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reeds
05-13-2004, 08:10 PM
NEW YORK - Until stomach-churning pictures emerged of naked Iraqi prisoners stacked like firewood or held at the end of a leash by their American captors, wartime prison abuse was a virtual non-story.

Similarly, the death of American Nick Berg in Iraq (news - web sites) may have been little more than a footnote until video was posted Tuesday showing an executioner cutting off the man's head with a knife.

To most of the world, Iraq is a war of images. Pictures can drive public opinion and policy: the statue of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) toppling in Baghdad, President Bush (news - web sites) standing on an aircraft carrier in front of a "mission accomplished" sign, the charred bodies of four contractors who had driven into disaster.

"It doesn't become real for a lot of people until they see it," said Edward Trayes, a photojournalism professor at Temple University. "It's truth in a way that even words don't describe."

Past wars have produced similar iconic images. The soldiers raising the American flag on Iwo Jima in World War II became a symbol of determination and triumph, while a naked girl running away from a napalm attack spoke to Vietnam's inhumanity.

Historians don't discount the cumulative impact of nightly news reports on American deaths in turning many Americans against the Vietnam War.

A ban on media coverage of coffins arriving from Iraq also shows the government's awareness of the potency of images.

What makes Iraq different is there are so many more potential sources for images, and technology digital cameras, the Web, live television cameras can make them available almost instantaneously, said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University.

That's coupled with a deeply divided world eager to seize on images that prove their political points, he said.

Berg's body was found last Saturday. The first media reports of the discovery were filed Tuesday, only hours before existence of the video became known. Few, if any, media outlets showed the beheading, although some depicted a knife held to Berg's head. The ominous, hooded assailants and Berg's obvious terror told the story visually.

In the two weeks since CBS' "60 Minutes II" first broadcast pictures of American soldiers allegedly mistreating Iraqi prisoners, there's been a congressional probe, calls for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and worldwide expressions of revulsion.

Yet the military had known about the allegations for months. Newspapers and television didn't ignore the story, but it was generally off the public radar.

"What would have happened to this story if there weren't pictures?" asked Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes II. "I bet you not much would have come of it."

"60 Minutes II" began its investigation not after hearing abuse reports, but after hearing there were photos, Fager said.

Army private Lynndie England was shown in one picture smiling and pointing to the genitals of a prisoner. England, who said she was following orders, has become a visual symbol of the scandal.

A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research enter found that 76 percent of Americans had seen the pictures.

The Pew poll indicates they've had an impact. After the pictures were released, a majority of Pew survey respondents 51 percent said for the first time that the war in Iraq was not going well.


Like many newspapers, the News-Sun in Springfield, Ohio wrote little about the charges until there were pictures, said editor Karla Garrett Harshaw.

"When you see those images, it just has a different feel," Harshaw said. "It evokes more emotion because you see it. (You think) my goodness, how could they do that?"

The Associated Press reported in detail last fall about former Iraqi prisoners complaining of abuse, including attacks by dogs and people being tied up and punished by spending hours in the sun.

Similarly, CNN reported on a military investigation into alleged abuses on Jan. 16. The report mentioned the possibility of photos, although CNN didn't get the pictures.

Rumsfeld, during his May 7 testimony to Congress, mentioned those reports: "Everyone knew it," he said. "CNN was there, asking questions."

Even after the "60 Minutes II" report, there was an odd public pause before the impact sunk in. ABC's "World News Tonight" didn't know how to respond and waited two nights to do its first story on the controversy, its chief producer said.

It seemed to hit the news more quickly in Europe, CBS' Fager said.
"I was surprised," he said. "I thought it would get a much bigger initial reaction than it did."

CNN Pentagon (news - web sites) reporter Barbara Starr, who reported on the alleged abuse at least four times before the pictures came out, said they illustrated a breakdown in military discipline that hadn't been seen in generations. The U.S. military was cast in the unfamiliar public role of bad guys.

The episode should be a lesson for the news media, Starr said.

"It's very clear that potentially terrible abuses were taking place," she said, "and it didn't become a big story until people could see these virtually pornographic images

dude1394
11-01-2004, 07:11 AM
Mainstream Media's Love Affair With Kerry

The Center for Media and Public Affairs conducted a study confirming what everyone already knew -- the mainstream media gave John Kerry the kid-glove treatment this year, while being unusually harsh to George Bush. What most of us didn't realize is that the amount of positive press given to Kerry set a new record for media brown-nosing, the Washington Times reports:

"It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group.

"Kerry also got better press than anyone else in the days before the primaries as well," Mr. Lichter added.

In October alone, Mr. Kerry had a "record-breaking 77 percent positive press evaluations," compared with 34 percent positive for Mr. Bush, the study states.

The overall treatment of Kerry broke the record of a man whose shoes he appears to fill -- Walter Mondale in 1984. Not coincidentally, the man Mondale opposed received the worst treatment by the media since they began recording the data: Ronald Reagan received only 9% favorable press coverage in the year of his landslide victory against Mondale, an appalling number that reveals the complete lack of context and intellect of the mainstream media. The man who broke the back of the Soviet Union and won the Cold War could not rate any better than 9% favorable treatment from the American media?

jacktruth
11-01-2004, 02:32 PM
Study finds press pro-Kerry


By Jennifer Harper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES


Sen. John Kerry has gotten the white-glove treatment from the press, garnering more praise from journalists than any other presidential candidate in the last quarter-century, according to a new analysis of almost 500 news stories released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
"It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group.
"Kerry also got better press than anyone else in the days before the primaries as well," Mr. Lichter added.
In October alone, Mr. Kerry had a "record-breaking 77 percent positive press evaluations," compared with 34 percent positive for Mr. Bush, the study states.
Unprecedented, untrammeled accolades for Mr. Kerry were more than debate-related bounce, however. Since Labor Day, he also had a total of 58 percent positive stories, with just 36 percent for Mr. Bush.
Journalists seem particularly transfixed by the Democratic challenger this year: In the 2000 election, Mr. Bush and challenger Al Gore got equally lousy press, with each receiving evaluations that were about 2-to-1 negative.
But Mr. Bush didn't get the absolute worst press on record. With only 9 percent positive stories in 1984, President Reagan got the most negative treatment by news outlets on record, the study says.
Until this year, the record-holder for journalistic praise went to Walter Mondale, who accrued 56 percent positive press evaluations, also in 1984.
"Democrats get the breaks," the study states. "In the past seven elections since 1980, the Democratic candidate has gotten significantly better press in four of those elections."
Republicans fared better in the press than Democrats in only one race George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The two parties shared an equal amount of press condemnation in two elections Bush vs. Gore in 2000 and Jimmy Carter vs. Mr. Reagan in 1980.
The study examined 491 press evaluations of the two candidates in print and broadcast reports that appeared between Oct. 1 and Oct. 22. The group compared them with news stories in comparable time periods since 1980, gleaned from their own records and those maintained by George Washington University.
Others have similar findings. A separate study of more than 800 news stories released by the District-based Project for Excellence in Journalism last week found that Mr. Bush has been "battered" by the press this October, with 59 percent of his evaluations "clearly negative in nature."
Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.



Anybody who doesn't acknowledge media bias truly has thier head in the sand.