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Media Bias

I was struck by the fact that in the stories about the UN's official outrage after the deaths of its four observers, none that I saw mentioned the Canadian major's emails.
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A few days ago, Matt Drudge had a fascinating link from the Ottawa Citizen. It was a story about numerous emails sent by UN observer Maj. Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian who was killed in the bombing in Lebanon sent in the days before his death. He wrote, "What I can tell you is this. We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

What did he mean by the last sentence? Of course, he meant that Hezbollah was operating right underneath the UN observation post, sending rockets and firing on Israeli forces-- a variation on the standard Hezbollah practice of placing its forces and weapons in the midst of civilian populations to get the Israelis to inflict maximum damage on innocents. I was struck by the fact that in the stories about the UN's official outrage after the deaths of its four observers-- including Kofi Annan's quick statement that this was "apparently" a deliberate act by the Israelis-- none that I saw mentioned the Canadian major's emails, or suggested that at the time the UN was warning Israel not to bomb near the observation post, it was also warning Hezbollah to stay away from the post and stop firing rockets, anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers, or other weapons from nearby. Was it? I would welcome evidence that it was indeed standing up to Hezbollah's despicable tactics of using human shields.

Just a few minutes ago, CNN did a report on the death of the UN observers, including an anguished statement by the major's widow. Then, CNN put up an edited excerpt from his email: "The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base." It omitted the last sentence, i.e., "This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

Everybody watching coverage of a war tends to believe that the coverage is biased. I have discounted a lot of the complaints as overdone and a natural reaction from those who favor one side in a conflict. If I had not read the quote in the Ottawa Citizen, the CNN coverage would have gone right past me. But I immediately noticed the artful and clearly deliberate decision to omit the one sentence that changed entirely the implications of what Major Hess- von Kruedener was writing. It was omitted because it took a neat story with stark moral lines and made it more, shall we say, complicated. By any standard, the decision to omit this line is bias, plain and simple.