- Media Coverage of the Iraq War
2003 invasion of Iraqinvolved unprecedented media coverageFact|date=April 2008. The coverage itself became a source of controversy, as media outlets were accused of bias, reporters were casualties of both Iraqi and American gunfire, and claims of censorshipand propagandabecame widespread.
U.S. mainstream media coverage
The most popular cable network in the United States for news on the war was
Fox News[ [http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/2005/narrative_cabletv_audience.asp?cat=3&media=5 Cable TV: audience] , stateofthenewsmedia.org ] , some of whose commentators and anchors made pro-war commentsFact|date=June 2007 or disparaged detractors of the war, such as calling them "the great unwashed" [ [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0416-06.htm Cable's War Coverage Suggests a New 'Fox Effect' on Television] by Jim Rutenberg, commondreams.org] . Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a strong supporter of the war [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,897015,00.html Their master's voice] , " The Guardian"] [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19558317/ Inside the world of Rupert Murdoch] , MSNBC] . On-screen during all live war coverage by Fox News was a waving flag animation in the upper left corner and the headline "Operation Iraqi Freedom" along the bottom.Fact|date=June 2007 The network has shown the American flag animation in the upper-left corner since the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack.Fact|date=June 2007 Fox News' pro-war commentary stood in contrast to many U.S. newspapers' editorial pages, which were much more hesitant about going to war.Fact|date=June 2007
On the other hand, Fox, like other western media outlets, did have a number of regular commentators and anchors that were against the war.Fact|date=June 2007 Western networks, including Fox, also gave some coverage to anti-war protests and rallies, anti-U.S. protests in Iraq, and celebrities and politicians that were against the war.Fact|date=June 2007 Anti-war celebrities appearing frequently on these news networks included actors
Tim Robbins, Mike Farrell, Janeane Garofalo, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandonand director Michael Moore.Fact|date=June 2007 Most of these celebrities were able to make anti-war comments in the media and receive little public criticism. However, in a widely publicized story, the country musicband Dixie Chicksignited boycotts and record burnings in the U.S. for their negative remarks about President Bush in a concert in London. [cite web|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Music/03/14/dixie.chicks.apology/|title=Dixie Chicks singer apologizes for Bush comment|accessdate=2007-06-10] MSNBCalso brought the American flag back on screen and regularly ran a tribute called "America's Bravest" which showed photographs sent by family members of troops deployed in Iraq. [cite web
title=Who won the US media war?
date=2003-04-18] MSNBC also fired liberal
Phil Donahue, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy, [cite web
title=The marketing plan for war
publisher=Seattle Times] a month before the invasion began and replaced his show with Iraq war coverage hosted by
Keith Olbermann. [cite web
title=Olbermann marked third anniversary by devoting segment to "O'Rivalry...] [cite web
title=Is Olbermann on Thin Ice? ] Shortly after Donahue's firing, MSNBC hired Michael Savage, a controversial conservative radio talk show host for a Saturday afternoon show. [cite web
title=MSNBC shouldn't give voice to Savage
date=2003-03-07] Although Donahue's show had lower ratings than several shows on other networks, and most reports on its cancellation blamed poor ratings, it was the highest-rated program on MSNBC's struggling primetime lineup at the time of its cancellation. [cite web
title=Too Many Liberals?
date=2005-10-27] During February "sweeps", Donahue's show averaged 446,000 viewers, compared to rival
Connie Chung's 985,000 on CNNand Bill O'Reilly's 2.7 million on Fox News, according to Nielsen Media Research.Fact|date=June 2007
Comparing viewership from prewar to post war, MSNBC saw a 357% jump in ratings, while CNN went up 305%, and Fox News climbed 239%, according to Nielsen numbers.Fact|date=June 2007 In overall numbers, Fox News was number one, followed by CNN, and then MSNBC. [cite web
title=Fox tops CNN, MSNBC in war TV ratings
format=html] It was a major success for Fox News, as many had believed CNN would reclaim the top spot, since it established itself with coverage from the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
In separate incidents, at least three different Western reporters were fired or disciplined due to their actions in covering the war.
