October 20, 2005
About Those Burned Taliban Bodies: Agenda-Driven Report Or Serendipitous Timing - ' A Brief History Of SBS Reporting'Topics: Follies of the Mainstream Media
When Dan Riehl first addressed the "wire-burning" story of what the media is treating like a Abu Ghraib redux, both of us wondered (via email) about both the timing and the source of the story. By reading the previous posts of Dan Riehl, Jason Coleman, and Hyscience, you can gain much more background on the story than you'll find in the MSM - particularly in Dan's and Jason's excellent coverage of the story itself and both of their perspectives and commentary on both the background and the reporting of the reporters.
From the background coverage, you'll learn that both of the reporters behind the "burning bodies" story work for the same company, Australian-owned SBS.
So what do we know about SBS and their coverage of the Middle East and the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? What we know is that SBS, and their reporters, have a history of being consistently slammed for their biased slants of the news, and particularly, their documented misreporting, erroneously stating, and falsely asserting - facts on the ground.
In October 2003 The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council issued a report entitled, "SBS-TV and the Middle East." The report introduction stated:
SBS World News coverage of the Middle East, while the most comprehensive, is nonetheless consistently unbalanced, arguably more so than any other Australian television news service. This has constituted an unbroken pattern for many years which has intensified since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities in September 2000. The problem is pervasive and includes:The exhaustive report identified "13 cases of serious and substantive factual errors" which we may find of interest relative to our "Taliban body burning" incident:
* the language of reporters and presenters, which often spills over into implied or explicit editorialising;
* the selection of overseas news reports and its placement in SBS World News;
* the footage selected to illustrate stories and the graphics used to illustrate the introductions of presenters; and most seriously, the factual accuracy of some SBS news reports and commentary.
1. Misreporting the facts surrounding a criminal case involving the death of a Palestinian and besmirching the Israeli judicial system.A detailed summary of SBS's Middle East reportage for 2001 can be found in the report.
2. Misreporting that the new Sharon government has a policy of increasing and expanding settlements.
3. Falsely asserting that Israeli policy in a given instance originated with Mr Sharon, who had not at the time actually assumed office.
4. Erroneously stating that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel.
5. Wrongly reporting that an Israeli halt to settlement activity is the key finding of the Mitchell Report when it has no key findings as such, but provides a schedule for resuming negotiations once a cease-fire has been effected.
6. Reporting as fact the Palestinian claim that the Palestinians had instituted a cease-fire when in fact it was the Israelis who had instituted a unilateral cease-fire, later ended by a Palestinian suicide bombing.
7. Erroneously reporting that the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had publicly clashed with Mr Sharon on implementing the Mitchell Report.
8. Falsely reporting that Yasser Arafat had arrested two men involved in the murder of a priest when, in fact, it was the Israelis who had done so, while the Palestinian Authority had accused Israel of committing the murder.
9. Misidentifying a spokesman of the Israeli settler movement (Noam Arnon) as an Israeli Foreign Ministry official (Oded Eran) and misleading viewers that his call for an all-out war on the Palestinian Authority was the policy of Israeli government.
10. Incorrectly reporting that Israeli military operations conducted in areas under Palestinian control are a breach of the Oslo agreements. Perusal of the actual agreements reveals that Israel retains on-going security rights, including those of military incursion, for the purpose of self-defence.
11. Misrepresenting the issues that led the US and Israel to withdraw from the Durban anti-racism conference as purely a matter of opposing anti-Israel language in a draft resolution. In fact both countries were far more alarmed at anti-Semitic clamour of the whole conference and a draft resolution calling in effect for Israel's dismantling. The same report also misrepresented Australia's principled opposition to the draft resolution in terms that suggested that it actually supported it.
12. Falsely claiming that six Palestinian civilians had been killed in Israeli military counter-terrorism action when in fact four of the six fatalities were members of the Islamist terrorist group, Hamas.
13. Incorrectly reporting that the US had threatened to take Israel's presence in the West Bank to the UN Security Council, when nothing of the kind was threatened or in fact took place.
