Journalists in the United States have a long and ignoble history of serving as eager conduits for pro-war propaganda.
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Typically, this behavior is motivated by Washington’s desire to commence or continue a military crusade.
However, such a breach of journalistic ethics does occur occasionally on behalf of a foreign country that both US political leaders and news media elites have accepted as a favorite cause. We are currently witnessing the latter occurrence in the coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the press.
The media narrative that has prevailed is that the US administration (and all Americans) must “stand with Ukraine” in its opposition to a Russian invasion.
A widely circulated shot of a Ukrainian kid confronting Russian troops was in fact of a Palestinian girl directing Israeli troops. Despite a high-profile event, Miss Ukraine 2015 did not pick up arms against the Russian invaders. When the photograph was investigated more closely, it revealed that the woman was brandishing an Airsoft gun.
Furthermore, a number of more subtle but undoubtedly fraudulent, narratives have been propagated by US news organizations. The famed Snake Island martyrs, who were said to have been blasted to pieces after rebelling and cursing a Russian ship, were discovered to be living. In early March, the American media ran with a Ukrainian military report saying it had badly damaged, if not completely destroyed, the Russian patrol ship Vasiliy Bykov in the Black Sea.
Kyiv’s claim, however, suffered a huge setback on March 16, when the Vasily Bykov sailed into the Crimean port of Sevastopol, presumably uninjured.
For example, Kyiv has previously charged that Russian troops aim to deliberately hit residential areas while shelled. The claims have been repeated by the media in the United States. Perhaps the accusations are true, but Ukraine’s well-known statistic for civilian fatalities (726 as of March 17) does not appear to be Indiscriminate bombardment.
It would not be the first time that segments of the American press became eager conduits for foreign disinformation during the Ukraine war.
“Prior to the United States’ entry into World War I, major American newspapers and magazines believed British propaganda about German forces perpetrating a variety of atrocities in Belgium, including raping nuns and bayoneting infants. Although these allegations were ultimately revealed to be complete fabrications, they had a significant effect on American popular perceptions toward Germany.
Seven decades later, in the aftermath of Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the American press performed similarly poorly. In October 1990, media outlets prominently covered Congressional Human Rights Caucus hearings including purported eyewitnesses to Iraqi war atrocities. The star witness was a weeping 15-year-old girl identified only as “Nayirah” by Caucus chairman Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA).
Lantos emphasized that a more detailed identity may jeopardize her friends and relatives in Kuwait. Nayirah described herself as a hospital volunteer who observed Iraqi soldiers forcibly removing neonates from their incubators. This apparently occurred at three hospitals and resulted in the death of 312 newborns.”
So, in introspect – American journalists have always felt they had the power (cuz they obviously had the gut) to spread such misinformation. And it seems that to this day – nothing has changed.