Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wall to Wall to Nearly Nothing at All

I happened to take a look at Craig Murray's blog a few days ago and noticed his interesting piece about the recent Airline Bombing Plot jury decision. This got me to wondering about NPR's coverage of this case.

Let's do a little time traveling, with our stopping off point being August 10, 2006. If you've wisely forgotten what miserable events were roiling the news back then, I've pasted in the screen shot (click for larger view) of just some of NPR's Morning Edition coverage of the foiled "mass murder" plot to supposedly bomb multiple airliners. As you can see there was no lack of hype to NPR's coverage. NPR considered the "plot" so significant that it devoted a separate web page to the story. It's important to note that not everyone was so sanguine about these US/British claims: early on, Craig Murray cautioned skepticism, noting that both Blair and Bush were in sorry political shape and needed some big, positive PR (especially with US midterm elections coming in November).

Well, what do you know, travel forward from August 10, 2006 to September 9, 2008 (just a few short days ago) and the apocalyptic plot has shrunk to a British jury convicting 3 of the suspects on conspiracy to murder charges. Yes, the men were apparently plotting to set of bombs and kill innocent people (no small matter), but the original story was clearly one of "over-egging and exaggeration of the plot" as Obsolete has noted in an excellent post on the implications of the decision.

So given all the "Oh My God, Mass Murder, Super Terrorist Attack" coverage that NPR devoted to the allegations, surely they will provide some substantial coverage of the fizzled conclusion of this story. Let's see: ah, ha! one little, teeny tiny story on Morning Edition of September 9, 2008 with Renee Montagne talking to Rob Gifford. In the piece Gifford's tone is defensive, mostly blaming the complex nature of the case for the failure to win a bigger conviction:
"But frankly speaking, intelligence officials here are completely dismayed by this verdict, and really it has highlighted some of the problems in complex cases like this....They weren't sure the plot was far enough along, and indeed that has proved the case because the jury has come back and has not convicted the men of conspiracy to blow up airplanes."
Interestingly, NPR didn't even mention that if there was a major plot afoot, it was US intervention that undercut the British surveillance of the suspects. Not the first time that the US has intervened for short term public relations benefits at the cost of securing real intelligence (e.g. Milan and Miami).

So we have a story of politicians lying about a non-existent massive terror "plot" for their own political gain or we have a story of the investigation into an actual massive terror plot being derailed for political gain. Either way I'd humbly suggest that this deserves more than just one little cursory chat between Rob Gifford and Renee Montagne on Morning Edition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whoever said that "Ignorance is bliss" must have had NPR in mind.

NPR has a very hard time admitting they were wrong. It is much easier to just ignore the fact that you were wrong than it is to confront it -- and admit it.

In that regard, NPR (and the rest of the mainstream media, for that matter) is a mirror of the people who support them.

The corporations underwriting NPR certainly do not have anything to gain by admitting that the policies of the administration that they have supported have been a total disaster for the American people: giving us the Iraq war debacle and the current financial mess: recession/depression.

And a large fraction of the American populace also have nothing to gain by admitting that their man Bush has been an unmitigated disaster for this country.

So they ignore (if at all possible) and deny if ignoring does not work.

In other words, NPR is just giving their supporters what they want to hear, so they can continue to live in their little bubble where everything is going to be all right in the end.

NPR is telling us fairy tales, but unfortunately, in the real world, not everyone lives happily ever after.