03 April 2006

Schooled in journalism

The freed American hostage Jill Carroll arrived home after 83 days of captivity in Iraq yesterday - to a barrage of criticism from Right-wingers who accused her of showing too much sympathy for her kidnappers.

...Miss Carroll has been under sustained assault from some on the pro-war Right. Bloggers and hosts on the country's influential talk radio stations have attacked her for stating that she had not been threatened during her confinement.

Others attacked her for wearing Muslim dress and the news channel CNN carried an interview suggesting that she was suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome", in which victims begin to sympathise with their captors. One blogger called for Miss Carroll to be arrested for treason.

The terrorists holding her brought members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group, to see her. The Sunnis persuaded her to give a taped interview, which Miss Carroll said she was afraid to refuse.

"Fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely," she said. "Out of fear, I said I had not been threatened. In fact I was threatened many times."

Miss Carroll's captivity has been more widely reported than that of any other American hostage but received considerably less attention than comparable dramas in Britain or Italy. Unlike most Europeans, Americans are convinced that they are at war with a relentless and inhumane enemy.

Miss Carroll's first videotape appeared to contradict that widely-held view and provoked much of the criticism. The attacks were also stoked by a widespread suspicion among supporters of the war, from the White House downwards, that reporters from "the liberal media" are effectively allying itself with the insurgents.

President George W Bush and his senior officials have strongly implied that, by reporting terrorist "spectaculars" in Iraq while ignoring progress elsewhere in the country, the media have undermined public support at home.

Finally. Not only is the far-right deservedly called out for their indefensible attacks on Jill Carroll, but the dots are connected back to the source: the White House-supported obsession with blaming the media for the public's objection to the disasterous mismanagement of the Iraq War. Of course, such startling directness comes with a catch.

It's from The Daily London.

Is there any more fitting testament to the pathetic state of the American media, than seeing a newspaper on the other side of the ocean show more concern for the reprehensible abuse heaped onto an American reporter--than any news outlet on these shores? Aside from a handful of editorials, when domestic stories even bother to address the issue, they simply mention Carroll's disavowal of some of the statements she made. As for the accusations of her complicity with her kidnappers, being paid, or "carrying Habib's baby?"

Like they never even happened.

So frightened are they of being labeled "liberal," or "biased," traditional media outlets are now giving a free pass to treatment as abhorrent as this. Consider that: it now takes a flaming, Bush-hating liberal to object to the suggestion a hostage was willingly sexually servicing her captors. The press has so completely internalized the radical right's GOP's (same difference, these days) claim that all criticism is partisan, that they're incapable of taking a stand even for the sake of what used to be common decency.

Yet another one of BushCo's gifts to public discourse in "America."

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