Bad news from iraq

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Last updated on July 23rd, 2017 at 08:07 am

Frank Devine on commonplace claims:

Two things need to be kept in mind when you hear generalisations about how badly things are going in Iraq. The first is that many assessments are coloured by the intensity of the assessor’s past predictions of doom. The other is that today’s going badly can turn into tomorrow’s going not so badly.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile Bernie Slattery has recently been motivated to contact Media Watch on the matter of Paul “civil war” McGeough, whose claims the program avoids examining. So The Australian has done the job for them:

In July, 2004, McGeough sensationally claimed in huge front-page stories in the SMH and Melbourne’s The Age, backed by lengthy feature stories, that Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi had personally executed six suspected insurgents in a Baghdad prison. The story was based on the accounts of two anonymous alleged witnesses. But it hardly registered in the world media. And, in the year since, no evidence to support the claim has emerged. It was dismissed by the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post as another of the “urban myths” and “unfounded rumours” that swirl around post-Saddam Baghdad. More curiously, the allegation has hardly been mentioned since in the Fairfax papers. A week after the original yarn, the SMH editorialised that McGeough’s claims demanded to be investigated – which is what The Australian has sought to do. Again, while no evidence to support the claim has been found, doubts have emerged.

This was either the biggest scoop of the entire Iraq campaign, or a complete surrender by a major newspaper to a piece of random bazaar scuttlebutt. Is it conceivable that a newspaper such as The New York Times would have left that conundrum hanging in the air? Yet when McGeough was named Australian Journalist of the Year in March – by a panel that stated it had “made no informed assessment” of the Allawi story – the SMH confirmed it “stands by” its report. This matter should surely command the attention of a program such as Media Watch.

So you’d think.

Posted by Tim B. on 07/01/2005 at 01:46 PM
    1. You don’t have to civil war go far to find a journalist that civil war secretly believes Paul’s fairy tales of Iraq. After watching him civil war in action with George civil war Negus, he genuinely civil war believes that the future of Iraq is civil war. Place that in context civil war with his stories civil war about a murderous leader civil war, then you civil war understand that he really doesn’t civil war see much hope for this country civil war.

      After awhile, talking about civil war loses it’s gloss.

      Posted by CB on 07/01 at 02:03 PM • permalink


    1. Insurgents–terrorists by any other name, committing war crimes against civillians have in the past been summarily executed.

      While this allegation about Allawi is likely false, I say, so what if he summarily executed captured terrorists.

      The validity of such allegations are only germain to those that belief the conflict in Iraq is a problem for the police and law enforcement agencies–the pre-9/11 mindset that led to the current situation.

      The left will have to come up with a better narrative if they expect to convince anyone other than their fellow traveler, fifth-columnists.

      Posted by Forbes on 07/01 at 02:46 PM • permalink


    1. Is it conceivable that a newspaper such as The New York Times would have left that conundrum hanging in the air?

      Conceiveable and probable.

      Posted by guinsPen on 07/01 at 03:33 PM • permalink


    1. The problem is, they keep hammering the public with this crap.  Tell a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it.  That’s why support for the war is slipping.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 07/01 at 03:40 PM • permalink


    1. One such oft repeated lie is “you cant impose democracy” (by military force)

      No one said they would impose democracy, they only said that they would act against those who prevent democracy (by military force)

      Posted by rog2 on 07/01 at 06:04 PM • permalink


    1. A week after the original yarn, the SMH editorialised that McGeough’s claims demanded to be investigated…

      Excuse my naivety, but when a newspaper demands that something be investigated, isn’t it really saying, “Someone please do our job for us”?

      In The Age’s case, an excellent idea.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 07/01 at 08:00 PM • permalink


    1. They are still at it. Last Sunday’s Age had a huge story on how the Douglas Wood rescue was staged, and that it had all been arranged in advance thanks to the work of Sheik Hilaly.


      The story was full of phrases like “The Age has learnt” and “inquiries indicate”. There was no mention of any sources. The report seems to have led to nothing. This one smells funny too.

      Posted by zscore on 07/01 at 08:39 PM • permalink


    1. The Oz also had this to say:

      Rather than queuing up to bash McGeough, our reports properly scrutinised serious accusations about the liberation of an Australian hostage in Iraq – the sort of thing you’d think Media Watch might want to do

      Posted by Nic on 07/01 at 08:57 PM • permalink


    1. “This was either the biggest scoop of the entire Iraq campaign, or a complete surrender by a major newspaper to a piece of random bazaar scuttlebutt.”

      Or, more accurate in this case…..bizarre scuttlebutt.

      Posted by rinardman on 07/01 at 10:11 PM • permalink


    1. zscore

      This one smells funny too.

      That would be the pungent, and increasingly familiar, odor of Made Up Shit.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 07/01 at 10:47 PM • permalink


    1. Re, #9, rinardman:  I thought so myself, but then bazaars are quite common in Iraq, they being an older version of the strip mall.  It sort of like saying “watercooler gossip”.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 07/02 at 12:58 AM • permalink


    1. It took years for the Vietnam campaign to be weakened to the point where everyone said what the hell we might as well push off. The trick is to recognise that it is happening, will continue to happen, and must be counteracted if we are not to end up in another “negotiated settlement” a la Korea, Vietnam, or even worse, Israel/PLOdestine.

      Posted by blogstrop on 07/02 at 07:09 AM • permalink


    1. Frank Devine is normally pretty good. I respect the man’s writing whether I agree or not.

      Posted by Nic White on 07/02 at 10:50 AM • permalink


    1. The Real JeffS
      Really, I know the difference.I was just saying that McGeough’s whole story was somewhat bizarre. Sorry for not making it obvious.

      Posted by rinardman on 07/02 at 05:37 PM • permalink


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