Bias has always existed in journalism. A reporter’s personal views will often influence the stories he decides to energetically pursue—or completely ignore. It also influences the way a reporter covers a subject—what gets stressed and re-emphasized; what gets suppressed and left out. Even an article that is purely factual can be terribly misleading if those facts are not given context.
God says His Word is TRUTH (John 17:17). That is the Trumpet’s “bias.” As best we can, we try to select topics and write articles from God’s perspective. On any given assignment, we encourage our writers to ask, What does God think about the subject? How is it relevant prophetically?
But there’s even more to it than merely reporting God’s truth.
God says we should also communicate that truth in love (Eph. 4:15). That approach brings context to the Trumpet’s stories. Communicate God’s truth in love—this is why we work to tell the whole story (as much as space will allow), including the most relevant history and prophecy. What happened before? Where are these events leading? Why is a God of love allowing it all to happen? How will it affect you personally? Answering these questions helps our writers keep stories in proper context.
Obviously, news media outlets do not follow this formula, whether they lean to the left or right. That doesn’t mean what they report is always wrong. (To be sure, we rely on all sorts of “mainstream” reports for our own research.) But it certainly is biased. And that bias, as far as the establishment media are concerned, leans overwhelmingly to the left.
In 1992, even many journalists were surprised by the findings of a now-famous Roper poll. It discovered that 89 percent of Washington news bureau chiefs and correspondents voted for Bill Clinton while only 7 percent voted for George Bush. Since that study, a number of books, articles and websites have shed further light on the effect of this reality—that ideological bias does influence what gets news coverage, what is ignored and how stories are reported.
The fact that bias exists is not especially newsworthy, as far as the Trumpet is concerned. That news producers would deny that bias exists or that it affects their reporting might be of greater significance, because it is dishonest, whether intentional or not.
But that news coverage could be so one-sided and anti-American during time of war is of special significance because of its relevance to a number of end-time Bible prophecies. This article will examine the media’s coverage of the war against terrorism and show how its bias is actually accelerating the fulfillment of prophesied events.
On March 22, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons, “We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe, from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing by a brutal dictatorship.” He made those comments in 1999—referring to Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
This is how President Clinton justified that war: “What we are trying to do is to limit [Milosevic’s] ability to win a military victory and engage in ethnic cleansing and slaughter innocent people and to do everything we can to induce him to take this peace agreement.” Kosovo, we were told, was fast becoming a humanitarian nightmare. Furthermore, inaction on the part of America would undermine the credibility of NATO, Mr. Clinton insisted.
The U.S.-led invasion against Serbia occurred two years before 9/11. At that time, there was no war on terrorism. Slobodan Milosevic posed absolutely no threat to the United States. He had no weapons of mass destruction. Serbia was not harboring terrorists. Milosevic, as brutal as he might have been, was essentially trying to prevent the secession of Kosovo. And despite sharp division in Congress, President Clinton forged ahead with an aerial assault over Kosovo and Serbia. Mr. Clinton also ignored the UN, which opposed the war.
The morning after the president’s speech before the American people, here is how the op-ed page of the New York Times explained the rationale behind going to war: “Mr. Milosevic has been given every chance to end his aggression, and every warning of what would happen if he did not. He has ignored them, and the bombing must begin quickly before his rampage takes more lives” (March 24, 1999). For the Times, that Milosevic was killing innocent Kosovars and Albanians was reason enough for U.S. intervention. In its view, President Clinton was right to ignore the UN.
Not but a few weeks into the war, some critics began to question initial estimates regarding the “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo. On June 9, 1999, the 78-day bombing in Kosovo ended, clearing the way for inspectors to unearth Milosevic’s appalling atrocities. Yet, by November—after five months of digging and exhumation—war crimes investigators had found only 2,108 bodies. That lower-than-expected figure, while still tragic, was hard to categorize as a “humanitarian disaster”—especially when compared to the three-month slaughter in Rwanda five years earlier, where the Hutu government organized the mass extermination of some 800,000 Tutsis.
The New York Times, after admitting on Nov. 11, 1999, that only 2,108 bodies had been found in Kosovo, still defended its pre-war position in support of President Clinton. In an opinion piece printed on Nov. 21, 1999, Michael Ignatieff argued that it didn’t really matter how many bodies were found. Wasn’t the whole point of intervening, he asked, to stop the “deadly downward spiral before it begins”? At the very least, he argued, the war prevented a disaster from happening. Plus, he said, inspectors were only able to unearth one third of the grave sites before winter.
But the following year, investigators only found 1,835 bodies in the remaining graves, bringing the total to just under 4,000. Sad and tragic—but shocking? Unbelievable? Humanitarian catastrophe?
Fast forward to the present. One primary reason that motivated President Bush to invade Iraq was that, according to a number of intelligence sources, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a serious threat to the United States and its allies in the ongoing war against terrorism. By comparison, the primary reason President Clinton gave the American people before invading Kosovo was that Slobodan Milosevic had committed mass genocide against his own people. Of these two intelligence failures (assuming WMD will not be found), which story do you think drew the most media attention?
In the weeks that followed 9/11, America’s mainstream news media were remarkably free of ideological bias. The people inside the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and those four planes (excepting 19 of the passengers) were all innocent victims of a violent crime against humanity. The terrorists and their al-Qaeda network, on the other hand, were GUILTY of a most heinous and vile act of war—killing thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children.
