“Dishonesty in the Reporting Out of Lebanon”

Those were the blunt words of Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, in addressing a group of journalists:

In an address to the National Newspaper Publishers Conference, Downer denied media claims his ministry had been slow in providing assistance to thousands of Lebanese-Australian passport holders, The Australian newspaper reported.

“What concerns me greatly is the evidence of dishonesty in the reporting out of Lebanon,” he said. He gave as examples the case of photographs of the results of Israeli air strikes being altered and the “tendency to report every casualty on the Lebanese side of the conflict as a civilian casualty, despite indisputable evidence that many of the injured from the Israeli offensive were Hezbollah combatants,” Downer said.

Blunt words, but true. It would be nice to see equally forthright criticism from our own officials. Here is how one journalist responded:

The secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Chris Warren, says Downer’s remarks showed an unfortunate but increasing trait of governments to try and dictate conflict reporting.

“I don’t think journalists have got it so wrong as some governments did on weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

Ponder that non sequitur for a moment, and consider what it tells us about the perspective of that journalist and many others, in the U.S. as well as Australia.

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