Much like Abu Ghraib was clamped down by the Army long before the press even knew about it, Glenn Reynolds and John Podhoretz catch the New York Times taking a report of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan in December of 2002 and hyping it into the stratosphere. Podhoretz writes:
The New York Times continues the bizarre act of carrying Newsweek’s water in the wake of the false Koran-desecration story (which I write about this morning here). The paper’s lead story is a lurid account of the vicious treatment of two Afghan prisoners by U.S. soldiers — events that occurred in December 2002 and for which seven servicemen have been properly punished. Let me repeat that: December 2002. That’s two and a half years ago. Every detail published by the Times comes from a report done by the U.S. military, which did the investigating and the punishing. The publication of this piece this week is an effort not to get at the truth, not to praise the military establishment for rooting out the evil being done, but to make the point that the United States is engaged in despicable conduct as it fights the war on terror. In the name of covering the behinds of media colleagues, all is fair in hate and war.
(Emphasis added.) One of Glenn’s readers notes that the men involved haven’t been punished yet–because their trial is currently underway. “Fair point” Glenn adds, “but it’s not like the NYT is breaking news here”.
Expect more stories like this from a media, Jim Geraghty writes, that after the Newsweek debacle, would rather lash out indiscriminately (all the way to playing variations on the Chickenhawk sophism as ABC’s Terry Moran did to Hugh Hewitt earlier this week) than wonder what the root causes are of so much of their distrust by the American public.
But at least after that badly reactionary stumble, Moran was willing to admit to Hugh that the media has a huge problem when the news they report about America’s military is almost always guaranteed to be negative, rather than a more balanced–even nuanced–approach:
There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it’s very dangerous. That’s different from the media doing its job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.
Geraghty looks at how the media’s hatred of the military has caused journalism standards to slip badly at not just at Newsweek, but much of the mainstream media in general:
We know what’s going on. What was the one moment that things looked darkest for the Bush presidency in the last three and a half years? During the endless all-Abu-Ghraib, all-the-time abuse coverage festival from last spring. When references to the prison abuse scandal were cropping up on the Washington Post