On October 20, 2005, the United Nations released its report to date about its investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri which occured February 14, 2005. The report implicates Syrian and Lebanese officials, yet several original MSM headlines in the American press, along with TV coverage by CNN, only mention the Syrian connection.

Notably:

Washington Post (Robin Wright and Colum Lynch)
: U.N. Report Sees Syrian Involvement in Hariri’s Death

New York Times (John Kifner and Warren Hoge): Top Syrian Seen as Prime Suspect in Assassination

Bloomberg News: UN Probe of Rafiq Hariri’s Murder Implicates Syrian Military

Los Angeles Times (Maggie Farley): the headline was originally “Report Implicates Syrian, Lebanese Officials in Hariri Slaying” but the online version has now been changed to read U.N. Links Syria to Lebanon Slayings.

CNN: U.N. probe links Syria to Hariri killing

On the other hand, the Associated Press ran with this headline: U.N.: Syria, Lebanon Involved in Slaying

FOX (via AP as well): U.N. Probe Questions Lebanese President

more…


US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, are already using the UN report to further marginalize Syria. Bolton said absolutely nothing about the Lebanese involvement in a statement today. Rice actually did but, in response to a question about whether the Lebanese president is as much a target as Syria’s, Rice claimed she hasn’t finished reading the UN report – perhaps an indication that Washington is much more interested in slamming Syria’s President Assad.

The UN Security Council is currently considering sanctions against Syria and Rice recently said that military action against Syria has not been ruled out. Syria has dismissed the findings of the UN report.

This is a fast moving story but the headlines involved raise some issues:

1) As stories change, should online media outlets be allowed to change their headlines on the exact same article?

2) Are the media helping to perpetuate Bush administration propaganda against Syria by not headlining Lebanese involvement in the assassination considering that many people only scan headlines to get their news?

3) Who, in the media, can we trust anymore?

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