Media's War Against the Serbs
The media's biased war against the Serbs has been a major factor in the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia and the demonizing of an entire nation. One of the best examples of such bias can be found in the Washington Times, both in its reporting of events in the Balkans and its editorial policy. I single out the Washington Times because it is supposedly the "conservative" newspaper, the counter to the liberal news that is published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the rest of the liberal media. Unfortunately, the Washington Times has become part of the liberal propaganda machine that helped to bring death and suffering to tens of thousands of innocent people.
One explanation for the Times' slanted reporting which agrees with the liberal media may be the fact that it depends on "stringers," (reporters) to cover much of its foreign news, specifically in the Balkans. This may also explain why its editorial staff has been consistently anti-Serb.
In his "World Review" section on 5 March, 2000, the Washington Times' Foreign Desk Editor David Jones wrote, "But the stringers quickly lose interest in filing to us if we are not buying their stories and putting them in the paper." What this tells me is that the bottom line in formulating stories has little to do with the truth, or even accuracy, but has everything to do with what makes the biggest headlines and brings in the most financial rewards for both the "stringer" and the Washington Times. How often are these goals achieved by embellishing the "facts" to add a little sensationalism?
Case in point. On 6 August 1998, the Washington Times featured "stringer" Philip Smucker's exclusive front page headline read: "Kosovar bodies bulldozed to dump; Serbs deny massacre, but evidence [not "alleged," or "thought-to-be], but "evidence impossible to avoid of mass graves containing the bodies of 567." He also claimed that at least half of the bodies were those of women and children although, to that point, the alleged bodies had not been exhumed. To further embellish his story, Smucker went on to say, "Stark evidence in the form of freshly turned earth and the overwhelming stench of death has exposed the presence of scores of bodies that were bulldozed into a garbage dump after a Serbian attack against ethnic Albanian rebels who tried to seize this town." Even a photograph accompanied Smucker's article with the caption, "A news photographer shoots a picture of fresh graves some identified with ethnic Albanian names in the Kosovar town of Orahovac," (Kosova is the Albanian name given to Kosovo).
However, on the very same day, the Guardian [UK] of 6 August 1998, reported, "European Union (EU) observers found no evidence of mass graves reported in the town of Orahovac, the teams' Austrian leader, Walter Ebenberger, said." In contrast to the front page coverage given to Mr. Smucker's intended shock-attention report on Serb atrocities, the following day the Washington Times carried a small, barely noticeable item hidden on page A15 (World Scene, 7 August 1998), which stated, "NATO Chief [Secretary-General Javier Solana] dismissed mass graves in Kosovo."
In all honesty, does it not bother the editors at the Washington Times that "stringer" Smucker's report of 6 August was a vicious lie? There were no mass graves containing the bodies of 567 ethnic Albanian victims; but there it was, on the front page. I stand in awe of the fact that truth in journalism is what they want it to be, what sells, and that articles by Mr. Smucker required, in the Times' judgment, no documentation, no verification, no responsibility, and apparently were accepted without question. Smucker's was the kind of reporting that played right into Clinton's New World Order scheme and at the same time, helped to prepare the minds of Americans to accept whatever punishment we dished out against the Serbian people, including NATO's 78 days of bombing in an unmerciful, unjust and immoral air war led by the United States. It was this kind of vile reporting that caused so many people to say, "After all, they [the Serbs] deserve it!"
Mr. Jones now informs us that the new "stringer" for the Washington Times to replace Philip Smucker, for whom Mr. Jones has only high praise, is Joshua Kucera. Of Mr. Kucera, Jones writes: "The interest [in the elections throughout Serbia held on 24 December 2000] is so light, in fact that our freelance correspondent in the Balkans, Joshua Kucera, did not even file on the vote. He left that to the wire services and instead spent the day driving through a region held by ethnic-Albanian rebels in southern Serbia where he interviewed a rebel commander."
