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Project Censored 2005: Top Ten News Stories You Didn't Hear About
January 28, 2006 6:10 PM   Subscribe

The news you knew, yet didn't really know Project Censored has become more and more relevant in our self-censored and compliant media. These are the top ten stories that received very little airplay or no air play at all. It makes the Baby Jesus cry. . .
posted by mk1gti (28 comments total)

 
There seems to be a common theme.

posted by orthogonality at 6:49 PM on January 28, 2006


He's such a peach tho, ain't he?
posted by mk1gti at 7:15 PM on January 28, 2006


I agree that it has become more relevant lately, and the list this year includes some stories that even news junkies might not have come across. I question the timing though. Why release the list on a Friday? Right now, a Google News search for "Project Censored" turns up nothing for this years list.
posted by caddis at 9:05 PM on January 28, 2006


I am glad that Project Censored has compiled this list. They have done a great job piercing the veil of secrecy that has kept allegations of wrongdoing and scandal in the Bush Administration from reaching the pages of Metafilter, where they can be discussed openly and critically.
posted by esquire at 9:08 PM on January 28, 2006


I pray for your souls, you haters!
posted by stirfry at 9:09 PM on January 28, 2006


I can't shake the feeling that some of these "stories were ignored or downplayed" because they're just plain impossible to verify to any acceptable level of accuracy.

Some of them, yes, have paper trails up the wazoo. Others, not so much.
posted by frogan at 9:09 PM on January 28, 2006


Which ones are not verified, or at least verifiable with a little leg work?
posted by caddis at 9:44 PM on January 28, 2006


yech, I feel sick now.
posted by tritisan at 10:29 PM on January 28, 2006



I can't shake the feeling that some of these "stories were ignored or downplayed" because they're just plain impossible to verify to any acceptable level of accuracy.


Which ones?
posted by sourwookie at 11:58 PM on January 28, 2006


Which ones are not verified, or at least verifiable with a little leg work?

There's a lot of things that make you go "hmm" but not many Pulitzer candidates. Doesn't back up the implied notion that there are tendencies among corporate/mainstream media to withhold truth in the name of the stockholders.

Note that I say "impossible to verify to any acceptable level of accuracy." I'm talking about a well researched preponderance of real evidence -- not just hearsay, spin and a few claims tossed out here and there.

No. 2 -- "Media Coverage on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death Toll" -- summarizes articles that offer some serious claims ... but ultimately seem unverifiable and possibly rife with exaggeration.

No. 3 -- "Distorted Election Coverage" -- Claims of voter fraud should be verifiable, right? If there's real honest-to-goodness fraud, somebody somewhere knows about it. Probably a lot of somebodies. It's been a year -- where's the evidence? Where's the whistleblower? Is *every single employee* of Diebold part of a cover-up?

No. 6 -- "The Real Oil for Food Scam" -- Most of the evidence provided here comes courtesy of Scott Ritter. His motives have been impugned. Maybe he's right. I don't know. But we can't take him at face value. Where's the other evidence?

No. 7 just sounds weird. What protection are they legally entitled to in a freakin' war zone? The Pentagon won't pay for body armor for its own soldiers. That's the real story.

The source for No. 10 is from Earth First. DUDE.

No. 16 talks about a U.S. intent to annex Canada. As much as I like hockey ...

I'm not saying any of these stories are wrong or untrue. On the contrary -- they could all be true. I'm saying these are stories going "uncovered" because they can't be verified, or are not verified.
posted by frogan at 11:59 PM on January 28, 2006


Frogan, I agree with you that many of these stories lack hard evidence. But they garner more than enough evidence to be newsworthy. Unless you can show that the media didn't focus on any stories lacking concrete evidence (they focused on a great deal of them) then it makes no sense to say that these stories were ignored for factual reasons. I've seen plenty of news articles balanced on less evidence than those you point out, in some regards it's simply the nature of news reporting to accept a lesser degree of proof before publishing.
posted by Farengast at 12:08 AM on January 29, 2006


No. 8 is weird. I didn't get it at first, so clicked on the first supporting link, which contains this clarification:

"The law does not prohibit Iraqi farmers from using or saving "traditional" seeds. It prohibits them from reusing seeds of "new" plant varieties registered under the law. In practical terms, this means they cannot save those seeds for re-use either."

