Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Media shows an unreasonable bias against North Korea

They have thus obscured the reality that the fate of the negotiations depends not only North Korean policy but on the willingness of the United States to make changes in its policy toward the DPRK and the Korean Peninsula that past administrations have all been reluctant to make.

These stories also underscore a broader problem with media coverage of the US-North Korean negotiations: a strong underlying bias toward the view that it is futile to negotiate with North Korea. The latest stories have constructed a dark narrative of North Korean deception that is not based on verified facts. If this narrative is not rebutted or corrected, it could shift public opinion—which has been overwhelmingly favorable to negotiations with North Korea—against such a policy.

How the Media Wove a Narrative of North Korean Nuclear Deception 38 North, BY: GARETH PORTER, JULY 26, 2018

Since the June 12 Singapore Summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US media has woven a misleading narrative that both past and post-summit North Korean actions indicate an intent to deceive the US about its willingness to denuclearize. The so-called intelligence that formed the basis of these stories was fed to reporters by individuals within the administration pushing their own agenda.

The Case of the Secret Uranium Enrichment Sites

In late June and early July, a series of press stories portrayed a North Korean policy of deceiving the United States by keeping what were said to be undeclared uranium enrichment sites secret from the United States. The stories were published just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing for the first meetings with North Korean officials to begin implementing the Singapore Summit Declaration.

The first such story appeared on NBC News on June 29, which reported:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months—and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration.

NBC News reporters quoted one official as saying, “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.” They further reported that the intelligence assessment “concludes that there is more than one secret site” for enrichment.

The story was highly problematic because it reported the alleged conclusion of the intelligence report as a fact, even though it admitted that NBC reporters had not seen or been briefed in detail on any part of the intelligence assessment in question, but had relied entirely on general statements by unnamed officials. Furthermore, none of the officials on whom they relied were identified as members of the intelligence community.

Significantly, the story did not indicate whether the assessment was endorsed by the entire US intelligence community or—as turned out to be the caseonly one element of it. Normal journalistic practice would have made clear that NBC was passing on an unconfirmed conclusion the accuracy of which they were unable to verify. Instead, the NBC reporters played up the alleged conclusion as unambiguous evidence that US intelligence believed the North Koreans intended to deceive the United States by maintaining secret enrichment facilities under a future agreement with the United States.

The Washington Post published a report by national security and intelligence reporters Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick the day after the NBC story that paralleled its main thrust and cited the same unnamed intelligence sources that were cited in the NBC story. But the Postalso revealed that the intelligence assessment in question had come from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is generally recognized as an outlier within the intelligence community on most assessments of adversary capabilities and intentions. A former senior intelligence official with extensive experience dealing with DIA assessments explained in an interview with this writer that the DIA “would tend to put a worse-case spin” on any analysis of North Korean intentions.

………… In each case, the reports cited analyses of commercial satellite imagery from independent analysts, including contributors to 38 North. But they all employed a common device to create a false narrative about the negotiations with North Korea: by misrepresenting the diplomatic context in which the satellite images were collected, they drew political conclusions about North Korean strategy that were unwarranted.

The series of stories involved more than a mere misunderstanding of the raw information being reported. They all denigrated the idea of negotiating with North Korea on the grounds that it cannot be trusted. The NBC News and CNN stories on improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center cited the analysis of satellite images published by 38 North on June 26. And they were all slanted to lead readers to conclude that the improvements in question signified a nefarious intention by North Korea to deceive the Trump administration.

…….. Both the NBC and CBS stories were misrepresenting the significance of the improvements described in the 38 North analysis. They either ignored or sought to discredit the carefully-worded caveat in that assessment, which cautioned that the continued work at the Yongbyon facility “should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize.”

…….. Conclusion

Major media reporting on what is alleged to be intelligence and photographic evidence that North Korea intends to deceive the United States in negotiations on denuclearization has been extraordinarily misleading. It has blithely ignored serious issues surrounding the alleged intelligence conclusions and suggested that North Korea has demonstrated bad faith by failing to halt all nuclear and missile-related activities.

Recent stories do not reflect actual evidence of covert facilities, but rather deep suspicions of North Korean intentions within the intelligence community that have been fed to the media by individuals within the administration who are unhappy with the direction of the president’s North Korea policy following the Singapore Summit. And breathless reports on improvements in North Korean nuclear and missile facilities ignore the distinction between a summit statement and a final deal with North Korea. They have thus obscured the reality that the fate of the negotiations depends not only North Korean policy but on the willingness of the United States to make changes in its policy toward the DPRK and the Korean Peninsula that past administrations have all been reluctant to make.

These stories also underscore a broader problem with media coverage of the US-North Korean negotiations: a strong underlying bias toward the view that it is futile to negotiate with North Korea. The latest stories have constructed a dark narrative of North Korean deception that is not based on verified facts. If this narrative is not rebutted or corrected, it could shift public opinion—which has been overwhelmingly favorable to negotiations with North Korea—against such a policy. https://www.38north.org/2018/07/gporter072618/

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July 28, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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