Sunday, April 19, 2015

Editorial: The shameful and the praise worthy

Oh, Arianna Huffington.

You never looked more like the hilarious and pointed spoof Tracey Ullman does of you then last week when you posted an attack on journalist Ned Parker who had to leave Iraq due to threats.

We found it interesting that Huffington Post -- which relies so heavily on comments to its articles -- closed down any comments to the attack as soon as it was posted.

Blogs and kisses, dahling, blogs and kisses.

In the real world, Ned Parker was attacked for doing what a journalist is supposed to do.

He discussed that Thursday morning  on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is audio, text and transcript) with host Steve Inskeep:

Steve Inskeep: What happened that instead began to make this a story about you?

Ned Parker: Well our team, on the day that Tikrit was liberated, they called me during the day and said, "We've witnessed an execution by federal police of a detainee in the street."  And it was a mob mentality.  And they could only stay a few moments because it was such a crazed scene I think our people feared for their own safety.  So when they came home that evening, we had a huge debate about do we report this, is this too sensationalist?  It's one incident.  But when we looked at the whole picture, we also saw a body being dragged by a group of Shi'ite paramilitaries.  We had   photos of this which we published  And there had been looting and arson of areas that surround Tikrit.  So we felt that we had to report what happened there, that if we didn't, we wouldn't be meeting our obligation to report fairly and impartially about the critical issue right now: What happens when security forces enter an area that has been under Islamic State control, that is Sunni and then has predominately Shia security paramilitary forces enter.

Steve Inskeep: This is the most basic job of a war correspondent: Go look at a war and report exactly what you see.

Ned Parker: Mm-hmm.  Right.  And this was a test case for the government.  The Iraqi government and the US government have spoken about the importance of post-conflict stabilization operations in Iraq.

Steve Inskeep: What happened after you published the story?

Ned Parker: It was picked up everywhere.  I think it was seen because of what our correspondents witnessed -- this execution which was horrific -- where they watched two federal policemen basically trying to saw off the head of a suspected Islamic State fighter to cheers from federal police, our story became really the example of what went wrong in Tikrit.  And it was published on April 3rd.  The night of April 5th on Facebook, on a site associated with Shi'ite paramilitary groups and political forces, a picture of myself went up calling for Iraqis to expell me. It quickly received over 100 shares and comments including, "Better to kill him than to expel him."

Steve Inskeep:  Did it blow over?

Ned Parker: No.  It only got worse.  I-I did go out and try to have meetings with some people, different prominent Iraqis, about it.  And then on Wednesday night [April 8th]  the channel of Asaib al-Haq -- which is a prominent Shi'ite political party and paramilitary group, my face is the backdrop as the anchor talks and he actually waives also a print out of my face and talks about how I should be expelled from the country and then proceeds to read a letter from an Iraqi living in the United States who also again calls for me to be expelled and describes Reuters as trampling on the dignity of Iraq and Shi'ite paramilitary groups and after that there's no way I could have stayed in the country -- both for myself and for my staff.  My presence was polarizing the situation.  So I left the next day.

The attack Arianna published on the weekend was first tried out Thursday by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi when he spoke at a DC event.

While Arianna disgraced herself, we've yet again come to applaud Steve Inskeep and we also applaud Liz Sly of the Washington Post.

  • . After what happened to can you guarantee journalists won't be harassed/threatened by govt allies?

  • And we applaud Sam Dagher who's covered Iraq for The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal and The Christian Science Monitor.

  • We applaud United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and The Committee to Protect Journalists for speaking out.

    We note Barack Obama said nothing publicly -- and this despite meeting with Haider al-Abadi last week.  

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