Did Murdoch Admit to Iraq Propaganda at Davos?

Bob McChesney, Robert Greenwald and others have well-documented News Corp’s calculated efforts to mirror President Bush’s policies (especially on Fox News) without being critical of its flaws and failures.

But, as Mark at News Corpse blogs, Rupert Murdoch’s statement below can be read as the first straight admission of News Corp’s collusion with the Bush Admin. Earlier in the discussion, Murdoch superficially admits to News Corp.’s alleged “’loss of power’ due to the ascension of the Internet and other new media.”

Murdoch was asked if News Corp. had managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq. His answer? “No, I don’t think so. We tried…. We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East… but we have been very critical of his execution.”

Audio/Video of the panel Murdoch sat on “Who Will Shape the Agenda” is available here.

cross-posted at DigiPoli Blog.

U.S. Media Jumps Gun on ‘Freed Hostages’ Report

Sometimes it’s so predictable that a local Iraqi provincial governor could be misinformed, overly optimistic, or fearing for his life when he releases a statement via AP such as:

“Police were able to free two of the foreigners kidnapped and they are in good health,” al-Waili said in a telephone interview. He said he thought they were Americans but could not yet confirm their nationality.

The wire copy ends by clarifying that U.S. officials could not confirm that statement, but apparently CNN, MSNBC, and everyone else failed to read that far before changing their headlines from 5 abducted (four Americans and one Austrian, who is reported killed – or perhaps one of the Americans was killed) to Police free 2 hostages.

Not so surprising, of course, a couple hours later when the revised AP copy reads:

A top Iraqi police official in Basra said none of the five kidnapped security company employees had been freed. He claimed the provincial governor, who announced the release of two of the hostages, had confused separate incidents in the region involving private security forces.

In the time it took me to write this — MSNBC has reverted back to the original headline but I was able to capture these screenshots from CNN and AOL. A big problem in Iraq reportingn that I have seen is the confusion regarding specific events (which can repeat themselves on a daily basis) and the time or day it occurred (Baghdad time is UTC+3, or 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles).

Therefore, when hostages are released — it cannot be assumed to be the same hostages. 14 contractors were abducted Thursday and it seems there is another group of contract security workers being mentioned, such as the reported killing of a British security guard. I can’t even follow these reports are so erratic, inconsistent and all over the place.

And let’s not forget that earlier this week, 150 Baghdad civilians were abducted and are being freed, tortured, killed and/or still held hostage.

Let’s get it on, fact-checkers and online news editors and break these headlines more responsibly!


UPDATE: After 2+ hours of making me nervous that I was blowing the story myself, CNN finally changed the story back to 5 hostages, none released, and blamed Iraq for the bad report despite the fact that they were the only government or news outlet continuing to claim that 2 hostages were freed…

Chavez Hijacks the U.S. Media — Again

Hugo Chavez took center stage on his visit this week to the United Nations in New York. He captivated the international audience, flooding the media with an onslaught of dramatic soundbytes possibly too ridiculous for even him to read (he claimed he had no prepared statements). The way Chavez steals headlines on no-news American weekends is similar to the successful tactics of his partners in Anti-Americanism in Iran and North Korea, thereby creating an around-the-world, multilingual, multicultural open-air echo chamber.

While the U.S. press is often blamed for toeing the government line and recycling — or enabling strawman arguments and misinfo, even more ridiculous is the tendency to provide a megaphone for the propaganda emanating from the swelling handful of America-hating leaders and regimes.

This is by no means a slam against the media — au contrair, the media takes care of itself — but the emptiness of the current administration’s commentary, whether on the domestic stage, ala Sept 11th anniversary, or at the U.N. this week, is opening up a dangerous black hole that is being increasingly capitalized upon by the “enemy.”

Chavez — a quasi-revolutionary buffon of sorts — gets unqualified, if not unbeliveable headlines comparing his likeness to Che Guevara, and feeds the fire with outlandish, ridiculous comments. Its no wonder that last week’s U.N. convention quickly turned into the Chavez Show. Never too slow to demonize the opposition, Chavez garnered the AP’s top story for his Bush as Devil tirade.

Chavez held up Noam Chomsky’s 2003 book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance and after it was snapped and printed and broadcast across the land it shot to #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list, garnering the Venezuelan president goofy comparisons to Oprah Winfrey.

By Friday, Hugo was all “Bush will kill me” for calling him the devil and “Bush should resign,” again taking his likeness to the top of U.S. headlines. Buried amid the looney toon lightsabering was the meager U.S. government response, “Democrats, Republicans criticize Chavez.”

Boston city councilor Jerry McDermott, who seriously recommended removing the Citgo sign visible beyond the Green Monster at Fenway (Chavez has consistently used Venezuela’s Citgo oil export brand as a political tool pandering to American society — and has provided low-cost oil for winter energy needs to low-income Mass. residents and more recently, New Yorkers and Philadelphians). Not to be one-upped, Chavez’s foreign minister raised hell Saturday alleging he was “illegally detained” by the U.S. government for “90 minutes” at the airport.

You can bet he made the most of his time.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden takes on the AP in the Boston Herald article: “Does AP Stand for Al-Qaeda Propaganda?