But media bias soon re-emerged, once the images of those collapsing towers faded from television screens. Maybe the terrorists had a point. Maybe the U.S. government was a legitimate target. After all, hasn’t America targeted innocent civilians before? Left-wing ideas like these crept into mainstream coverage after the 9/11 shock wore off.
One disturbing example of this is recounted in Bernard Goldberg’s book Arrogance. On October 23, 2001, David Westin delivered a speech before the journalism students at Columbia University in New York. After the speech, one student asked Mr. Westin if he believed the Pentagon was a “legitimate military target” even if the hijacked plane was not. After a lengthy pause, Westin answered: “Actually, I don’t have an opinion on that.” He later said that as a journalist, “I feel strongly that it’s something that I should not be taking a position on. … I can say that the Pentagon got hit … but for me to take a position that this was right or wrong … as a journalist I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on” (emphasis mine throughout).
David Westin is the president of ABC News. His “no opinion” comment actually revealed the biased position of his network’s war coverage. As Mr. Goldberg asked in his book, do you think David Westin would have an opinion about what those white Texans did to James Byrd, dragging him to his death behind their pickup? Would Westin have an opinion about the Taliban’s repression of women? Of course he would. But when crazed Islamic fundamentalists blow up Americans and the Pentagon, he has no opinion.
The Weekly Standard noted one other disturbing reality about Westin’s comments—not one of those journalism students challenged him or criticized his “no opinion.” Here were America’s best and brightest, up-and-coming journalists, and none of them saw a story in what the president of ABC News said—actually, what he didn’t say—about the Pentagon. In fact, no one in America would have ever noticed the comment, had it not been for a lucky catch by a media watchdog, which, after a public outcry, prompted Mr. Westin to later apologize for his comments.
But the establishment media, along with their heirs apparent at Columbia, did not recognize a story in Westin’s “no opinion” comment. That, in itself, reveals deep-seated bias.
Neither Quick, Nor Easy
From the beginning of the war on terrorism, the Bush administration repeatedly warned the American people that this war would be like no other. Victory was assured, he said, but it would not be quick or easy. Before Congress, on Sept. 20, 2001, the president outlined America’s strategy for war against terrorism: “Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.” The war will not end, he declared, “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
The next day, the New York Times complimented the president’s speech, but also set the antiwar tone for how the media would approach its war coverage: “[T]he country, while determined, is also understandably wary and realistic about achieving a victory over an enemy that is so diffuse and difficult to locate. … The country learned in Vietnam about the limits of a superpower’s ability to wage war against guerrilla troops in distant lands” (Sept. 21, 2001). The Times would give its support for the war on terrorism, but only to a point.
This position underscored media coverage in the months that followed 9/11: It wanted a quick and easy solution to the war on terrorism. Thus, the coverage from the outset was focused primarily on the overthrow of the Taliban. Regarding Afghanistan, news analyst George Friedman wrote for Stratfor.com on Jan. 15, 2002, “The press interpreted events in Afghanistan as an overwhelming victory for the United States. It was certainly a victory but a qualified one and far from final, either in Afghanistan or in the war in general.” The war on terrorism, he said, was much bigger than Afghanistan. Indeed, the Bush administration said the very same thing when it outlined the war strategy before Congress. Even the New York Times acknowledged that America’s enemy was “diffuse” and “difficult to locate.”
Friedman concluded, “For the media, once the Taliban abandoned the cities, the war in Afghanistan was simply over.” Now, two years later, time has shed further light on Friedman’s accurate analysis. As of this writing, Osama bin Laden is still on the run and U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan in the ongoing war against terrorism. But within media circles, the operations in Afghanistan have been largely forgotten.
The Case for War
On February 9, the New York Times opinion page accused President Bush of wanting to invade Iraq “even before September 11.” It then said voters this fall would have to determine whether Bush “manipulated the intelligence reports to frighten Congress and the public into supporting the idea.” In truth, if anyone wanted to invade Iraq before September 11, it was President Clinton. And if Mr. Bush is guilty of manipulating intelligence reports, then so too was President Clinton, not to mention the New York Times, as we will see later.
Here is how President Clinton laid out his case for war against Iraq on Feb. 17, 1998: “Those who have questioned the United States in this moment, I would argue, are living only in the moment. They have neither remembered the past, nor imagined the future. So, first, let’s just take a step back and consider why meeting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is important to our security in the new era we are entering. … But for all our promise, all our opportunity, people in this room know very well that this is not a time free from peril—especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals. We have to DEFEND OUR FUTURE from these predators of the 21st century. … [T]hey will be all the more lethal IF we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them. WE SIMPLY CANNOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.”
Mr. Clinton referred to Saddam’s repeated violations against UN resolutions. He spoke about the documented history of Saddam actually using chemical weapons—“not once, but many times.” He said that, in 1995, Iraq even admitted to developing chemical weapons after its chief organizer of weapons (Saddam’s son-in-law) defected to Jordan. (Later, after coaxing him to come back to Iraq, Saddam murdered his son-in-law.)
Mr. Clinton asked, “What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will.”
The president then made this stunning guarantee: “He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I GUARANTEE YOU, he’ll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who has really worked on this for any length of time believes that too.” Is it any wonder that we have heard nary a peep out of President Clinton during the WMD controversy in recent months?
