Archive for the ‘Mainstream News Media’ Category

The Shell Game, Middle East politics and Korea

October 8, 2007

By James G. Zumwalt
The Washington Times
October 8, 2007

The “Shell Game” has been around for centuries. Using three empty half-shells and a pea, a con artist places the pea under one of them, in full view of the audience. With lightning speed, he shuffles the order of the shells, pausing to ask a gullible bettor under which shell the pea could be found. The con artist’s sleight of hand always is quicker than the bettor’s eye. Only after the duped bettor chooses a shell that always turns up empty does the con artist then effect the pea’s reappearance under a different one.

Interestingly, an international shell game of sorts, played by nations unfriendly to the U.S. and Israel, may well have prompted the latter’s attack early last month against Syria. And, if true, it raises the specter that a similar shell game, played four years earlier, may have duped an unwitting U.S. as well.

After 34 years of peace with Syria, what kind of threat would have prompted Israel to take military action against Damascus? The attack by Israeli aircraft on a target in northern Syria has been followed by unusual silence. The normal tendency is for an aggrieved state to muster international criticism against the attacking state, unless the former has something to hide. But Damascus remains eerily silent while Israel — the constant target of international criticism — receives no condemnation. (Apparently, what happens in Syria, stays in Syria).

There has been one noticeable exception to this silence — North Korea. Historically, North Korea has remained silent whenever hostilities in the Middle East erupt, so it was surprising to see Pyongyang jump to Syria’s defense after the September attack.

Little by little, some details are surfacing.

Israel’s concerns about certain activities in Syria seemed to have coincided with certain successes of the U.S. in the Six Party Talks with North Korea. During the year, Washington has pressed Pyongyang, first, to continue the on-again, off-again talks; second, to shut down its nuclear facility at Yongbyon; and, third, to discontinue its nuclear weapons program, accounting for nuclear technology and equipment. Washington, hoping to achieve a much-needed foreign policy success, was encouraged by gradual North Korean concessions to so comply.

Those of us long critical of Pyongyang’s inability to honor any agreement were stymied as to what its real objective was in now exercising such flexibility in the wake of its historic recalcitrance — even allowing international inspectors access to Yongbyon. We now have our answer — for it appears North Korea and Syria were involved in playing a nuclear weapons shell game.

Israeli intelligence discovered North Korea, as it appeared to dismantle its nuclear capability at home, covertly was sending its nuclear equipment to Syria for reassembly. To ensure this intelligence was correct, Israel detached a commando team into Syria to obtain physical evidence. Undetected, the team was successful.

Israel then shared the evidence with the United States, seeking American support for an Israeli attack on the nuclear weapons facility. After careful consideration, Washington gave its support, and Israel immediately carried out its attack.

A second commando team entered Syria to provide a directional beacon to “light the target up” to ensure the strike by Israeli aircraft was accurate and complete. It was, as all aircraft returned safely, surviving a Syrian air defense barrage.

This would explain Syria’s silence, for it was caught with its hand in the nuclear weapons cookie jar — as well as North Korea’s unsolicited disapproval, for it had been caught playing the shell game. What we don’t know is whether Pyongyang’s plan in sending its equipment to Syria was intended only as a temporary measure, by which Damascus was to safeguard North Korea’s nuclear equipment — or a permanent one, by which Syria would obtain its own nuclear weapons capability.

In view of Syrian complicity in secretly relocating within its borders North Korea’s nuclear capability, the question arises whether Damascus took part in an earlier shell game involving another tyrant. For in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq invasion, the United States failed to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

A CIA report determined no WMD were in Iraq, with the qualification (a fact often ignored by critics opposed to the Iraq invasion on the basis of WMD) that a determination could not be made whether such weapons were transferred to a bordering state. There was, in fact, clear evidence of a great deal of vehicular border-crossing activity from Iraq into Syria in the days prior to the U.S. invasion.

Moreover, in 2004, Syrian journalist and defector Nizar Nayouf reported he knew of three locations in Syria where Saddam had actually buried WMD. (This would be in keeping with Saddam’s known policy of burying military assets in the desert, as he did with 30 Iraqi MiG-25 aircraft just prior to the 2003 invasion.

We owe Israel our gratitude for uncovering the North Korean-Syrian shell game. Just as it did in removing the threat to the West of a nuclear-armed Saddam by attacking and destroying Iraq’s Osirak facility in 1981, Israel has spared the West the threat of a nuclear-armed Syria and hopefully set back the nuclear threat of North Korea.

James G. Zumwalt, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf and Vietnam wars, is a contributor to The Washington Times.

Other great work by this author:
Dragnet, Freedom of the Press, The Facts, and the Mainstream News Media

Dragnet, Freedom of the Press, The Facts, and the Mainstream News Media

July 25, 2007

By James Zumwalt
For Peace and Freedom
July 26, 2007

A popular TV program during the 1950s, “Dragnet,” starred actor Jack Webb portraying a no-nonsense police investigator. His investigative technique made popular a line he often used in the show. Interviewing female witnesses who strayed from just sharing factual observations–offering instead unsolicited opinions–Webb, seeking to refocus the interviewee, admonished, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”

Jack Webb

Webb’s admonition to provide just the facts is one appropriate to news reporting as well. However, the results of a recent study commissioned by one major international news organization—known for its very liberal bias—show exactly how far it has strayed from this role. And, since the vast majority of those in the media—by their own admission—are cut from the same liberal cloth, it is reasonable to assume what sins the study reveals about this news organization pertain to the majority of those working within the industry.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) hired an external group to evaluate the internal conduct of its organization to assess claims of liberal bias. The findings proved shocking–to the BBC at least. One finding was it had “failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff.” The study warned too of pandering to celebrities, allowing them “to hijack the BBC schedule,” and of a tendency for its staff “‘to group think’ with too many inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.” In addition to revealing BBC’s imbalanced news reporting, the study makes a revelation which should raise concern as to how such reporting contributes to perpetuating worrisome myths, thus failing to alert the public of dangers to its very existence.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
BBC logo

The study noted, during a BBC staff impartiality seminar held last year, executives expressed willingness, should the storyline arise, to broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but would not do so if it were the Koran being trashed. Why? They feared offending Muslims, evidenced by the violent reactions prompted by publishing cartoons of Muhammad and Pope Benedict’s innocent reciting of a quote by a 14th-Century Christian emperor critical of Islam.

These BBC executives, however, fail to give consideration to the price paid for submitting to such fears. The decision-making guidelines for broadcasting they support result in dishonest reporting, helping to perpetuate dangerous myths. In opting not to broadcast the Koran story, for example, they perpetuate the myth we have nothing to fear from Islamic extremism. Similarly, in opting to broadcast the Bible story, they perpetuate the myth to the Muslim world that non-believers lack moral guidance, giving extremists a rational basis–in their minds–to impose Islam or death upon us. Thus the result in broadcasting one story but not the other would clearly represent a net loss for Western civilization and a net gain for Islamic extremism.

It is not the first time a news organization, out of fear, has failed to publish a story. America’s BBC equivalent, CNN, hid the truth of Saddam Hussein’s acts of brutality and torture before the 2003 US invasion, only later admitting it had consciously done so. Following the 2003 invasion, senior CNN executive Eason Jordan confessed while his news organization was well aware of numerous atrocities committed by Saddam—justifying the dictator’s removal from power—it opted not to report them. To do so, he argued, would have endangered CNN staffers in Iraq. Thus, CNN helped perpetuate the myth prior to 2003 that insufficient grounds for an invasion might exist. While CNN remained silent about Saddam’s widely practiced torture, executions and mutilations of Iraqi citizens, it later would unhesitatingly report stories critical of US troops for what was either mostly a very limited practice of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib or uncorroborated allegations of it. This result was a net loss for the US prestige and a net gain for Islamic extremism.

While the mainstream news media (MNM) today attempts to portray itself as independent, it is hypocritical in doing so. For example, most of MNM reject the practice of embedding reporters with US units in Iraq today due to concerns the reporters might start to identify with their unit hosts and thus provide biased perspectives. As a result, many reporters in Iraq spend their time inside the highly protected Green Zone in Baghdad, relying on local stringers–with their own biases–to bring them stories to write and file. This they fail to report to the public, while criticizing the US military for paying to have the Iraqi media publish certain stories it has provided. Furthermore, while news organizations historically take no initiative to pressure Islamic extremist groups to release captives, they fail to remain similarly detached when their own journalists are taken captive—as evidenced most recently by BBC’s efforts to win the release of its reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza.

Clearly the majority of news reporters today in the MNM lack the Jack Webb, facts only-approach. Instead, facts are often lost within the opinionated reporting reflected by a news organization’s political slant. It is a journalistic sin to package a story within the wrappings of a news organization’s established bias, but it is an even greater sin to do so by intentionally refusing to report facts to provide news recipients with information necessary for them to make informed decisions about potential dangers to their existence.

At the conclusion of each “Dragnet” program, the announcer said, “The story you have just seen is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Unfortunately, with the very liberal slant represented by the MNM today and its failing to relate the true dangers of Islamic extremism, the facts they ignore fail to “protect the innocent.” In doing so, freedom of the press—a right which has played such a significant role in breathing life into democracy—could prove to be a catalyst in causing its death.

Is All the News Media Going
The Way of NBCs Today Show?

By John E. Carey
June 25, 2007

Today in the world we have these intriguing stories: War in Iraq, Discussions of Genocide in Darfur Being Held in Paris, Iran Trying to Slip Away From U.N. Sanctions, North Korea Preparing to Shut Down its Nuclear Reactor, “Chemical Ali” Sentenced to Death in Iraq, Tony Blair Maybe to Become Catholic and other goodies.

NBCs Today Show started with a California Brush Fire, A Bus Crash, A Murder in Ohio, and Problems with Aspirin. Before the first half hour was completed we had Pretty Blonde Woman (Princess Di and Paris Hilton) and a story on Beaches.

By eight a.m. I’d expect a story on Bar-B-Q, Good Make-Up and Expensive Women’s Shoes.

What is America thinking? Watch the NBC Today Show or anything else in the morning line-up and you’ll know.

The ceaseless, mindless prattle of the “networks” (NBC, ABC, and CBS) created the audience for the “Cable News” phenomena of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

The “Main Stream Media” (The New York Times, The Washington Post, and etc.) created the “Blogger” phenomena.

The bottom line: there is enough news to go around for everyone.

“Now Public” (the liberal leaning, Toronto based “news” web site) is as important to its readers and participants as The Washington Times is to a certain political crowd in America!