Down the memory hole!
October 25, 2002 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Down the memory hole! An eye-opening comparison of how the various media outlets reported the removal of U.N. inspectors from Iraq back in the day (1998) with today (2002, and itchin' to fight).
posted by Dirjy (16 comments total)
Simply amazing. It goes to show how heavily reporters base their articles on other articles and AP releases, as opposed to an in-depth knowledge of the events they're writing about.
posted by kfury at 11:08 PM on October 25, 2002

Reminds me of Animal Farm.
posted by RobbieFal at 11:55 PM on October 25, 2002

There's clearly some groupthink going on here, but interestingly it doesn't always favor one "side" or the other of the debate. (Example: the statement that UNSCOM pulled out "in the face of a US attack", when in fact they pulled out because of non-cooperation and a failure by the Iraqis to fulfill agreements, actions which were the justification for the air strikes.) Somehow, I'm not certain this is the intent of the page, which seeks to underline the voluntary withdrawal and the American attack while downplaying Iraqi non-cooperation.

It's sloppy to say that Iraq actually expelled the inspectors in 1998; they were simply barred from performing their duties by utter non-compliance from the Iraqis. The true expulsion was November 13, 1997 when seven US inspectors were sent out of the country. After that point cooperation did not notably improve and a year of evasion and noncompliance, interrupted by various deals, ensued.

For reference, the weapons inspection timeline (collate with C-SPAN's timeline. which lists different events; and the Stockholm Peace Institute's timeline) shows that inspectors were barred from doing their work beginning on October 31, 1998; returned on November 17 after a deal; and left under UN orders on December 16, unable to complete their mission. Non-cooperation increased significantly after Butler told the Security Council that UNSCOM had evidence Iraq had weaponized VX nerve gas for missiles.

And from the establishment of UNMOVIC in 1999 until this summer, Iraq still has not allowed inspectors in.

Brian Carnell's comment on the FAIR piece.
posted by dhartung at 3:46 AM on October 26, 2002

This is standard procedure. Everything you hear or read in the news should be investigated. Take nothing at face value, because odds are information is being twisted to suit momentary political needs. To be truly informed one has to do a lot of leg work and it isn´t easy or much fun. That's why someone like Chomsky, like his politics or not, is so necessary in a "free" democracy. He tries to tell people to not be complacent, not to simply swallow every load of horseshit that the government controlled media shoves in your face. And if you don´t like Chomsky's conclusions it´s far better to do the work yourself instead of simply taking his (or some poster on Meta filter's) word for it.
posted by sic at 3:49 AM on October 26, 2002

Yup, if you take the news media at face value, you're sheep. Question everything, from their facts to the reasons behind a particular news story being brought to you (or not brought).
posted by fleener at 6:51 AM on October 26, 2002

Great link. It shows how complacent the mainstream media is. Most people who report the news have no clue what the facts are - they don't really care - like Katie Couric who is payed millions of dollars for being a mindless hairspray TV personality.
posted by disgruntled at 7:21 AM on October 26, 2002

Wow. While I'm as cynical as the next girl, I at least assumed that the North American free press was at least reporting facts.
posted by SoftRain at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2002

Here's a related article on the 1997 expulsions of inspectors from Iraq, and how the media has gone from reporting that inspectors were acting as spies as a fact to reporting that it's just an allegation.
posted by bobo123 at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2002

Underlying all the spin though is the same basic truths:

1) Iraq surrendered and then reneged on the conditions of surrender that it agreed to

2) Having surrendered after creating the conflict, and despite adopting a peculiar "we won cuz we're still here" spin on the whole debacle, they were and remain in no position to dictate or describe the conduct of inspectors.

Funny how that, too, gets lost in the mix.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:45 AM on October 26, 2002

I was just starting to search for that evidence, bobo123, thanks.

The United States *was* using the weapons inspection teams to spy on Iraq - beyond the mandate of the weapons inspection teams. You have to be a bit dense to think they wouldn't.

U.S. media outlets are now shaping the truth differently. Welcome to the world of biased journalism and malleable truth. Caveat emptor and all that.
posted by mediareport at 11:49 AM on October 26, 2002

Hard not to feel jaded when these types of revelations don't feel ground breaking anymore.

Perhaps I've read too much John Pilger, and expect every story to have multi-faceted, unreported angles.
posted by skirmisher at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2002

It's sloppy to say that Iraq actually expelled the inspectors in 1998; they were simply barred from performing their duties by utter non-compliance from the Iraqis. The true expulsion was November 13, 1997 when seven US inspectors were sent out of the country.

And further sloppy to spin-assert that "the true expulsion" took place on November 13, 1997 and leave it at that, as if the U.S. made up the entire weapons inspection team. Iraquis demanded that six U.S. weapons inspectors leave (in the midst of what appear to be legitimate claims about U.S. spying) -- not the entire team. The U.N. (and Butler) themselves decided to withdraw SEVENTY TWO OTHER members of the weapons inspection team, and leave behind a skeleton crew, which included inspectors monitoring cameras and sensors.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:57 PM on October 26, 2002

folderol, you continue to entertain by stretching the words of those with whom you disagree to ridiculous lengths. I stated a factual, perfectly parsable sentence. If you wish to make that seem "as if" (your words) I said the US made up the entire weapons inspection team, who then is indulging in spin?

Look at the beam in thine own eye.
posted by dhartung at 9:30 PM on October 26, 2002

Oh fhorkedtung, such clumsy disingenuousness. You continue to entertain with constant backpedaling when your spin is pointed out. I'm glad you NOW (after my post) don't mind admitting that the U.S. made up just a small part of the weapons inspection team (a fact you couldn't be bothered to put into your original post - that's called "cherrypicking" your facts, and like I said, you were willing to leave it at that).

The thread link specifically deals with the media distorting (with "factual, perfectly parsable sentences") events associated with inspectors leaving Iraq. And wonder of wonders, then you come along in the thread and sloppily coin the phrase "true expulsion" to refer to an event which was in fact almost entirely a "true U.N. withdrawal" of the weapons inspection team..

Ari's probably gonna retire someday....need a job? Or looks like any of the media referenced in the thread link could use some of your talents, since here you're doing the same thing they did. Spin on as you like, but don't be surprised when you and they get called on it.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:01 AM on October 27, 2002

Dirjy - Great Post! Keep up the good work!
posted by troutfishing at 5:21 AM on October 28, 2002

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