MSNBC twists truth

Alternet carries a report on how an MSNBC report was rewritten to reflect the US government line that Osama’s statement was some kind of support for Saddam. The original of the story carried the line “At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader.” Twenty minutes later, this had been deleted.
Originally, I was probably pro-War. After all, I’ve no love for Saddam, and he is certainly a potential threat to the region. If Bush had come out at the start and said “Hey, Saddam is a threat to our oil supplies” it would have been more understandable, if not necessarily more right.
But all the downright lies and twisting of the truth that’s gone on from Blair and Bush has pushed me into the anti-War camp. To go to war through lying to your own people is, to my mind, worse that a country that goes to war for the wrong reason, but with the agreement of its people. When you’re planning to send thousands of people to their deaths, you don’t lie to your people about what it’s all about.

  • nick sweeney

    Well, there’s the argument that the first iteration wasn’t really that accurate, since Osama basically said ‘we won’t be crying if the socialist infidel government falls, as long as its people fight against the Americans for Allah’.

    You know that such a crusade war concerns the Muslim nation mainly, regardless of whether the socialist party and Saddam remain or go. So Muslims in general and Iraq in particular must pull up your pant legs for jihad against this unjust campaign. (AP translation)

    There’s wiggle-room with translations, I have to say, because Osama’s Arabic is highly archaic and allusive, full of references to the Qur’an and other Islamic texts, which makes a literal translation difficult, especially on first listening. (There was a great World Service programme on ‘Osama’s Arabic’ the other month talking about just this.)

    But the way in which MSNBC systematically amended that sentence — about four times, according to the observant crowd at atrios.blogspot.com — and ultimately didn’t acknowledge the amendation process, was Orwellian in the extreme.

    (There’s also the deeper issue of Powell pre-empting the Al-Jazeera broadcast by saying he’d seen a transcript, and that it pointed to a definite partnership. Ahem.)