Monday, May 17, 2004

News Update: Conservatives are claiming media bias again. This time they're saying the news media is suppressing stories about the Nick Berg execution, which would help Bush, and is overplaying stories about the Abu Ghraib abuse scandals, which seems to be hurting Bush.

Well, speaking as a journalist who strongly favors Bush's actions in Iraq, let me explain why the Abu Ghraib scandal is more newsworthy than Nick Berg.

Think about it this way: What have we learned from Al Qaeda's televised brutal execution of a 26-year-old American? We now know that Al Qaeda is a brutal terrorist organization that will kill innocent people and will attempt to lie and to distort public perception with ineffective and unbelievable propaganda. Is this new to anybody? Probably not. Al Qaeda has fit this description for some time.

But in the prisoner-abuse scandal, we've learned that Americans are mistreating Iraqi prisoners. Sure, these prisoners are terrorists, murders, and other run-of-the-mill scum of the earth. But the abuse was against the law, and was morally reprehensible.

And we're learning new things every day. Right now the U.S. government is trying to portray the abuses as the result of a few overzealous soldiers run amok. But that can't be true. Evidence indicates that higher-ranking officers ordered the excessive interrogation to get info on future terrorist attacks. And even if the abuse wasn't ordered, any soldier who is in charge of prisoners of war should have been given extensive training in Geneva Convention regulations.

That's not to say that the news media is doing a stellar job covering the Nick Berg execution and its fallout. News organizations are trying to paint it as a failure of the Bush administration. Remember, the murder isn't Bush's fault, it's Al Qaeda's fault. Plus, we need more coverage here. And it seems that Al Qaeda's propaganda video backfired -- Americans are now more committed to the war on terrorism as a result. Also, there appears to be utter hypocrisy among Arab governments. I applaud Colin Powell's condemnation of Arab leaders for not denouncing the murder.

But, first and foremost, I want my news media to act as a watchdog over my government. Let's not rush to implicate anyone without just cause. In the mean time, there are plenty of questions to be asked.


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