The news media and Nick Berg

Posted: May 18, 2004 12:00 AM

For those who still doubt that ideology guides most of the world's major news media, the reporting of the Islamic ritual murder of Nick Berg provided textbook examples of an almost universally leftist bias. News media have essentially become propaganda organs for anti-Americanism.

We have already seen the hysteria over the Abu Ghraib abuses, with the daily running of photos on front pages and the continued news and editorial preoccupation that greatly damage the war effort. (If German prisoners in World War II had been stripped naked and humiliated to get information to save American lives, would any major American paper have published the photos during the war?)

On the day The New York Times reported the savage murder of Berg -- in the most subdued fashion of any major paper in America (just one column on the front page, with a photo, the smallest of three front-page photos, at the bottom of the column) -- its lead editorial was yet another in a series denouncing the Bush administration for prison abuses in Iraq.

Now, the Berg murder provides further evidence of how a leftist worldview determines the way news is presented, namely the media's depiction of it as "revenge for America's Iraqi prison abuses."

The vast majority of the world's news media are so anti-American and so morally confused that they reported the claims of anti-American butchers as if they were facts.
Nick Berg's murderers said their butchery was revenge for American abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison, and the world's press dutifully published this as if it were a fact (or even worse, as if it were an understandable, though admittedly extreme, act of revenge).

Here are examples of the headlines -- not subheads -- in major American newspapers:

"American beheaded in revenge for abuses" -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Grisly Vengeance" -- The Hartford Courant

"Militants avenge abuse with taped beheading" -- The Des Moines Register

"Vengeance on Video" -- The Arizona Republic

"With a Vengeance" -- Newsday (Long Island)

Lest their readers be distracted from the real evil in Iraq -- the American treatment of Iraqi prisoners -- some newspapers actually conflated that with the Berg murder in their headline:

"Amid prison inquiry, revenge" -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"U.S. civilian beheaded in Iraq; abuse responsibility in dispute" -- The Providence Journal

On the other hand, the few non-liberal newspapers in America had very different headlines, making no mention of the "revenge" claim:

"Terrorists Behead American" -- The New York Sun

"Pure Evil" -- New York Daily News

"Savages" -- New York Post

"Bastards" -- Philadelphia Daily News

Perhaps the starkest example of the pronounced leftist impact on news reporting is the difference between the headlines in Canada's two major national newspapers. The headline in the liberal Globe and Mail was "Murderous revenge: U.S. hostage dies in wake of Iraq prison abuse." The headline in the conservative National Post was "Al-Qaeda Beheads American." Even its subhead had no connection with the supposed vengeance: "Businessman was in Iraq to help build antennas."

Furthermore, the National Post devoted all six of its columns to the headline and the story, while The Globe and Mail devoted four columns and reserved its biggest print headline to "Oil at $40 worsens the 'pain.'"

Revenge? Islamists slaughtering innocents is never revenge. Was the slaughter of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan "revenge"? The terrorists called Berg's murder "revenge" in order to justify their savagery and because they know that the world press is so malleable and so anti-American that it will print their lie.

Finally, Nick Berg was slaughtered, not beheaded. The world's news media distorted the nature of the savagery inflicted by Islamic "militants" on a young American man who went to Iraq to help Muslims. While he was indeed literally beheaded, that word does not accurately convey what was done to him. Nick Berg was slaughtered in the way an animal is. People who are beheaded have their heads chopped off. Nick Berg's head was cut off. This huge difference was completely missed by the media. Why? Because "slaughter" implies moral judgment, while "beheading" does not. Just as "terrorist" implies moral judgment, and therefore "militant" is preferred. The media's attempt to be morally neutral frequently leads to distortions of fact.

The bottom line is that the United States of America is fighting the world's news media as well as Islamic totalitarianism. Until we understand that, we have no chance of winning.