Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rewrite

Eschaton catches the Washington Post in blatant media manipulation of the war in Iraq, manipulation so bad it can be called lying.  The original Reuters story contains the following paragraph concerning an American attack on the Iraqi city of Diwaniya, quoting American military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl:

“Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced ‘explosively formed penetrators’ (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.”

These are, of course, the famous explosives that the propagandists claim must be coming from Iran, as the locals in Iraq lack the sophistication to manufacture them.  Another lie busted.

But don’t count the Washington Post out yet.  In an extensive rewrite of the Reuters piece – in fact, so extensive, you can only see the original framework by looking carefully – the Washington Post scrubs the paragraph about the origin of the EFPs, but ensures that the following is inserted (emphasis in red):

“The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers died in separate roadside bombings in the east and west of Baghdad on Friday.

One of the bombs was an explosively formed projectile, a particularly deadly type of device which Washington accuses Iran of supplying Iraqi militants.

In other words, they use the classic Judy Miller/Michael Gordon technique from the New York Times of passing on Bush Administration propaganda by ensuring that it is prominently placed – together with the appropriate weasel words referring back to the original, completely unquestioned, government source – so that there is no technical lying, although the intent is obviously to deceive (the last two honest paragraphs in the Reuters article have also gone missing).

It’s even worse.  As Eschaton notes, the Google News capture of the original article contains the original paragraph from the Reuters article.  In other words, the truth accidentally slipped out, and they had to rush to fix it.  I have to wonder whether the Washington Post news room has some kind of alarm that sounds in those rare cases when the truth is published and the entire staff is mobilized to suppress it.

And they wonder why people no longer buy newspapers.

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