Two Sides to Every Story  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   October/November 2006

Two Sides to Every Story   


In "A Matter of Time" (August/September), Lori Robertson reveals a problem that many have with the reportage on Iraq. Correspondent Nancy Youssef claims: "I can't speak with an Iraqi dialect." The article continues: "It was risky enough for the Iraqi correspondent to go to Haditha. 'If anyone had found out I was there,' Youssef says, 'I would've been killed, he would've been killed, the driver would've been killed.' "

Killed by whom? One can conclude that terrorist or "insurgent" forces would do the killing, but there is also the implication that Marines might do the killing. ("Time had considered sending a reporter to Haditha as an embedded journalist, but editors decided going to the town accompanied by the very people you may well accuse of atrocities wasn't the best idea.")

Wouldn't that also imply that such forces would be capable of killing a reporter and manipulating the facts? It is possible that Marines may have murdered innocent civilians, but why only question the claims of Marines when reporters also know that sources such as Iraqi physicians couldn't have become physicians had they not been good Ba'athist Party members.

It is so much easier to report on what the American military does than it is to report on the enemy, in part because it is less dangerous to do so. One is reminded of CNN's admission that it traded a presence in Saddam's Iraq over telling the truth about his murderous regime.

What is really happening in the reporting of events in Iraq is a one-sided approach. Reporting is largely negative on American troops, leaving the insurgent and terrorist story untold.

Perhaps it has its genesis in the misguided concept of an earlier AJR article claiming that the press had been too easy on George Bush! ("Are the News Media Soft on Bush?" October/November 2003) Had today's reporters been around for D-Day, the headlines would read: "15,000 innocent French civilians killed by Allied Bombing during D-Day invasion!" Then AJR could have published: "Is the press too easy on FDR?"

H. Michael Sarkisian
Sacramento, California

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