Saturday, May 01, 2010

Afghan detainees: The news not fit to print

No bleed, no lead. And almost no coverage at all. The invaluable and brave Christie Blatchford of the Globe and Mail takes on her own industry:
From screams to whimpers; the story the press prefers
Richard Colvin is the diplomat whose testimony at a special committee last fall – chiefly, that torture of the Afghan prisoners Canadian soldiers handed over to their fellow Afghans was “standard operating procedure” and that he had warned senior military officials about it to no avail – was given war-sized treatment in the press.

His allegations were front-page news across the country, led to stern editorials in several major newspapers a day later, and added gasoline to the fire already simmering about alleged Canadian complicity in torture and government stonewalling of efforts to view uncensored documents on the subject.

But when Gavin Buchan, the former political director and senior official on the ground in Kandahar (but for two months, when Mr. Colvin replaced him) for most of 2006 and part of 2007, and Major General (Retired) Tim Grant, the commander of the Canadian military effort in Afghanistan during the same approximate time period, came to testify before the committee on Wednesday, their evidence collectively a profound rebuttal of Mr. Colvin’s claims, the media coverage was a whisper.

Of the four major newspapers that put Mr. Colvin’s claims on their front pages – The Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen – last November, only The Globe even deigned to cover Mr. Buchan’s and Mr. Grant’s evidence in a separate story, this a piece by my colleague Bill Curry. The story appeared on Page 13.

The Citizen, in a story about the really big news of the week – Mr. Milliken’s ruling – made passing mention of Mr. Grant’s evidence, but didn’t say what it was and didn’t refer at all to Mr. Buchan’s testimony [nothing from CP either].

The Post ran no story about what the two men said, nor did the Star, which did, however, devote a startling chunk of its front page to a photo of the backyard water park Celine Dion has built her son in Florida.

There were some extenuating circumstances...

But what Mr. Buchan and Mr. Grant had to say was important and cast doubt on the veracity of Mr. Colvin’s claims...

Mr. Buchan and Mr. Grant are hardly the only witnesses at the committee who have raised grave doubts about Mr. Colvin’s claims – that long list includes former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier, Lieutenant-General (Retired) Mike Gauthier, General Dave Fraser and David Mulroney, Mr. Colvin’s boss – but they are among those most short-changed by the press. These men aren’t lightweights. Either they are all remembering wrongly, or Mr. Colvin is, and it appears the press already has decided which version we prefer – you know, when we’re not more interested in busty hookers or Celine’s backyard.
Quite. And quite sad. I guess a country gets the media it deserves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada deserves far better than our Holier-than-Thou, innuendo peddling, drive-by-smear promoting ohhhh soooo Progressive Media.

Much better.

Christie is a wonderful exception to the usual trash that prints or does the talking head TV thing every day . . . . a very wonderful exception.

Now if she would only turn her attention to the uber skanky Professor Attaran, he of the hidden defeatist agenda.

3:09 p.m., May 01, 2010  
Blogger A Few Figs said...

It is outrageous and just another example of how poorly we are served by the media in this country.

1:43 a.m., May 02, 2010  
Blogger Without Gun said...

The media are jerks. God, I hate them so.

1:44 p.m., May 02, 2010  

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