Thursday, July 2, 2009

MSM Diary: A Reporter's Life Is More Precious Than An American Soldier's

To hear idiots cry out that we don't have a left-biased mainstream media brings up the same emotions you would encounter while hearing a member of Germany's SS claim that Hitler didn't dislike Jews.

But, then again, most Americans are products of public education, and are therefore taught by agents of indoctrination themselves. The poor lads can't think critically, so these nuances and slight-of-hands by the MSM go largely unnoticed.

Here's the latest example: Just two weeks ago we learn that the NYT went to great lengths to hide the news for 7 months that the Taliban had kidnapped an American reporter working for them. The executives/editors went so far as to not only call all other MSM outlets to suppress this news (which they all willingly complied), but also sought out ways to doctor up Wikipedia's bio page of this reporter to make him appear more sympathetic to Muslims, thereby hoping to forestall torture or death to him by his captors.

All very valiant, wouldn't you say? The NYT must really care about us Americans.

Contrast that with their story posted today by the NYT that an American GI was kidnapped by the same Taliban that captured one of their own seven months ago. The point is inescapable, even among the most dull-witted of liberals.

First, the NYT's proud article proclaiming their heroic efforts at keeping a kidnapped Times reporter alive while held captive by the Taliban:

For seven months, The New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had been kidnapped by the Taliban.

But that was pretty straightforward compared with keeping it off Wikipedia.

Times executives believed that publicity would raise Mr. Rohde’s value to his captors as a bargaining chip and reduce his chance of survival. Persuading another publication or a broadcaster not to report the kidnapping usually meant just a phone call from one editor to another, said Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times.

But Wikipedia, which operates under the philosophy that anyone can be an editor, and that all information should be public, is a vastly different world.

A dozen times, user-editors posted word of the kidnapping on Wikipedia’s page on Mr. Rohde, only to have it erased. Several times the page was frozen, preventing further editing — a convoluted game of cat-and-mouse that clearly angered the people who were trying to spread the information of the kidnapping.

Even so, details of his capture cropped up time and again, however briefly, showing how difficult it is to keep anything off the Internet — even a sentence or two about a person who is not especially famous.

The sanitizing was a team effort, led by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, along with Wikipedia administrators and people at The Times. In an interview, Mr. Wales said that Wikipedia’s cooperation was not a given.

“We were really helped by the fact that it hadn’t appeared in a place we would regard as a reliable source,” he said. “I would have had a really hard time with it if it had.”
Mr. Rohde was kidnapped in Afghanistan on Nov. 10, along with his interpreter and their driver. Two days after the kidnapping, a Wikipedia user altered the entry on Mr. Rohde to emphasize his work that could be seen as sympathetic to Muslims, like his reporting on Guantánamo, and his coverage of the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims. Mr. Rohde won a Pulitzer Prize for his Bosnia coverage in 1996, when he worked for The Christian Science Monitor.

The Wikipedia editor in that case was Michael Moss, an investigative reporter at The Times and friend of Mr. Rohde who has written extensively about groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Like many Wikipedia editors, he adopted a user name that hid his true identity.

“I knew from my jihad reporting that the captors would be very quick to get online and assess who he was and what he’d done, what his value to them might be,” he said. “I’d never edited a Wikipedia page before.”

With his editors’ blessing, Mr. Moss had already made similar changes to Mr. Rohde’s “topic page” on The Times’s Web site, and in both cases he omitted the name of Mr. Rohde’s former employer, because it contained the word Christian.

The Wikipedia page history shows that the next day, Nov. 13, someone without a user name edited the entry on Mr. Rohde for the first time to include the kidnapping. Mr. Moss deleted the addition, and the same unidentified user promptly restored it, adding a note protesting the removal. The unnamed editor cited an Afghan news agency report. In the first few days, at least two small news agencies and a handful of blogs reported the kidnapping.

Around that time, Catherine J. Mathis, the chief spokeswoman for the New York Times Company, called Mr. Wales and asked for his help. Knowing that his own actions on Wikipedia draw attention, Mr. Wales turned to an administrator, one of several who would eventually become involved in monitoring and controlling the page.

