libyaAP110410043407As the civil war in Libya grinds on, the foreign journalists covering the conflict have become a story within the story. Libyan strongman Muammer Gadhafi has granted official credentials to more than 100 such journalists—with the none-too-subtle aim of shaping their coverage via tightly controlled state-sponsored itineraries; meanwhile, the Gadhafi regime has set about detaining media workers who cover the conflict from a more independent vantage.
In today's New York Times, David Kirkpatrick appraises the uneasy state of media relations in Libya. (C.J. Chivers' latest dispatch from the front lines is buried deeper inside the paper.)
Kirkpatrick focuses on the Gadhafi regime's clumsy and ultimately self-defeating efforts to spoonfeed coverage to the international press corps.
Exhibit A: The regime's botched attempt to dramatize collateral casualties from Western airstrikes by showcasing hospital bedsheets purportedly spattered with human blood. As Kirkpatrick notes, even Gadhafi's own officials couldn't refrain from calling out the fraud. "This is not even human blood!" the journalists' state handler conceded while giving them a tour.
"As the incident of the faked blood shows, the Qaddafi government's most honest trait might be its lack of pretense to credibility or legitimacy," writes Kirkpatrick. "It lies, but it does not try to be convincing or even consistent."
Another example: "Government officials often insisted the journalists watch grisly footage of public beheadings, presented on state television as scenes from rebel-held Benghazi," he writes, "even though the officials surely knew that all the major news organizations had correspondents in Benghazi confirming that there were no such executions." (The piece rounds up plenty of other examples of this maladroit would-be manipulation of the news cycle.)
Read More »from LIBYA MEDIA WATCH: Gadhafi’s spin machine backfires; updates on missing journalists