Translation: Noone wants to keep Iraqi farmers from using those seeds that they have beein using for thousands of years. But if they want to (re-)use those new seeds developed and patented by Monsanto, they will have to pay up.

This is the same pretty much everywhere in the world, so I don't think it qualifies as one of the top 10 stories missed by the media.

The alleged election fraud thing is on an entirely different order though and one wonders why noone has the courage to look into that. Well, noone who could make a difference or affect public opinion, that is.
posted by sour cream at 12:19 AM on January 29, 2006


Farengast, I hear you ... newsworthiness is an often subjective topic, but IMO there is more to "newsworthy" than just garnering a heap of claims. People claim to see UFOs. Is that newsworthy?

Project Censored is alleging that mainstream media deliberately ignores some stories for financial and political reasons. In their view, there's a lot of editors sitting around going, "Yes, we have a story here, but I don't think the Man will be happy if we print it." Their evidence is a truckload of bomb-throwing stories they think should be at the top of every newspaper in America, but aren't. Ergo, it's a conspiracy at worse, and venal, bean-counting at best.

My opinion is that they're "underreported" because some of them aren't true, some are exaggerated, some literally cannot be verified and some are incorrectly framed in context.
posted by frogan at 12:23 AM on January 29, 2006


sour cream writes "Translation: Noone wants to keep Iraqi farmers from using those seeds that they have beein using for thousands of years. But if they want to (re-)use those new seeds developed and patented by Monsanto, they will have to pay up."

On its face, yes.

In truth, Monsanto has sued a number of farmers for growing Monsanto seed that was carried into their fields from neighboring farms by the wind.

(Farmers have also preemptively sued Monsanto for seeds that have blown into their fields.)

The fact is, GM seeds will propagate, and farmers cannot (without going to great lengths and prohibitive cost) separate GM seed from natural seed.

If the law protects GM seed (rather than farmers' contracts with GM seed producers like Monsanto), the law rends up screwing farmers who don't purchase GM seeds, because they end up (after being sued) paying for the GM seeds whether or not they want them.
posted by orthogonality at 12:36 AM on January 29, 2006


Frogan, I see what you mean, but I still hold that the media frequently prints things which are not true, exaggerated, and cannot be verified. Thus these criteria alone are not enough to disqualify news from print, even if they should be enough.

Also, some of the items you took issue with above have more evidence to back them up than you may realize. As for Fallujah, soldiers admitted on record that they were ordered to shoot white phosphorous indiscriminantly into the city. The use of white phosphorous is strongly discouraged by military protocol and only to be used in small amounts when desperately needed. So dumping it like fire crackers into Fallujah is something like craven indifference.

The distorted election coverage was another interesting issue. A thorough statistical analysis shows some very stricking anamolies. Not just in terms of comparing exit polls to results in paper and electronic machines, but also in comparing correlation between percentage of votes to a candidate to percentage voters registered to a certain party in each county. Comparing votes in a county to previous election results in that county etc. etc. The misreporting is that these anamolies were all in the statistical range of normal error. For things like the electric vs. paper ballot comparison, that kind of correlation is suspicious and significant even if the differences are within normal error. And also taken globally, these anamolies were not within normal bounds of error since almost all of them favored Bush and almost all of them happened in counties with electronic voting systems and in important swing counties. This high degree of correlation is statistically significant even when individual metrics are not. Much of the scientific community stood behind this analysis but you wouldn't think it from the coverage in the media. They made it sound like these discrepancies were perfectly normal and not suspicious at all, if you look at the data yourself it's actually very suspicious. And even more suspicious that the media who loves to create controversy whenever possible to boost ratings would plop a ripe controversy into the "nothing to see here" bin instead of reaping the great ratings rewards they would certainly get from flogging instead of killing this story.
posted by Farengast at 12:46 AM on January 29, 2006


Willamette Week (a leftish weekly paper in Portland, OR) ran most of this list in early January. Some of the sections are expanded, and the format is a little more readable.

