Letters: Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Dishonest Brokers

To the editor: K. R. Anderson’s “Elephant Hunting” (On Second Thought, Aug. 18, 2004) was right on target. Her implicit contention was that, by and large, the purveyors of what passes for news nowadays in both print and visual, national and local media have become little more than reportorial homunculi rather than fully human journalists. The theory is so sadly true that one wonders what epidemic of national mass myopia has obfuscated that phenomenon.

The so-called conservative news brokers (read, say, Fox) are less true conservatives than shills for the current administration, and the so-called liberal news brokers (read what you will) are less liberals than simply wishy-washy. To be a hard-hitting journalist today seems to involve no more than the ability to ask the same inane question repeatedly when the guest “newsmaker” refuses to answer (sometimes for good reason, more often because a hard-hitting question is to be dodged at all costs). Neither is there any diversity of perspective. It is as though there is a news wizard behind the curtain feeding all reporters of whatever stripe the same pointless points.

It is ironic that the one visual news organ that calls itself fair and balanced is anything but and that the others (which are accused of not being so) are so much so that they are shockingly bland and uninformative. If the Founders were alive today, they might be tempted to paraphrase Rousseau by saying, “In this nation, the press was born free, and everywhere it is in chains.”

Bob Zaslavsky

Fort Worth

To the editor: Staff Sgt. Kenneth A. Pulliza, based in Baghdad, takes aim at the media’s coverage of the Iraq war (Letters, Aug. 25, 2004). I’m not sure what media he’s reading, but the mainstream media I’ve read have done little more than regurgitate press releases from the Pentagon (as in the case of the Jessica Lynch story).

Pulliza also takes issue with K.R. Anderson’s description of Muqtada al-Sadr and says that al-Sadr and his militia “have terrorized and killed those who don’t do as the rebel leader says they should.” On that note, I have a question for him. The newspaper The Australian reported on April 14 that U.S. troops halted a passenger car in the Iraqi city of Kut and ordered the driver to stop displaying a small photo of al-Sadr. The driver refused. The U.S. troops then beat the driver to death with truncheons.

Since you’re based there, Mr. Pulliza, perhaps you can shed some light on this story (which was never reported by the U.S. media). Were the soldiers in this case court-martialed? Were they imprisoned for this cold-blooded, vicious killing? Or are they still out roaming around, acting like a bunch of tough-guy, macho, trigger-happy cowboys?

Given incidents like this, it’s little wonder that so many of the Iraqi people hate America and have taken up arms against the U.S. occupation force.

Martin McDonald

Fort Worth

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