First in a series
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Last week, our "War Stories" team was on the U.S.-Mexico border documenting the tidal wave of violence and illegal activity on America's "southern front." This week, we're back in Afghanistan to detail what's happening in the shadows of the Hindu Kush. The outcomes of both these fights are of vital importance to the American people. But it's hard to get the facts on the fights from the way these stories are being covered by the so-called mainstream media.
The potentates of the press apparently have decided that the "war on drugs" has been lost and that "amnesty" for illegal aliens is a substitute for secure borders. In their exuberance to convince the public of these positions, major U.S. print and broadcast outlets provide breathless reports of wholesale bloodshed in Mexico, but they overlook slow but steady improvements in border security and successes in dismantling drug cartels. In short, "surrender" is being presented as the only option. This same sentiment is evident in the coverage of the campaign here in Afghanistan.
On Sept. 18, the Afghan people went to the polls to elect a new national parliament. It was similar to the kind of legislative election we will hold in less than six weeks -- with the same portent for political change. Yet most U.S. media coverage of Afghanistan's experiment in representative government focused on insurgent attacks aimed at disrupting the vote. Newspaper and television reports claimed "low voter interest" and highlighted "Taliban attacks aimed at reducing turnout." But, as we learned once we arrived here, those stories were simply wrong.
There were insurgent attacks -- but one-third fewer than during last year's presidential elections. According to international observers, fewer than 1 percent of polling stations had any violence at all. And those same monitors reported voter turnout -- an estimated 3.6 million, or about 40 percent of those eligible -- was actually higher than it was in the 2009 election.
Set aside for a moment that most Afghan voters had to ignore the risk of violence, walk to their local polling stations and wait in long lines -- and that turnout was higher than it is in most of our "off-year" elections. Ask instead how those who reported this story managed to get it so wrong. The answer, of course, is that there is an agenda in many of our media. Those who "shape the news" have a predisposition for the negative and make a conscious choice to ignore "good news" that contradicts their bias.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.