Friday, December 03, 2004

Greasing Up to Power

Our journalists bear as much responsibility for the misinformation about Iraq as the intelligence agencies.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 13th July 2004.


The Cardiff study, for example, shows that 86% of the broadcast news reports which mentioned weapons of mass destruction during the invasion of Iraq “suggested Iraq had such weapons”, while “only 14% raised doubts about their existence or possible use”.(1) The claim by British and US forces that Iraq had fired illegal Scud missiles into Kuwait was reported 27 times on British news programmes. It was questioned on just four occasions: once by Sky and three times by Channel 4 News.(2) The BBC even managed to embellish the story: its correspondent Ben Brown suggested that the non-existent Scuds might have been loaded with chemical or biological warheads.(3) Both the BBC (Ben Brown again) and ITN reported that British commanders had “confirmed” the phantom uprising in Basra on March 25th.(4) Though there was no evidence to support either position, there were twice as many reports claiming that the Iraqi people favoured the invasion as reports claiming that they opposed it.(5)...

The BBC emerges very badly from these studies. The Cardiff report shows that it used US and British government sources more often than the other broadcasting networks, and used independent sources, such as the Red Cross, less often than the others.(12) It gave the least coverage to Iraqi casualties, and was the least likely to report Iraqi unhappiness about the invasion.(13) A separate study by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of news networks in five different countries showed that the BBC offered the least airtime of any broadcaster to opponents of the war: just 2% of its coverage.(14)(Even ABC news in the United States gave them 7%).(15) ...

Of course, this problem is not confined to the broadcasters, or for that matter, the rightwing press. On Sunday the Guardian’s sister paper, the Observer, asked, “Why was the Prime Minister’s foreword [to the dodgy dossier] so unequivocal about the threat Saddam posed? Why was inconclusive evidence presented as fact?”(18) The same questions should be asked of the Observer, which took the government’s part in the invasion, and published a number of incorrect reports, which it has yet to retract, about weapons of mass destruction and the links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

So why does this happen? Why do broadcasters (and newspapers) which have a reputation for balance, impartiality and even liberal bias side with the powerful? There appear to be several reasons.

read on by clicking the link below:
George Monbiot : Greasing Up to Power

The logical Fallacies: Index

As it is important to think clearly about what might be a right thought and true. It helps to consider logic. To that end...

The logical Fallacies: Index

Doublespeak (from sourcewatch)

Doublespeak is language deliberately constructed to disguise its actual meaning, such as euphemisms.

The word doublespeak was coined in the early 1950s. It is often incorrectly attributed to George Orwell and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The word actually never appears in that novel; Orwell did, however, coin Newspeak, Oldspeak, duckspeak (speaking from the throat without thinking 'like a duck') and doublethink (holding "...simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them..."), and his novel made fashionable composite nouns with speak as the second element, which were previously unknown in English. It was therefore just a matter of time before someone came up with doublespeak.

Doublespeak may be considered, in Orwell's lexicography, as the B vocabulary of Newspeak, words "deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them."

Whereas in the early days of the practice it was considered wrong to construct words to disguise meaning, this is now an accepted and established practice. There is a thriving industry in constructing words without explicit meaning but with particular connotations for new products or companies.

William Lutz, a professor at Rutgers University, has written several books about doublespeak and is the former editor of the Doublespeak Quarterly Review (, which examines ways that jargon has polluted the public vocabulary with phrases , words and usages of words designed to obscure the meaning of plain English.

For a list of examples...and this artilce in full, click on the link below:
Doublespeak - from sourcewatch:

Monday, November 29, 2004

Latest best estimates of deaths in Iraq (excluding Fallujah) due to invasion

Study puts civilian toll in Iraq at over 100,000

By Elisabeth Rosenthal International Herald Tribune
Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bhopal still suffering, 20 years on

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bhopal still suffering, 20 years on:

Toxic gas from a Union Carbide plant may have killed 20,000 people, with the toll still growing and the fight for compensation not yet over

Randeep Ramesh in Bhopal
Monday November 29, 2004

References also available from:
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Bhopal