Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lying About Lying

No subject shows up the issue of media bias like media bias. Suddenly, the folks who pen glowing tributes to their own courage in holding ‘Big Business’ accountable decide that they’ve found the one sector where the public good rules supreme.

Consider the near news blackout over the recent travails of America’s MSM. Sherlock Holmes couldn’t find any trace of the LA Times’s ‘Raid That Never Was’ in the British MSM. Ditto, the Mystery of the MIA Police Spokesman. Here, we’re talking about a wire service that provides a lot of copy for the British MSM, there’s every chance some of the tainted reports were carried by the British media but they’d rather you didn’t mention it.

Hey, we’ve had blow-by-blow coverage of Enron and Katrina, and there was far less British involvement there than in Iraq, but now America is a far away country of which we know little. It’s not as if these are minor issues. Au contraire, the thuggish Americans plastering women and children from 20 000 feet, and the Iraqi Civil War are both key memes for the anti-war anti-Western forces. Now we find that reports pushing both memes turn out to be complete and utter rubbish.Isolated incident or the tip of the iceberg ? The MSM ain't saying.

There’s a deeper problem here. There are at least two reasons why these outlets got taken in by these reports in the first place. One is simple bias – they believed because they wanted to believe, but the other is the nature of reporting in Iraq. Most of the actual reporting from the field is done by ‘stringers’ – local, or at least Arab, freelancers. And who’s checking out if they have some kind of agenda ? Well, exactly. And this, you will note, from an MSM which was paranoid about the objectivity of journalists embedded with the troops.

Needless to say, the inherent problems with depending on third parties for coverage are common to both American and British media. Even if you take the politics out of it, the essential problem still remains but the MSM would rather you didn’t think about it. The same people who claimed the Abu Grahib proved the US Army was rotten to the core, are now busily ignoring the utter collapse of reporting standards at two flagship MSM outlets. And these people think bloggers need to learn lessons from their conduct ?

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