Accountability Journalism

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on January 14, 2009

An Associated Press headline asks, “Blackwater Guards: Mercenaries or Decorated Vets?” The first paragraph, however, asserts as fact that they are decorated vets:

Defense attorneys on Saturday lambasted U.S. indictments against decorated war veterans for deadly 2007 shootings as Iraqis welcomed the charges against five Blackwater guards in a case that fueled anti-Americanism and roiled diplomacy with Baghdad.

The third paragraph reiterates the point: “Each man has received honors for his service in some of the world’s most dangerous places, from Bosnia and Afghanistan to Iraq.”

As for “mercenaries,” they would not seem to fit the dictionary definition, at least the one that applies specifically to the military, to wit: a soldier hired into foreign service. The defendants are all Americans who worked for an American company under contract with the American government.

The subject of the story, then, is not whether they are “mercenaries” or “decorated vets,” but rather that they are going on trial to determine whether they committed crimes. Why couldn’t the AP just write a straight headline making that clear?

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