Strong evidence of distortion in media’s portrayal of Syrian invasion

Some of you may have read recently (source, source, source, source, source, source, source) that the United States broke international law on Sunday by violating the sovereignty of a UN member nation (Syria) without the necessary UN sanction and without the appropriate legal and moral criteria necessary to justify such an attack without UN sanction.

As an exercise, I decided to look at how the mainstream U.S. media covered the incident.  For the purposes of this exercise, I took mainstream media to consist of: CNN, FOX News, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, NY Times¹ and Time Magazine.

At approximately 4pm this afternoon, I conducted a google news search on the issue and filtered out all U.S. mainstream publications who had written on the issue of the U.S.’s illegal raid into Syria.  The following pieces were generated by Google and the results of what they are saying to the American populace is frightening.²

US forces staged attack in Syria, US official says
CNN – 53 minutes ago
AP journalist sees bodies of seven men at funerals Monday Four helicopters crossed Iraq border, two landed, witness tells AP WASHINGTON (CNN) — The US
US Official: Syrian Strike Killed Al Qaeda Target
FOXNews – 2 hours ago
AP A US strike on a network of foreign fighters in Syria killed its main target — an Al Qaeda coordinator who was wanted for sending foreign fighters,
SYRIA: What’s behind US raid?
Los Angeles Times, CA – 19 hours ago
US forces on Sunday afternoon apparently crossed the Iraqi border to launch a commando raid in a Syrian town that left at least eight people dead.
US Helicopter Raid Kills 8 Inside Syria
Washington Post, United States – 8 hours ago
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Ernesto Londoño CAIRO, Oct. 27 — A US helicopter raid into Syria on Sunday killed eight people, prompting a sharp condemnation from
Syria Accuses US Of Attack Near Iraqi Border
NPR – 21 hours ago
by Corey Flintoff, October 26, 2008 · There are conflicting reports over an alleged US military strike in Syria near the Iraqi border.
Syria accuses US in deadly helicopter attack
CNN – 22 hours ago
(CNN) — The US military said it is investigating claims from Syria that US helicopters based in Iraq killed eight people and wounded another Sunday in an
News roundup: Global stocks down; US attacks target inside Syria
USA Today – 7 hours ago
Stocks are down around the world, with Japan’s Nikkei index falling to its lowest level since 1982. “Investors are bracing for another volatile week,
What’s Behind the US Military Raid on Syria?
TIME – 2 hours ago
By Nicholas Blanford / Beirut Monday, Oct. 27, 2008 Sunday’s surprise raid by helicopter-borne US troops in eastern Syria raises at least three key
8 reportedly killed in US raid inside Syria
Los Angeles Times, CA – 23 hours ago
Syrian news sources say the attack also wounded 14 people near the Iraqi border. US military representatives do not deny the raid.

Some Key Distortions:

  • Of the nine unique pieces put forth by the U.S. mainstream media, 8 of the 9 fail to mention that there were several reports of children being killed by the U.S. attack.  The only piece to mention the alleged killing of children was FOX News and they mentioned it only to discredit such claims.
  • Of the nine unique pieces, 3 questioned whether the raid even took place (usually describing the incident as “Syrian claims”).
  • Of the nine pieces, not one mentions the illegality of the raid (although one does mention one quoted source’s opinion that the raid could be a violation of U.S.-Iraqi bilateral agreements).
  • Of the nine pieces, only three highlight the legitimate grievances of the Syrian government.
  • Yet, every single one of the nine pieces mention “foreign fighters” or attacks against Iraq as legitimate justification for crossing border and launching an attack on Syrian civilians.

Below is a graphical representation of the distortion of the event by the mainstream U.S. media.³



¹ Google News Search did not generate any pieces at 4pm for the New York Times.

² The titles of some of the listed articles have changed since the data was scraped from Google News.  The hyperlinks generated by Google News and listed above are unchanged as are the article headlines.  Any change in article headlines between what is listed above and what is linked to is a result of the publication in question changing the title sometime between 4pm and 9:35pm EDT.

³ While the articles themselves were scraped from Google News at 4pm, the analysis of the content of each article did not take place until 9pm EDT and thus the analysis above does take into account any changes in text which may have occurred between 4pm and 9:35pm EDT.

It should also be noted here that this post was originally going to be about the distortion of the Syrian incident as seen by the North American mainstream media rather than merely the American media.  However, at 4pm EDT Google News failed to generate any mainstream Canadian news publications that filed their own reports on the invasion (i.e. did not just buy a wire service report).

1 Response to “Strong evidence of distortion in media’s portrayal of Syrian invasion”

  1. 1 joe 28 October, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Another impressive display of `rules apply to all but us`…NOT SURPRISED, but the American media cover up…it`s not so much their job to report the news, as it is to sweep it under the rug!

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