Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Council Results for December 1st, 2006

Watcher’s CouncilJoshuapundit came in first for Genocide? What Genocide?, followed so closely by Rick Moran’s The Art and Artifice of War Reporting that his essay deserves a mention, too.

First, Joshua’s take on Darfur:

Remember when the UN’s Kofi Annan was preening himself a little while ago over a supposed agreement with Sudan’s jihadi government to accept a UN/ African Union force to protect Darfur’s civilians from genocide?

Well, it seems that’s Mr. Annan’s self-congratulation was a mite premature. Al-Reuters reports today that not only isn’t the President al-Bashir going to allow any UN or AU troops in, but now he denies there’s any problem!

Thank heavens Mr. Annan’s incompetent, corrupt, and demoralizing “leadership” is over. In fact, Annan and al-Bashir are a matched set of bookends.

Joshua adds:

Our own government calls it genocide...something the UN hasn’t quite gotten around to, though they do refer to `Human rights violations’ and “heinous crimes”. Not that they’re prepared to actually do anything meaningful about it, even if it violates the UN Charter.

And this foul, murderous little man has enough contempt for every norm of civilized humanity, enough smug confidence in the backing he’s receiving from Russia, China and the Muslim bloc in the UN to go before the cameras and say the jihad against Darfur is `no problem’.

Joshua has a great quote from al-Bashir about the Joos. It’s worth going over there just to see that.

Meanwhile, Right Wing Nut House has a thoughtful essay on The Art and Artifice of War Reporting. He prefaces his remarks about the reporting of the war in Iraq with a little history lesson about Churchill and the BBC. Then he says:

Once it became clear that Hitler was a threat to the existence of the nation, the BBC and other British news outlets started to view what the Nazis were saying with a much more critical eye. But couldn’t they have figured this out sooner? Why did they swallow enemy propaganda so willingly?

We asked similar questions during the Israeli-Hizbullah war when it became readily apparent that the AP (and thus hundreds of media outlets around the world) were using photos and stories from outright Hizbullah sympathizers whose job could only have been to give enemy propaganda to western reporters. And in Iraq, many critics have pointed to the almost total reliance by the mainstream press on Iraqi “stringers” for news of what’s happening around the country.


I have a few pointed questions that I’d like to ask the New York Times, the Washington Post, the news nets and others who use stringers in gathering the news.

Who are they? What are their backgrounds? Are they journalists? If so, what kind of experience have they had? Have then been vetted to make sure they aren’t out and out insurgent sympathizers? Or militia mouthpieces?

Do they have axes to grind against America? How does the reporter in Iraq or the editor back home establish their objectivity or accuracy? Does the reporter on site even try and confirm information from the stringers? If so, how many sources are used to confirm their stories? How do you gauge the reliability of those confirming sources?

This is the nuts and bolts of journalism. Raw information is not news. It has to be poked and prodded, examined and re-examined in a process that is supposed to reduce that information to its most basic and understandable parts and then massaged by the reporter and polished by the editor to appear as “news” in the newspaper or on the TV broadcast.


But there seem to be different rules for war reporting from the Middle East. It appears to this observer that there is too much trust between the parties involved in news gathering and not enough hard, slogging, verification of information that is reported on a day to day basis. I have no doubt that reporters trust the information they get from their stringers (and other sources as well). And the editors here at home feel they have to trust and support their reporters in the war zone who, after all, are still taking a tremendous personal risk despite them being largely confined to living and working in the green zone.

In this post, Mr. Moran defers to Flopping Aces for his work in “ferreting out a piece of disinformation…” and FA happens to be the winner on the non-Council side for December 1st for his post Getting the News from the Enemy.

Mr. Moran is indeed correct. This is a great job, detailed and full of links to other sites about the careless, cynical (my words) use of questionable sources by the increasingly lazy and corrupted MSM. In the end, Flopping Aces asks:

…The average American picks up a paper or watches 10 minutes of the evening news and believes they are well informed. The MSM prints stories that show all this chaos and mayhem and the average American swallows it all.

But as I’ve shown here, a lot of it is not to be trusted.

They are doing the insurgents job for them by printing this stuff from unverified sources. Hell, why don’t they go out and see it for themselves. That asking too much of our MSM?

I don’t think it’s asking too much. Bill Roggio and Michael Yon put their lives on the line to get the real story. The MSM has jumped the shark. No doubt it will hang in mid-air for quite sometime, bleating out its message of anti-American bilge, but the party is essentially over for the Big Boys. Bloggers aren’t big but they are numerous and they are distributed and they’re all over these specious stories like chocolate on New Orleans.

The rest of us are over at The Watcher’s Place, hanging out.