Abu Ghraib: Media Coverage

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coverage of Abu Ghraib
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Media coverage of the alleged acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at Abu Ghraib--as well as coverage of the war in Iraq--has varied, as media coverage always does.

The April 29, 2004, CBS News report "Abuse Of Iraqi POWs By GIs Probed" by Dan Rather revealed that in March "the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners."

However, CBS informed, to date, "the details of what happened have been kept secret.... It turns out photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report." Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski "and her command staff may face the end of long military careers. And six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq -- and possible prison time."

Accompanying that news report, "CBS News broadcast pictures of a handful of smirking soldiers, male and female, abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners. While the news -- and the pictures -- rocketed around the globe, the military revealed that most of the guards in the pictures were already under arrest and that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the Army Reserve, who ran the military prisons in Iraq, had been admonished and suspended from command in January. Now, months later, the military says it is investigating the allegations." [1]

Hank Kalet, managing editor of the South Brunswick Post (New Jersey) comments in his May 11, 2004, article "The Abu Ghraib scandal is deeper than just a couple of rogue soldiers" that "The Washington Post has been brutal in its editorials on this for the last week or so, and today's remarkable missive is no exception. ... It is important to note," he writes, "straight up, that the Post was a major cheerleader for the war effort and has not wavered in its support."

On May 11, 2004, Slate's Timothy Noah wrote "The Right's Abu Ghraib Denial. Is the liberal outrage really worse than the torture?"

"The rapidly emerging conservative line on Abu Ghraib is that Congress and the news media are exploiting the story in order to discredit the Bush administration. 'Clearly, the images are serving the political agenda of many newspapers,' sniffed Col Allen, editor-in-chief of the New York Post, to the New York Times. Until this past Saturday Abu Ghraib was kept off Page One of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post, proving that the Post's loyalty to right-wing politics is greater than its not-inconsiderable loyalty to Fleet Street-style tabloid journalism. Murdoch publications have downplayed Abu Ghraib even more than the rest of the conservative press. The Weekly Standard 's Web site had nothing to say until yesterday, and the Times piece quotes Fox News executive producer Bill Shine saying he's 'dialing back' on use of the photographs.
"But other conservative commentators, while less skittish about discussing Abu Ghraib, have adopted more or less the same argument. Torture is bad; liberal outrage against torture is worse."

In the May 12-18, 2004, New York Press, Michelangelo Signorile offers "The Sickpuppy Defense. Conservatives circle the torture wagon."

"Conservative media pundits revel in their 'personal responsibility' and 'stand up like a man' mantras. But when the spotlight shines on one of their own, they quickly become the epitome of the lame stereotypes they have long perpetrated of the whining, sissy-boy left, blaming everyone but themselves for the problems that ail us.
"Case in point: After days of silence on the abuse by American soldiers of Iraqi prisoners and the detrimental affect it will have on U.S. national security, the conservative National Review ran a piece online by Jonah Goldberg, trying to offer us some 'context' for these crimes.
"In Goldberg Land, who do you suppose is to blame for the abuse and the ensuing public relations disaster? Was it the president, for taking us to war based on false claims about weapons of mass destruction, incurring the wrath of Muslims in the region and thus opening us up to even more hatred and violence should something like this abuse occur? Was it Donald Rumsfeld, for doing the war on the cheap, allowing the command to break down, leaving many tasks to civilian private contractors who could operate without any authority and covering up reports of wrong-doing from Congress?
"No, the true culprit was CBS ... [which] should have stopped itself. Now [Goldberg writes,] we'll all have to live with the consequences--and some of us will die from them."

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