Wednesday, May 19, 2004

William Bennett essentially lies about the media:

Why is it that when shocking images might stir Americans to favor war -- like the beheading of an American citizen -- the journalists show great restraint? When those images have the opposite effect, why do journalists let them fly?

Let me put this in context: The very day that the Muntada al-Ansar website distributed the images of the slaughter of Nick Berg, almost every media outlet went on record to say they would not show that slaughter. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC all said this, according to AP Television writer David Bauder....

...Why do we not see the plastic shredders that humans were placed in under Saddam Hussein, sometimes head first, sometimes feet first? Why do we not see Hussein's torture chambers, which were operated as a matter of policy, and see instead only our abuse, which was an aberration? Why do we not see the mass graves of al-Hilla? Why do we only see our abuse and not their terror?

Well, to answer the questions in the last paragraph first: We don't see the shredders because they may not have existed and they've only been described by one eyewitness. Whether or not you believe that witness, it's incontrovertible that neither he nor anyone else has an image of the shredder to offer. As for why we didn't see the torture chambers on the nightly news, I guess reports like this aren't enough for Bennett:

On The Scene: An Iraqi House Of Horrors

BAGHDAD, April 14, 2003

CBS' Dan Rather is in Baghdad, where he filed this report.

U.S. soldiers are searching what remains of one of the biggest and most elaborate prisons in the world, one of Saddam Hussein's most notorious prisons, 18 miles west of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein never cut corners when it came to punishment....

"Prisoners were taken to watch executions. Anyone who cried was executed too," said a former political prisoner who spent nine years at Abu Ghraib.

He recounts how he was tortured. "First the left hand and then the foot. Then a black hood on my head. Then they applied electricity."

The apparatus is still in the prison....

And I guess stories like "Buried Horror in Babylon: Mass Grave Found South of Baghdad, Relatives Identify Loved Ones," which ran on ABC's World News Tonight a year ago, don't satisfy Bennett's thirst to see mass graves.

But they wouldn't, would they? Bennett doesn't care that these stories ran just after Baghdad fell; he wants them to run all the time.

As for the Nick Berg video, Bennett implies that the networks refused to show it. He cites David Bauder's article to prove this. Here's what Bauder actually said:

The ABC, CBS and NBC broadcast networks said they did not plan to show anything beyond the opening shot of Berg alive on their evening news programs.

"It's a pretty clear call for us," said Jon Banner, executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight." "I think the viewer will understand what happened to Mr. Berg. They won't have to sit through the graphic images."

Bennett wants you to believe that we're seeing everything there is to see of abuse by Americans, while we see bowdlerized images when Americans are the victims. That's nonsense. The standard is the same: When blood is shed, the mainstream media make us all avert our eyes, whether it's a blade going into Nick Berg's neck or a dog's teeth going into an Iraqi prisoner's leg.

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