Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Endless Supply of Militants


Sickened and frustrated, I sent the following to the Ombudsman:
Dear Ombudsman,

This morning at 8am ET, your newscaster Giles Snyder read the following report during the hourly news summary:
"In eastern Afghanistan, airstrikes have killed at least 22 militants. The US led coalition says Afghan police called for help when Taliban gunmen attacked government offices in two separate towns in Paktika province last night. A provincial governor says surviving militants fled toward the Pakistani border."
As a member of my local NPR affiliated station, I am requesting NPR to be more professional in its reporting and stop its usual practice of repeating as fact claims that are made by US military authorities in Iraq and by US-NATO authorities in Afghanistan.

You must know that the credibility of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has been proven to be lacking. The McClatchy News service has recently confirmed that the US military practiced the systematic use of torture for nearly two years early in the Afghanistan War. Also the Afghanistan War has been marked from the start by high levels of civilian casualties from US airstrikes, numbers which the US military has denied. It was only last May and June that media attention was focused on the extremely high numbers of civilian deaths in Afghanistan and the US and NATO's reluctance to admit their responsibility.

You also must know that disputes over US-NATO claims about its airstrikes in Afghanistan have not diminished. A brief look at RAWA, a respected Afghan women's advocacy group, reveals stories on June 11, 2008, June 14, 2008, and June 23, 2008 that call into question the credibility of US-NATO authorities regarding their actions in Afghanistan.

I know you must be very busy and I'm not assuming you will have a chance to read all the links I've included in this letter, but I felt it was important to convey to you that this is not just a matter of opinion and perception. NPR is practicing poor journalism and doing its listeners a grave disservice by repeatedly restating the statements of US-NATO military authorities as if they were factual.

If NPR is going to persist in broadcasting the statements of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, it is essential that these statements be qualified by disclaimers such as "Previous coalition assertions frequently have been inaccurate or disputed by witnesses," or "Our staff were unable to independently confirm any of these figures through observation or interviews."

Thank you for your time, and you should be aware that I am posting this letter, and any response I receive, on my blog, NPR Check.
We'll see what comes of it...

6 comments:

Porter Melmoth said...

Good work. NPR has to be called on the carpet with facts, not just complaints. Thanks for putting in the effort in this matter. NPR is hardly naive in its approach in covering the Afghan War. Indeed, it seems carefully calculated. This is just one example of the flawed journalism that NPR practices. That's why we use 'propaganda' as a descriptive term for NPR so frequently. Unpopular and failed wars always need propaganda. What is unacceptable is that NPR, a quasi-government agency, is so readily cooperative in fulfilling this function.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Heh - they're probably feigning naivety all the while, like "ohh dear, it's that pesky Mytwords again. Why can't he 'jssst' learn to turn his frown upside-down and play ball with the rest of us?"

pamela said...

Mytwords, you are one of my few heroes. Bravo, and thanks.

Kevan Smith said...

Robo response yet?

Mytwords said...

So far just the first robo-reply letting my know that my letter was received. Nothing else yet...

Kevan Smith said...

I will be mighty surprised if you receive an individualized response. NPR is not going to discuss their news practices with listeners. They are the professionals, and we know nothing about how the job is done. It's institutional arrogance.