Does anyone seriously believe that, unless Mr. Kucera was sympathetic to the Albanian "rebels," he would have been given an interview? No way. The "rebels" demand complete loyalty to their cause. In his 31 December article in the Times titled "A guerrilla seeks to coexist," Mr. Kucera leaves no doubt where his pro-Albanian biases lie when he interviewed the Albanian guerrilla leader, Cmdr. Lleshi, "a Fidel Castro look-alike," in the southern border of Serbia. "Coexist" my foot! What's an Albanian doing in Serbia anyway, other than to wage war against the Serbs? Mr. Kucera's article was accompanied by a photo of an Albanian house that had been sacked by Serbs, another ploy by the Washington Times to gain sympathy for the Albanian rebels' cause, rather than show photos of dead Serbian police officers who were murdered by Lleshi's thugs or any photos of the destruction of Serbian homes.
As a career military officer's wife, Stella Jatras has traveled widely and has lived in many foreign countries where she not only learned about other cultures but became very knowledgeable regarding world affairs and world politics. Stella Jatras lived in Moscow for two years where her husband, George, was the Senior Air Attaché), and while there, worked in the Political Section of the US Embassy. Stella has also lived in Germany, Greece and Saudi Arabia. Her travels took her to over twenty countries.
Previous article by Stella Jatras on Antiwar.com
Where is the coverage of the continued violence in Kosovo where recently two elderly Serbs were dragged from their homes and their throats slashed, killing the husband while the wife remained in critical condition in a hospital? (AFP, 29 Dec 2000). Why were there no photos of this Serbian woman's suffering? Probably because she was not an Albanian. But again, the Washington Times lives up to its own anti-Serb bias by giving Mr. Kucera extensive coverage of what the Albanians want; yet in his article, he did not interview one Serb.
It seems that the Times reporters have learned that it doesn't pay to be impartial in the Balkans. Remember Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie? General MacKenzie was the first UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia who made the mistake of saying that all sides were doing terrible things. For this, the Bosnian Muslim government demanded that General MacKenzie be removed as UNPROFOR commander. Furthermore, he was falsely accused of having raped and murdered four Muslim women (from his book, Peacekeeper, the Road to Sarajevo, page 327). The point is, Mr. Kucera would never have gotten his exclusive interview with the Albanian guerrilla commander unless they were sure they would get favorable coverage for their Albanian jihad.
Virtually nothing is being reported today of the barbarity being committed against the Serbs, Romanies and non-Albanians by the former Kosovo Liberation Army, who are engaged in sex slavery (Albanian Daily News, October 5, 2000), prostitution, kidnaping, murder, and rape, "Kosovo Rebels Raped Serb Nun, Say French Officials," New York Post, 19 June 1999. "When they saw us they stopped a while, shouted 'NATO, NATO,' and then beat a hasty retreat, the officer said." Over 40% of heroin going into Europe comes from Kosovo (the Guardian [UK]). Over one-hundred Serbian Orthodox Churches were destroyed during the first two months after KFOR entered Kosovo, more than under 500 years of Ottoman rule.
Scant attention is being paid to what is happening across the southern border in Serbia from Kosovo which threatens to become another Balkan war. Where is the coverage by CNN and the other networks that gave us a blow-by-blow description that never failed to support their slanted anti-Serb view of the war in Kosovo? Where's the outcry from all those politicians who were so quick to denounce the Serbs for protecting what belonged to them? The Albanian guerrillas known as the Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (UCPMB) and who have fashioned themselves after the KLA cutthroats, invited "stringer" Kucera into their camp after having invaded Serbia and murdered Serbian police officers, something that no sovereign nation can be expected to tolerate. In one of the few reports to emerge, an AFP report of 6 January stated that Albanians now "enjoy new lease of life in border zone as an endless column of battered taxis streams along the recently repaired dirt road winding through the rebel-held hills of southern Serbia, linking ethnic Albanian communities on both sides of the Kosovo boundary," as Serb neighbors incredulously watch them "exploiting a NATO-enforced demilitarized zone to thumb their noses at government forces." "This is unbelievable! The terrorists are at our doorstep, getting further with no reaction at all. What is the international community doing?" raged a Serb in Bujanovac, just over a mile (two kilometers) away from the first rebel road block."