Peter Arnett, an NBCand National Geographiccorrespondent, was fired for giving an interview with Iraqi officials in which he questioned the United States' role and saying the "first war plan had failed." [cite web
title=Just fired, Peter Arnett hired by British paper
Brian Walskiof the " Los Angeles Times" was fired on March 31for altering a photo of a U.S. soldier warning Iraqi civilians to take cover from an Iraqi aerial bombing. [cite web
title=Manipulating Truth, Losing Credibility
Geraldo Riveraleft Iraq after drawing a crude map in the sand during a live broadcast on Fox News, which raised concerns at the Pentagon that he was possibly revealing vital troop movements on air. [cite web
title=Rivera gets army boot out of Iraq
Criticisms of pro-invasion bias
A University of Maryland study on American public opinion found that:
*Fifty-seven percent of mainstream media viewers believed the falsity that Iraq gave substantial support to Al-Qaeda, or was directly involved in the
September 11 attacks(48% after invasion).
*Sixty-nine percent believed the falsity that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the
September 11 attacks.
*Twenty-two percent believed the falsity that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. (Twenty-one percent believed that chem/bio weapons had actually been used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq during 2003)
*In the composite analysis of the PIPA study, 80% of Fox News watchers had one or more of these misperceptions, in contrast to 71% for
CBSand 27% who tuned to NPR/ PBS. ["Misperceptions, Media, and the Iraq War." The PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll The American Public On International Issues. Available at: [http://126.96.36.199/pipa/pdf/oct03/IraqMedia_Oct03_rpt.pdf] See also: [http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/102.php?nid=&id=&pnt=102&lb=brusc] ]
After the invasion, the editors of the "New York Times" apologized for its coverage of Hussein's alleged weapons programs, acknowledging that "we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims (related to Iraqi weapons programs) as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/26/international/middleeast/26FTE_NOTE.html?ex=1400990400&en=94c17fcffad92ca9&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND "The Times and Iraq."] "The New York Times," May 26, 2004. Retrieved on April 11, 2007. See also Michael Massing in "The New York Review of Books" Volume 51, Number 3 · February 26, 2004]
During the invasion, critics argued that the mainstream media unduly focused on optimistic events, such as the toppling of a Saddam Hussein statue in
Firdos Square, which was staged with the help of the U.S. military forces, thus downplaying more negative news developments. [cite web|url=http://newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=641|title=newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=641 |accessdate=2007-04-15] In particular, the mainstream media has been criticized for underreporting news about Iraqi civilian casualties, which are estimated to be anywhere between 60,000 and 650,000. [http://www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf]
As the security situation in Iraq has worsened since the invasion, many journalists have found it increasingly difficult to report from Iraq without jeopardizing their lives. Some media outlets, unable to afford the cost of additional security, have even abandoned their bureaus in Baghdad. This trend has forced journalists to depend even more heavily on U.S. military sources, which has led some critics to call into question the impartiality of their reports on events such as the
Iraqi elections. [Schell, Orville. "Baghdad: The Besieged Press." New York Review of Books, April 6, 2006. Retrieved from [http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/media/2006/0406besieged.htm Global Policy Forum] on April 11, 2007.]
Pentagon military analyst group
Pentagon military analyst program"
An investigation by the "New York Times" discovered that top
Pentagonofficials met with news analysts where they gave the analysts 'special information' and then tried to convince them to speak favorably about the Iraq war. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?ref=washington Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand - New York Times ] ] The discovery was based on 8000 pages of secret information that had been revealed to The New York Times through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The article states that top Pentagon officials would invite news analysts to secret meetings, and urge the analysts to speak positively of the war. Often, the US would give "classified information," trips, and contracts to the news analysts.
U.S. independent media coverage
Media Workers Against the Warand the Indymedianetwork, among many other independent networks including many journalists from the invading countries, provided reports in a way difficult to control by any government, corporation or political party. In the United States Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodmanhas been critical of the reasons for the 2003 invasionand the alleged crimes committed by the US authorities in Iraq.
war artist George Gittoescollected independent interviews with soldiers while producing his documentary Soundtrack To War.
The war in Iraq provided the first time in history that military on the front lines were able to provide direct, uncensored reportage themselves, thanks to
blogging software and the reach of the internet. Dozens of such reporting sites, known as soldier blogs or milblogs, were started during the war.
