Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Media Misses Story (Again) 

Will Saletan in Slate has a definitive account of the Administrations talk concerning Iraqi rape rooms and torture. It's quite an impressive list, and shows some real skill at the Nexis terminal.

An interesting thing we see is that the media did actually report on this in January:
"Sources have revealed new details from the Army's criminal investigation into reports of abuse of Iraqi detainees, including the location of the suspected crimes and evidence that is being sought. U.S. soldiers reportedly posed for photographs with partially unclothed Iraqi prisoners, a Pentagon official told CNN on Tuesday."—Barbara Starr, CNN, Jan. 21, 2004
However, how many of you had heard about until last week? I'm betting the number is between one and zero.

This is actually a disturbing pattern we see on occasion from our media. It's not that they necessarily miss stories, it's that they'll report a story, assume it's not important, and then move on. I think it comes from the fact that much of the Washington press is too dependent on opposition research. That is, no one from the Kerry campaign or the DNC hooked on to this story to make a stink about it, and therefore the press just moved on. No one really looked into to it any further than Barbara Starr did in the report above. Very few, if any, reporters actually thought to look more closely into this severe violation of the Geneva Conventions by United States troops and contractors. CBS News did finally get the ball rolling, but not after months passed, and only after they got their hands on pictures. Even National Treasure Sy Hersh couldn't get anything in print until last week.

This reminds me of the brou-ha-ha surrounding the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. We all no that Condi Rice stated, under oath, that the August 9 PDB "did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information, and it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States." Of course, that was a lie, but that's not my point here (even though it is a good point!).

My point is that when Ben-Veniste finally mentioned the title of the briefing (namely, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."), everyone acted shocked. But, as the incomperable Howler pointed out, that title had been known at least since May of 2002, when Bob Woodward wrote it on the FRONT PAGE OF THE WASHINGTON POST. Reported in May 2002; in April 2004 Cici Connely says it's "new information."

Reported, and forgotten.
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