Monday, March 31, 2003

Both Sides of a One-Sided Story-Peter Sean Bradley has a piece on Pee-tah Arnett's reportage
Obviously, Arnett's statements are not accidental. It is not a coincidence that he has been given unusually broad freedom by the Iraqi government. The other thing you have to wonder about is why Arnett has not had a "road to Damascus" experience like so many other naive leftists have had. Is he talking to average Iraqis? If not, why not?
It's usually a road to Amman experience that these leftist have had, for that's the typical exit route from Iraq, via Jordan and not Syria. Once you've outlived your usefulness to the Baathists, you're homeward bound with a fresh taste of the reality of evil that is in Baghdad. It takes liberals, especially secular ones, longer for the concept of evil to sink in. Oh, you're talking about Paul's conversion? God hasn't hit Pee-tah over the head with a 2-by-4 yet. Saul was dedicated to rooting out the Christians, while Pee-tah and other capital-J Journalists are dedicated to covering both sides of the story. These Journalists have a higher calling that transcends religion and transcends nationality; they cover both sides of the story in route to the truth. However, Journalists have a few blind spots. Most are so jaded by spin that they assume that each side spins equally. If you set up a press-tachometer, you might get a reading of 30 RPM (leaving out classified and occasionally some embarrassing facts) out of Centcom in Doha and 400 RPM (180-proof propaganda with only a passing relationship to the truth) in Baghdad's information ministry. To the Journalist, that means that both sides are spinning, both sides are less-than-forthright, and both presentations are to be given equal weight. A good Journalist must cover both sides of the story equally with few exceptions; the environment is one of the few areas where only one side is allowed. If there is a terrorist action, the politics, psychology and socioeconomics of the insurgents must be considered. If you are doing a piece on heroin, the plight of the junkie must be given a fair shot. If you cover pedophiles, the arbitrary nature of the age of majority must be fully explored. In Iraq, the undiluted spin put on by the Information Ministry (woe to the country who has such a beast) get reported in full without mentioning how little relation the piece has to the truth. If they were to accurately report that the Iraqi statement is suitable for use as a crop nutrient they would be packing their satellite phones and have a Road to Annan moment. Not wanting such to happen, the Journalist will present the steaming pile from the Information Ministry as-is with a bare minimum of adornment. Some Journalists might do so out of career advancement, wanting to be the Man In Baghdad like Pee-tah was in the first go-round. Others might truly buy into the moral equivalence and think that the spin is equal on both sides. Either way, they're either unwilling or unable to recognize that one side has the superior argument, for they're required as Journalist to take both sides of a one-sided story.

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