Non-U.S. media coverage
Non-U.S. coverage sometimes differed strongly in tone and content from U.S. media coverage.
In some countries television journalists' behavior differed significantly during the conflict compared to Gulf War conflicts. Jean-Marie Charon said most journalists were more cautious, often using the conditional form and rigorously citing sources.
The crew of the HMS "Ark Royal", Britain's flagship naval vessel, demanded that the BBC be turned off on the ship because of what they saw as a clear anti-Coalition or "pro-Iraq" bias. One BBC correspondent had been embedded on the ship, but the crew said they had no complaints of his reporting specifically. The sailors on board the ship claimed that the BBC gave more credit to Iraqi reports than information coming from British or Allied sources, often questioning and refusing to believe reports coming from Coalition sources while reporting Iraqi claims of civilian casualties without independent verification. The ship's news feed was replaced with
Sky News. [cite web|url=http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_768569.html?menu=news.wariniraq|title=www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_768569.html?menu=news.wariniraq |accessdate=2007-06-10] Ironically, it later emerged from a study conducted by Professor Justin Lewis of the School of Journalism at Cardiff University that the BBC was the most pro-war of British networks, [cite web|url=http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jul2003/bbc-j10.shtml|title=www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jul2003/bbc-j10.shtml |accessdate=2007-06-10] a finding confirmed in a separate study by the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung". [cite web|url=http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/may2003/med-m02.shtml|title=www.wsws.org/articles/2003/may2003/med-m02.shtml |accessdate=2007-06-10]
Arab media outfit
Al Jazeerabroadcast many scenes of civilian casualties, usually referring to them as "martyrs", press conferences with Iraqi officials claiming to be winning the war, and of American and British POWs which U.S. media refused to run. Most Arab networks also downplayed the scenes of Iraqi citizens cheering coalition forces entering their towns. Arab networks consistently referred to U.S. and British forces as "invading forces," while Western media referred to them as "coalition forces."
The war in Iraq saw Abu Dhabi TV mature into a credible Al-Jazeera rival. However, the war did not benefit Al-Arabiya, the newest of Arabic news networks. Created by the audio-visual group saoudien MBC to compete with Al-Jazeera (whose tone often displeases Arab leaders), Al-Arabiya was launched on February 19, 2003.
Iraqi media coverage
According to reports from three separate media watchdog groups, the Iraqi media was under tight state control prior to the invasion. Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, oversaw as many as a dozen newspapers, sat on several important editorial boards, and ran the most popular television station, Youth TV. [Tabor, Kimberly. [http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/iraq/press.html "The Press in Iraq."] "PBS.org", November, 2002. Retrieved April 11, 2007.] In a 2001 report, the French-based [http://www.cpj.org/ Committee to Protect Journalists] wrote that Saddam Hussein's government maintained a "stranglehold" on Iraqi media outlets, and that "insulting the president or other government authorities is punishable by death." [cite web|url=http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/pages_att01/attacks01.html|title=Attacks on the Press in 2001|publisher=Committee to Protect Journalists|accessdate=2007-04-15]
In the wake of the invasion, the Iraqi media establishment changed drastically. Hundreds of newspapers, television stations, and radio stations sprouted both inside and outside of the country. Many of these new media outlets were closely linked with religious or political organizations, and closely reflected the interests of their backers. Some observers have suggested that this has contributed to increased sectarianism in the country. [cite news|last=Metcalf|first=Steve|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4884246.stm|title=Analysis: Iraq's media three years on|work=BBCNews.com|date=2006-04-06|accessdate=2007-04-11]
The burgeoning Iraqi media market has also proven subject to manipulation by the United States government. In November 2005, the
Los Angeles Timesreported on a secret Pentagon program to pay Iraqi media outlets to publish articles favorable of the U.S. invasion and occupation. This initiative relied on U.S.-based subcontractors such as the Lincoln Groupto write and place stories with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" and "More Money Goes to Iraq's Development." According to anonymous sources within the U.S. government, Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines oversees the program, which is part of broader and ongoing efforts to plant false media stories in the international press. [Mazzetti, Mark and Borzou Daragahi. "US Military Stages Media Offensive in Iraq." "The Los Angeles Times," November 29, 2005. Retrieved from [http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/113005I.shtml] on April 11, 2007.] [Gerth, Jeff and Scott Shane. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/01/politics/01propaganda.html?ex=1291093200&en=15a816ad2c204281&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss "U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers."] "The New York Times", December 1, 2005. Retrieved April 11, 2007.] In March 2006, General George Casey, the Army's second in command, indicated that this practice, which did not "violate U.S. law or Pentagon guidelines," would continue. [Shanker, Thom. [http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/03/22/politics/22lincoln.html THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: THE IMAGE CAMPAIGN; No Breach Is Seen in Planting U.S. Propaganda in Iraq Media"] "The New York Times". March 22, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2008.]