On Nov. 13, news of the kidnapping was posted and deleted four times within four hours, before an administrator blocked any more changes for three days. On Nov. 16, it was blocked again, for two weeks.

“We didn’t want it to look unusual in some fashion that would draw speculation, so we would protect it for three days, or up to a month, which is pretty normal,” Mr. Wales said. He added, “Weeks would go by before there was a problem.”

On Feb. 10 and 11, two users added the kidnapping information several times to Mr. Rohde’s page, only to see it removed each time, and they attached some heated notes to their additions. “We can do this months,” one said.

An administrator put a rare indefinite block on the page, then changed that to a temporary freeze. One of the would-be editors posted a note saying: “Not gonna work boy genius. Should have stuck to indefinite.”

Most of the attempts to add the information, including the first and the last, came from three similar Internet protocol addresses that correspond to an Internet service provider in Florida, and Wikipedia administrators guessed that they were all the same user.

“We had no idea who it was,” said Mr. Wales, who said there was no indication the person had ill intent. “There was no way to reach out quietly and say ‘Dude, stop and think about this.’ ”

Last Saturday, after Mr. Rohde and the translator, Tahir Ludin, escaped from a Taliban compound in Pakistan, Ms. Mathis e-mailed Mr. Wales before making a public announcement, and Mr. Wales, himself, unfroze the page.

When the news broke Saturday, the user from Florida reposted the information, with a note to administrators that said: “Is that enough proof for you [expletives]? I was right. You were WRONG.”

Joseph M. Reagle, an adjunct professor of communications at New York University who studies Wikipedia, said he was not sure whether its role in suppressing news about Mr. Rohde would prompt an outcry among longtime editors, because in the Rohde case, lives were at stake.

“Wikipedia has, over time, instituted gradually more control because of some embarrassing incidents, particularly involving potentially libelous material, and some people get histrionic about it, proclaiming the death of Wikipedia,” he said. “But the idea of a pure openness, a pure democracy, is a naïve one.” (source)

Now, in today's NYT, we find an unexcited article proclaiming that *yawn* another militant American got what he deserved:

U.S. Soldier Captured in Afghanistan

Filed at 11:38 a.m. ET

KABUL (AP) -- An American soldier, who disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts, is believed captured, officials said Thursday.

Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said the soldier disappeared Tuesday.

''We understand him to be have been captured by militant forces. We have all available resources out there looking for him and hopefully providing for his safe return,'' Mathias said.

Mathias did not provide details on the soldier, the location where he was captured or the circumstances.

The news broke as thousands of U.S. Marines launched a major anti-Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan. The missing soldier was not part of that operation.

''We are not providing further details to protect the soldier's well-being,'' she said.

Afghan Police Gen. Nabi Mullakheil said the soldier went missing in the Mullakheil area of eastern Paktika province, where there is an American base.

The soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on Tuesday and was first listed as ''duty status whereabouts unknown,'' a U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity.

It wasn't until Thursday that officials said publicly that he was missing and described him as ''believed captured.'' Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors.

Initial reports indicated that the soldier was off duty at the time he went missing, having just completed a shift, the official said on condition of anonymity because details are still sketchy.

The missing man is an enlisted soldier, and his family has been notified.

Two U.S. defense sources said the soldier ''just walked off'' post with three Afghan counterparts after he finished working. They said they had no explanation for why he left the base. He was assigned to a combat outpost, one of a number of smaller bases set up by foreign forces in Afghanistan, the officials said.

Zabiullah Mujaheed, a spokesman for the Taliban, could not confirm that the soldier was with any of their forces. A myriad of insurgent groups operate in eastern Afghanistan, and the Taliban is only one of them.

The most important insurgent group operating in that area is known as Haqqani network and is led by Siraj Haqqani, whom the U.S. has accused of masterminding beheadings and suicide bombings. (source)

You see, when one of their own right-thinking, liberal-bred, anti-war reporters gets captured by the enemy it's time to stop the presses, but when it’s just some American GI who probably came from a West Virginia family of Bible-totin’ Neanderthals the MSM have no reason to worry about the safety of his life.

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