Relying on Blind Faith

Media Assembles Fractured Picture of War

But does that justify whitewashing the news? By the time Burns's dispatch was published in the September 30 print edition of the Times, the references to USA Today and CNN had been edited out, and the hostage story had magically disappeared.

On October 1, the Times gave Burns the top spot on its Web site, which appears to be the paper's outlet for unsanitized news. Burns quoted a BBC interview with Pakistani General Musharraf (who predicted the U.S. will take action against Afghanistan) and a spokesman for the Northern Alliance, who said the attack would come in a "matter of days." When we do strike, will the American people be the last to know?


In the last few weeks, terrorist panic has caused more than 1000 people to call the manufacturer of the anthrax vaccine, only to find out they can't get it. The standard line is that the government is hoarding the vaccine for military personnel (many of whom were given mandatory anthrax shots between 1997 and 2000). But there's a suspicious subplot involving attractive young women who say the shot made them sick.

You can read about one of them in the October issue of Self: 25-year-old Ronda Breneman, a former army pilot who got three anthrax shots in 1999. Since then, she has lost 45 pounds, stopped menstruating, and developed constant nausea and stomach pain. One servicewoman who got the shots now has lupus; another develop anemia and died. For the record, the Pentagon says the vaccine has no long-term side effects.

Ironically, says Self writer Sheila Weller, some civilians now want the shot regardless of possible side effects—and some military personnel who chose to be discharged rather than get the shot now regret their decision, because they want to perform active duty in the war.

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