Wednesday, August 10, 2005


John Pilger - Airbrushing Reality

I previously remarked that John Pilger must be hitting bottom if he needs Indymedia to run his work.

Apparently, the bottom is where it belongs. In his latest, Pilger's website runs an article:
Adapting his current New Statesman column on the G8 circus and Iraq, John PIlger [sic] writes that no one should doubt the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs in London.
Of course no one should doubt the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs. However, the guys who actually planted the bombs, aren't the ones "who planted the bombs" that he is talking about. Bush and Blair are. This has not changed.

Some things however have.

Damian Penny debunked Pilger's claim in the New Statesman piece that "There were no suicide bombers in Palestine until Ariel Sharon, an accredited war criminal sponsored by Bush and Blair, came to power." This was completely incorrect (by many years in fact) and Ariel Sharon's election was largely as a result of said suicide bombing. But it got better. Leigh continued the Fisking by noting:
Pilger:More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman and children have been killed not by suicide bombers, but by the Anglo-American "coalition", says a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, and largely ignored.
Leigh: The UN's study, which had 26.7 times the survey size, gave a far lesser figure.

Pilger shows he hasn't even read the Lancet study, which didn't include deaths in Fallujah, and was only counting additional deaths in the first place. As for it being "largely ignored", it's been in every major newspaper in the world, multiple times over:

IHT, Washington Post, CNN, more CNN, BBC, Slate, CBC, New Scientist, Time Magazine, NZ Herald, The Economist, Washington Times, Bloomberg, Weekly Standard, OC Register, News 24, New York Times, Boston Globe, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, AM, USA Today, LA Times, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Age, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald. etc. etc. etc.
So now we knew he was wrong about suicide bombing in Israel and Iraq and deceptive about numbers of civilian casualties. So what happened?

In his latest, Pilger says:
The killing of more than 100,000 Iraqis mostly by American gunfire and bombs -- a figure reported in a comprehensive peer-reviewed study in the The Lancet -- was airbrushed from mainstream debate.
It has obviously been upgraded from "largely ignored" to merely "airbrushed". I wonder if the adjectives "discredited" or "questionable" are forthcoming in future "adaptations"? Unlikely.

Elsewhere, Pilger has done some of his own airbrushing and quietly dropped the lie error about Palestinian suicide bombings not existing prior to Ariel Sharon and adopted a less 'fact-requisite' tack - rhetorical questions:
How many Palestinian babies have died at Israeli checkpoints after their mothers, bleeding and screaming in premature labour, have been forced to give birth beside the road at a military checkpoint with the lights of a hospital in the distance?
He doesn't actually answer the question. Looking at two Pro-Palestinian sources, the best figure I could come up with was "a few, maybe" of which there is no proof for several that stillbirths could have been prevented - they do happen. Pilger is obviously avoiding specific statistics and relying on sweeping assertions with dramatic language lest he be 'Fisked' again. He also ignores the total absence of a Palestinian health system given Arafat's penchant for guns and helicopters instead of hospitals and welfare.

I am not trying to be glib, what happens to innocent Palestinians is terrible. However, there are Palestinians who are the Palestinians' own worst enemy. Such as Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss who was arrested at one such checkpoint after attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the crossing with the intent of carrying out a suicide bombing attack.

Where? In an Israeli hospital. According to Government reports:
Wafa was to use her personal medical authorization documents, allowing her to cross through into Israel to receive medical treatment. Wafa stated that she had been directed to carry out the suicide attack in a crowded Israeli hospital.
That is, this woman had been receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital and still planned to blow it up. This was not the first time medical excuses (or ambulances) had been used as cover for suicide bombers. Read here however for a genuinely encouraging Palestinian outlook.

So what does Pilger expect?

Naturally Pilger doesn't put the shoe on the other foot and ask:
How many Israeli babies have died after their mothers, bleeding and screaming
... Such as Zipora Sasson, a pregnant woman who was stabbed to death as her kids watched.

Pilger asks:
How many [Palestinian] families have been blown to bits by America-supplied F-16s with British-supplied parts?
I do not know, but they probably weren't the intended target. Why however does he not ask:
How many [Israeli] families have been blown to bits by Iranian/Iraqi/Saudi etc. explosives?
Because that simply doesn't matter. Neither does intent. That is, the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints never intended for any non-combatant civilian to die. The Palestinian bombers and stabbers absolutely did. Intent matters. John Pilger doesn't.

And he still can't spell Geldof.

So he can't spell, can't get his facts right, and is so amazingly biased he makes the Sydney Morning Herald look like reactionary neo-conservatives on steroids.

He's John Pilger - your facts must be wrong. We can't believe them!
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