In December 1998, the Clinton administration changed its Iraq policy from “containment” to “regime change.” President Clinton said the policy of containment was no longer sufficient in Iraq. Saddam needed to be ousted. This was nearly three years before 9/11. The New York Times endorsed Clinton’s policy change. According to the Times, inspectors had “concluded that Iraq could be hiding two to five times more deadly germ agents than it had admitted to making, as well as the warheads to deliver them. … Iraq has already confessed to making enough deadly microbes to kill all the people on Earth several times over” (Dec. 17, 1998). The Times then cited numerous instances where Iraqi officials had refused to cooperate with UN inspectors. Mr. Clinton now wanted regime change. The Times wanted regime change. Yet it never happened during the Clinton administration.
And the War Came
UN Resolution 1441 was not unlike the many others given to Saddam since 1991. It DEMANDED that Iraq give a “complete declaration of all aspects” of its weapons programs. Saddam ignored it like he had the 16 others. Iraq must have concluded, as President Clinton warned in 1998, that the international community had lost its will. Indeed, just last month, the New York Times reported that intelligence documents discovered inside Iraq depicted a “complacent” Saddam Hussein who was “convinced” right up to the start of the war that it would never happen—that somehow the United States would back down. But the war did happen. President Bush, like Clinton in Kosovo, decided to press forward even without UN backing.
Predictably, the New York Times was dead set against it. It did everything it could to dissuade Congress from supporting a possible war in Iraq. “A sudden appetite for war with Iraq seems to have consumed the Bush administration and Congress,” said the Oct. 10, 2002, opinion page—contradicting what it said more recently—that Bush “wanted to invade Iraq even before September 11.”
The day after the Times pleaded with representatives and senators to stop Bush, Congress authorized the use of military force. (The House voted 296 to 133 in support of the president; the Senate 77 to 23.) The Times admitted that the votes in favor of the war were “large and bipartisan”—much more so, we might add, than the congressional support for President Clinton’s military action against the Serbs in Kosovo.
During his State of the Union address in January 2003, President Bush elaborated on his reasons for war: “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
“The dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages [the Times defended Clinton on this very point]—leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained—by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have cataloged other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.”
Notice that Mr. Bush specifically answered critics who said Iraq did not yet pose an “imminent” threat to the United States. He said that if the U.S. waited for the threat to suddenly emerge, it would be too late—a lesson America learned the hard way from 9/11. This is a key point, as we will note later, because of recent criticism the media has unleashed on Bush for supposedly hyping the intelligence by saying Iraq posed an “imminent threat.” What he actually said was that we don’t have the luxury of waiting until the threat becomes imminent.
Media Got It Wrong
As soon as the war began, big media picked up on a number of near-disastrous military maneuvers. As U.S. forces began the “shock and awe” bombing campaign, the Pentagon continually stressed that we must not become overconfident, that Iraqi resistance was bound to be strong, that there were many “unknowns” to this war and that victory would not come overnight, nor without cost. Quite naturally then, the press accused the Pentagon of being overconfident and unprepared and said they had underestimated Iraqi resistance. Judging by a number of mainstream reports, you might have thought the United States was bogged down in another Vietnam. (Many liberal journalists made this direct comparison.)
In the Washington Post, respected military analyst Ralph Peters editorialized that U.S. forces had made “serious strategic miscalculations” (March 25, 2003). He said, “No matter how shocked and awed the Iraqi leadership may be, surrender is not, never was and never will be an option for Hussein and his inner circle. Because of the nature of their regime and its crimes, the contest is all or nothing for them.” (Nine months later, Saddam Hussein crawled out of a spider hole and surrendered without firing a shot.)
After the Pentagon “overestimated” the effectiveness of “shock and awe,” the press then discovered, with the help of their many experts, that the war plan was bad. There weren’t enough troops. And when Turkey refused to let U.S. ground troops flow through its country, we heard that the consequences could be devastating.
Meanwhile, largely because the Pentagon allowed imbedded reporters to accompany troops during the invasion, what Americans actually saw on television was stunning. The march toward Baghdad was swift and efficient. U.S. troops were winning all the skirmishes along the way. Entire Iraqi army divisions were surrendering or retreating.
Even still, the media continued their doomsday predictions. The forces were moving fast, the press admitted, but now the supply lines were stretched—not enough humanitarian aid was reaching Iraqis in the south, etc.
In Baghdad, we were led to believe, Iraqis would be much less likely to welcome U.S. forces like they did in the south. And Saddam’s special forces were digging in. With their backs against the wall, scattered in a sprawling city of 5 million, Saddam loyalists could pick off American soldiers one by one. A Somalia-like street war would clearly favor the Iraqis. American casualties would be high.
Again, what actually happened proved these predictions of doom to be completely false. U.S. troops made it to Baghdad in three weeks, met little resistance and were greeted by throngs of Iraqis as liberating heroes. American forces conquered Baghdad in half the time and with half the troops it took in 1991 to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
“Forget the easy victories of the last 20 years,” Ted Koppel gravely warned just two weeks before U.S. soldiers pulled down Saddam’s statue. “This war is more like the ones we knew before.” He was dead wrong, even though imbedded in the front line of the U.S. invasion.
The week after Iraq’s liberation, Dick Morris wrote a column for the New York Post criticizing media coverage of the war. He said, “[A]s the war unfolded, it was obvious that minor mishaps would dominate the network and newspaper coverage. Friendly-fire casualties, accidental journalist deaths, temporary supply shortages, unavoidable killing of civilians—all were played with the same or greater gusto than was the news of the actual war itself.
