Fake whistleblower memos on media bias in the Iraq war

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An anti-Semitic web site called the Barnes Review is distributing fake whistleblower memos on media bias in the Iraq war that play on public skepticism about the accuracy of U.S. news coverage.

The alleged memos

Excerpts from the alleged memos appear on a series of web pages titled "Controlling the News," prefaced by the following explanation:

Recently, a mid-level executive of one of the three major American television networks sent on over 1500 pages of memos from the corporate offices of his network in New York to the head of their television news division.
These memos contain a multitude of instructions concerning the presentation of national and international news for the network's viewers. Corporate is obviously subject to the opinions of various pressure groups, to include those of official Washington and the Jewish community.
It would be impossible to show all of these revealing documents but selections are certainly possible. What is not possible, obviously, is to reveal either the name of the conscience-stricken media executive nor the company that employs him. These comments, therefore, can be accepted or rejected by the reader as they see fit.

The published excerpts from the alleged memo then spell out a variety of instructions to reporters, ordering them not to show scenes of violence from the war and to stress images that depict U.S. policy in a favorable light. The following are some sample "excerpts":

(March 22):….it is not conducive to maintaining an overall neutrality in the Palestine uprisings to show any pictures of the American peacenik that was run over by the Israeli army bulldozer. This is only to be mentioned as a "tragic accident" for which the IDF "is truly saddened."
(Feb 26) It is expected that coverage of the forthcoming Iraqi campaign will be identical with the coverage used during Desert Storm. Shots of GIs must show a mixed racial combination….any interviews must reflect the youthful and idealistic, not the cynical point of view…the liberation of happy, enthusiastic Iraqis can be best shown by filming crowds of cheering citizens waving American flags. Also indicated would be pictures of photogenic GIs fraternizing with Iraqi children and handing them food or other non-controversial presents…of course, pictures of dead US military personnel are not to be shown and pictures of dead Iraqi soldiers should not show examples of violent death…also indicated would be brief interviews with English-speaking Iraqi citizens praising American liberation efforts…all such interviews must be vetted by either the White House or Pentagon before public airing.
(March 12) At this point in time, reference to North Korean military threats must be played down entirely. The Iraqi Freedom campaign has to be concluded in the public mind before proceeding with the next assault on the Evil Axis….
(March 25) …no mention of either Wolfowitz or Pearle [sic] should be made at the present time.
(March 10)….pro-Government rallies are to be given the fullest coverage…if anti-Government demonstrations are shown, it is desired to stress either a very small number of "eccentrics" or shots of social misfits; i.e., with beards, tattoos, physical deformities, etc. Pro-Government supporters should be seen as clean cut with as many well-groomed subjects as possible….subjects should stress complete support for the President's programs and especially support for American military units en route to combat…also interviews with photogenic family members of participating GIs stressing loyalty and affection…American flags are always a good prop in the background… [1]

Telltale clues

Clues that these memos are fabrications include the following:

  1. The complete absence of any corroborating evidence or even scanned images of the alleged memos. Whistleblowers sometimes need to keep their own identity secret to avoid retaliation, but why would they need to withhold even the identity of the network that allegedly produced these memos? Why is it "obviously" not possible to reveal the name of the company that employs this allegedly "conscience-stricken media executive"? Actually, real whistleblowers often come forward in their own name to blow the whistle. They often suffer career damage and other consequences of their bravery, because their conscience drives them to put the public good above their personal welfare. The Barnes Review wants us to believe that it has been contacted by someone who is "conscience-stricken" but still too cowardly to even tell us the name of the company he wants to expose. Moreover, it wants us to believe that this "conscience-stricken" corporate executive would choose a neo-Nazi web site as his preferred channel for releasing these memos. Why would he choose a neo-Nazi web site, rather than a more reputable organization such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (or, for that matter, PR Watch, which welcomes whistleblowers and has always honored requests for confidentiality)?
  2. Note the stereotyping in the passages above, including the references to Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, who are both Jewish. The hidden agenda of the Barnes Review is to cast the Iraq war as a conspiracy by "Jews who run the media and government."
  3. The candor with which the alleged memos tell reporters to engage in biased reporting is itself a clue that the memos are fabricated. Media biases clearly exist, but they rarely get written down in formal memoranda -- let alone in 1500 pages (!) of memoranda.

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