Within the same report there's a section dealing with DATELINE, the very program in which the film of the burning Taliban bodies, and the interview of Stephen Dupont, was reported.
Since Mark Davis took over as host of Dateline, the programme has shown a remarkably consistent agenda in relation to the war on terror and the question of Iraq. It sometimes seems to be aiming at becoming an electronic version of Green Left Weekly. We note in this context that then SBS deputy chair, Neville Roach, called in an opinion piece in The Age (12 March 2003) for journalists to use their position to oppose the war on Iraq.You will find a detailed chronology of SBS's misreporting here.
No senior official in SBS appears to have queried this astonishing call and certainly none has been moved to state publicly that it is manifestly inconsistent with SBS's stated objective of encouraging the media to be objective and non-partisan, as well as its obligations as a taxpayer-funded broadcaster.
On September 26, 2005 Barry Hing, a Sydney writer, had a piece in The Australian entitled, Barry Hing: More bias on view at the public broadcaster.
SBS Television says it "celebrates difference and promotes understanding". Nothing could be further from the truth. A survey of its documentary coverage of the Iraq war and related issues shows that the public broadcaster is failing to meet the standards it has set itself.Let's regress a moment to what Jason Coleman writes in his post on "Dateline."
An examination of its program guide for most of 2005, particularly immediately after Iraq's January 30 elections, shows a scheduling of documentaries that either opposed the role of the US-led Coalition, highlighted the downside of the 2003 invasion, placed the US in a negative light, or at the very least were produced well before the historic vote. This is not to say that none of the programs should have been broadcast. Far from it, as all offer contributions to the debate over Iraq. At the same time, some were repeats, raising questions about their use-by dates.
But the main question is: where were the differing viewpoints? The issue is especially relevant given the hours SBS allocated for these documentaries, many of which appeared in prime time, and its own commitment to fairness. Furthermore, if SBS Independent -- which commissions Australian drama and documentaries for SBS Television -- can commission programs against the war, should it also embark on similar exercises with film-makers offering different viewpoints?
Immediately after the January 30 election, SBS repeated Army of One (February 14), produced by Canadian film-maker Sarah Goodman and originally released in 2003. This is how SBS described it: "While the world watches America wage war and occupy Iraq, a largely unknown story unfolds on US military bases every day where thousands of young people are indoctrinated into the armed services. This program follows three young recruits who joined the military soon after September 11 and examines how the army forces them to suppress their individuality through a program of humiliation, indoctrination and devaluation." The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation noted that Goodman "sees the machinations of the American military with the clarity of the outsider, a very Canadian perspective".
This was followed by The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children (February 15), produced for German TV in 2004. It examines the effects of the use of depleted uranium shells by Coalition forces in Iraq. The next documentary - more than a month after the historic election - was a repeat of Beyond Baghdad (March 3), made after former US administrator L. Paul Bremer III suggested PBS looked outside Baghdad, saying - in the words of the US network - "the press was doing a terrible job of covering the story". But it was filmed in November and December 2003, more than a year before the January 30, 2005 election.More than six weeks later, SBS broadcast Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception and Robert Greenwald's Uncovered: The War on Iraq. Both are well-known critiques of the war, the Bush administration and its supporters in the media, and were released in 2004. SBS screened them almost back to back on March 15.
This double screening was followed two days later by a repeat of Robbing the Cradle of Civilization (March 17). Produced for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it looks at the pillaging of Iraq's archeological treasures. One of its main themes is the robbery at the National Museum after Saddam's regime collapsed in April 2003.
The documentary was first released in October 2003, six to seven months after the end of the Baath regime, and as news about the museum's losses was still undergoing significant change.
The emergence of doubts about some of the claims in The New York Times's April 12, 2003 report of 170,000 artefacts being looted - soon after it appeared - was one illustration of how far the news was evolving, while CNN reported on November 11, 2003, after the documentary's release, that "the thefts are not as widespread as initially feared".