“Who can forget juxtapositions like this one: A joyous mob hauls down Saddam Hussein’s 40-foot statue in a scene reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall—while ABC’s Peter Jennings belittles the Iraqis as a ‘small crowd’?” (April 14, 2003).
That the media is not held accountable for such errors shows just how powerful and arrogant they are. Even though most of the media got it wrong on the war, you would never know it judging by their own post-war coverage. They continued searching for any way possible to put a negative spin on what was happening in Iraq. The U.S. won the war, but can it now bring peace? Does it even have an exit strategy? Is U.S. “occupation” really that much better than Saddam’s dictatorship? Why haven’t we yet found Saddam? American casualties are on the rise. Didn’t Mr. Bush say the war was over? Why are we still there? There’s no link between Saddam and al-Qaeda. There are no WMD. This whole war, it now turns out, was completely unnecessary.
And on and on it goes.
The Kay Report
When David Kay, who resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group in January, said he didn’t think weapons of mass destruction actually existed in Iraq, it set off a media frenzy. Kay’s report fit in perfectly with the media’s antiwar agenda.
In an interview with Reuters on January 23, Dr. Kay said he didn’t think we would find any large stockpiles of WMD in Iraq. The New York Times was quick to inform media elites of the significance of Kay’s comments. In a front page article on January 24, Richard Stevenson wrote, “Dr. Kay’s statements undermined one of the primary justifications set out by President Bush for the war with Iraq. Mr. Bush and other top administration officials repeatedly cited Iraq’s possession of chemical and biological weapons as a threat to the United States, and the lack of evidence so far that Saddam Hussein actually had large caches of weapons has fueled criticism that Mr. Bush exaggerated the peril from Iraq.”
In actuality, the liberal media is what fueled criticism that Mr. Bush “exaggerated.” Dr. Kay’s criticism was aimed solely at U.S. intelligence, not the Bush administration—and he was careful to make that distinction with Reuters and in subsequent interviews.
As for the president’s comments before the war, it is true he said America “must deal with the very real danger [Saddam] poses.” No, sorry, those were President Clinton’s words before ordering a four-day bombing attack in December 1998. When some criticized the timing of Clinton’s strike, ordered on the eve of his impeachment hearings, the Times rushed to his defense. “[V]iewed outside the prism of impeachment, the decision to launch cruise missiles against Iraq was fully justified” (Dec. 17, 1998). The paper insisted, “No one but Mr. Clinton knows all the factors that went into his decision to order air strikes”—meaning, Who are we to question all the reasons for going to war?
The Times acknowledged that air strikes would not totally eliminate Saddam’s weapons threat, but they would “severely reduce Iraq’s ability to make new weapons or use its old ones.” It was the same rationale the Times gave after Kosovo when we didn’t find the killing fields. Well, at least we prevented further atrocities from taking place.
Notice again how President Clinton justified his attack on Iraq in December 1998: “Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there’s one big difference: He has used them, not once, but repeatedly, unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops … [and] civilians … and not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq.
“The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.” And that’s the whole point. Ever since the Gulf War ended in 1991, the United States and the international community (not to mention news media) had said that Iraq had used and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction! As Dr. Kay said during his Senate hearing on January 28, even French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder—both opposed to the war—believed Iraq had WMD in its possession! For the Times to imply that President Bush exaggerated the threat—after it had sounded strong warnings of that very threat in its own pages during the Clinton administration—is the height of hypocritical media bias.
Comparing Mr. Clinton’s remarks throughout 1998 with President Bush’s rationale for war is quite interesting. There are a lot of similarities. But of the two, if there was any hype, a case could be made that it came from President Clinton. He, remember, “guaranteed” that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction. President Bush, on the other hand, said we could not stand by and wait for the threat to become imminent. After the Kay report in January, many journalists were convinced President Bush was responsible for exaggerating the imminency of Iraq’s threat.
On January 27, the Times editorial page harshly criticized the Bush administration this way: “Vice President Dick Cheney continued to insist last week that Iraq had been trying to make weapons of mass destruction, apparently oblivious to the findings of the administration’s own chief weapons inspector that Iraq had possessed only rudimentary capabilities and unrealized intentions. The vice president’s myopia suggests a breathtaking unwillingness to accept a reality that conflicts with the administration’s preconceived notions. This kind of rigid thinking helped propel us into an invasion without broad international support and, if Mr. Cheney is as influential as many say, could propel us into further misadventures down the road …. Mr. Kay also believes that intelligence analysts failed to realize that Mr. Hussein became increasingly isolated and fantasy-driven in the late 1990s, a condition that enabled scientists to hoodwink him into approving fanciful weapons plans that turned into corrupt moneymaking schemes. That seems hard to believe in a land where people supposedly lived in terror of a brutal dictator. But if it is true that Mr. Hussein wrote novels while the American-led force geared up for war, then perhaps both sides of this conflict were divorced from reality.”
If the Bush administration is living in the same fantasy world as Saddam Hussein because it thinks “Iraq had been trying to make weapons of mass destruction,” where does that leave the New York Times? Does America’s most influential paper now think Saddam had not even been trying to make WMD? If so, ironically, the Times is guilty of grossly exaggerating David Kay’s comments.
