Bhutto Assassination Coverage Abysmal

December 28, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - - Network news coverage of the assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto has so far failed to meet the minimum standards to which even television news should ascribe.

Case in point, CNN's affable appearing dupe, Wolf Blitzer "breaking" a story fed to him by longtime Bhutto fixer and big time Dem political schemer Mark Siegel in which a supposed October 16 email from Bhutto implicated - well before the fact - Pak strongman Musharraf in any harm that might eventually come to her.

"Two months before her death, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sent an e-mail to her U.S. adviser and longtime friend, saying that if she were killed, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would bear some of the blame" [source,]

Fox and other cable news providers uncritically ran with Blitzer's story, failing to vet Mr. Siegel or note his past history, especially his status as a registered foreign agent with a penchant for media manipulation at key political junctures.

As the Washington Post reported at the time, in 1997 Siegel took the unusual step of also implicating Congressman Dan Burton1. in wrongdoing, accusing him of a political "shakedown" for money.

"I should tell you," Siegel wrote on July 25, in a two-page memo to a Bhutto aide in Islamabad, "that I worked in Washington for over 25 years and have never been shaken down by anyone before like Dan Burton's threats." [source,]

Of course the charge, never substantiated and failing to have resulted in any disciplinary action against Burton, found its way into the media via a "leak," thus accomplishing its primary goal of compromising the reputation of the hard charging GOP Congressman.

Siegel's clear effort to demonize Musharraf in the current matter played well into the soap opera-like coverage of the Bhutto assassination, coinciding as it did, nicely with what seems to be the running narrative - a beatification process, hard to discern from garden variety propaganda - during which no mention was made of Bhutto's scandalous personal and familial history.

Also absent from the debate was any discussion of the degree to which Siegel was shilling for Bhutto, having received from her government, according to the above noted Washington Post article, "$452,941 for his services for the year ending July 1995 according to his filing at the Justice Department as a registered foreign agent."

The media's role in granting Bhutto undeserved status pales in gravity however, as compared to the Bush administration's belief that she would be anything but a disaster if reintroduced into Pakistani politics.

That this administration orchestrated and facilitated that turn of events betrays a disregard for the dangers inherent in micromanaging the internal dynamics of a non-Western nation, especially one with such an explosive history. It also shows how easily calamity can result from an overemphasis on small "d" democratic forms in a nation so heavily in the spell of Islamism.

Noting that, we wrote on November 14 [see, U.S. State Dept. Delusional If It Sees Bhutto As The Answer].

"Why the U.S. diplomatic establishment views the re-injection of Benazir Bhutto into Pakistani politics as anything but alarming is hard to fathom. In the current crisis, which finds Pak military strong-man/president Musharraf attempting to manage his country's seemingly headlong rush towards Islamist madness, Bhutto's presence is anything but helpful. Fact - The Bhutto family is the poster child for Pakistani corruption, so it's hardly surprising that Benazir Bhutto was in exile because of massive evidence of her participation in money laundering schemes [a charge which sent her husband Asif Ali Zardani to jail for 8 years] before the U.S. State Dept. started its campaign of ill-advised meddling, which resulted in her return..."

Bhutto's venal quest for personal enrichment and past support of the Taliban should have marked her as unsuitable for governance under any conceivable circumstances by State Dept. professionals. It should also have sent a strong message to network execs to moderate their efforts to sanctify Bhutto in the wake of her death.

No matter how flawed Pervez Musharraf's governance has been, his "anti-democratic" actions including the dismissal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Chaudry, his previous declaration of martial law and program of detentions and house arrests must now appear mild given the alternative - a former ally becoming a radical Muslim enclave with very large teeth.

It's hard to imagine a more succinct proof of policy failure by the very same State Department dolts who are in open rebellion against the administration, who probably still continue to believe against all available evidence that a "free" election in Pakistan would not quickly devolve into an Islamist theocracy with its finger on the triggers of as many as 80 nuclear weapons.


1. Dan Burton [R - Ind, 5th Dist], twelve term Congressman and as Chair of the House Government and Reform Committee, a vocal critic of the scandal ridden Clinton administration as well as a strong advocate for impeachment - famously calling Mr. Clinton a "scumbag" - who at the time of Siegel's charge was involved in an investigation of Clinton/Gore fundraising improprieties, during which over 100 witnesses either took the fifth amendment or fled the country.

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