The next week SBS screened Purple Hearts from The Netherlands, about five US soldiers badly wounded in Iraq. This was followed - on the same night of March 22 - by another Greenwald documentary, Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties. As SBS said: "Unconstitutional, the latest documentary from Robert Greenwald, details the unprecedented way that the civil liberties of American citizens have been infringed upon, curtailed and rolled back since 9/11 - all in the name of National Security."
April kicked off with a documentary actually made in 2005. Big Storm - The Lynndie England Story (April 5) looked at one of the central figures in the Abu Ghraib scandal and her claims that orders for the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners came from senior levels. Then came A Company of Soldiers (April 26), a PBS program released in 2004 that showed a US Army unit in Iraq. It seemed to be one of the few documentaries that put Americans in a sympathetic light.
Indeed, The New York Times - long a critic of the war - described it as such: "There are some playful moments and many sad, troubling ones. But mostly, it is a documentary of young soldiers under siege from an invisible enemy. It is an antidote to tales of torture of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib - a respectful and sympathetic portrait of American troops risking their lives."
Additional personal accounts followed, with Soldier's Heart (May 3) on the psychological impact of the war on the US military and Iraq, My Country (June 9), on the journey of Hadi Mahood, an Australian-Iraqi film-maker, back to Iraq, commissioned by SBS Independent.
On June 23, the channel broadcast Carmel Travers's Truth, Lies and Intelligence, also commissioned by SBS Independent. As the SBS guide said: "After scores of interviews with senior intelligence analysts, Iraqi refugees, Arab leaders, insurgent bombers and ordinary citizens, Travers believes that there can be only one conclusion, the invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq was a war based on a litany of lies."
Afterwards, other documentaries relevant to Iraq and the war on terrorism were also broadcast: Someone's Watching (part 1, June 28, part 2, July 5), released in 2004, and a repeat of Rumsfeld's War (July 18), also released in 2004.
Again, the point here is not that these documentaries should never have been broadcast. After all, they offer important arguments -- from certain perspectives -- on the impact of the war and 9/11. But why does the emphasis have to be overwhelmingly negative towards the US?
One of the key features of SBS's documentary programming this year is the general opposition to US arguments on Iraq and the absence of a more even-handed approach. If SBS Independent can commission documentaries condemning the US, surely it can also look into other, but still critical, viewpoints.
Possible themes could include the full extent of human rights abuses under Saddam Hussein's regime, details of which are now emerging; improvements that are taking place under the Coalition; and the fact that significant numbers of Iraqis support the moves towards democracy. After all, almost 60 per cent of registered voters in the heart of the despotic Middle East took part in the January election. Such an approach would represent a strong reiteration of its commitment to fairness and healthy debate.
Even the Australian Dateline, takes a particularly biased approach to the story, by leading with:SO LET'S PUT IT TOGETHER NOW! Dateline in Australia is SBS.Since September 11, we've all become uncomfortably familiar with names like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah and maybe even Bagram in Afghanistan. They're all places we now associate with human rights violations or worse - military atrocities and possibly potential war crimes. But after our first story tonight, you can add another placename to that list - Gonbaz in southern Afghanistan, about a 100km from the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.Now this paragraph says ALOT. First, they leave out that September 11th was an attack on the United States by al Queda, and that al Queda was sponsored, harbored and protected by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and they jump to associating September 11th, not with the attack on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and the 4th failed attack on another target, but they associate September 11th with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah and stretch to include Bagram, labeling all as "human rights violations", "military atrocities" and "possibly potential war crimes".
Stephen Dupont and John Martinkus work for SBS - Australia's public television. SBS has a documented record of anti-U.S. and anti-Israel reporting bias, is openly against America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has repeatedly misreported facts to suit their own anti-U.S military agenda.
Are they misreporting the facts, again? Riehl World View, Jason Colman.com, and Hyscience have delivered the facts - you get to decide.
As for me, I have no qualms over making my position clear. We're witnessing yet another case of incredible media bias and misrepresentation of the facts on the ground.
Stephen "Taliban" Dupont and John "the American hater" Martinkus - the guy that said, "There was a reason to kill [British captive Kenneth] Bigley, there was a reason to kill the Americans." have once again delivered a report on life as they'd like you and I to see it, but that only exists in their American-hating, terrorist-supporting, leftist minds.