This is bias at its ugliest—when it obscures truth and hides facts. For the New York Times to support two opposing positions, depending upon which administration happens to be in office, might simply be brushed aside by some as partisan ramblings from a left-wing newspaper. Right-wing papers do the same thing, you might be thinking. And you’re right. But none of them carry the same weight of influence that the New York Times does. In either case, when political ideology gets in the way of facts, on the left or right, it’s worse than bias. It’s lying.
The Rest of the Story
Another of Kay’s statements received widespread coverage, but very little analysis. He said Saddam had WMD at the end of the Gulf War, but that since that time he “got rid of them.” Chew on that for a moment. Saddam had them, but he GOT RID OF THEM.
During his Senate testimony, Dr. Kay referred to the chaos immediately after Iraq’s liberation as “unparalleled looting and destruction, a lot of which was directly intentional, designed by the security services to cover the tracks of the Iraq WMD program and their other programs as well.”
The day after his Reuters interview, Dr. Kay gave an exclusive interview to London’s Daily Telegraph. According to the article “Saddam’s WMD Hidden in Syria,” Dr. Kay “uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year’s war to overthrow Saddam.” The article quoted Dr. Kay: “We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons. But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD program. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved” (January 25).
The day after the Telegraph story, on this side of the Atlantic, the New York Times printed a totally different version. A front-page story read, “Dr. Kay said there was also no conclusive evidence that Iraq had moved any unconventional weapons to Syria, as some Bush administration officials have suggested. He said there had been persistent reports from Iraqis saying they or someone they knew had seen cargo being moved across the border, but there is no proof that such movements involved weapons materials” (January 26). The Times actually brushed aside the Syrian connection faster than Syrian officials did. And notice how they made it sound like the Bush administration was advancing the idea that weapons materials were smuggled to Syria when, in fact, it was David Kay!
After the Times killed the WMD-Syria connection, the other big media platforms fell right in step with the “no conclusive evidence” slant. According to the Washington Post, Kay “speculated” that WMD were shipped to Syria. CNN.com said, “Kay alleges Syria connection”; and Kay “raised the possibility” that banned weapons “might” be in Syria.
It’s not that skepticism in this case is wrong. Kay, after all, told the Senate panel he believed it was “probable” that Iraq moved small amounts of WMD to Syria. He didn’t say he was 100 percent sure it happened, or that it was absolute FACT. But the media’s selective skepticism reveals their bias. Where’s the skepticism when Kay said he didn’t think Iraq had large stockpiles of WMD or that he didn’t think we will find any before we hand over control to the Iraqi Governing Council? Instead, when David Kay said he believed there was an intelligence failure prior to the war, the gullible, agenda-driven media not only accepted his view without skepticism, they advanced the idea further to imply that President Bush knew it was bad intelligence and lied about it to the American people.
In the same piece that the Times said there was no conclusive evidence of a Syria connection, the Times found this theory to be quite credible: Iraqi scientists had tricked Saddam into believing there were WMD programs when, in fact, there weren’t. When David Kay said there was evidence from interrogations showing that Iraq moved components of its WMD program to Syria, the Times dismissed it as “not conclusive.” Yet it raised no objection to Dr. Kay’s suggestion that the Iraq’s WMD program might have been one giant hoax that even hoodwinked Saddam Hussein.
No need for skepticism there.
Getting All the Facts
Reporting all of David Kay’s most important findings would have painted an entirely different picture. Here are a few other conclusions the media downplayed, taken from Kay interviews and from his testimony before the Senate:
• President Bush did not exaggerate or manipulate intelligence information in the lead up to the war. (If he did, so did Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder.)
• Saddam tried to reconstitute his nuclear program as late as 2001. He was also intent on pursuing large-scale wmd programs. Saddam had ongoing programs for chemical and biological research.
• Even without the large stockpiles, Iraq was still engaged in a wide range of activities that violated UN resolutions.
• Iraq was actively working to produce the deadly poison ricin right up until the beginning of the war last year.
• Iraq posed an imminent threat. It was “absolutely prudent for the U.S. to go to war,” Kay said. “I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought.”
Let those words sink in. Based on the evidence uncovered by Kay, Saddam was even more dangerous than we thought. Yet, these findings were muted by the same thunderous message echoing out of newsrooms from coast to coast—there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! The war may have been unnecessary. President Bush might have manipulated U.S. intelligence and lied to the American people!
Sorry. It’s the media that exaggerated and manipulated information.
To media elites, issues like these are not worthy of consideration. They get in the way of their agenda. Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. They weren’t moved or hidden—the New York Times says so. Iraq wasn’t even trying to make weapons of mass destruction. President Bush got us involved in a totally unnecessary quagmire costing hundreds of American lives.
If the media are truly interested in exposing fantasy-driven intelligence failings that manipulate facts and even lie, they need look no further than inside the walls of their own newsrooms.
On February 13, in a front-page article, the Washington Post reported, “A majority of Americans believe President Bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war.” That majority opinion was shaped solely by dishonest journalism. That’s how powerful media bias is.
Liberation or Conquest?
On the day of Iraq’s liberation, April 9, 2003, just after American forces pulled Saddam’s huge statue to the ground, a U.S. marine momentarily draped an American flag over the image’s head. Not but a few seconds later, it was replaced by an Iraqi flag. “You can understand these marines who have put their lives on the line, sweated with blood and guts for the past three weeks wanting to show the Stars and Stripes in this moment of glory,” said one Fox reporter watching the events unfold. “It is understandable, but no doubt Al Jazeera and others will make hay with that.”
