Shortly after US combat search and rescue teams and air support scrambled to rescue the crew of a downed F-15 fighter-bomber last week, the British liberal media scrambled to cover the aftermath of the rescue. Judging by the swiftness with which Lindsey Hilsum of far left-leaning Channel 4 News managed to file this report, it may have been available for consumption by critics of the western intervention in the troubled north African state before the US aircrew were safely aboard the USS Kearsage.
The following short sentence sums up the content and tone of the whole story: "Osprey aircraft came in, all guns blazing, assuming - as the American military tends to do – that this was hostile territory." Hilsum doesn't claim to have seen this with her own eyes, and she doesn't even attribute the account to local eye-witnesses. An unsubstantiated report is reported as settled fact, and this is then filtered through an editorial prism - in what is supposed to be a straight news report – whereby Hilsum claims to be privy to the motivation behind the US forces’ acting as they allegedly did. And the language – ‘all guns blazing’- reads like fiction, or at best gonzo journalism. Does Hilsum know how many guns an Osprey has? Is she sure that they were all firing? And not just firing, but blazing – a word that has no meaning in a factual news report, being used only to suggest that the American fire was reckless and indiscriminate.
Inconveniently for Hilsum, the US military have stated that not only were no shots were fired during the rescue, but that the Ospreys in question were not even armed, instead being protected by a supporting ‘package’ of other aircraft, two of which dropped 500lb bombs during the rescue. So Hilsum is either lying, or passing on the lies of others because they fit her far-left narrative. Neither possibility would bring credit to a programme that holds itself up as a flagship of serious news journalism, but perhaps the show’s agenda – anchorman Jon Snow is a self-avowed leftist – is considered more important than its record.
Hilsum has a track record which includes anti-American reporting from Iraq for the British socialist journal The New Statesman. Her latest is nothing more than a rehashing of the meme that has arisen in the UK media, going back to Gulf War One, of the US military as gung-ho and heavy handed, often to the detriment of civilians and British forces. (I’ve previously written about it at Big Journalism). Although this media crusade reached critical mass during George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, when it comes to the employment of American forces against non-westerners, even the Obama administration can’t catch a break from the British media.