Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Tale of Two Hostages

The story of David Rohde, a reporter for the New York Times who escaped capture by the Taliban several years ago, has never been sufficiently told to the American people.   Part of the reason seems to be because of what happened behind the scenes, which makes the mainstream press appear even more unbelievably hypocritical and duplicitous than they already are.

For instance, here's how Wikipedia explains a massive press blackout engineered by the Times to help save Mr. Rohde:
Rohde's kidnapping was kept quiet by much of the world's media following a request from the New York Times not to publicize the abduction. At least 40 news agencies were reported to know about the kidnapping, but observed the media blackout.[9]
A few outlets did briefly report the news. It was first reported by Pajhwok Afghan News in November 2008, citing two Afghan officials on the day after the abduction.[10] Al Jazeera[4] and the Italian news agency Adnkronos initially reported the kidnapping, as did the right-wing blogs Little Green Footballs, The Jawa Report and Dan Cleary, Political Insomniac.
In March 2009 Michael Yon "just did a small item because it was pretty much out there." Other bloggers and agencies were contacted by the Times and agreed to take their pieces down.[11] Yon kept information subsequent to his initial report quiet "upon request from related parties."[12] Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher, described it as "the most amazing press blackout on a major event that I have ever seen.
Keep reading that piece and you'll find that Wikipedia itself was in on the deal:
Wikipedia also participated in the media blackout. Prior to any references to the kidnapping being added to Rohde's article in Wikipedia, a Times reporter, Michael Moss, made changes to the article to emphasize the work that Rohde had done, in such a way that Rohde would be seen by his captors as being sympathetic to Muslims.
Subsequently, reports of the kidnapping, which began on the following day, were removed by Michael Moss and some Wikipedia administrators. The Times also approached Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales for assistance in enforcing the media blackout. Wales turned to "trusted" Wikipedia administrators to repeatedly edit the article to remove all references to the kidnapping, and prevent already published information from being further disseminated
What an incredible effort.  They even made up stuff to help him. 

Contrast that diligence with the sad ending to James Foley's capture. After his beheading a story soon came out that the US Military, on orders from the Commander Guy, executed a risky raid deep into Syria to rescue Mr. Foley and fellow captives but it failed.

Many at the time remarked about how such a story could put the remaining hostages' lives in danger, not to mention it being classified information.  The administration explained their hands were tied in releasing the story because someone leaked it to the press and the press was going to publish it.  So they put it out, along with a lot more details, which drew the ire of a few Pentagon officials according to Rohde's old paper. 

Now another hostage has been beheaded.  He's not a journalist (aid worker, or perhaps even MI6), but Foley and Sotloff were certainly in the same line of work Rohde was in--and there are other journalists being held. 

So why wouldn't the mainstream press exercise the same diligence with this rescue story as they did with the Rohde story?  Why didn't they tell the Obama administration they would sit on it like they did with the Rohde story?  Maybe get the New York Times involved to put some weight behind it?   They knew breaking such a story could place the others in more danger. 

It also would be helpful to know who leaked this to the press and why, or on whose authority.  The Obama administration has gone after more leakers than any previous administration therefore someone in Holder's office has surely opened a criminal investigation, right media?  So c'mon, do some digging.  A Pulitzer may await.  Do right by your colleagues. 

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