Predictably partisan reader comments follow the article. (Plus one less predictable comment from NAME #1 ON THAT DOMESTIC SPYING LIST. Feel free to contact him.)
posted by thinman at 1:01 AM on January 29, 2006


orthogonality: If the law protects GM seed (rather than farmers' contracts with GM seed producers like Monsanto), the law rends up screwing farmers who don't purchase GM seeds, because they end up (after being sued) paying for the GM seeds whether or not they want them.

I agree entirely, orthogonality, and like the article that you linked to says, there are lots of interesting questions arising there.

However, my point was that Iraqi patent law has apparently merely been adjusted to conform with patent laws elsewhere around the world. Therefore, I can see why this story has been largely ignored by the media; it's simply not that newsworthy -- at least not nearly as much as an allegedly fraudulent presidential election.

Also, once legislative power has reverted to the Iraqi souvereign, they are free to change their patent law any way they feel is in the best interest of their country, no?
posted by sour cream at 1:22 AM on January 29, 2006


sour cream : "However, my point was that Iraqi patent law has apparently merely been adjusted to conform with patent laws elsewhere around the world."

No, no, no! The Iraqui patent law was adjusted to what the US would like the the patent laws to be around the world - every time it has a chance the US government try to force Intellectual Property issues into otherwise unrelated foreign agendas. It usually generates quite a bit of friction (see Doha, see the fight against WTO exceptions on health-related patents). So the real story is that the US corporations used the occupation to force Iraq into a position no sovereign government accepts without a fierce fight. But then again who's saying a colony should have a sovereign government anyway?
posted by nkyad at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2006


No. 2 -- "Media Coverage on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death Toll" -- summarizes articles that offer some serious claims ... but ultimately seem unverifiable and possibly rife with exaggeration.

?
posted by prostyle at 8:16 AM on January 29, 2006


I always thought the Oil-for-food program story quickly died from the news scene after Bayoil was indicted.
It was fun to hype when the UN, Russians, etc. were the bad guys.
posted by Balisong at 8:21 AM on January 29, 2006


The election: Since my course in statistics, I can't believe the discrepency in tabulated results vs. polling survey results was ridiculously beyond the margin of error. Its all about margin of error, since gallup perfected his gallop poll, there has never been an election that has been slightly beyond the range of error until now. This was simply impossible, and my teacher agreed. The only conclusion I see left is fraud in the election.
posted by uni verse at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2006


Huge difference between "we were ordered to fire WP" and "we were ordered to fire WP for the specific purpose of killing innocent civilians."

Besides ... who took these pictures? Do they have an axe to grind? How do we know that these pictures are the direct result of U.S. actions? These pictures are awful -- this is tragedy at it most definite. But am I an expert in the forensics of war wounds, able to discern the difference between the effects of phosphorus and an ordinary fire? I'm not. I don't know what to believe, so I'm certainly not going to make a knee-jerk reaction.

Is it impossible to believe that there might be a question of authenticity here? Is it impossible to believe that "underreported" stories are far more complex and nuanced than Project Censored leads us to believe?

I still hold that the media frequently prints things which are not true, exaggerated, and cannot be verified.

You are absolutely correct. But certainly you also agree that the fact that they make mistakes on some stories should not automatically lower the bar for all stories?

if you look at the data yourself it's actually very suspicious

Oh, it's all suspicious as hell. But suspicious != conspiracy != newsworthy. That's all I'm saying.
posted by frogan at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2006


frogan writes "Huge difference between 'we were ordered to fire WP' and 'we were ordered to fire WP for the specific purpose of killing innocent civilians.'

I'm sure that'd be a comforting thought to the countless innocent dead. The fact that you can make that academic distinction really speaks volumes. Did you even take the time between all of these pointless bloated comments to watch Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre? I mean really, sit there and watch it. While you do, be sure to listen to the faint echoes of this so called "huge difference" reverberate through your empty skull.

"Besides ... who took these pictures? Do they have an axe to grind? How do we know that these pictures are the direct result of U.S. actions? These pictures are awful -- this is tragedy at it most definite. But am I an expert in the forensics of war wounds, able to discern the difference between the effects of phosphorus and an ordinary fire? I'm not. I don't know what to believe, so I'm certainly not going to make a knee-jerk reaction.

