Before I started blogging I knew much of MSM reporting was biased and some of it outright dishonest.
We all saw the dishonesty in Sept. 2004 when Dan Rather and CBS defended their bogus 60 Minutes Texas Air National Guard story accusing President Bush of not fulfilling his TANG duties.
For almost two weeks Rather and the network insisted the anonymous source of the forged document on which they based the 60 Minutes story was "unimpeachable." But they knew all along he was Bill Burket, a long-time Democratic activist and Bush-hater who at the time was actively campaigning against the President.
As shocking as Rather and CBS's serial lying was, I treated it as what the Brits call a "one off."
But once I started blogging and had to research stories, I realized Rather and CBS's deception wasn't a "one off" but something that was often just "business as usual" in the MSM world.
One of the most shameful examples of MSM dishonesty I encountered while blogging is exposed in the post below which I published Oct 16, 2007.
When I called the N&O story in question to the attention of Melanie Sill, then the N&O's executive editor for news, she never responded.
Ted Vaden, then the N&O's public editor, first told me the story had come from the NY Times' wire (true).
When I told him the N&O was nevertheless responsible for printing it and should retract it, with the retraction including at least a link to Gen. Sanchez's speech, Vaden became angry and said the N&O wasn't in business to satisfy me.
Now to the post: On Sanchez, The N&O Deceived Us
Readers Note: Portions of this post are cut and paste from a copy of General Sanchez's speech which was all in capital letters.
Across the top of the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer’s October 13 front-page ran the headline:
Iraq a 'nightmare,' general saysThe N&O’s story began:
A year after his retirement, Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, levels a broad, biting attack
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result is "a nightmare with no end in sight."There’s a lot more in the story. It all flows nicely with the opening paragraphs.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan" and denounced the current addition of American forces as a "desperate" move that would not achieve long-term stability.
The entire N&O story is here.
But nowhere in its report of Sanchez’s speech (full text here), delivered Oct. 12 at the Military Reporters and Editors luncheon in Washington, did the N&O tell readers Sanchez said to the journalists:
TOUGH REPORTING THAT RELIES UPON INTEGRITY, OBJECTIVITY AND FAIRNESS TO GIVE ACCURATE AND THOROUGH ACCOUNTS … STRENGTHEN OUR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND IN TURN OUR DEMOCRACY.About half of Sanchez speech was like that: sharp criticism of unscrupulous reporting of the Iraq War by many journalists and news organizations.
ON THE OTHER HAND, UNFORTUNATELY, I HAVE ISSUED ULTIMATUMS TO SOME OF YOU FOR UNSCRUPULOUS REPORTING THAT WAS SOLELY FOCUSED ON SUPPORTING YOUR AGENDA AND PRECONCIEVED NOTIONS OF WHAT OUR MILITARY HAD DONE.
A trustworthy newspaper would have told us that. The N&O didn't
Here’s more of what Sanchez said:
OTHER MAJOR CHALLENGES ARE YOUR WILLINGNESS TO BE MANIPULATED BY "HIGH LEVEL OFFICIALS" WHO LEAK STORIES AND BY LAWYERS WHO USE HYPERBOLE TO STRENGHTEN THEIR ARGUMENTS.Even if you’re a Democrat who worries that if America succeeds in Iraq it could be good for Republicans, don’t you think the N&O should have reported at least some of Sanchez blistering exposure of so much of MSM's Iraq War “reporting?”
YOUR UNWILLINGNESS TO ACCURATELY AND PROMINENTLY CORRECT YOUR MISTAKES AND YOUR AGENDA DRIVEN BIASES CONTRIBUTE TO THIS CORROSIVE ENVIRONMENT.
ALL OF THESE CHALLENGES COMBINED CREATE A MEDIA ENVIRONMENT THAT DOES A TREMENDOUS DISSERVICE TO AMERICA.
OVER THE COURSE OF THIS WAR TACTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS HAVE BECOME STRATEGIC DEFEATS FOR AMERICA BECAUSE OF THE TREMENDOUS POWER AND IMPACT OF THE MEDIA AND BY EXTENSION YOU THE JOURNALIST. IN MANY CASES THE MEDIA HAS UNJUSTLY DESTROYED THE INDIVIDUAL REPUTATIONS AND CAREERS OF THOSE INVOLVED.
THE DEATH KNELL OF YOUR ETHICS HAS BEEN ENABLED BY YOUR PARENT ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH POLITICAL AGENDAS.Don’t you agree the Bush-hating, Moveon.org types at the N&O should have at least reported General Sanchez said some journalists’ and news organizations’ partisan politics “are destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war?”
WHAT IS CLEAR TO ME IS THAT YOU ARE PERPETUATING THE CORROSIVE PARTISAN POLITICS THAT IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY AND KILLING OUR SERVICEMEMBERS WHO ARE AT WAR.
Sometimes I ask myself whether I’m too hard on the N&O and other such MSM news organizations.
But the N&O’s deliberate deception concerning what Sanchez actually said, which deception most other MSM news organizations also engaged in, leaves me thinking I’m not too hard on the N&O and other news organizations whose actions are, as General Sanchez says, "destroying our country and killing our service members.”
I’ll send N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill and public editor Ted Vaden links to this post and invite their responses.
Both Sill and Vaden tell readers the N&O observes the very highest of ethical journalism standards and that its news reporting is fair and accurate. There are many devoted N&O readers who believe that.
You'll get a good idea of their journalism ethics and what they mean by fair and accutate if read the N&O's story here and General Sanchez's speech here.
Americans who want this country to survive and our troops to have as much protection as possible need to do things to lessen the influence of MSM and get the truth out there.
In the coming days I’ll be posting about things we can do to help make that happen.
The Sanchez story reminds of of how urgent and important that task is.
Hat tip: Mike Williams