Neal Boortz is mad about the media:

It's already started: the media is rooting for us to lose the war on terror….Run the Abu Ghraib story on the front page for three weeks. Bury the Nick Berg story after one day. Ignore the Sarin and mustard gas finds. If the story will help Bush, bury it. If it will hurt Bush, run it day after day.

Well, that's one perspective. Leaving aside the issue of whether the Berg murder and Sarin finds have been buried in any meaningful sense, one reason why the torture scandal keeps attracting coverage is that it, unlike the Berg video, keeps yielding new developments. Like this story from ABC:

Dozens of soldiers—other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged—were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS.

"There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet."

Or this from Reuters:

U.S. forces beat three Iraqis working for Reuters and subjected them to sexual and religious taunts and humiliation during their detention last January in a military camp near Falluja, the three said Tuesday.

The three first told Reuters of the ordeal after their release but only decided to make it public when the U.S. military said there was no evidence they had been abused, and following the exposure of similar mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Two of the three said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it…All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs. They said they did not want to give details publicly earlier because of the degrading nature of the abuse.

If there's a scandal in the coverage of Abu Ghraib, it isn't that the press is paying too much attention. It's that it took it so long to notice what was going on.

NEXT: Cuban Mission

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  1. So by Boortz’s definition, “los(ing) the war on terror” means “hurt(ing) George Bush.” What does that make his opponent in this democratic electoral contest?

    Wasn’t getting rid of this “l’etat c’est moi” bullshit part of the reason we drove out the British and set up a Republic?

  2. I think the point is the Abu Ghraib story is just one small part of the war in Iraq, but it is front and center day after day in the papers. The media want to attack the war so see it as a perfect story to concentrate on, giving everything else short shrift. Previously, all they had was the 9/11 Commission–much much less important than the war–to blow up, so they see Abu Ghraib as a great opportunity. In both cases, it’s not the story that demonstrates media bias, but the disproportionate attention it gets.

  3. Captain,

    Disproportionate to what? Other major US scandals?

  4. The thing about the AG coverage is that the way the media has played it has had very little to do with any actual developments. Now, there is an ongoing process story in the Abu Ghraib story, but that isn’t really what the media has been reporting on. Rather, it as been a ceaseless pounding away with the same images over and over and the same vacuous opinion pieces over and over.

    I think Boortz is onto something – the media consciously or unconsciously shapes the news to further an agenda of unseating George Bush. Incidental damage to the war effort is simply of no concern.

    I mean, really, by any objective measure, the colossal theft and graft involved in the oil-for food program is much more consequential than Abu Ghraib – the UN was corrupted, people died as a result of UN corrupton, governments were very likely subverted, billions were stolen, a genocidal maniac was propped up. There are plenty of process developments on that front, with multiple investigations, people fleeing overseas, coverups and intimidation. By the standards used to defend the Abu Ghraib coverage, there should be much more coverage of the UN scandal.

    But there isn’t. I await an explanation of why not that fits the facts better than the claim that its not reported because because it doesn’t further the agenda of unseating Bush.

  5. it also doesn’t involve the american government. which is also a factor…

    of course, it should be covered better because it is a huge story.

  6. If there’s a scandal in the coverage of Abu Ghraib, it isn’t that the press is paying too much attention.

    Yeah, whatever. Now explain why “there are no WMDs in Iraq” stories got front-page coverage and “oh, gee, there ARE WMDs in Iraq” stories are now getting buried in favor stories of comparatively trivial stuff like abused Iraqi prisoners.

  7. dhex, if by “involve the American goverment” you mean “damage the Bush administration”, then I agree.

    The UN scandal does “involve” the American government in a broader sense. Our dues support the UN, of course, but there is a Congressional investigation which right now is being stymied by Kofi’s Koverup. I would think international criminals thumbing their noses at a Congressional inquiry and strongarming witnesses would be a great story of interest to the US public.

  8. Now explain why ‘there are no WMDs in Iraq’ stories got front-page coverage and ‘oh, gee, there ARE WMDs in Iraq’ stories are now getting buried in favor stories of comparatively trivial stuff like abused Iraqi prisoners.

    The fact that you think the Abu Ghraib story is “comparatively trivial” — and that the sarin find is being “buried” — says more about your bias than the media’s.

