The HKS Citizen (Harvard Kennedy School)
October 26, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery
Over the last two months, the US government has dramatically increased drone missile strikes in Pakistan. Unfortunately, mainstream US newspapers have not shown the inclination to ask tough questions regarding the change in policy.
In a replay of the softball coverage that preceded the second US invasion of Iraq, some of the biggest US newspapers are once again showing how easy it is to embed a pro-government bias in their reporting. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and The New York Times have all covered the news by mostly quoting US officials while ignoring critics.
Al Qaeda and the “war on terror” seem to be the ultimate linguistic props. Now you see them, now you don’t.
First, the disappearance — the Washington Post reports in late March on the new name for the “war on terror”:
In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted that “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ “
Then, the reappearance — President Obama speaking on Afghanistan at a NATO summit a week later:
“France recognises that having al-Qaeda operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States but to Europe… In fact it is probably more likely that al-Qaeda would be able to launch a serious terrorist attack in Europe than in the United States because of proximity.”
At least we are getting some variety. Under the Bush Administration, it was all Al Qaeda, all the time.