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The mainstream media's selective terror

By Frank Salvato
web posted July 18, 2005

It's always interesting to see how the elite media reacts when notable events take place. It is also interesting to see what events they choose to ignore. It is by their choice of what to focus on and what to disregard that they sculpt and influence public opinion. It is also how they create angst in the political world. In the hands of an up-front and honest media this would more often than not promote a public good. In the hands of an agenda driven media it becomes quite a problem.

It wasn't until the Afghan campaign was well established and the next front in the war on terrorism identified – Iraq – that the elite media returned to their old agenda driven propaganda tactics used during the Vietnam War. Siding with the bribed of the United Nations and the liberal left, the elite media has led the way reporting favorably on anything that would support the anti-war movement while overstating the severity of Abu Ghraib, underreporting the celebration of freedom in and the rebuilding of Iraq, and concocting stories about Quran desecration and "torture" at Guantanamo Bay.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that two of the preeminent elite media outlets, the BBC and the New York Times, are attempting to sculpt current events in the War on Terror to their agenda-driven advantage using the only weapons at their disposal; words.

In its reporting of the recent terrorist bombings on the London transportation system, the BBC re-edited originally published accounts of the attacks removing the word "terrorists" where it referenced the perpetrators. It was replaced with the word "bombers."

Of course, the initial description of those who slaughtered 52 and injured over a thousand was correct; they were terrorists. Look at the literal definition of the word "terrorist" and it is hard not to believe that those responsible for the attacks could be described as anything else.

But the BBC, through its "institutionalized political correctness," believes that, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding." Therefore its guidelines direct BBC writers to avoid using the word saying that credibility is undermined by the, "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments." Imagine, making a value judgment on a terrorist.

In the same spirit of not wanting to offend the psyche of those who have no problem hacking an innocent's head off with a dull blade, the New York Times has seen fit to refer to al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, as a "Jordanian fighter" rather than a terrorist murderer, his fellow jihadis "insurgents" rather than a band of murderous thugs.

With their words the elite media is sculpting those who blow up innocent men, woman and children through the cowardice of terrorist bombings as beings of humanity. They worry more about erecting a barrier to understanding the terrorist mindset than they do about accurately and succinctly relaying the facts of who killed our friends, our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, our sons and daughters. They care more about not offending terrorists than they do about reporting tragic events with accuracy.

Some may say that I am being too harsh on the elite media; that perhaps they are using accurate descriptors in an effort to paint a more truthful picture of the events they are reporting, using more precise verbiage so as to be more ingenuous.

Enter the Karl Rove-Valerie Plame issue.

In a rude and disgraceful display of arrogance, the White House press corps spewed its venom at White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan while trying to extract information on whether Karl Rove "outed" Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative to Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. They verbally berated him for honoring a request from the federal prosecutor in-charge of the case not to discuss any aspect of the on-going investigation. McClellan fielded barb after barb that cited the audacity of the White House not to comment on the issue.

If Matthew Cooper's column had been the one responsible for "outing" Valerie Plame I could understand all of the ire displayed by the elite media toward the White House. But it wasn't. Robert Novak's column was the vehicle by which the elite media were introduced to Valerie Plame and it was published prior to Mr. Cooper's. In fact, Clifford May wrote about Valerie Plame before Robert Novak did.

To say that Ms. Plame's occupation was well known in Washington – her name having appeared in Wilson's "Who's Who in America" – would be an understatement. And since Ms. Plame had been stationed at Langley as an analyst for a period of time prior to Mr. Cooper's, Mr. Novak's or Mr. May's columns one has to question whether or not the classification of covert operative accurately depicts Ms. Plame's employment.

So, once again we bear witness to the elite media's predilection for sensationalism over fact. Instead of embracing the fundamental responsibility of journalism – reporting the facts of the matter – they choose to instead place their socio-political agenda and their lust for the almighty dollar (or pound as it were) ahead of the truth.

That being said, it's no wonder that the American people are turning away from the elite media in droves. They simply can't be trusted to accurately and fairly report the facts.

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for TheRant.us. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, socio-political education project. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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