“And others” turned out to include the New York Times: “A dismayed hush fell over Firdos Square in Baghdad yesterday as a United States marine pulled an American flag over the head of Saddam Hussein’s statue like a gallows hood.
“The sight also silenced news anchors and many viewers: The tableau of conquest was exactly the image most likely to offend the Muslim world” (April 10, 2003).
The Times opinion page that same day was equally negative and skeptical, not yet convinced whether this war was one of conquest or liberation. The world’s most influential newspaper found it difficult to applaud the collapse of a terrifyingly brutal and murderous regime because it had been against the war from the beginning, and to do so would be to imply that the war might be justified.
The other defining moment to occur last year happened on December 14, when U.S. soldiers pulled Saddam out of the now-famous spider hole. Even on that day, some of the biggest voices in American media were quick to downplay the significance. Peter Jennings—the most ardently antiwar voice of all evening newscasters—reacted with pessimism: “There’s not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment. Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power.”
Compare Jennings’ remarks with what Al Jazeera reported the next day: “Joy at the capture of Saddam Hussein gave way to resentment toward Washington Monday, as Iraqis confronted afresh the bloodshed, shortages and soaring prices of life under U.S. occupation.” Oops! That report actually came from Reuters. It continued by quoting one Iraqi who compared life under Saddam with life after liberation: “The only difference is that Saddam would kill you in private, where the Americans will kill you in public.”
Two Evil Regimes
The January-February issue of Reuters magazine featured a menacing, somber-looking President Bush on its cover, next to this caption: “Voices From Iraq: Happy, freer, safer? Life in a broken country.” Inside, Reuters reporter Andrew Marshall wrote, “Many lives have been transformed, and many lives have been lost. Iraqis have seen a despised regime swept away, but have also seen their hopes for early peace and prosperity dashed.”
Saddam was bad, but so is U.S. “occupation”—that’s the message coming from Reuters’ chief correspondent in Iraq. Mr. Marshall supports his bias with only six personal stories. All of them might make nice pieces for a “Dateline” episode—but six examples to represent what is really happening inside Iraq?
One Iraqi policeman said, “Our job is now much more difficult and much more dangerous. Before the war the security situation was stable and we didn’t have as many bombings, shootings and kidnappings.” Oh, to long for the days when Iraq was so much more stable and secure UNDER SADDAM HUSSEIN! The policeman said the Americans had borrowed his country, only to return it ruined. Reuters just loves that.
Another “ordinary” Iraqi, a teenager, did admit that Iraqis suffered through abuse at the hands of Saddam. But Americans “provoke” the Iraqis, he said. “I want them to leave our country.”
A car salesman they interviewed actually said business was better before the war! “It was much safer before, there’s no stability now.” Then, with the sort of expert research and analysis that would make Jayson Blair proud, the salesman asked, “Saddam was in power for 35 years, and how many people do you think he imprisoned? Many. How many people have been detained since Baghdad fell? Many.”
Pick your poison—Saddam imprisoned “many”—but so has the Bush administration. Leaving aside the huge disparity between the actual number of prisoners, would there not also be an equally huge difference between the type of Iraqis Saddam and Bush imprisoned? And did U.S. soldiers rape, torture and dismember detainees before locking them up?
Never mind any of that. Reuters has a message for you: Under Saddam, it might have been bad, but at least it was safer and more prosperous than it is now.
Again, this message would be easy to brush aside if it were coming from a small activist publication or left-wing website. But Reuters is the largest international multimedia news agency in the world.
Another Untold Story
While it is true that all “mainstream” voices aren’t as blatantly antiwar as America’s big three networks, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, NPR and the BBC, remember that media bias is not only reflected by what is reported, but also by which stories are de-emphasized or ignored altogether.
The situation inside Iraq is a good example. Judging by the six interviews highlighted by Reuters, one could easily be left with the impression that U.S. liberation has only made things worse. Reuters wants you to be left with that impression because it was against the war from the beginning.
To be sure, there was widespread looting and chaos right after Iraq was liberated—and the U.S. military could have done more to prevent it. But how would the liberal media have reacted to the sight of U.S. forces overwhelming “ordinary Iraqis” with a show of brute force to help prevent stealing and looting?
Crime rates in Iraq are still very high—but how about some perspective? They are not yet as high as in New York—mainstream media’s OWN BACKYARD. We did lose more than 500 American soldiers during the war last year—about the same number of Americans murdered in Los Angeles. Where’s the media outcry about that?
Maybe one Iraqi car salesman is finding business more difficult than it was under Saddam. But what about the 220,000 teachers in Iraq who are now making 12 times more money than they were under Saddam? Or doctors’ salaries, which are eight times higher? Or the multiple millions of metric tons of food sent to Iraq by the World Food Program? Or the $20 billion pumped into the Iraqi economy by, of all countries, the United States of America?
Of course there are still criminals and terrorists on the run in Iraq, lashing out in desperate attempts to slow America’s progress. And there have been a number of terrorist attacks in Iraq. The media have reported all this—and rightly so. But why hasn’t it been weighed against the remarkable good the United States has done for that nation?