Robert Entman, professor of communication at the George Washington Universityand critic of mainstream media for decades, indicated it was a very wise tactic from the Pentagon. He mentioned there were more chances for the journalists to make favorable reports whilst in Iraq with British and American soldiers than if they had been asking questions in Washington. Entman indicated there is a natural cultural bias of American journalists in favor of military troops of their own country and that journalists do like to satisfy the government upon which they rely for information, as well as the public on whom they depend commercially. Entman also mentioned the high number of retired generals making comments on TV, pointing out these could not be considered independent experts as they were still paid by the government. He claims the British Broadcasting Corporationwas much more neutral and informative on cultural and historical background than most American television reports.
The Ministry of Defense explained "maintaining morale as well as information dominance will rank as important as physical protection". An MoD-commissioned commercial analysis of the print output produced by embeds shows that 90% of their reporting was either "positive or neutral." [cite web|url=http://media.guardian.co.uk/iraqandthemedia/story/0,12823,1118405,00.html|title=media.guardian.co.uk/iraqandthemedia/story/0,12823,1118405,00.html |accessdate=2007-06-10]
Firdus Square controversy
On April 9th 2003, a large statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's
Firdus Square, directly in front of the Palestine Hotelwhere the world's journalists had been quartered, was toppled by a U.S. tank wrecker surrounded by dozens of celebrating Iraqis, who had been attempting to pull down the statue earlier with little success. One such futile attempt by sledgehammer wielding weightlifter Kadhem Sharifparticularly caught media attention.cite web | year = 2007 | url = http://www.famouspictures.org/mag/index.php?title=Fall_of_Saddam_Hussein%27s_Statue| title = Famous Pictures Magazine - Fall of Saddam Hussein's Statue| format = HTML | publisher = Famous Pictures Magazine| accessdate = 2007-07-16 | last=Lucas, Dean ] Eventually an American tank was able to topple the statue which was jumped upon by Iraqi citizens who then decapitated the head of the statue and dragged it through the streets of the city hitting it with their shoes. The destruction of the statue was shown live on cable news networks as it happened and made the front pages of newspapers and covers of magazines all over the world - symbolizing the fall of the Hussein government. The images of the statue falling came as a shock to many Arab viewers, who had thought that Iraq was winning the war. [cite web|url=http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/634/eg8.htm|title=weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/634/eg8.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10]
One Marine Corporal Edward Chin of the
3rd battalion 4th Marines regiment, a 23 year old ethnic Chinese man who moved to New York was the one to climb the ladder and place the American flag over the statue's face. The flag was one flown over the Pentagon on September 11 and appeared indicative of a staged event, [cite web|url=http://oregonstate.edu/Dept/pol_sci/fac/sahr/ps415/portray.pdf|title=oregonstate.edu/Dept/pol_sci/fac/sahr/ps415/portray.pdf |format=PDF|accessdate=2007-06-10] and one picture from the event was allegedly doctored to make the crowd appear larger. [cite web|url=http://www.thememoryhole.org/media/evening-standard-crowd.htm|title=www.thememoryhole.org/media/evening-standard-crowd.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10] A report by the Los Angeles Timessuggested it to be a carefully staged propaganda event for the media. The article stated it was an unnamed Marine colonel, not Iraqi civilians who had decided to topple the statue; and that an Army psychological operations team then used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist and made it all appear spontaneous and Iraqi-inspired. [cite web|url=http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0703-02.htm|title=www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0703-02.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10] According to Tim Brown at Globalsecurity.org: "It was not completely stage-managed from Washington, DC but it was not exactly a spontaneous Iraqi operation." [cite web|url=http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0704/161032.html|title=www.wjla.com/news/stories/0704/161032.html |accessdate=2007-06-10] The degree to which the army helped, and the LA Times article's accuracy, are both in dispute. [cite web|url=http://www.thatliberalmedia.com/archives/002254.html|title=www.thatliberalmedia.com/archives/002254.html |accessdate=2007-06-10]
In the 2004 documentary "Control Room", this incident is dealt with in depth and the overall impression given by the Al-Jazeera reporters is that it was staged. The Marines present at the time,
3rd Battalion 4th Marinesmaintain that the scene was not staged other than the assistance they provided. [*Coughlin, GySgt Jack and Kuhlman, Capt. Casey with Davis, Donald A., "Shooter: The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper", St. Martins, hardback edition - 2005, paperback edition - 2006.]
