A Knight Ridder news correspondent was shot at a Baghdad roadblock last week, and the Knight Ridder chain is rushing to judgment with an inflamatory story about the death being at the hands of an American soldier. Here’s the lead:
Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for Knight Ridder, was shot to death in Baghdad last Friday.
The shot appears to have been fired by a U.S. military sniper, though there were Iraqi soldiers in the area who also may have been shooting at the time.
Nowhere in the remaining story is this allegation regarding the sniper explained. In paragraph 8 it raises, then dismisses, the US soldier allegation:
An early report said Salihee was shot by a passing U.S. convoy when he failed to heed hand signals or shouts from soldiers. That later turned out to be untrue.
That’s it. Where is the justification to point blame at a US soldier when the story makes it clear that both Iraqi and US forces were in the area at the time, and that eyewitness reports were contradictory and even wrong:
Most of the witnesses told another Knight Ridder Iraqi special correspondent that no warning shots were fired. But the front right tire of Salihee’s car, a white Daewoo Espero, was pierced by a bullet, presumably meant to stop him from advancing.
Reporting this sloppy requires a conspiracy: Field reporters gather news with bias and compile it into a story with bias. In this case, the reporter, Tom Lassiter, and his Iraqi co-workers obviously talked to a lot of Iraqis, but no military sources — US or Iraqi — are quoted in the story. That’s biased news-gathering, and it leads to biased reporting.
On the copy desk, an editor saw a story in which an allegation was made, then disproved, and let it stand. To their credit, the headline was strictly reportorial: Reporter Shot In Iraq.
With Eason Jordan and Linda Foley making unsubstantiated claims about deliberate killings of journos by US forces in Iraq, Knight Ridder should have gone out of its way to say there were no indications the forces knew Salihee, who wasn’t stopping at their roadblock, was a journo, and therefore no one is alleging a deliberate journo-killing. It’s the sloppiness that comes with an anti-military, anti-war bias.
h/t Media Bistro