May 18, 2004
JOHN O'SULLIVAN looks at last week's media goofs like the fake Iraq rape photos and general tendencies in reporting and observes:
Neither the media's vaunted "skepticism" nor simple fact-checking on the Internet were employed by the papers. The fakes were, in the old Fleet Street joke, "too good to check." As Mark Steyn argued Sunday, the journalists wanted to believe they were real. Indeed, it is worse than that -- since the fraud was discovered and the Mirror editor fired, he has become a heroic figure in British circles hostile to Blair and the war.
Admittedly, reporters and editors make mistakes. But when all the mistakes are on the side of opposing the liberation of Iraq, and none of the mistakes favor the United States or Britain or Bush or Blair, it tells you something.
Namely, which side they're on.
Try as one might, it's getting hard to avoid that sort of inference. Not that they actively favor the terrorists, of course. They just view beating their domestic political enemies as more important.
UPDATE: Related thoughts from A.M. Rosenthal:
Since the latest torture story, many editors have failed to present background stories about the millions killed by Saddam.
They worry about being accused of minimizing the brutalization of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, if they recall in print the masses of people Saddam slaughtered.
These journalists are truly embarrassing.
But not, alas, embarrassed. (Via Jeff Jarvis.)
ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn't exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority -- or even a large and angry minority -- of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More on my fears about the future of press freedom here.