George Orwell once said that a lot of journalism is like prefabricated hen houses — ready-made phrases and ideas slapped together without a lot of thought. Orwell’s ghost must have smiled knowingly, reading media reports of Milosevic’s abduction and transfer to The Hague. Drawing from a warehouse of ready made fallacies, one journalist noted there was an estimated 10,000 deaths related to Milosevic’s crackdown in Kosovo. Passed from journalist to journalist, this canard spreads like a virus. After at time, it becomes part of the zeitgeist, accepted by all, because it’s accepted by everyone else, even though it has no roots in reality, like people believing the earth is flat in the face of plenty of opportunities to see it isn’t. Alan Freeman, a correspondent for the Toronto Globe and Mail, dragged out the 10,000 dead myth, even though his own newspaper has run articles on forensic pathologists failing to turn up the 10,000 dead NATO warned darkly of. That is that NATO once warned darkly of. NATO long ago backed away from the 10,000 dead figure. But once a virus starts to spread, it’s difficult to stamp out.
Mr. Steve Gowans is a writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.