The 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.

Read more by Stella L. Jatras