The Serbs have two choices. Unless NATO takes steps to crush the Albanian guerrilla insurgents which thus far appears unlikely, the Serb paramilitary will be forced to stop Albanian provocations by all means necessary for which they will undoubtedly be condemned by the West, just as they were condemned in Kosovo for protecting what was theirs. Or they will have to resign themselves to the possibility that the West will never give them permission to defend themselves by denying them the heavy weapons they need to clean house, in which case, the southern region of Serbia will go the way of Kosovo. The Albanian guerrillas are using the same tactics used by the KLA that won them their successes in Kosovo, aided by papers such as the Washington Times whose anti-Serb reports routinely include photos of suffering ethnic Albanian women and/or children, often on the front page, but almost never a photo of even one suffering Serbian woman or child.
With the new democratic president in Serbia, the former Kosovo Liberation Army see their chances for an independent Islamic state and a Greater Albania slipping through their fingers. Where once KFOR was seen as liberators by ethnic Albanians, they are now seen by the KLA as their oppressors and are poised to turn their guns on them. "Albanians threaten to kill UK peacekeepers" reports the Guardian on 24 December. The Daily Telegraph [UK] reported on 22 December, "We'll fight NATO troops, warn Albanian rebels," (Is this anyway to treat a friend?). "Kosovo Attacks Stir US Concern; Official Says NATO May have to Fight Ethnic Albanians," writes the Washington Post on 15 March. Tod Lindberg formerly of the Washington Times wrote in his column of 23 May, 2000, "Keep peace in Kosovo Don't bring the boys home yet." He stated in his opinion piece, "I explained in this space last week why I thought Byrd-Warner was a bad idea." The defeated Byrd-Warner amendment would have simply required the president to go before Congress last July to justify why our troops should remain in Kosovo. Considering our kids are today's target of ethnic Albanians and the KLA, whom they were sent there to protect, I ask Mr. Lindberg, "Is NOW the right time to bring our "boys" home?" Since his statement only refers to our "boys" coming home, does that mean our "girls" get to stay in Kosovo?
The outrage is that we have handed over Serbia's Jerusalem, the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to a bunch of KLA narco-terrorists who have been turned into heroes by commentators such as Helle Bering, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, who, on 18 August 1999, glowingly wrote of "My dinner with the KLA, somewhere outside Budapest." Perhaps Ms. Bering should be judged by the company she keeps. But the blame game continues. In the Times of 2 January, 2001, an editorial once again lays all the blame for the tragic events in the Balkans solely on one man, "Put Milosevic on trial," without laying any of the blame on Franjo Tudjman, former president of Croatia, who would have been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague if he were still alive, according to an AFP report of 8 November, 2000. Nor does it mention the role of Bosnian Muslim president, Alija Izetbegovic, about whom a Deutsche Presse Agentur dispatch of June 6, 1996 wrote, "For the first time, a senior UN official has admitted the existence of a secret UN report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo [Markale] market, the excuse the US used to bomb the Bosnian Serbs." The report continues that the Moslems fired on their own people "in order to create international sympathy and get the West to fight on their side against the Serbs." Sounds like a war crime to me.
The Washington Times does not stand alone guilty in the dismembering of a sovereign nation. We can go back as far as 1992 when James Baker, former Secretary of State wrote in his book, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, war and peace, 1889-1992, "....After the meeting, I had Larry Eagleburger take Silajdzic [Bosnian Foreign Minister] to see the EC troika political directors (who happened to be visiting the Department) and asked Margaret Tutwiler to talk to the Foreign Minister about the importance of using Western mass media to build support in Europe and North America for the Bosnian cause. I also had her talk to her contacts at the four television networks, the Washington Post, and the New York Times to try to get more attention focused on the story (pg. 643-644)." In other words, we had already taken sides and the Serbs never had a chance.
In many ways I regret the extensive criticisms I have of the Washington Times regarding its Balkan policy. On many other issues, the Washington Times is the only major newspaper that counters the liberal slant of the major print and broadcast media. However, I cannot remain silent to the fact that this misrepresentation has done a disservice not only to innocent victims, but a disservice to its readers. But even more curious is the question of what motivates so many journalists to side with such gangsters? If I know the truth, surely, they must know it also. However, as Adolf Hitler said in 1939, "The great masses of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a smaller one."
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