Upon releasing its updated report to Congress in December, detailing the great progress being made in Iraq, the White House complained about the media’s lack of coverage about the positives. Only a handful of smaller newspapers across North America reported on the progress report. The most well-known paper that gave it attention was the Boston Globe. But that’s about it—five or six papers.
Incredibly, a handful of other papers actually managed to put a negative spin on the report, focusing on the facts that troop cuts might have to wait and that Iraq was still suffering from serious communications and energy shortages. Again, while that may be true, how about some context?
Why were all the big media voices muted when the White House released its report? Why didn’t the Times and the Post feature a story? Why did the big networks ignore it? Because the situation in Iraq is not supposed to be good. That’s the story. And if the facts don’t fit within those parameters, they’re not reported.
Liberated Iraq now has 150 newspapers whose content is not controlled by a dictatorial regime. One Iraqi newspaper editor told the Independent of London, “We can’t train staff fast enough. People are desperate here for a neutral free press after 30 years of a totalitarian state.”
A neutral, free press. On that point, Iraq isn’t the only nation in need of liberation.
No Solid Proof
In his nationally televised speech on Oct. 7, 2002, President Bush said, “We know that Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy: the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al-Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September 11, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.”
The “senior” al-Qaeda leader President Bush spoke of was a 37-year-old Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Next to Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi is perhaps the world’s most wanted terrorist. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zarqawi sustained a serious wound to his leg during a U.S. bombing raid in Afghanistan in 2001. He sought refuge in Iran and was later believed to be among a group of al-Qaeda operatives that Iran expelled from the country under U.S. pressure. Looking for another safe haven, Zarqawi found it in, of all places, Iraq. He moved there in May of 2002. He had his leg amputated at a Baghdad hospital and was fitted for a prosthetic limb.
This past January, U.S. officials intercepted a 17-page document in Iraq that was on its way to al-Qaeda’s inner circle. The messenger told interrogators that the author was Zarqawi. In the document, the author bragged about coordinating 25 terrorist bombings in Iraq over the past year. The New York Times was first to break the news about the document. In a front-page story on February 9, Iraq correspondent Dexter Filkins admitted the document constitutes the “strongest evidence to date of contacts between extremists in Iraq and al-Qaeda.” The next day, Times columnist William Safire called the discovery a “smoking gun”
Yet, on the same day Filkins broke the story, the Times editorial page continued to excoriate Bush’s war policy, saying the president “is going to have to show the country that he is capable of distinguishing real threats from false alarms” and have “the courage to tell the nation the truth about something as profound as war.” It was as if the editors were oblivious to what their own paper had reported on the front page.
That night, taking their cue from the Times, all three networks featured the Zarqawi document on the evening news. Elizabeth Palmer reported for CBS: “The letter, even if it’s genuine, doesn’t prove that al-Qaeda is responsible for violence in Iraq.” Over on NBC, Jim Miklaszewski said the document “appears” to back up claims Secretary of State Colin Powell made to the UN before the war, linking Iraq to al-Qaeda via Zarqawi. But officials at the Pentagon, he said, “admit this memo is no smoking gun, that there’s still no solid proof of terrorist ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.”
What exactly would constitute “solid proof” of a link? That Saddam and Osama vacation together at Martha’s Vineyard? The liberal media has rock-solid proof that there are no WMD in Iraq. But intercepting a document headed to Osama, written by a man trained at al-Qaeda camps, who was hiding out with an Iraqi terrorist group prior to the war and spearheading terrorist activity during the war is not solid enough for “objective” journalists to connect the dots between Iraq and bin Laden.
The War on Terrorism
In the letter to al-Qaeda, Zarqawi pleaded for help to incite civil war in Iraq before America left. He lamented his inability to recruit extremists inside Iraq to fight against Americans. And because Iraq was not mountainous, it made life more difficult for terrorists living on the run (especially, he could have added, for those with one leg). The American enemy was growing stronger by the day, Zarqawi said. “THIS IS SUFFOCATION!” he exclaimed.
That from one of the world’s leading terrorists.
Doesn’t this show that President Bush, while he has made mistakes, has also had a good deal of success in the war on terrorism? The Taliban is out of power—no longer providing safe havens for terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. Terrorists still in that country are on the run. Saddam’s regime is gone and will never come back in power, as President Bush assured the Iraqi people. The terrorist network inside Iraq, according to Zarqawi, is suffocating. And whether inspectors find large or small amounts of WMD in Iraq, indeed we now know the Iraqi threat won’t develop into an imminent one.
Then there is Libya, one of seven state sponsors of terror, according to the State Department. In January, the Libyans voluntarily surrendered and abandoned their banned weapons programs, after pressure from American and British diplomats. “There’s little doubt that Col. Qadhafi,” the Wall Street Journal reported, “feared that he could be next on America’s hit list” (February 12).
And most importantly, since September 11, as of this writing, there has not been another terrorist attack on American soil. There have been attempts—these are the intelligence successes we don’t often hear about. But none, to this point, has been carried out.
Only a biased press can ignore or brush aside these many positive developments as failures, or unnecessary and unrelated to the war on terror. Granted, they do not constitute victory. But there have been a number of positives.
In case you dismiss this article as yet another conservative rant, we’ll leave you with more context. Not but a few months ago, the Trumpet featured a story titled, “The War Against Terrorism: Why We Can’t Win”—not exactly popular material for right-wing propaganda. In that article (November 2003), we wrote, “America has won its last war”—something we have been saying for years. Are we then guilty of the same biased, erroneous reporting we have attacked here? Which ideological direction do we lean to, after all—left or right?
