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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.
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