27 Jul 2010

Agitprop, Not News

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Herschel Smith points out that the recent Wikileaks documents dump and associated coverage by The Guardian and others are not journalism at all.

There is no news here. So Pakistan’s ISI is complicit in assistance to the Taliban and even supportive of incidents within Afghanistan itself. Who doesn’t already know this? Again, there are unintended casualties in counterinsurgency campaigns. Is this really a surprise to anyone? War is messy. Did the British think otherwise?

The Guardian knows better, as does Julian Assange who defends his work by noting the “real nature of this war” and the need to hold those in power accountable. To anyone with a computer, some time and a little interest, none of this is news. The folks at the Guardian are either stupid (believing that war is bloodless) or they are lying (having followed the body count just like I have). Furthermore, they are either poor countrymen, holding that counterinsurgency is worth it as long as they sacrifice their own and no Afghans are killed, or ignorant, knowing nothing about the necessity to fight and kill the enemy.

The editors of the Guardian are not stupid or ignorant. They are ideologically motivated, just like Julian Assange. The embarrassing part for both of them is that, having admitted that “despite the opportunities provided by new technology, media groups with a global reach still cannot offer their public more than sporadic accounts of the most visible and controversial incidents, and glimpses of the background,” the literate among us know better. The media is preening and polishing their moral credentials. They shouldn’t be. More than anything else, this is a story about letting ideology get in the way of reporting, and about the failure of that same media to do the basic job of compiling information and analyzing it.

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