NEITHER! And we can prove that by our consistent message over the past 14 years—during the Bush, Clinton and Bush Sr. administrations.
In May 1991, after the U.S. overwhelmed Iraqi forces in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War, we wrote, “The truth is we won a battle in Kuwait. We did not win a war. The job was left unfinished. Saddam Hussein is still in power—even stronger in some ways—and has turned Iraq into a killing field.” Today, we see how accurate that statement was.
During the early to mid-1990s, while President Clinton and the establishment media were concerned about the WMD build-up in Iraq, the Trumpet kept pointing to the rising threat of radical Islam spearheaded by Iran. (The Bible calls this end-time power the “king of the south.”) As early as July 1992, we prophesied, “It looks very much like the end-time king of the south will rule the radical Islamists! … Much of the world is unaware of what a powerful and dangerous force the Islamic camp is becoming.”
In July 1993, we again prophesied, “Islamic extremism is almost certainly going to be the king of the south.” Forget about Iraq, we kept saying—focus on Islamic extremism and its number-one state sponsor: IRAN. On 9/11, Americans awakened to the reality of Islamist terror.
“The threat is clear,” we said at the outset of the war on terror, just after 9/11. “But will the U.S. go after Iran? Not likely.” To date, that forecast has been accurate. We don’t know all the details regarding the war against terror, but we do have advance knowledge of its final outcome. “The U.S. won’t be the victors in this war,” we said in November 2001. “EUROPE will!”
And what would we say now, more than two years later—after the United States has overwhelmed the Taliban and Baathist regimes? We would say the same thing we did 13 years ago, right after the Persian Gulf War. The truth is, we have won battles in the war on terror. To deny that because of political bias is to ignore reality. The Bush administration has led us to a number of victories the last two years. But we will not win the war. Time will again prove that analysis to be right—just as it was the first time we said it.
Consider, for a moment, America’s overthrow of Saddam and how that victorious battle actually falls right in line with what we have been saying. As early as December 1994, we asked, “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?” In that article, our editor in chief made this stunning prediction: “The most powerful [Muslim] country in the Middle East is Iran. Can you imagine the power they would have if they gained control of Iraq?” We concluded by saying, “U.S. strategists said they left Saddam Hussein in power to prevent Iran from possibly ruling Iraq. Now the U.S. and UN embargo may achieve the same undesired result. Iraq could easily fall—and soon!”
Now think about what has happened over the past year. America has removed Saddam Hussein from power and is under intense pressure at home and abroad to get out of Iraq and to let the Iraqis rule themselves. Once democratic elections are put in place, and Iraq is left to itself, the Shiite majority will emerge as the dominant party in Iraq. Iran is also predominantly Shiite and has very real influence with Iraq’s Shiite population. Iran would like nothing more than to see Iraq, ruled for decades by an archenemy, transformed into a neighbor sympathetic to its own way of thinking. Thus, the U.S. is actually paving the way, unwittingly, for this prophecy to be fulfilled.
That brings us back to the establishment media, their biased coverage of the war on terrorism and how it factors in to these incredible prophecies. In the above-mentioned Trumpet article from a few months back (“Why We Can’t Win”), we wrote, “President Bush labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea the ‘axis of evil.’ Iraq’s government has been toppled. However, we can’t win this war unless we also remove Iran’s leadership.” We have been saying this ALL ALONG. But will the U.S. go after Iran? If not, why? What does God’s Word reveal?
It says that the pride in our power and strength has been broken (Lev. 26:19). America will not win the war on terrorism because it DOES NOT have the will to win. And the media are largely to blame. Continuing from the November Trumpet, “American and British leaders are overwhelmingly liberal. And the press is dangerously pacifist. … President Bush’s labeling of the axis of evil was absolutely correct. However, he was attacked by the liberal politicians and press for that statement. That painfully illustrates America’s dangerous lack of will power.”
President Bush’s war against terrorism—as noble and justified and successful as it has been thus far—will end badly. The media are now working overtime to see that it does. Look at the damage they have already caused with their coverage of the Iraq war. As Melanie Phillips wrote for the Daily Mail, “If neither politicians nor secret intelligence are now to be believed, there will be no agreement to fight any BATTLES THAT STILL LIE AHEAD” (February 9).
At the war’s outset, President Bush called America’s enemy a “radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.” The New York Times, remember, said early on that the enemy was “diffuse and difficult to locate.” Since then, however, the liberal media have zeroed in on the mistakes of President Bush instead of the vast network of evil that STILL EXISTS. Rogue nations that sponsor these new extremists, also, STILL EXIST. The other “intelligence failure” David Kay spoke of in his testimony—one the media was much less interested in—was how we had underestimated the development of IRAN’S nuclear program.
Yet, confronting terrorists, their new recruits and “every government that supports them” before the threat becomes “imminent” will now be much more difficult. The broad public and congressional support for invading Iraq will be much more difficult to rally for future battles. And the liberal media are largely to blame for that. MEDIA BIAS has undermined America’s justification for all future pre-emptive attacks against terrorists and their state sponsors.
The war on terrorism has revealed just how powerful and widespread anti-American forces are around the world—not just in terrorist camps and caves—but in liberal newsrooms within America and Britain. Together, these forces are working to accelerate the downfall of the United States.