20. THE OTHER "OTHER FACE" OF THE IRA
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) may not be the vicious, cruel, destructive,
underground terrorist organization some people believe it to be. The
American Irish Unity Committee (AIUC), headquartered in New York, challenges
what it calls the biased view of the U.S. media toward the IRA. Following
are some brief examples of media bias and omission cited by the AIUC:
On October 4, 1981, 60 Minutes aired a segment titled "The Other
Face of the IRA," which contained many falsehoods according to
the AIUC. Prime among them was the CBS emphasis on the IRA - "Qaddafi
connection" and on Libyan and Soviet Arms. The AIUC says that a
secret British intelligence document (secured by the AIUC) states there
is no evidence of either Libyan or Soviet assistance to the IRA. CBS
stands by its story, saying it was fair and accurate.
In 1982, the AIUC complained to the National News Council (NNC) about
a reportedly inaccurate quote in the New York Times. The same quote
was reprinted twice after Raymond Quinn, AIUC publicist, informed the
Times of the inaccuracy. The NNC, in a vote of 11 to 3, upheld the complaint;
the Times printed no correction.
On February 9, 1983, in concluding a piece on the disappearance of
the Irish racehorse, Shirgar, NBC's Roger Mudd, almost gratuitously,
said "In the past the Irish Republican Army has used kidnapping
for ransom to raise money." Again, the AIUC quotes from a British
intelligence document which says that kidnapping "forms no part
of traditional IRA tactics." Mudd said he passed the AIUC complaint
"on to the, NY Editor." As of this writing, no more was heard
Starting February 28, 1983, the AIUC sponsored a television commercial
dealing with what it called England's continued violation of human rights
in the North of Ireland. Shown on Cable News Network (CNN), it was reported
to be the first "advocacy advertisement" shown nationally
on commercially in the U.S. AIUC reported that this "first"
received widespread coverage in the British press but no national coverage
in the U.S.
Finally, Alfred McClung Lee, an eminent sociologist and former president
of the American Sociological Association, charged media deception in
his scholarly article "The Dynamics of Terrorism in Northern Ireland"
which appeared-in Social Research. McClung Lee said that reports on
the IRA in America are merely rewrites of British handouts' and cites
censorship of stories such as the 1977 Amnesty International report
on violation of basic civil rights of prisoners and/or suspects.
Social Research, Spring 1981, "The Dynamics of Terrorism in Northern
Ireland, 1968-1980," by Alfred McClung Lee; correspondence (with
documentation) from Raymond Quinn, publicist, American Irish Unity Committee,