Wednesday, November 28, 2007

AA News Coverage of Wilkerson Trial Improves

Jo Collins Mathis' article--"Local doctor's trial opens"--in Wednesday's edition of the Ann Arbor News is more than marginally better than the reports of her colleagues, Dave Gershman and Tom Gantert. For one thing, she gets the charges right: "attempting to impede police and emergency medical technicians." Still, there are problems with her reporting.

For instance, as she notes, the defense also gave their opening statement on Tuesday. So why does Mathis open her article with the prosecution argument? If she had wanted to hew closer to the line of 'journalistic objectivity' then she might have opened with a more neutral paragraph.

It's too bad also that she didn't report on the expert witness testimony of Dr. Bryan Bledsoe, DO, FACEP, EMT-P. Bledsoe is no Leftist "hippie", he is a co-chair of the Curriculum and Education Board for the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB, FL, and an expert in emergency medicine who started out as an EMT, only later going to college and medical school. In his testimony, he completely supported Dr. Wilkerson's actions on 11/30/06 and criticized the use of ammonia but readers of the Ann Arbor News will probably never learn that.

Mathis reports, "Jeffrey Green, student building manager of the Michigan League, confirmed the prosecution's assertion that Wilkerson was inciting the crowd ..." It's too bad that Mathis chose not to quote Green. What he said was that Dr. Wilkerson incited the crowd "to remember and to record." But, alas, neither of these is illegal or as sexy as leaving readers with the false impression that the witness testified that Dr. Wilkerson was trying to incite a riot.

The News continues to soft-sell Tanter. It would be fair enough if they just left him out altogether but they continue to portray him as a fairly benign figure: "The protesters had come to the Michigan League to oppose Raymond Tanter, a professor emeritus at U-M who served on the senior staff of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration."

According to his own book, Rogue Regimes, Tanter came to the Reagan campaign via Kenneth Wollack and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and was present at the hatching of the illegal arms deal that became the Iran-Contra conspiracy, which he did not object to or report. In October, 2002, Tanter told the Michigan Daily that the coming US invasion of Iraq would be " 'an antidote' and that there would be no backlash. 'Arab people won't go crazy, Muslim people won't go crazy. They'll roll over ... ' " Vanity Fair reported that in a speech at the National Press Club in late 2005: "Tanter went as far as to suggest that the U.S. consider using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran." During his 2006 UM presentation, Tanter advocated reversing the State Department's designation of Mujahedeen-e Khalq as a "foreign terrorist organization" so that they could receive funding to expand their terror campaign in Iran and bring about a "civil war."

If it is relevant that the patient whose care Dr. Wilkerson was overseeing "regularly protests on behalf of the Palestinian cause" then why aren't the reasons people came out to protest Tanter relevant? No would one would have protested if he just been ex-professor who had served in the Reagan administration. It is his consistent advocacy for war and violence by the US and in the service of a foreign country--Israel--that provoked the protest.

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