US-Led Airstrikes Kill as Many Civilians as Nice Attack But Get No Front Page Headlines
US-Led Airstrikes Kill as Many Civilians as Nice Attack But Get No Front Page Headlines
The Intercept (7/19/16) illustrated its article on a deadly airstrike in Syria with a photo of a victim receiving medical attention. (Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)
By Adam Johnson / fair.org
Jul 21, 2016

A coalition airstrike reported on Tuesday that killed at least 85 civilians—one more than died in the Nice attack in France last week—wasn’t featured at all on the front pages of two of the top US national newspapers, the New York Times and LA Times, and only merited brief blurbs on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, with the actual stories buried on pages A-16 and A-15, respectively.

According to the London Telegraph (7/19/16), the airstrike killed “more than 85 civilians” after the “coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters.” Eight families were represented among the dead, with victims “as young as three.” The Intercept (7/19/16) reported the death toll could end up being well over 100.

The Pentagon has not denied the reports, saying an investigation is underway, according to Stars and Stripes (7/19/16), a media outlet that operates inside the Department of Defense.

As many on Twitter pointed out, the number of dead was roughly equal to that of the recent Nice attack, yet the airstrike did not garner nearly as much media coverage, nor did news outlets convey an outpouring of grief:

By contrast, the Nice attack garnered multiple front-page stories in the New York Times and LA Times, as well as significantly more than 20-word blurbs in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

For those who see a “false equivalency,” there are two mitigating reasons for this glaring discrepancy: 1) The airstrike deaths were an “accident” and 2) Syria’s a war zone, where civilian deaths are to be expected. Neither of these retorts are satisfactory, and certainly not enough to justify a virtual front-page blackout.

On the issue of accidental deaths having less import than purposeful ones, this doesn’t explain why unintentional natural disaster deaths routinely receive splashing front-page coverage. Intent rarely affects coverage of these events; only death counts do. And this is granting the deaths were actually accidental, which we don’t know for sure at this time, or whether the US military was using tactics, like so-called “signature strikes,” that are known to greatly increase the chances of killing noncombatants.

As for the “war zone” factor, according to Airwars, a Western group that monitors civilian deaths at the hands of the US-led coalition, the total number of civilians deaths since the beginning of airstrikes in September 2014 has been 190. To increase this number by almost 50 percent in a matter of days would indeed be a radical departure from the normal course of events—rendering it more than newsworthy.

Indeed, all of the publications in question ran a story on the “dozens of deaths” at the hands of US-led airstrikes, so we know they deemed it notable. Just not notable enough, for whatever reason, to put in a prominent position for US audiences.


Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst for FAIR.orgFollow him onTwitter at @AdamJohnsonNYC.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

0.0 ·
0
Featured Pay Per View Films
Generation Revolution (2017)
72 min
A Quest for Meaning (2017)(Free till Jan 29th)
88 min
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min
Trending Today
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine5,568 views today ·
Paramedic's Response to "Burger Flippers" Making an Equal $15/Hour is Beautiful
Craig Carilli2,493 views today ·
A Quest for Meaning (2017)(Free till Jan 29th)
88 min2,468 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min2,006 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley1,432 views today ·
The Surprising Nobility of Shit: a Serious Response to President Donald Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Remarks About African Immigrants
Adebayo Akomolafe1,254 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick655 views today ·
The Greening of the Self: the Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy323 views today ·
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min305 views today ·
Load More


Love Films For Action? 

It's hard to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going.
If you get some value from this library, consider making a donation today.

Support us on Patreon

Coming soon! We're days away from launching a Patreon campaign! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year, and become 100% member supported!

Join us on Facebook
US-Led Airstrikes Kill as Many Civilians as Nice Attack But Get No Front Page Headlines