Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Video Makes the Story

On Saturday, a body was found in Baghdad. It was American Nick Berg, who had been missing since April 9th. The story says:
An American civilian was found dead near a highway overpass in Baghdad, the United States military said today.

There were signs of trauma on the corpse, the military said.
"Signs of trauma." You can see a picture of the body as it was found here. It's an ugly, but not graphic photo.

Now today, Tuesday, an Al-Qaida website posts horrifying, graphic video of the death of Nick Berg. They slit his throat with a large knife, and then beheaded him, parading the head before the camera.

Hunh..."signs of traumu" indeed. Did the military downplay his death for "the family's sake?" Who took the photo of his body? Why wasn't that in the news? Did no member of the press bother to get the details?

Notice that Berg's initial discovery barely rated a mention around the media. It was far, far behind the "story" of the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, and all those "shocking" photos. Only now that there's "graphic video" to show does Mr. Berg's death become a "story."

Murderers, bombers, grenadiers, snipers. Killers. Locked up in American prisons to be pumped for information that will lead to capturing their leaders and cohorts before they are tried, convicted and then imprisoned or executed. The guards' leaders didn't supervise them, military and civilian intelligence agents egged them on, and the guards lost the restraints of civil behavior. But never forget that the folks they are guarding are scum and murderers

The Al-Qaida goons captured Nick Berg long before the Abu Ghraib story broke. Was he being held for trial, the slow grinding of a legal process? No, he was held like a cow for sacrifice, to be offered up as "revenge" for whatever blood lust needs justification. He was held in reserve, to be used when needed.

Which story got, and will continue to get after the initial days of sensationalisation, sustained coverage? Who will be held up to America, day after day, as the "bad guys?" Which moral and ethical system will be studied and found lacking?

What exactly are the organising principles that our national news media operate under? Which story, to the average American worried about Americans in Iraq, average Americans in "flyover country," is the more important to tell? Where are the medias' priorities? Their allegiances?

I think this "story" tells us a lot about that.

UPDATE 10PM Radio station KTAR in Phoenix, Arizona, has posted 10 screen grabs from the video. You can see them here. WARNING! Extreme, graphic gore.

No comments: