Tuesday, October 18, 2005

# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE HE SAID/SHE SAID JOURNALISM: In theory, journalists give unwarranted credibility to those who are wrong and/or ignorant by quoting them along side those who are right and well-informed, because there must be two sides to every story. This alleged phenomenon is known as he said/she said journalism, and liberals rely on it to explain how liberal journalists unintentionally do the bidding of conservative Republicans.

Anyhow, this theory came to mind when I read the first paragraphs of the top story in today's WaPo, entitled Iraqis Say Airstrikes Kill Civilians:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 17 -- A U.S. fighter jet bombed a crowd gathered around a burned Humvee on the edge of a provincial capital in western Iraq, killing 25 people, including 18 children, hospital officials and family members said Monday. The military said the Sunday raid targeted insurgents planting a bomb for new attacks...

The U.S. military said it killed a total of 70 insurgents in Sunday's airstrikes and, in a statement, said it knew of no civilian deaths.

At Ramadi hospital, distraught and grieving families fought over body parts severed by the airstrikes, staking rival claims to what they believed to be pieces of their loved ones. [Emphasis added. Duh!]
In theory, this is an example of he said/she said journalism. But you'd have to pretty thick not notice the Post's hints that the Iraqis, and not the US military, are telling the truth.

As WaPo correspondent Mike Allen once observed in a moment of accidental candor, journalists shade their coverage so that "discerning readers" know who to believe and who is lying. Now in this instance, the Post may very well have put the correct spin on the story. I mean, you'd think families would know if their children were killed. But my purpose here isn't to challenge the facts of a specific story. It's just to demonstrate that liberal journalists know how to get their message across without breaking the rules of the game.
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