Coverage of casualties
Media coverage of U.S. military casualties has been met by Bush administration efforts to downplay reports about soldiers' deaths throughout the invasion. Unlike the Vietnam War, when the media regularly published photographs of flag-draped coffins of American military personnel killed in action, the Bush administration prohibited the release of such photographs during the Iraq invasion. This ban was instituted in 2000 by the Clinton administration, and mirrors a similar ban put in place during the
Gulf War, [cite web|url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/23/iraq/main613301.shtml|title=www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/23/iraq/main613301.shtml |accessdate=2007-06-10] though it appears to have been enforced less tightly during previous military operations.
According to Senator
Patrick Leahy, the administration also scheduled the return of wounded soldiers to Dover Air Force Basefor after midnight so that the press would not see them. [cite news|last=Buncombe|first=Andrew|url=http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article78272.ece|title=The hidden cost of Bush's war|work=The Independent|date=2003-11-14|accessdate=2007-04-15] This practice was documented by both the Drudge Reportand Salon.com. [cite web|url=http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2005/03/08/night_flights/|title=http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2005/03/08/night_flights/ |accessdate=2007-06-10] A number of Dover photographs were eventually released in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by blogger Russ Kick.
Media coverage related to casualty milestones, such as the 1000th, 2000th, and 3000th U.S. soldier killed, have consistently sparked controversy among supporters and defenders of the invasion. On
September 7, 2004the US recorded its 1,000th casualty of the war, when four servicemen died that day (three in one incident, one in another). Presidential candidate John Kerrycalled it a "tragic milestone." [cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/07/iraq.main/|title=www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/07/iraq.main/ |accessdate=2007-06-10] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeldargued the 1000th milestone was passed long ago in the War on Terrorism, with the loss of life on September 11, 2001 being in the thousands, and going on the offensive against terrorism "has its cost."
October 25, 2005the Department of Defense announced the 2,000th U.S. death from the war as Staff Sergeant George T. Alexander Jr., who was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his M2 Bradleyin the city of Samarra. [cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/10/25/iraq.main/index.html|title=www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/10/25/iraq.main/index.html |accessdate=2007-06-10] In response, Senators including Dick Durbinmade statements opposing the war, and activists held six hundred anti-war protests and candlelight vigils across the United States. [cite web|url=http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/2_1_AU27_VIGIL_S1.htm|title=www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/2_1_AU27_VIGIL_S1.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10] In contrast, the Pentagondownplayed the death — Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, told the Associated Press that "the 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives." [cite news|url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-25-military-casualties_x.htm|title=U.S. military death toll in Iraq hits 2,000|work=AP|publisher=USA Today|date= 2005-10-25|accessdate=2007-04-11] [cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-25-military-casualties_x.htm|title=www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-25-military-casualties_x.htm|title="U.S. military death toll in Iraq hits 2,000."] "USA Today," October 25, 2005. Retrieved on April 11, 2007|last=Press|first=Associated|accessdate=2007-04-15] [cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-25-military-casualties_x.htm|title=http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-25-military-casualties_x.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10]
The U.S. death toll reached 3,000 on
December 31, 2006when Texassoldier Spc. Dustin R. Donicawas killed in Baghdad, near the office of Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Arabpolitician and leader of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front. ["Hurst, Steven R. [http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=2763716 U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Surpasses 3,000] ." "ABCNews.com", January 1, 2007. Retrieved on January 8, 2007.] The milestone came just one day after the execution of Saddam Husseinand just as the Bush Administration was revising its wartime strategy.
