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Everything you know is wrong

James Robins | View Archive September 24, 2012, 9:50 am
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) leave after a statement in response to the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Libya September 12, 2012 at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya by protesters who were potentially angry over a controversial Prophet Muhammad video.

Alex Wong/Getty Images © Enlarge photo

It can be tough for a journalist to admit they were wrong, or misinformed. Perhaps it’s the tone of slight indignation that comes with the territory, or perhaps it’s faith in your information and sources that prompts such an authoritarian voice from the hinterland.

Either way, last week, I got something wrong.

The story of the week came attached with three buzzwords: Muslims. Movie. Protests.

It unfolded as follows.

On September 11th an "opportunistic attack" was carried out on a US embassy in Libya resulting in the first death of an American ambassador in more than 30 years, and four of his staff.

It was followed, very quickly, by a White House statement blaming an anti-Islamic film which provoked protests, which lead to the storming of the embassy.

But. on Sept 19th, the White House began to release, very quietly, that they believed the embassy attack was pre-planned.

In fact, if we didn’t rely solely on U.S. media, we would have known this fairly soon after the original incident occurred; the Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif announced (via NPR on Sept 16th) that he believed al-Qaeda was behind the attacks.

Follow the U.S government’s response to news of the attack, and we begin to see how the ridiculous film ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ was barely a blip on the radar before Obama’s White House started to spin the issue. Various officials, from Hilary Clinton, to Susan Rice, to Obama himself, all pinned the Libyan attack as a protest that got ‘out of hand’, resulting in the consulate deaths.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, most major “media accounts from the day after the Benghazi attack repeated the White House line as though it were fact,” which ought to prompt some major concern over journalistic integrity.

By this time, protests were raging across the Islamic world, over what would have been yet another ridiculous, low-budget piece of schlock that had no ulterior purpose other than to crudely offend, something which had been floating around the internet for months before it made headlines last week.

Then came the French cartoons, which prompted further protests, this time spreading to Greece, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and other Western centres.

Two days ago, 20,000 people gathered in the Libyan city of Benghazi to protest the rise of local extremist Islamic militia who have been blamed for the attack on the US embassy.

The stories came consecutively over at the Guardian: Chris Stephen filed the first story on the storming of the Ansar al-Sharia brigade base by young anti-extremists. A consecutive report by Conal Urqhart almost 14 hours later detailed how the brigade had been driven from Benghazi at the cost of 11 lives. Chris Stephen’s subsequent report five hours after indicated the extremist militiamen were executed, and his piece ended rather interestingly:

“But as more eyewitness evidence accumulates, it is clear that the attack on the consulate was unprovoked, and that statements from Washington that it grew out of an anti-American protest appear to be false.”

What possible interest would the White House have in spinning the story in such a way?

Well, it’s a simple face-saving media operation, as Obama spokesman Jay Carney helpfully points out for us: “…it is in response not to US policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video – a film – that we have judged to be reprehensive and disgusting.”

So, in essence, the U.S. has, rather irresponsibly, created a larger issue and provoked threats to freedom of expression across the globe on the sole basis of covering for their lack of security at a U.S. embassy.

This is barely the surface of the issue, and I encourage you to dig deeper, and not rely on the mass media for your dose of daily truth.

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172 Comments

  1. Brenda01:42pm Thursday 04th October 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Hitler must have been some sort of god himself Peter, if he managed to get an SS officer to burn his body "after" he blew his brains out. Try proof reading. Things I do, good or bad affect others, other people judge (some of them are even called judges, amazingly enough). Your writing is fairly nonsensical Peter, very hard to understand.

    Reply
  2. PETER04:34pm Tuesday 02nd October 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    hitler treated others? as he would have treated himself? according to the red army of russia he blew his brains out(they have his skull) after he got a ss officer to burn his body with his girlfriend eva braun, now here is your choice if there is no god? then every thing you have done good or bad means nothing, as there is no judgement? and everything is finished at death with no result an everlasting nothingness? but if there is a god then everything you have said and done will be judged as god said if? he exist,s has stated he will judge all things? i,m not fearful because i found a great treasure that only someone teachable will ever find?

    Reply
  3. Lorraine04:03pm Tuesday 02nd October 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    That is what I thort 2. collusion. Great timing. Sense of Urgency.. Causing division. All to look after their Mate Mitt. Excuse the pun. Oops I should not be such an observational cynic.

    Reply
  4. Jack Attack03:33pm Sunday 30th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Interesting

    Reply
  5. Donald08:46pm Saturday 29th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Only certain replies get posted, this is my 4th attempt at a post here in 2 days and this may or may not get posted. Yahoo screens all posts and posts what they deem "non threatening".

    Reply
  6. Gill06:08am Saturday 29th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    The $hite House saving face? Are you kidding me? If you were a REAL journalist, and not just a cut-and-paste "reporter", you would know that the US, NATO, the UN, Israel and others are doing EVERYTHING they can to provoke a full scale take-over of the Middle East. Media bosses rely on cut-and-paste patsies like you to not recognise false-flag events, fakery and lies, let alone question them. I hope you don't have the word "Journalist", written on your business card.

    Reply
  7. .05:02am Saturday 29th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    In the end, it IS the continued US military incursions and invasions into other countries, even violating the Constitution of USA that has resulted in this debacle. Libya was a prosperous country with free healthcare and high literacy BEFORE US invasion. US Military budget was over $700 billion for 2011, more than all other countries combined military spending.

    Reply
  8. spoohkey11:08am Friday 28th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    What I find amazing is that Yahoo has allowed us to comment on this ...

    Reply
  9. Murray08:45am Friday 28th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Ever noticed that the hatefilled Muslim Mullahs always lead from the back.

    Reply
  10. Brenda08:45am Friday 28th September 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Sooo, if we can only know this truth when we die, how do you know there is a god? I don't need religion to tell me what's right from wrong, what's good or bad. I believe that you should treat others how you yourself would like to be treated, don't hate people because they're gay, or a different colour etc. You live your life Peter fearing a god which you won't meet by your own words until you die. Well, what a way to live, I don't live in fear, but you're welcome to.

    Reply

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