The Taliban soldiers had been dead for over 24 hours and were begining to become a concern. So in keeping with good battlefield hygiene practices, they disposed the bodies in the most effective and safest means possible, burning. It's quite obvious that soldiers dug in around a position, with enemy forces in the vicinity, cannot be expected to go out and bury the bodies; and the Taliban certainly wasn't going to come out and collect them (this is a war, remember). So we can't really fault them for burning the bodies.There are no connecting dots here, merely dot-heads trying to pass-off disconnected events through the medium of their employer, SBS and Dateline.
Now the reporter on the scene, Stephen Dupont, who was embedded with the American troops, himself admits that it was later, when a PsyOps unit arrived on the scene, that more was made of the burning than actually took place, IN ORDER TO "smoke out" and "provoke" a fight with other Taliban fighters on the scene. Taken as it is, a separate tactical event, this is not that big a deal. The goal of armies is to find and engage the enemy, to root them out and destroy them. PsyOps has long been considered a legitimate and effective means of waging war. All parties to conflicts use it and it generates the desired effects.
Now what the two articles are doing is trying to CONNECT unrelated dots. The articles, and Stephen Dupont himself, are trying to connect dots that aren't necessarily connected. Their purpose? I can only suppose that the purpose is to make American soldiers look bad and to try to incite Islamic hatred outside of this particular incident. By connecting these two SEPARATE events, the burning of the bodies for legitimate health reasons and the later PsyOps operation, the articles are trying to imply that the Soldiers who burned these bodies did so to "offend" Muslims, when it fact they did not.
They're trying to pass off "fake news" as fact, and the only people buying it are the MSM and the moonbats that listen to every anti-American military story they report, while waiting with bated breath for the next one.
Note: After completing this post and checking the links I observed several instances of the The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council site being down. Later, it would be up. You may have to keep trying in order to reach their links.
Posted by Richard at October 20, 2005 6:32 PM
I have to make a comment upon this post. You see I am very anti-SBS as well as anti-ABC. The SBS network was set up as the migrant version of the ABC and it is run by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This particular network is funded by the government, yet it is vehemently anti-government. The reporters tend to be extremely anti-John Howard.
This is the same network that has given us the biased Kerry O'Brien. I find it intolerable to watch a news service with this particular reporter/commentator who loves himself too much.
The ABC reporters and staff see themselves as some form of elite. They tend to think that they can make and break Prime Ministers. Unfortunately they have all become extremely tired with their rants and tirades, and their misreporting of the facts.
One reason that I dislike anything presented by Kerry O'Brien is that he is such a jerk that he allows his biases shine through in his reporting. He and his co-workers have a tendency to be very biased. I truly doubt their ability, when it comes to foreign affairs to report the truth. It was on the ABC that I happened to see the reports about the Terri Schiavo case. They even showed the footage that truly showed precisely how alive she really was, and they sat there claiming that she was "comatose" etc.
However, the best and worst example of their reporting happened to be last night's coverage of the controversy surrounding the evolution debate. If you want a heap of misreporting and misrepresentation of something then this particular story has to wins hands down ( it involves the introduction of not creation science but the subject that covers the possibility that there is a God after all - sorry if I am being vague, but when my disease is active I tend not to be able to remember things all that well). These reporters got hold of a paentologist who claimed that anything that did not follow Darwin's theory meant that he might as well give away his studies (or at least along those lines). My understanding of the course is that it is in fact taking the middle line, that not everything evolved and that there has to be a Creator. I see nothing wrong with that hypothesis. However, the ABC reporters focussed on the scientists who were up in arms at the possibility that something else could be taught that would upset their own case.
I think that you will get the picture that I somehow detest these reporters and happen to think that they are jerks who are no better than dhimmis.
Posted by: Maggie4Life at October 21, 2005 6:31 AM
Articles Related to Follies of the Mainstream Media:
- About Those Burned Taliban Bodies: Agenda-Driven Report Or Serendipitous Timing - ' A Brief History Of SBS Reporting' - Oct 20, 2005