Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Passive Attack

This morning offered an interesting contrast between coverage of a story by BBC radio and NPR. I woke up to hear Dan Damon of the BBC interviewing one of the authors of the latest study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health--the study, published in The Lancet, concludes that between 426,369 to 793,663 violent deaths of Iraqi civilians have occured since the US invasion of Iraq.
Then about twenty minutes later I heard Anne Garrels of NPR discrediting the report by noting "that the timing and methodology are being scrutinized," that the previous Lancet Report in 2004 was "criticized as high" and that this current study has numbers that are "more than ten times Iraq Body Count."
This offered a real study. Dan Damon is one of the BBC characters that really irks me--he is hard-hitting and aggressive in his questioning with guests whose politics he is at odds with. At times he is even self-righteous and sarcastic. BUT, in this case, his highly skeptical questions about the report were directed at one of the authors of the report, who answered his questions knowledgably and carefully--frequently explaining the methodology and why the numbers differ from other estimates. It was INFORMATIVE--and listeners could draw their own conclusions. Anne Garrels, by contrast, simply provided the negative reactions of nameless critics (who clearly have a stake in keeping the numbers low).
For thoses wanting more, Juan Cole offers a far more cogent look at the report and how it will be attacked.


jules said...

Garrels should know better, but as Juan Cole says, "a significant fraction of the business elite in this country is very invested in the Iraq War, and they will try to discredit the study. Can you imagine the profits being made by the military-industrial complex on all this? Do they really want the US public to know the truth about what the weapons they produce have done to Iraqis? When you see someone waxing cynical about the study, ask yourself: Does this person know what a chi square is? And, who does this person work for, really?"

Who does Anne Garrels work for? Why, the Nice Polite Republicans, of course!

Morton K. Brussel said...

It's great that you continue to document the betrayal of NPR, a betrayal for those who thought that the public network would be a counterpoint to the mass commercial media in its alliance with power. NPR has shown itself also to be, in general, in alliance (in bed with) power. (After all, where do they get most of their money?) The exceptions, and there are some, tend to be timorous.

One can believe that NPR takes its cues from the NYT.