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Fox News Focuses on Afghan Protesters, Not What Set Them Off

Reported by Judy - May 29, 2006

Fox News loves riots, especially when they can find someone to say something against the United States. Yes, it claims to be the "good news" network, but Fox News loves nothing better than an anti-American riot, especially if they can downplay what sparked the affair. That was the case Monday (May 29, 2006) when "Dayside" aired a story on riots that broke out in Kabul after a U.S. military truck was involved in a fatal traffic accident.

Kelly Wright reported on the matter from Washington, apparently basing his story on information provided in a Pentagon briefing. He said brakes on the truck appeared to fail as it approached a busy downtown intersection, causing it to hit 12 vehicles, killing one civilian and injuring six others. Wright said there were reports that soldiers at the scene provided medical help, but also began shooting their weapons to begin dispersing an angry crowd that gathered after the accident, killing at least five people. He then quoted an AP reporter who said the American troops had left when the shooting started.

As part of Wright's report, Fox News played video showing a white SUV-type vehicle speeding away, but Wright never explained its presence. The video also contained scenes of Afghans protesting and shouting. One man, identified as Ajmal Jan, shouted, "We want America out of this country" because the soldiers are driving drunk and "killing innocent people. We want America out of this country sooner or later. We hate America.”

Fox News never identified the source of the video. If Fox News had a reporter at the scene, why didn't the reporter describe what happened instead of Wright, and provide more details? Why didn't the reporter ask the protesters if they saw the accident and ask them to describe what happened? Was the video from The AP, from another network? If it was from another network, why was the network not identified? Could it be that the network was Al Jazeera and Fox News doesn't want its viewers to know that it bought footage from Al Jazeera?

After this upbeat report about Afghans hating Americans because they kill innocent civilians, "Dayside" went to Chuck Nash, Fox News military analyst and a retired Navy captain, so co-host Juliet Huddy could ask him if these rioters were representative of most Afghans.

Nash, of course, said they were not, and criticized people for focusing on what is going wrong instead of what is going right in Afghanistan. "Most of the good goes unreported. ... If you keep your face reading The New York Times," people get discouraged, he said.

Excuse me, but the Afghans in the earlier report seemed to think things were going pretty bad and they hadn't been reading The New York Times. Steven Colbert must be right: Reality does have a well-known liberal bias, especially when part of your reality is having a 12-car fatal smash-up followed by some unexplained shooting that leaves five people dead. And you didn't have to read about this in The New York Times. You could watch it right on Fox News, yet Nash didn't bother blaming Fox News for showing negative images of the war.

Huddy's question made no sense. Why would these people be "representative" of Afghans, when most Afghans had not just witnessed a fatal accident caused by an American military vehicle? Why not ask Nash a more challenging question, instead of the hackneyed, "Aren't things really going swell there after all?" Huddy could have asked Nash about frictions between civilians and the military in such cases, what procedures the military has for investigating such accidents and compensating victims.

Instead, Fox News keeps trying to have it both ways -- claiming things are really going swell in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, blaming other media for only reporting bad news, yet having to deal in reality itself on occasion.

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