I am sick of the way that so-called “honest” news sources continue to cloud popular opinion with misinformation. How hard is it to accurately and fairly report news? Dishonest, inaccurate news has always bothered me, but last week’s news coverage was so far off the mark, so incredibly inaccurate, that I was compelled to write about it.
Making my usual trawl of news stories, I came across the following tidbit from the front page of CNN. The article was titled, “Polish leader: WMD never existed” but I could not find a direct quote within the article making any such claim. In fact, the Polish leader in question seemed quite satisfied with his participation in Iraq. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who directed me to the Polish Embassy’s website. Right there on the front page, it said:
“Statement of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland
Due to misinterpretations pertaining to the President’s remarks given during his meeting with the press on March 18, 2004, the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland has been authorized to issue the following:
1. The essence of the President’s message in his remarks to the press on March 18, 2004 has been a restated presentation of reasons and purposes of Polish involvement in the process of stabilization and democratization of Iraq. “Iraq today, without Saddam Hussein is truly a better Iraq than with Saddam Hussein” the President said. He also warned of political decisions, which would lead to destabilization of the situation in Iraq. Poland will not withdraw from Iraq until the mission of stabilization is successfully accomplished and counts on effective cooperation with the United States, Great Britain, Spain and other NATO and UN member states.
2. The President of the Republic of Poland reminded that Saddam Hussein misled the world in believing that he had had the weapons of mass destruction and might use them. This was the essential reason to take up the mission in Iraq within a common strategy of a multinational coalition in the war on terrorism.
3. The President of the Republic of Poland stated that a decisive factor in fighting terrorism is to maintain unity and solidarity by democratic states. Demonstration of weakness in the face of terrorist attacks aims at the foundations of democracy and security of all nations and world peace.”
These direct statements from the Polish embassy are a FAR cry from CNN’s claim that WMDs never existed, or Japan Today’s claim that Poland was considering early withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Despite the Poland Embassy’s efforts, all weekend I was pelted by claims from a variety of news outlets that Poland was thinking of withdrawing troops. Maybe I am missing the point. Maybe the complexities of international diplomacy are lost on me. Maybe the Polish leader’s non-remarks were really a remark unto themselves and these statements on their website is a quick recant (and acknowledgement) of the non-comments. Maybe the press is doing me a favor by interpreting these goings on into simple phrases like “WMDs never existed” and “polish troop withdrawal.” But I doubt it.
The media has allowed, without appropriate challenge, the claim that President Bush distorted intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. This claim was properly addressed by Tim Russert on this Sunday’s Meet the Press when he asked Senator Ted Kennedy (one of John Kerry’s biggest supporters), “So the president and the Congress was acting on the same information, and now you’re saying the president lied when, in fact, your colleague, Senator Kerry, voted for war, voted for the authorization and said on the floor of the Senate, “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction.” To which Kennedy responded, “The fact is this administration distorted and misrepresented–weapons of mass destruction, Tim–does Syria have weapons of mass destruction? Yes. Does Iran have it? Yes. Did Libya have it? Yes. Does Egypt have it? Yes. Does North Korea have it, this nuclear weapons–yes. So we understand that they had some program. They misrepresent the immediacy. They made the point–when they talk about mushroom cloud, they talk about grave, they talk about the immediate threat, they were talking about an immediate threat.” I’m not really sure what Kennedy was talking about, but thank you Mr. Russert.
CNN has pretty much stopped using the word terrorist in it’s articles, opting instead for “militant” and only occasionally using the ‘T’ word if they are quoting someone who happens to use it. AP has followed suit. The New York Times has long been accused of copping a liberal, almost communist bias in their reporting. Freedom of the press is one of the fundamental principles of American society, but the purpose of a free press is to help get the truth out, not enable publishing company’s to promote their own agendas or sway Americans with misinformation.
James Golden is a political columnist for MBGZ.comPowered by Sidelines