Lindsay Newland Bowker


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Is Part of the News About The News That Officials Manipulate It Intentionally To Divert/ Cloud Our Attention: Bin Laden Story

NPR Newschief AlisaMiller has left us in this talk with some very serious questions to ponder about the state of the fourth estate. I have been participating in her excellent follow up discussion on who we trust in journalism today.

Yesterday and today listening to the official US reports on Bin Ladens death I have seriously begun to wonder whether the feeding of conspiracy theories in the official story is actually intentional..meant to direct our attention away from the real story..meant to create a convenient denunciation for those seeking the truth as conpsiracy crazies?

How could Hillary Clinton and others tell such a body, burial at sea, no photos,, we didn't know where he was etc. etc. It seems so insultingly thinly veiled to me I can find no orther conclusion at the moment except that the smoke screen and fodder for conspiracy theorits was intentional.

Help me get this straight. Lets help each other get this straight. Is it plausible to you that the official story is so ridiculous it had to be meant tp feed conspiracy theorists? ( Other possible explanations are even worse..that it is the truth...)

Would also appreciate here quotes and links that you think show the fourth estate is on all this and isn't going to let that official story stand unquestioned, unexmained, unchallenged. This ais a great real life right in the news issue to really assess what the traditional media are saying aboutthe lausibility of the official story.

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    May 4 2011: We live in a time where it is hard to know the truth.,with the news it is like the boy who cried wolf. i would have to agree with the questioner that it was so obviously marketed that it seems like a ploy of some kind. it is like they are trying to gain there power back about believe what we say even without any shred of evidence because we are the news.
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      May 4 2011: welcome and thank you for this valuable contribution to this conversation. so what do you personally do about that? do you juts turn off, turn away because no one is telling the truth? do you try to find he truth yourself? do you have your own sense about the "real meaning " of this event? do you feel the regukar press has responded appropriately..and gotten on top of this implausible story ( the new explanations of the last few days are bringing any greater plausibility for me personally) in a way that satisfies you.?
  • May 4 2011: Why do people need to create conspiracy theories every time they don't have enough information or details? Perhaps they need to come to some conclusion and conspiracy theory is an easy way out?

    In my opinion, if we don't have enough information or facts we need to wait until that information is available without using conspiracy as a tool to further spread misinformation?

    If we all value truth and accurate data, we should not feed or spread conspiracy theories because people then are mislead by those that claim they were mislead by their government in the first place.
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      May 4 2011: yes of course zdenek..the first news around a big unexpected event is often spotty, fragmented , contradictory, full of errors. here I was not focusing on the press..I was focusing on what our US Officials said about the thin and impluasible that story was. It seemed to me to almost intentionally feed conspiracy theorists. So you think it's just a matter of time to get the whole story out? You don't think the framing of that story by officilas ( and it now turns out that framing inckuded many stright out lies since corrected) intentionally or knowingly manipulative? Just the routine confusion after a big event?
      • May 5 2011: Lindsay, after hearing president's speech I didn't have any urgent questions and I thought he gave enough details.

        After thinking about it more, I thought that we all, including the president, focused too much on this event rather than mention it and move on. Is Bin Laden worth our time to consume with knowing all the details about his death and how his body was handled? Did Obama really need to have many meetings about it and did he even need to be updated in real time about the progress of the operation?

        I think for the sake and in memory of all his victims (not just people that died in 9/11), we should spend as little time as possible with thinking about this individual (Bin Laden) and move on better things we need to take care of ?

        Yes myself I was surprised by many inaccuracies in the press but again do we really need to care in this case? =)
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          May 5 2011: zdenek..yes I agree all the hype really diverting us and the news from really important things an d in fcat the real story about what kind of terrorism Bin Laden was waging . I framed this question in the way I did as a spin off from the excellent conversation we have been having here at TED around Alisa Miller's question..who do we trust in the news".. don't want to reiterate my whole long thing to poby but here the question is focused on the news source itself telling such an implaisivble story it seened they were intentionally inflaming and encouraging conspiracy theorists.
      • May 5 2011: Update: Obama just announced that no pictures will be released because they are gruesome (shot in face) and they could be used against US. I think this is a really good decision as we don't need to see such pictures. DNA test should be sufficient.
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          May 5 2011: yes saw that.tx and by itself a valid policy...I am not for lurid grusesome imagees in the news. with.. To me it doesn't chnage the whole cloud of implausibiity and factual error around the Administrations poor show on the press end of this story. I consider it a matter of extreme urgency in a democratic nation whenever a president lies to the press and through the press to us and to the world. Don't you?
      • May 6 2011: Yes I agree that the president and administration should not present something they know is not true.

        Can you please explain what exactly they said or Obama said and whether it was intentionally misleading on their part or whether their own sources of information were not properly reporting to them?
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          May 6 2011: can you present a momment where obama, anyone on his "staff" or the media where they were not truthful? so therfore could you asume that there is a chance that what they say could not be true?
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          May 7 2011: In the first two days afterward the press jumped on this very thin and unlikely story the press pressed hard and there were two or three rounds of administrations corrections, retractions, additions etc. I have written many press reakses and speecehs for many officials ( none so lofty as a president)..impossible for me to believe these were just errors in the confusion of the moment. It was a "story". We can only guess at why. But it clearly wsa a crafted and false story..
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    May 3 2011: I think that in amongst all the hype about 21st century communication, most people forget that propaganda is a powerful tool for anyone with designs on any kind of power.

