True during Bush admin, true during Obama’s reign. Douglas Bicket and I document this phenom repeatedly such as with the Downing Street Memos , which revealed Bush decided to overthrow Saddam then cooked up a war to do so. The US media tried to discredit or even ignore the documents when the British news media went public with them. Our research has focused on the Iraq war during Bush’s time in office, but there’s no reason to believe there would be any change in the dynamic we identify in which Americans turn to the British media when they think they are not getting the complete story.
This time White House spokesman Robert Gibbs attacked the British newspaper the Telegraph for quoting a US general involved in investigating the Abu Ghraib torture photos, a set of which the Obama admin is trying to stop the release of. Major General Antonio Taguba told a conservative Telegraph contributor that some photos showed rape, then he later said he was misquoted, and that the photos being suppressed didn’t show rape. (But admitted that other photos he reviewed did show it!) Nile Gardiner, the rightwing pundit in question, wrote:
The British press, especially the Telegraph, has been singled out because they frequently publish articles critical of the Obama administration and are not afraid to take on the status quo in Washington. Increasingly, millions of Americans are turning to online UK news websites for cutting edge reports on American politics and U.S. foreign policy that the mainstream media refuses to cover in the States, especially if it is unflattering to the Obama White House.
While our research shows that conservatives such as Gardiner, who is affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, denigrated the British media when it revealed information the US media was slow to report about the Bush admin’s actions, don’t be surprised to hear them change their tune now that a Democrat is in office.
The takeaway is not about Bush or Obama but about global access to news accounts that differ from the preferred frames the legacy media in this country are used to serving up.