WASHINGTON - April 27 - After calls from FAIR activists to correct the record, PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer issued a correction during his April 26 broadcast regarding the reason that the U.S. shut down the Iraqi newspaper Al-Hawza, which is affiliated with Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr. The editor's note said:
"On our April 7 broadcast I made a mistake while running a discussion about Iraq. The issue was why the U.S. had closed down a particular newspaper. In an attempt to clarify what a guest had said, I stated it was because the paper had called for violence against Americans. I should have said, that was the reason given by the coalition, that those running the paper strongly deny it. I regret my mistake."
While the correction is welcome, Lehrer still seems unclear on what was actually said about Al-Hawza. U.S. occupation spokesperson Dan Senor had told reporters (3/30/04) that Al-Hawza "repeatedly uses rhetoric designed to incite violence against U.S. soldiers and against the Iraqi people."
According to the New York Times (4/5/04), "the paper did not print any calls for attacks," though "the American authorities said false reporting, including articles that ascribed suicide bombings to Americans, could touch off violence." The closure of the paper seemed to spark an uprising by Al-Sadr's militia that continues to pose a serious challenge to the occupation.
While the actual content of the paper merits further reporting, FAIR appreciates that Lehrer recognized the problematic nature of his original statement. And FAIR thanks the activists who encouraged the NewsHour to set a high standard for accuracy.
Read FAIR's action alert at: http://www.fair.org/activism/newshour-alhawza.html