The Press And the Rush To Judgment
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Remember those January newspaper headlines heralding the survival of all 12 trapped miners in West Virginia? Even the august New York Times reported “12 Found Alive 41 Hours After Explosion,” but only one miner had actually survived. In the frenzy to scoop competitors, reporters failed their journalistic responsibility, and this penchant to rush to judgment before all the facts are verified is again occurring on two recent hot button issues – homeland security funding cuts to New York City and the Haditha civilian deaths.
What I’ve garnered from the hysterical reaction to the funding cuts is that the general public thinks the government uses its own money. Here’s a clue. It’s taxpayers’ money, so why aren’t we concerned with how it’s being spent? Do we get upset only when we think we’re being shortchanged? Shouldn’t we be asking why we deserve more money when we haven’t even spent all the money we got last year? Before we start whining, taxpayers should be demanding accountability for the billions we’ve received since 2001. MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson claims that $46,908 of homeland security money went to the Hampton Jitney, a bus service between Manhattan and the Hamptons. Where did all the money go?
I mean, once security systems have been as technically upgraded as possible, why would we expect the same funding every succeeding year? Once the upgrades are in place, then the only costs should be for operational training, servicing, and personnel. What’s wrong with reducing costs as expeditiously as possible?
Now everyone’s complaining because the other states are getting homeland security funds. We got ours, but no one else should get protection from terrorism? Is that it? Don’t other states pay federal taxes as well? Don’t they have roads, water supplies, farms that furnish our food supplies? How about the Hoover Dam, the Alamo, Los Alamos, NORAD, nuclear silos, et cetera? The entire country needs protection. Terror cells are in operation all over the country, and in neighboring Canada, too.
Instead of offering rational analysis, reporters have taken comments from the homeland security documents and spun them to hype outrage in the city. Politicians running for re-election are using the resulting hue and cry as campaign material.
Another poorly reported hot button issue is one that is being disgracefully hyped by Rep. John Murtha, who has just been salivating for another My Lai incident to bolster his call for our retreat from Iraq. “Civilians in Haditha murdered by Marines,” the headlines screamed, and of course a case still under investigation was tried in the press and the Marines were found to be either bloodthirsty savages or battle-weary men who snapped from exhaustion. Once again, all the facts were not in, nor did anyone question where the reports were emanating from. It would have been nice if reporters had done a little research into what life in Haditha was like before jumping to conclusions.
The London Guardian is a liberal British publication that generally rails against America and coalition forces in Iraq, so its eye-opening report about Haditha last year gives an insight into what our brave Marines were up against there. Reporter Omer Mahdi was given access to the city by the insurgents because they did not realize he worked for a British newspaper. He would have been killed if they had. He wrote: “Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel. That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town’s security, administration and communications. It is a miniature Taliban-like state.”
The Guardian article disclosed the routine dawn beheadings and savage beatings, which are all videotaped and sold on DVDs. Children laugh at the cruelty and delight at the news of double beheadings scheduled. The entire city is ruled by savagery, terror, and fear, but it has electricity, so it obeys whatever the insurgents decree. It was inevitable that when the Marines finally made this full-scale attack on what appears to be the base operations of the mujahedeen, bloodshed would be inevitable. Families of the victims have refused to let their bodies be exhumed to determine how they died. Given the routine slaughter of disobedient residents, it’s not inconceivable to imagine who the killers really may be. These cowardly savages have been known to use civilians as cover because they know that Americans are decent warriors and that civilian casualties have been kept at an extremely low level. What a pity that Mr. Murtha and the mainstream press don’t realize this.
Incidentally, The New York Sun reported that only one miner survived.