Attack on Al Jazeera
On April 8, 2003, U.S. aircraft bombed the Baghdad bureau of Qatar satellite TV station
Al Jazeerakilling a journalist and wounding another despite the U.S. being informed of the office's precise coordinates prior to the incident. An Al Jazeera correspondent said that very clear, yellow signs reading "Press" covered the building from all sides and on the roof. [cite web|url=http://islamicsydney.com/printable.php?id=896|title=islamicsydney.com/printable.php?id=896 |accessdate=2007-06-10] A U.S. Central Command spokesman said that the station "was not and never had been a target." [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2927527.stm|title=Al-Jazeera 'hit by missile'|accessdate=2007-09-28 BBC News] The U.S. government had repeatedly criticized Al Jazeera as "endangering the lives of American troops."
The attack had drawn particular criticism because the
Kabuloffice of Al Jazeera had been bombed in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. [cite web|url=http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/dailyUpdate.html|title=www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/dailyUpdate.html |accessdate=2007-06-10]
2 April 2003, in a speech given in New York City, British Home Secretary David Blunkettcommented on what he believed to be sympathetic and corrupt reporting of Iraq by Arab news sources. He told the audience that "It's hard to get the true facts if the reporters of Al Jazeera are actually linked into, and are only there because they are provided with facilities and support from, the régime." [cite web|url=http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/605fgcob.asp?pg=2|title=www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/605fgcob.asp?pg=2 |accessdate=2007-06-10] His speech came only hours before Al Jazeera was ejected from Baghdad by the Iraqi government.
A top secret memo leaked by a British civil servant and a parliamentary researcher detailed a lengthy conversation on April 16, 2004 between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush, in which Bush according to British media allegedly proposed bombing the Qatar central office of Al Jazeera. [cite web|url=http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16397937&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive--bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html|title=www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16397937&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive--bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html |accessdate=2007-06-10] House press secretary, Scott McClellan, describing it as "outlandish" said, "Any such notion that we would engage in that kind of activity is just absurd." [cite web|url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10269701/site/newsweek/from/RL.5/|title=www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10269701/site/newsweek/from/RL.5/ |accessdate=2007-06-10] A UK government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious." Another source said Bush was "deadly serious." The UK government refuses to publish the memo and two civil servants have been charged with violating Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly disclosing the document. [cite web|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/22/AR2005112201784.html|title=www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/22/AR2005112201784.html |accessdate=2007-06-10] For a fuller discussion, see
Al Jazeera bombing memo.
Attack on Palestine Hotel
On the same day as the destruction of the Baghdad bureau of
Al Jazeera, a U.S. tank fired a HEAT round at what the U.S. military later claimed was a suspected Iraqi forward artillery observer. Due to what the U.S. states was a communications error, the tank mistakenly fired at the Palestine Hotel, where approximately 100 international reporters in Baghdad were based, instead of the correct building, killing two journalists, Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and Jose Cousa of the Spanish network Telecinco [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2928153.stm|title=news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2928153.stm |accessdate=2007-06-10] and wounding three other correspondents. [cite web|url=http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1843|title=www.fair.org/index.php?page=1843 |accessdate=2007-06-10] [Zucchino, "Thunder Run", 2004]
After interviewing "about a dozen reporters who were at the scene, including two embedded journalists who monitored the military radio traffic before and after the shelling occurred" the
Committee to Protect Journalistssaid the facts suggested "that attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable." The Committee to Protect Journalists went on to say that "Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it". It is not clear that orders not to fire upon the hotel had actually made it to the tank level. [cite web|url=http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/palestine_hotel/palestine_hotel.html|title=www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/palestine_hotel/palestine_hotel.html |accessdate=2007-06-10] Reporters Without Bordersdemanded proof to Donald Rumsfeld that incidents "were not deliberate attempts to dissuade the media from reporting." Amnesty Internationaldemanded independent investigation.:"see April 8, 2003 journalist deaths by U.S. firefor more detail."