    It was recognised a long, long time ago that knowledge is power and to put that in a modern context, the control of information is power.

    Propaganda techniques are currently in use today and are more refined and effective than ever before.

    Don't believe the truth, or at least be aware of the agendas behind the message.

    (10 years and he gets found just before an election. Hmmmmm..)
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      May 3 2011: Scott glad to see you here,,this is a conversation that can be enriched by your intellectual rigor and your way of sharing information.After reading The White House and other official statements to "correct" their mis statements..I am not all that compelled to challenge your use of the very strong word propaganda..very hard to accept that..but there it is..silly straight out lies..and what was the point of those paricular lies? No pubkic interest served that I can see...yet.I must confess that in my day, although I considered it "just and right and for the people" I did my own fair share of manipulating the media..not through lies or misrepresnttaions but things like writing letters or aricle or op ed pieces in the name of a famous person ( released and paproved by their people of course and gagreed to in advance)..But what it amounted to was "placing the voice" for what I was trying to advance. And my point was so easy to do and I have nopower at all then or now. So that is partly behind my concern here that even this admistration that many of us believed to be above ll that are doing that so blatantly .

      Also what is bothering me here..making me feel deeply uneasy is that it is intended onfuscate and divert and feed people in way that would discredit their later disssention..feels so dark and perverse and un American to me. ( I know..where have I been...well I'm not sure right now
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      May 4 2011: I am with scott 100%.
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        May 5 2011: Scott/Poby yes but in this case poby the source of news was the source of error, misrepresentation and presentation to us to the world of a completely implausible story. Here, I am not even suggesting the mediahas any fault at all..the ridculous story told by the administration has forced the media into tracking down the truth, questioning the administrations account and, as I predeicted in forming my question, being denounced as feeding the conspiracy you see the needle I am thredaing here? Do you agree? Am I overstating the Administrations straight out mainuplation of the media n this case?
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    May 3 2011: Lindsay, Yes, I believe, it is plausible that the official story is so ridiculous that it had to be meant to feed conspiracy theorists. Disinformation has always been used by officials when the truth is risky or difficult. I think things are so complicated to explain that they have to package a story that the common people can understand. Historians will give us the truth in 20 years or so in volumes of books. Hopefully, more info will leak out and the good journalists will start putting the piece of the puzzle together for us befor that.
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      May 3 2011: thanks for this least I know one other person thinks its plausible..and yes of course we have to wait for the story to unfold more. I heard several hi level officials today refer to the shocking condition of Bin Ladens body and that pictures weren't relased for that reason. But still the initial "official story" was just so absurd
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      May 5 2011: RE: POBY Height of Absurdity..All the hype about killing Bin Laden..? Here though Poby, we are looking a very narrowly drawn question..about the plausibility of the first official accounts..its is question about what the white house and its many involved officials tried to sell to the press at the time of the announcement of their actions. That is, it is raising the question of whether the implausibiluty was intentional or just standard error. It is an exmaination of one component of Alisa Millers "Who Do you Trust" in the news..If you can't trust the newsmakers how can you have a trsutworthy press....sort of.. This absurdly implausible account passed off the the news and to Amerca poeple..poeple around the world I thought a good example to look at together about the health of the press in the free world. So your entire comment above is off topic as far as this conversationis concerned ( notwithstandingmy resonance with what you say) So with all respect I must ask you to remove it. from this conversation. Would love to hear from you though on the specifc topic here.
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          May 5 2011: Can you bring any of what is being said in Pakistan and India about this (the adminsitrations disniforation on the vents surrounding Bin Ladens killing( ? or in naother venue I ask a sperate converation about how Pakistan and India see our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. We woukd all learn so much from that.
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          May 6 2011: Poby, fascinating and of course none of this reaches our ears..I am bringing forward one quote from the last article just to give everyone a flavor of what we don't hear.

          ". U.S. policy must recognise how its failed approach on Pakistan has inadvertently made that country Ground Zero for global terrorism. Rather than helping to build robust civilian institutions there, the U.S. has invested heavily in the jihadist-penetrated Pakistani military establishment."

          Reaffirms for me that you should start a conversation on Pakistans Place In all we have been using Pakistan..te gaps between what we are told here and how it is seen and expereienced by the people of Paksitan.

          I encourage everyone to take a few moments to read the links Poby has provided. ( It's avery different style of journalism..less direct and without the day to day back ground to go with hard to fully absorb in context..but exactly what is missing inour day to day awareness.

          Clear that US action considered an illegal act. I picked up a hint there that a really basic issue is many see BinLaden as a Revolutionary..a hero standing against western that correct? I also picked up a hint of perceived/actual racism by western people..what is that phrase about that repreats through several articles? Apparently refers to an actual quote?

          I think it is so important for Americans to see there is a different story and a different response. I thin TED is theplace to do that. And I think you shoukd try to do that. And this is the right time to do it.

          If what should be said to refelect Pakitsan and Indian response to the news of Bin ladens death is nott hear in the conversation canyou summarize that so that it is here? Maybe even via edit to your post above by annotating or summarzing the articles you have referenced.?

          Thank you again, Poby
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    May 3 2011: Here is one first hand accou of the killing that directly contradicts what white house officials said in their official sgatements yesterday..specifically this refutes that Bin Laden was armed and refutes that he used on eof his wives as a shield..later today official staements were brought in ine with this report but it suggests very clear official manipulation of the news.I will post other examples I find which are on point to this question within this post. that would be a great format for your shafring of links as well.

    EDIT 05/04 And here is another wonderful look at this from slate