You're telling me it'd take a "knee-jerk" reaction for you to discern the difference between a conventional mechanical injury and that of extensive surface damage from chemical weapons? Really?

"Is it impossible to believe that there might be a question of authenticity here? Is it impossible to believe that 'underreported' stories are far more complex and nuanced than Project Censored leads us to believe?

Yes, why don't we take a second to digest an entirely objective perspective from our good friend Mr. Rumsfeld:

We know that Al Jazeera has a pattern of playing propaganda over and over and over again.
What they do is, when a bomb goes down they grab some children and some women and pretend that the bomb hit the women and the children.


Indeed, that sounds entirely more reasonable! Thanks for opening my eyes to a world of intelligent discourse, frogan. Who knows what kind of a blathering zombie I might have become without your guiding wisdom?
posted by prostyle at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2006


Frogan, think about this for a second, man. Fallujah was not an insurgent camp or base. It was not built by insurgents, for insurgents etc. It was a CITY. Certainly a city overrun by insurgents, but still a CITY. With civilians and a hospital and schools. Our military razed 40% of that city to ashes. The UN Commission on Refugees had this to say about the damage, "It is estimated that 40 percent of the buildings were completely destroyed, 20 percent had major damage, and 40 percent had significant damage." Add it up, that's 100% of fallujah suffering at least signifigant damage.

I don't know how much you know about white phosphorous but it's nasty, nasty stuff. Set it off in a room and it incinerates everything inside and releases toxic fumes at the same time. It's like a conventional and chemical weapon put together. Obviously the soldiers were not ordered to shoot the stuff at civilians, but give me a break! Do you honestly think there is any way to use this stuff in a CITY without harming civilians? There is a reason why it's blacklisted by the military for sparing use only when absolutely necessary.

Oh and suspicious data certainly doesn't mean conspiracy, but it does mean investigate. And all such investigations were stonewalled by the administration, and by the media, which is the point of the posted link. From the beginning the media treated the statistical analysis of election data as some kind of fringe theory. Talk about non sequitur, "Well, the exit polls showed that Kerry won. But they were definitely wrong. Because Bush won. See look, we reported that Bush won, so the exit polls must have been wrong." This circular logic was all over the cable news after the election. It's much easier to treat the analysis of the results as flawed when you already accept that Bush won, therefore any analysis that says he didn't actually must be wrong. And this is precisely what the media did, even though any thinking person can see that the election results are the very thing which would determine who won the election, you can't just assume a winner and then use that assumption to undermine what the data are telling you about who actually won. Which is not to say that the election analysis definitively show that Kerry won, just that discounting all evidence that Kerry might have won because we already decided that Bush won makes no sense.
posted by Farengast at 5:42 PM on January 29, 2006


Really?

Yes, really. I'm sorry, you're an expert in the field? You know all? No critical thinking required? No effort to step up and go, "You know, this might be a lie, too?"

I don't believe person A is lying just because person B tells me he is. People lie. Photos lie. On both sides.

But by all means -- swallow the purple Kool Aid instead of the red Kool Aid. I heard the red Kool Aid people say the blue Kool Aid people are just a bunch of dicks.
posted by frogan at 5:48 PM on January 29, 2006


Why do these discussions always dissolve into ridiculous Kool-aid analogies?
posted by Farengast at 5:58 PM on January 29, 2006


I should have just finished the Rumsfeld quote and saved you a post:

And it seems to me, that it's up to all of us to try to tell the truth, to say what we know, to say what we dont know, and recognize that we're dealing with people that are perfectly willing to lie to the world to attempt to further their case. And to the extent that the people lie ultimately they are caught lying and they lose their credibility and one would think it wouldn't take very long for that to happen dealing with people like this.

People lie. Photos lie. On both sides.
posted by prostyle at 6:06 PM on January 29, 2006


#9 is the one people should be most concerned about. It has probably the biggest potential to affect people who read this board. And with the Fed set to stop reporting M3, you really should be worried about the value of the dollar.
posted by Potsy at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2006


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