To pick up from yesterday’s post, Fox News’ response to Afghan civilian casualties wasn’t an anomaly.
CNN’s chairman in 2001, Walter Isaacson, told his reporters in a memo “to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it ‘seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan,'” Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post.
“We must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000 innocent people,” Kurtz wrote, quoting the memo, written before an accurate account of 9/11 deaths. The final number came in just under 3,000. But, really, one was enough.
The dead Afghans were “innocent,” too, but that didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that no reporter at that time had confirmed that the Taliban were “using civilian shields.” The American press just took that on faith from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld. (To this day, I don’t think the human-shield line has been independently proven.)
Isaacson told Kurtz, “I want to make sure we’re not used as a propaganda platform,” even while he trumpeted U.S. government propaganda, as Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting has noted.
Newspapers got in line, too. They almost never ran a photo of a dead Afghan — man, woman or child — from U.S. bombing.
Jim Romenesko gave us this memo from the News Herald in Panama City, Fla.:
DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Our sister paper in Fort Walton Beach has done so and received hundreds and hundreds of threatening e-mails and the like…. DO NOT USE wire stories which lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. They should be mentioned further down in the story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT. The only exception is if the U.S. hits an orphanage, school or similar facility and kills scores or hundreds of children.
PLAY DOWN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, DO IT. Unless we kill 20. Check that: hundreds. I feel so sorry for the people at the News Herald, especially if they’re still working for the spineless propaganda whore who wrote that memo.
Sadly, propaganda still is alive and well in the American press. After Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly Carlos Leon Bledsoe, shot up a military recruiting station in Little Rock in 2009, killing one young man and wounding another, the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Paul Greenberg, wrote in the Jewish World Review:
In the end, the explanation for this long, long war — which grows longer — doesn’t lie in anything we’ve done but in who we are: a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Has there ever been a doctrine more subversive to the despotisms of the world?
What we in the West do, right or wrong or neither, is but an excuse for the war being waged against our civilization by a rapacious enemy.
The message: We can do whatever we want. It’s not our fault some people retaliate. We kill for lofty reasons; they do it because they hate our way of life. They hate our freedom.
That’s not to say Abdulhakim shouldn’t have gotten what he so rightly deserved: a life sentence. That’s not to say that Osama bin Laden shouldn’t have been killed. Amen that he was. That’s not to say the Taliban don’t deserve a special place in hell. They do. (Not in May 2001, though, when our own State Department gave them $40 million.)
It’s to say that we deny, or hide, our sins at our own peril. And at the peril of innocents.
Americans, we freedom-loving people, are drunk on our collective avoidance of our own atrocities.
I leave you today with a reminder:
At around 1:00 am, I heard the noises of warplanes and helicopters and
then numerous explosions within the village. After the planes and
helicopters left the area, I came out of the house and saw that my
cousin’s house was completely destroyed. I ran screaming and shouting
towards the house and searched for survivors. In the second room
I saw blood on the bricks and found Zarghona in the rubble, the four year
old daughter of my cousin. She was dead. All the villagers came to help
search for survivors. In the rubble of the third room we found the nine
year old son of my cousin. The explosion severed his head from his
body. All people were shouting and screaming. We then found the dead
body of his mother next to him, her face was completely destroyed. I
could not continue.
The UN report comes from a relative of 18 civilians killed in a June 6, 2012, airstrike in Logar Province, Afghanistan.
Man, did I bury this?