Idiotic Reporters

Feh. Listening to Sky News tonight report on Bush’s visit to Baghdad airport. What did the Iraqis think? “Some were indifferent, others were angry.” Apparently not one actively approved. Meanwhile the ABC’s current take on it is to headline a story that says:

The American media has given a generally favourable response to US President George W Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq.

with CNN unhappy about Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq. Hey, guess what: who got seats on the plane isn’t news. How it’s affected the soldiers, the terrorists, and the people of Iraq, that’s what the news is, not which news agency is having a hissy fit today — least of all when it’s the one that refused to report atrocities when Saddam was in power. Meanwhile, we’ve got another story today, this one about an anti-terror demonstration in Baghdad. The ABC titles that one Hundreds protest against violence in Baghdad — because hey, it’s important to blur the line between terrorists who use violence against civilians, and soldiers, who use violence against terrorists. And what’s their lead?

A US soldier has been killed in a mortar attack on a base in northern Iraq as hundreds of Iraqis marched through the centre of Baghdad to protest against the violence plaguing the country’s reconstruction.


And now that we’ve had time to digest the news, what’s the “analysis” of Bush’s visit? Well, the ABC’s got the answer to that, too: Bush’s Iraq visit a pre-election PR stunt: analysis. And hey, all you’ve got to do to get an unbiassed analysis of a political event is to quote a selection of editorials from the world’s newspapers. But hey, at least it gives you an excuse to make your summary both long, and exclusively downbeat.

Many newspapers in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, carried no commentary on the visit which took place as Muslims in the region were still celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holidays which follow the holy month of Ramadan.

How much of a disappointment must that’ve been for the author? All that story needed was inflamed Islamists spouting their usual anti-American bile to make it clear that that idiot Bush’s pathetic domestic political stunts were going to kill us all.

Bloody. Morons.

I’m inclined to think bitching about things being “an election stunt” is stupid too. If there hadn’t been an election due for years yet, would it have still been worth doing? If it inspired the troops, if it cowed the terrorists, if it strengthened the US/Iraq alliance, if any of those things happened, it was in America’s national interest. If none of them did, it was a waste of time, money and effort. What does an upcoming election mean? Absolutely nothing more or less than that the American people get to judge him — on whether it was useful, or whether it wasn’t — or more accurately, get to act on that judgement.

In other words, election stunts are exactly what we want — let’s have our leaders making grand gestures and doing tremendous things that justifiably impress us all the time, not just once every few years.

Portraying it as just an election stunt is pure propaganda, designed to avoid us realising that it might have usefully furthered our activities in the War on Terror and to diminish Bush in the reader’s eyes. Worse, they do this specifically by being misleading on important issues, upon which we rely on them. Worse, that people and organisations we rely on and respect, like CNN, the ABC and the New York Times, act this way actively defeats the achievements Bush makes — sure, maybe the terrorists get a little bit upset that Bush can appear amongst his supporters in Baghdad and that Saddam can’t, but hey, no need for that sourpuss face when respected news agencies the world over are there to run your propaganda for you.

And what’s with news stories that don’t have a byline, and barely even a wire-service attribution? How does that do anything but inhibit accountability?

UPDATE 2003/12/05:

From the ABC website:


  • Bush draws fire on steel move
  • White House changes story again
  • Bush cans steel import duties

That’s right, the only world news relevant to Australia is that Bush is evil. The one that really drew my attention was the middle one though. What sort of headline is that? What story are we talking about? What information does that convey except “The Bush government suxx0rs but we can’t say that outright because the bias would be too obvious”. Let’s have a look what it’s actually about, shall we?

For the second time in days, the White House has changed its story about a mid-air encounter that was one of the most vivid anecdotes about US President George W Bush’s surprise trip to Baghdad.

Yes, that’s right, we’re still going on about the visit to Baghdad. Why, for heaven’s sake?? Yes, great, it was a cool little morale booster, and it was a nice bit of excitement for America on Thanksgiving Day. But, you know, we’re not America — this is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation — and this foreign, domestic, partisan nonsense just isn’t all that interesting to anyone who’s not looking for an excuse to criticise Bush (or to criticise the ABC’s grossly poor reporting).

The article also goes on to say that the photograph of President Bush holding a turkey was of a display turkey, rather than one for eating. Somehow we’re meant to extrapolate something important from this, presumably that Bush is all fake, and didn’t actually do anything to help the troops. White Glenn debunks that, if anyone can be bothered caring.

And just quickly, let’s look at the other stories. They’re about steel tarrifs, which are evil, just like all tarrifs. Australia was almost affected, but we did a deal and got exempted. Yay for the Howard government. Meanwhile the Europeans got annoyed, and threatened to retalliate. Now the tarrifs are going away, which is what we all want. Yay! So what’s the ABC’s take? Bush draws fire on steel move. Yes, that’s right — let’s focus on the criticism, even though this is a Good Thing for Australia. Notice:

“I am disappointed that the President won’t be renewing the tariffs just as they’ve begun to work,” Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio said.

“The Bush administration deserves credit for doing something that the previous administration never did, despite pleas from steel companies and steel unions, and that’s come to steel’s rescue,” he added.

See, even his friends (fellow Republicans) hate him, even though they have to add on little riders to make sure they don’t get disendorsed. Who else hates him?

Ohio representative Ted Strickland said: “We have a President who capitulated in the face of the European threat.”

Interesting, don’t you think, that Ted’s an “Ohio representative”, while George is a “Republican Senator [..] of Ohio”? I wonder which party Ted belongs to. Why, yes, he’s a Democrat. Is it remotely possible that Ted’s comments could have been influenced by his party membership and that maybe it would be useful for readers to be told that up front?

There’s more slant: critics “lashed out” at the changes, supporters merely “praised” them or “expressed satisfaction”. Of the direct quotes in the article, Greg’s above is the only one that is ina ny way supportive, while there are quotes from Daniel DiMicco, and Leo Gerard supporting Ted’s take.

Where can we go to get an honest, forthright and unprejudiced take on world events? Obviously not the ABC.

UPDATE 2004/01/03:

Ah. The wire service most of those stories are from is the “AFP”, also known as Agence France-Presse. Yay, our State-run broadcaster is passing on barely attributed propaganda from our enemies.

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