08 June 2006

Because it's rude to cheer for your enemies

[source, source]

Early AP dispatches from the press conference Nouri al-Maliki held this morning to announce the death of Zarqawi said these words were “drawing loud applause from reporters” there.

That didn’t sound typical, and NBC’s Richard Engel was more precise on Today this morning: “Iraqi reporters cheered.” American reporters don’t cheer American victories. They suggest this won’t mean much in the long run.

Is that not exactly the spin that you’d expect from the side in the war that just suffered a defeat?

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If it's rumoured to bleed, it leads


Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan: Earlier this week, Glenn Reynolds reproduced an informal email from Afghanistan, which included an anecdote about the Canadian media maintaining the “Death Watch” (their own words) at Kandahar Airfield. The reporters are restricted to maintaining a presence at the airbase to report on potential deaths or wounding of Canadian soldiers. The soldiers resent the media for this, and the reporters do not like manning the DeathWatch as well. They are at the mercy of the news bureaus, who crave the sensational stories.

Tonight I had the displeasure of witnessing the Death Watch in action. An Al Jazeera report, based on an unsubstantiated claim from an unnamed Taliban source, indicated a Canadian soldier was kidnapped in Afghanistan. Reuters repeated the unsubstantiated claim, which later morphed into an unspecified number of Coalition troops. Canada’s Globe and Mail, in a rush to press, misidentified the lead Canadian Public Affairs Officer, Major Scott Lundy, as the “spokesman for NATO Special Forces” (the webmaster later corrected this and removed the reference to Major Lundy altogether.)

The Canadian media rushes into action, trying to get to the bottom of the story which very likely is a Taliban information operation. Cell phones are buzzing, reporters are pressing the public affairs officers for quotes. The Death Watch is in full news-gathering mode. Media outlets in Canadian are requesting live interviews and quick columns from their reporters at the airfield. The Canadian forces are in turn conducting a headcount but discount the reports, as this has happened in the past. If this is a false report, as it likely is, the propaganda machine of al-Qaeda and the Taliban has succeeded yet again in manipulating the Western media into doing their bidding.

Yes, indeed, it turned out to be another Taliban psy-op that was executed successfully against Old Media. It doesn’t show how savvy the Taliban are, it shows how gullible and eager to be an enemy propaganda mill Old Media is. What’s next, hostage videos with GI Joe dolls? Oh wait …

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