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Sunday, October 10, 2004

SF Chron buries Australia, slanders Afghanistan

As expected, today's San Francisco Chronicle buried the news that John Howard's conservative coalition won the Australian elections on Saturday. If the labor/anti-war candidate had won the banner headline would have been: "Bush loses ally in Australia." (That Liberal Media links to a such a banner headline when the Spanish surrendered electorally to Al Qaeda.)

Since the left lost in Australia, the election news is not on the Chronicle's front page. Neither is it a top Nation and World story on page 3. You have to wade back to page 15, after a page wide obituary for Jacques Derrida (French "there is no such thing as truth" literary theorist), where there finally appears the non-descript little one column headline: "Australia elects leader to 4th term." Apparently AP's headline for the same text revealed too much: "Australia's conservative prime minister easily wins fourth term, will keep troops in Iraq." When you have to expurgate AP, you are somewhere left of TASS.

2. Equally biased are today headlines about Afghanistan's first ever elections. An honest headline would have said: "Taliban/Al Qaeda fail to disrupt Afghan elections, probable losers challenge ink." Instead, the Chronicle headline gives credence to the anti-democratic behavior of the losers by giving credence to their cavil: "Afghan election snafu--wrong ink." The continuation headline blares across a full inside page: "Failure of anti-fraud ink threatens Afghan results."

The story itself reports neutrally enough:

A major hitch occurred when election workers at some polling places used the wrong ink to mark voters' thumbs. All 15 candidates challenging interim President Hamid Karzai called the results invalid and declared they would reject them.

U.N. and Afghan officials overseeing the election largely dismissed the complaints. They said any problems had been corrected during the day but promised to thoroughly investigate.

It also notes that election officials used photographs to identify voters. (In America we don't use either photographs or ink to prevent voter fraud, so the Afghanis are way ahead of us.) The story also ends with a perfect quote from an Afghan Taxi driver:
"The Taliban wanted to disrupt the process but didn't have the guns to do it," said Hamid Watek, a taxi driver. "Instead, our own politicians have done it for them by saying the whole thing is rubbish. That is better than the Taliban could have dreamed of."

The same criticism applies exactly to the Chronicle's headline writers. An honest headline would imply a Bush success, so for partisan political purposes, the Chronicle peddles the Taliban line instead. Disgusting.

3. The Chronicle also wins the prize of the week for the most biased headline on the Duelfer report. On Thursday (three days ago) the Chron ran the biased story from the Post that trumpeted Iraq's lack of WMD but elided Duelfer's findings that Saddam was preparing to restart WMD programs after sanctions were lifted, and that he was well on his way to using the U.N. sponsored Oil for Food program to buy his way out of the inspections/sanctions regime. (See Barone's expose of the WaPo report here.)

Where the WaPo headline distorted the facts ("U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons: Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims"), the Chronicle goes one better. It doesn't even bother with facts, but goes directly to editorializing: "Reports put pressure on Bush over Iraq invasion." In the subhead it even editorializes the facts: "No WMDs, says latest assessment critical of U.S. policy." Duelfer did not do a policy assessment. He did an intelligence assessment. Free form anti-conservative spin, always and everywhere, is the Chronicle's fundamental modus operandi.

4. The Chronicle continues its Duelfer disinformation today, running an LA Times piece on page 3 that repeats the WaPo's distortions while adding to them. Headline: "Iraqi insurgents seek chemical weapons--likelihood of success grew with U.S occupation, report says." The story details how unspecialized chemists working with the "insurgents" had very limited success creating chemical weapons before they were captured by U.S. forces. There were no Iraqi insurgents before the occupation you see, so their likelihood of success could only go up once they existed. All that existed before the insurgency was chemical weapons specialists at the disposal of Al Qaeda terrorists. Boy, we really blew it trading that minor threat for those dangerous untrained chemists who are now in jail.

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