There have been a number of journalist casualties during the invasion, including fourteen deaths (some not directly war-related). Michael Kelly, an influential neoconservative reporter, columnist, and editor died in a
Humveeaccident on April 3. NBC's David Bloomdied of a blood clot on April 6. Both Kelly and Bloom were embedded with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division. ITNreporter Terry Lloydwas killed by US forces near Basraon March 22, 2003.
Peter Arnettwas fired by MSNBCand National Geographicafter he declared in an interview with the Iraqi information ministry that he believed the U.S. strategy of " shock and awe" had failed. He also went on to tell Iraqi State TV that he had told "Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces, the determination of the government, and the willingness to fight for their country," and that reports from Baghdad about civilian deaths had helped antiwar protesters undermine the Bush administration's strategy. The interview was given 10 days before the fall of Baghdad.
Role of the Iraqi National Congress
During the buildup to the war, the sources for many stories (most prominently including the stories of Judith Miller of the "
New York Times") were members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. The Iraqi National Congress not only repeated their "information" to members of congress, but to numerous media outlets; the organization claimed to be the sources for 108 original articles, [cite web|url=http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/8194211.htm|title=www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/8194211.htm |accessdate=2007-06-10] which were each carried by many newspapers.
The allegations included, but were not limited to:
* Navy commander
Michael Speicherwas seen alive in Baghdad in 1998.
* Iraq held 80 Kuwaitis prisoner after the war in a secret underground prison.
* Iraq trained Islamic extremists in the techniques used in September 11, and collaborated with bin Laden on the attack.
* Iraq disguised mobile labs as milk and yogurt trucks, and hid weapons beneath hospitals, mosques, and in reinforced wells.
* Iraq had chemical weaponry-armed missiles
* Iraq was actively working on a nuclear weapons program, and had even tested a nuclear weapon.
* Members of Saddam's family would murder people for fun by throwing them in wood chippers or into vats of acid.
None of the allegations have had any evidence found to support them, and most of them have been completely disproved since the invasion. Ahmed Chalabi has since become a member of the
Iraqi Governing Council, and stated "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important." He has taken credit for misleading the US, but considers the ends justified by the means, claiming "We are heroes in error." [cite web|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/02/19/wirq19.xml|title=www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/02/19/wirq19.xml |accessdate=2007-06-10]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/16/international/worldspecial/16FOX.html Cable's War Coverage Suggests a New 'Fox Effect' on Television] , "The New York Times", April 16, 2003
* [http://www.cjonline.com/stories/042403/bre_landonlec.shtml MSNBC's Banfield: Media filtered realities of war] , "Topeka Capitol-Journal", Matt Moline, April 24, 2003
* [http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/printedition/calendar/la-war-howard25apr25214426,1,4381680.column The independence of CNN; the legacy of NBC's Bloom] , Howard Rosenberg, "Los Angeles Times", April 25, 2003
* [http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2003/02/index.html#000743 Why Phil Got Killed] , TAPPED, February 27, 2003
* [http://www.fair.org/international/iraq.html Archive of well-documented media criticism of Iraqi war coverage] , Provided by the national media watch group, FAIR.
* [http://www.democracynow.org/static/IMIATOW.shtml Independent Media in a Time of War] - Documentary on the media coverage of the invasion;
* Faulk, Kent. " [http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news/113040497267990.xml&coll=2 "Soldier fought to make difference"] ", The
Birmingham News. October 27, 2005. Retrieved October 30, 2005.
* Salles, Andre. " [http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/2_1_AU27_VIGIL_S1.htm "Vigil notes 2000 U.S. war dead"] ", The Beacon News. October 27, 2005. Retrieved October 27, 2005.
* Cannon, Jason. " [http://www.clantonadvertiser.com/articles/2005/10/26/news/a-news.txt "Roadside bomb kills Clanton soldier"] ", The Clanton Advertiser. October 26, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2005.
* Parsons, Claudia & Quinn, Andrew. " [http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-10-25T194546Z_01_YUE544037_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ.xml "US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000"] ",
Reuters. October 25, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2005.
* " [http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2005/nr20051025-4982.html "DoD Identifies Army Casualty"] ",
United States Department of Defense. October 25, 2005. Retrieved October 29, 2005.
* [http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/Media_10_02_03_Report.pdf Misperceptions, The Media, and The Iraq War] , PIPA. October 2, 2003.
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