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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Are reporters trying to stay on kidnappers' good side?

When Baghdad fell and all of Saddam Hussein's crimes were about to be revealed, CNN wrote a mea culpa in the New York Times, admitting that in order to retain access to Hussein's regime, it hid what it knew about Saddam Hussein's many crimes against the Iraqi people. Is the same thing happening again? Now in Iraq we have Islamo-fascist and Baathist kidnappers murdering some reporters and freeing others. Is this scaring reporters into toeing the anti-war line as a condition for reporting on Iraq?

I thought of this today when Drudge linked to the Australian reporter, John Martinkus, who was freed after being Googled by his kidnappers. Curious to see what they found, I googled Martinkus myself and discovered that he is a darling of the anti-war left. One review of his book, Travels in American Iraq, is titled "A People Unbowed." If this review is accurate, Martinkus would seem to basically support the Michael Moore position that “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.”

Whether this interpretation of Martinkus' writings is warranted I cannot say. The question here is whether a reporter who Googled-out to be an optimist about the liberation of Iraq would have been freed, and whether reporters in Iraq are making this calculation. Anyone who is reporting from Iraq today is brave, but most of our reporters are on the left to begin with. Being intimidated into saying what they are prone to say anyway would probably not leave them too conscience stricken.

The enemy knows the importance of the press and would certainly like to co-opt them. Interdicting press intimidation by tracking down the kidnap rings should be a high priority for our intelligence operations. It is tempting to say that the press are all on the side of the enemy anyway, so why bother, but if press intimidation goes unchecked, the bias of the media will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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