20060130

"the Story"

I certainly do not wish anyone ill, but I am fairly tired of the current coverage of ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff, and his videographer, Doug Vogt, both recently injured in Iraq. What I find arrogant is the often mentioned reason for him being in the danger zone because "the story needed to be told." How pathetic that is when compared to coalition soldiers who are there to bring democracy to the oppressed, to the Iraqi soldiers who seek to provide security for their people, and the Iraqi people themselves who just want to live in freedom. Perhaps I would be more sympathetic if the reporters were actually telling the story of the heroic struggle taking place to transform Iraq rather than a body count list. Looking back, there wasn't much worth reading from MSM reporters from Iraq in general.

Update A reader suggests that "the story" does need to be told to document the passage of events for the history books. Consider how Robert Fisk thirty years work as a reporter in the Middle East translates into "history." Note the inaccuracies.
It is difficult to turn a page of The Great War for Civilisation without encountering some basic error. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not, as Fisk has it, in Jerusalem. The Caliph Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was murdered in the year 661, not in the 8th century. Emir Abdallah became king of Transjordan in 1946, not 1921, and both he and his younger brother, King Faisal I of Iraq, hailed not from a “Gulf tribe” but rather from the Hashemites on the other side of the Arabian peninsula. The Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958, not 1962; Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, was appointed by the British authorities, not elected; Ayatollah Khomeini transferred his exile from Turkey to the holy Shiite city of Najaf not during Saddam Hussein’s rule but fourteen years before Saddam seized power. Security Council resolution 242 was passed in November 1967, not 1968; Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, not 1977, and was assassinated in October 1981, not 1979. Yitzhak Rabin was minister of defense, not prime minister, during the first Palestinian intifada, and al Qaeda was established not in 1998 but a decade earlier. And so on and so forth.

The deeper problem with Fisk’s work is not the sort of thing that can be fixed by acquiring a better research assistant or fact-checking apparatus. Facts must be placed in their proper context, after all, and this demands a degree of good faith that Fisk utterly lacks. Indeed, so blatant and thoroughgoing are his ideological prejudices that his very name has entered the lexicon of the Internet as a synonym for systematic bias. Among the online commentators known as bloggers, the verb “to fisk” has come to mean a point-by-point rebuttal of an egregiously slanted piece of writing—like, classically, a Fisk dispatch from the Middle East.

10 comments:

Angry Chinese Blogger said...

I'm going to have respectfully disagree with you here, "the story needed to be told" is probably the greatest reaso for any journalist to be there.

What is happening in Iraq needs to be witnessed to ensure that the history books that my children and grandchildren will be reading are written by people other than 'patriotic American soldiers'

Imagine what the world would be like if there were more journalists who believed that "the story needed to be told" in Germany during the early days of the holocaust.

Huan said...

That "the story needed to be told" is not the greatest reason for the journalist to be there, it is the only reason for them to be there, and they are doing a dismal job at it. And while is important for the story to be told, it does not take precedence over the other reasons (for non-journalists) for being there.

And had they been in Nazi Germany would they have told the true story or just conform to the limits imposed by the Reich? Wasn't this the case regarding reporting from Iraq under Saddam? What reports were made of the massacres of innocents? Compared to the innumerable reports of limited numerical combat casualties.

I believe journalists make poor historians. Journalists focus on the story of the event misses the story leading up to the event. Usually the reported event is but the finality of quiet currents bursting forth.

Bubbalo said...

Yeah, we'd be much better off getting our info direct from the British/Australian/American governement. It's not like they ever lie. Oh, wait......

Huan said...

bubbalo, that was a silly.

My post no where suggest we should limit ourselves to government sources. Do you know what a strawman is?

Bubbalo said...

Where else will we get information if not from journalists or the government.

I'm sorry to say I do not know what a "strawman" is. Please enlighten me.

Huan said...

you can get the story from people who are a part of it, the soldiers and the civilians.

a strawman argument is when you argue against something that was not said, only so because you can counter it.

Bubbalo said...

Okay, sure, so we're getting the reports from soldiers and civilians who go there. And, funny story, the way that they talk to us is through the journalists. Even funnier, the government can control who does and doesn't enter the country. They can put pressure on people to lie. You are also unlikely to get the full story, given that coalition soldiers and insurgent forces aren't exactly on speaking terms.

Huan said...

So you would rather journalists filter the reports, decide what you ought to know and hear? Wouldn't you rather get it straight from the horses mouth?

Btw, why do you assume that journalists are more honest than the government?

Bubbalo said...

I don't. But if I assume both lie, I can find the story by looking at what everyone says and read between the lines. Hey, I just had a thought, wouldn't have been great if we'd only listened to William Calley's account of events at My Lai. Straight from the horses mouth, as you say.

Huan said...

I agree that it is preferable to consider all sources. I think it is also important to weigh the significance of the message and weigh their probability.

To assume all are liars/lies only invite paranoid ideation at worse, conspiracy ideation at best.