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May 13, 2004
The Media-Blackout Effect?

Instapundit notes a phenomenon related to the Nick Berg horror and the lack of media coverage of its images. He quotes Neal Boortz and Andrew Sullivan on the curious dichotomy of the media's approach to Abu Ghraib and the Berg execution, where they argue for publishing the pictures of one and spiking the pictures and video of the other. Jeff Quinton takes a look at his referrer logs today and sees an interesting bump in traffic, mostly from Google and other search engines looking for information on Nick Berg.

When I got up this morning and began to blog, I checked my own traffic stats from Sitemeter (Hosting Matters' own stats collection only updates daily, which is unfortunate because it is tremendously detailed). I know what my normal traffic in the early morning hours usually is, and I was surprised to see that traffic was well above my normal rate. I checked my referrer logs, expecting to see an Instapundit or Hugh Hewitt link, and instead found scores of Google searches all looking for the same thing: Nick Berg. Nick Berg pictures, video, mystery, all sorts of combinations, but one theme.

Obviously, the mainstream media hasn't served its constituency well on this story. I have posted extensively on Abu Ghraib and yet see next to no search-engine traffic on those posts. The lack of attention being paid to the Berg atrocity and its images by the media in defiance of the demand for their dissemination makes their editorial choice look strongly as though an agenda is at work. As Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News and NRO reports, his readers want know about it:

Our letters page today is filled with nothing but Berg-related letters, most of them demanding that the DMN show more photos of the Berg execution. Not one of the 87 letters we received on the topic yesterday called for these images not to be printed. My sense is that there's a big backlash building against the media for flogging the Abu Ghraib photos, but being so delicate with the Berg images. People sense that there's an agenda afoot here. As somebody, can't remember who, wrote yesterday, "Why is it that the media can show over and over again pictures that could make Arabs hate Americans, but refuse to show pictures that could make Americans hate Arabs?"

Why, indeed. You'd almost think that the media doesn't want the war to be successful ...

UPDATE: Perhaps the local newspapers and television stations aren't carrying the images, but two local radio stations carried the audio to their listeners after repeatedly warning about its graphic nature:

Top-rated morning host Tom Barnard of KQRS (92.5 FM) played the tape only after repeatedly warning listeners, as did KSTP (1500 AM) midmorning co-hosts Ron Rosenbaum and Mark O'Connell.

Barnard talked of little else during the show. He was particularly incensed that, while pictures of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison had been widely shown, this video was not.

"We should be outraged at what happened to this man," said Barnard, who polled listeners about whether or air the audio of Berg's screams as he was executed with a knife, while his executioners chanted "God is great" in Arabic.

I normally don't care much for Barnard, but that took some guts, especially in this market. So far, KQRS reports that feedback is positive, 4-1.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 13, 2004 1:10 PM

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