    How the sarin story gets played depends largely on events that haven’t happened yet. If this leads to a bigger find, you can expect that to get a lot of coverage, especially if it turns out that a supply of chemical weapons is now in the hands of terrorists. (This won’t be a good marker of pro- or anti-war bias, though, since you can make the case — and people surely will — that the US invasion made it more likely that the weapons would move from state stockpiles to terrorist cells.) On the other hand, if it’s definitively demonstrated that the sarin is an isolated and accidental leftover from the ’80s (I’ve read conflicting opinions as to how likely this is), then it will probably peter out as a topic in both the mainstream media and the media-baiting blogosphere. Etc.

    Whatever happens, I doubt you’ll see many apologies for the earlier stories about the absence of WMDs, since the core of those accounts — that the US made inaccurate claims based on faulty intelligence — remains true. (Or did those mobile labs turn up while I wasn’t looking?)

    Like Abu Ghraib, the sarin is a developing story. Unlike Abu Ghraib, there aren’t as many developments to report yet. Give it time.

  9. Don’t you think there’s a certain sense to the American media dwelling on problems with the American government and American military? The oil-for-food imbroglio is a huge problem — but (from everything I’ve read) it’s not a problem that american voters can address come november. I’d certainly like to see the Russian and French press pound away at the UN scandal, but whether they do is their problem, not ours.

  10. Why are the prisoner abuses getting more attention then the Berg beheading, in my opinion it is like this: The insurgents and their actions are not the problem of the US citizen. The Army and the US government is, what a terrorist does or does not do, does not reflect poorly on the USA, what a soldier does, can and will reflect poorly on the whole country. The Iraqi and other insurgents actions reflect poorly on them, so there is no reason to be as outraged. As the WarHawks have constantly pointed out, we are in a war and people die! However in the confines of a prison, the prisoners were not a threat and it only reflects poorly on all Americans when our soldiers engage in abuse. Especially when after no weapons of any importance had been uncovered, the Hawks reverted to claiming that “Saddam Hussein now sits in a prison cell, and Iraqi men and women are no longer carried to torture chambers and rape rooms ?”?Bush, remarks on “Winston Churchill and the War on Terror,” Feb. 4, 2004 ? Two weeks after Bush was informed of the reports of abuse in the Iraqi prisons, This was still being trumped as a moral justification for the war. However that is out the window if the American ran prisons are no more free or abuse and rape then Saddams prisions were. As for the Sarin gas, well it is only developing and may turn out to be nothing.

  11. What a bunch of pussies Reuters employs. How exactly were they “forced” to lick there dirty fingers? Any self respecting journalist would have told those soldiers to go fuck themselves.

  12. Boortz should worry about getting all his own people on the same page. One right-wing talk show host (I can’t remember his name), for the last week or so, has been focusing on all sorts of stuff about Berg that doesn’t meet the smell test–including information that ties him, at least indirectly, to Al Qaeda and Al Fatah. If the conservative talking points are shock, anger, and moral outrage, they need to have a quiet talk with this guy.

  13. On reflection, I spoke too categorically when I wrote that “one reason why the torture scandal keeps attracting coverage is that it, unlike the Berg video, keeps yielding new developments.” The Abu Ghraib affair obviously offers journalists much more material, but there hasn’t been a shortage of new wrinkles in the Berg saga. This, for example.

    (In case it’s not obvious: I’m referring to the credible stories reported in mainstream outlets, not to the thinly supported conspiracy theories that are circulating online and, apparently, on the radio show Kevin’s been listening to.)

  14. very simply for you joe, in case you’re not only pretending not to get it:

    when only one candidate stands for the success of the american experiment, and his opponent seeks only to repudiate him and to appease those who desire to terminate that experiment, you can lay the “l’etat, c’est vous” fallacy on the challenger

  15. Well, e, keep in mind, John Kerry only wants to end the American experiment because it will make it easier for black men to rape your daughter.

    Scary liberals! Scarrrrryyyyyyy!!!

  16. [Joe,]

    Just curious – is there something that didn’t meet the eye in that exchange between ‘e’ and yourself?

    I found your sudden reference to ‘blackman raping (a presumably?) white girl’ vague.

    Kevin Carson,

    Boortz is a Libertarian – he is a hawk on the war on terror.

    by your definition all “pro-war” must be rightwingers – not very reasoned

  17. z, the charge that liberalism=opposition to the American experiment, and by extension, all that is good and holy. People attracted to this formulation tend to have easy buttons to push re: sexual and racial imagery.

  18. joe-

    Don’t forget that after the daughter is raped the feminist social workers will convert her to homosexuality and ship her off to Massachussettes (spelling?) to marry a butch and non-white woman.

    And left-leaning libertarians like me are part of the Trojan horse to bring about this foul experiment 🙂

    (insert maniacal cackling here!)

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