News, Baghdad.

The two things that should have stood out?

First, they're using the same footage that the CBC had broadcast earlier on Thursday. (The woman talking about the shards of glass and her child.) Second, where's Nouri and his power grab in all of that? No where to be found. World News leaves the US for a few seconds and yet they can't even give the news.

This is not by chance. This is not by accident.

The joke that is CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley didn't have any report on the bombings. Instead, they let Pelley speak in that SNL Al-Gore-ish manner to the camera.

Scott Pelley: Just four days after the last US troops left Iraq a new wave of deadly bombings killed about 70 people today in Baghdad. At least 16 bombs went off. In the deadliest attack, a man in an ambulance blew himself up near a government building killing at least 25. Iraqi officials believe that the attacks are a continuation of the civil war between the two main branches of the Islamic faith.

Is that what they believe? Well, at least he didn't pull a Richard Engel and say he knew who was responsbile. But where is the arrest warrant in his report?

No where to be found.

Again, this is not an accident. These things don't just happen.

An arrest warrant is issued for a vice president and the vice president flees to the semi-autonomous region of the country? That's news. But it's news that anchors Scott Pelley, George The Hairball and Brian Williams never want the American people to hear.

The CBC friend? He said right now was worse than immediately after 9-11 in terms of the way the three US evening newscasts are practicing censorship. And I'm going to have to agree. There's no excuse for this nonsense. You either serve the public or you don't. Three little blind mice anchoring newscasts this week elected not to serve the public.

The NewsHour (PBS) offered an ITN report by Inigo Gilmore last night which covered the bombings as well as the political crisis. And Jeffrey Brown moderated a discussion of whether or not the US should have remained in Iraq. Former NSC-er Meghan O'Sullivan supported a longer stay while former Air Force officer John Mearsheimer didn't. We'll note this:

JOHN MEARSHEIMER: I think with regard to Meghan's point, that there's no question that if the United States were to stay in Iraq that we wouldn't be having these troubles, and, as long as the United States is in Iraq, it would serve a pacifying function. But the fact is, we can't stay in Iraq forever. We faced this same situation in Vietnam. We were in Vietnam for roughly eight years with large-scale American forces. And when we finally left, the place came undone. And that was because the political system that we left behind was basically dysfunctional. It wasn't capable of running the government and dealing with the North Vietnamese.

And this:

MEGHAN O'SULLIVAN: Where I would disagree with John on the point about the U.S. troop presence and how long we were expected to stay, I didn't see the choice as either leaving completely or staying forever. I think there's quite clearly a very long timeline we see for new institutions taking root in post-conflict societies, which is what Iraq was and is, still is. And I think that we can really point to places where their institutions had maturity. Take their military forces, for instance. They were very, very poor a few years ago, and now they're much better than they were. And we can expect that, with the right kind of support, they would be even better in a few years' time.

I think those were each's strongest point but use the link to decide for yourself.

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On The Edge, The L-Studio, Adam Kokesh and IVAW -- updated last night:

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