Headline Bias in Burmese Relief Story?

May 12th, 2008 12:13 PM

MSNBC.com screencap | NewsBusters.orgPoor teaser headline selection by MSNBC.com? I report, you decide.

At right is a screencap of a teaser headline from the Web site about U.S. humanitarian aid reaching Myanmar Burma. As the AP story linked makes clear, the fault for the delay in the aid's arrival is that of the military dictatorship, not any incompetence or lack of concern by Washington.

Yet the teaser headline reads: "First U.S. aid plane lands in Myanmar; UPDATED: Relief comes more than week after cyclone."

The same headline and subhead are found on the AP article as found when readers follow the link. The AP story itself makes clear the Burmese government has and continues to be an obstacle to reaching devastated Burmese civilians with much needed food and medical relief:

YANGON, Myanmar - The first U.S. relief airlift arrived in Myanmar on Monday after prolonged negotiations with the country's isolationist junta, which considers Washington its enemy and has restricted international aid to as many as 2 million cyclone victims.

The unarmed military C-130 cargo plane, packed with supplies, flew out of the Thai air force base of Utapao and landed in Yangon. Two more air shipments are scheduled to land Tuesday.

After the plane's arrival, the supplies were transferred to Myanmar army trucks.

Myanmar's junta said Sunday the official death toll from the May 3 Cyclone Nargis has jumped to nearly 31,938 with more than 33,000 missing.

Aid efforts still frustrated
But Richard Horsey, a spokesman for U.N. humanitarian operations, said a toll of 100,000 dead or missing was possible based on "reports that we are receiving from our teams in the field from the authorities there."