Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The elephant in the room

A particularly insidious propaganda tactic employed by the media when the news does not fit their agenda is to simply ignore it. When the elephant in the room is too big and mighty to flatten, distort, disguise, or otherwise hide from public view, just pretend it isn't there and carry on with other stories in the hope that the public won't notice and with time, the elephant will walk away.

A perfect illustration of this is Reuters' failure to report, as AFP has, on a statement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday:

"We cannot let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because it would also be a threat to Israel, Sarkozy said during a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace with lawmakers from his conservative UMP party. It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear (weapons) program," he said."

One might consider a bold assertion by the French president with enormous implications for the entire world to be of sufficient import to report (along with a story on president Obama's appearance on a late-night talk show) but apparently, Reuters felt it too trivial.

Viewed generously, this omission by Reuters reflects incredibly poor news judgment. Viewed with a bit more cynicism, one might think the agency was deliberately trying to play down both the gravity of the situation -- particularly for Israel -- and the strength of conviction demonstrated by France with respect to Iran's nefarious intentions.

Now, why would Reuters, bound by its Trust Principles, opt for the latter?

We can only speculate, but the elephant has yet to leave the room.

BREAKING UPDATE: As of 2 hours ago, AP is reporting that according to officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran "has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead". One guess as to which news agency has not seen fit to report on this mega-story yet.

UPDATE II: Here's the full story from AP.

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