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NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Gadhafi's daughter
and Journalism 101

Based on an article by Cliff Kincaid for Accuracy in Media

After years of spreading the lie that Gadhafi’s “adopted daughter” had died in the 1986 American bombing raid on Libya, many in the media are finally admitting it was all a hoax. Will Andrea Mitchell of NBC News now apologize, if not resign, for passing off terrorist disinformation as “news?”


Mitchell had stated on NBC Nightly News to say that Libya was “accused of bombing a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers” and that “Ronald Reagan retaliated, ordering an air strike against Gadhafi’s tent, accidentally killing his young daughter. Gadhafi escaped unharmed.” Mitchell even showed Gadhafi visiting a hospital. It was pro-Gadhafi and anti-Reagan propaganda.

The facts are that there were no public media reports of Gadhafi having a daughter at the time of the raid, calling into question the premise of the report. Now it appears that Gadhafi did have a daughter with the same name, Hana or Hanna, who may have been born around the same time as the raid, and is said to be very much alive.

Also In This Edition

Whatever the ultimate truth about this girl, who may also have studied to be a doctor in Libya, the dead “adopted daughter” story was a lie on its face, as we have reported.

The revelations are our should be a big black eye for Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and host of an all political hour from 1 to 2 p.m. EST on the MSNBC cable channel. Her bio says, “Mitchell currently covers foreign policy, intelligence and national security issues, including the diplomacy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for all NBC News properties.”

In addition to parroting Gadhafi propaganda and disinformation, Mitchell is known for her “extensive and varied reports [which] include a series of exclusive interviews over the years with Cuban President Fidel Castro. Her unprecedented access resulted in a one-hour documentary on Cuba in December 2003.” (In fact, Humberto Fontova’s book, Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, portrays Mitchell as a Castro shill, noting that she said about the dictator, “Castro is old-fashioned, courtly — even paternal…a thoroughly fascinating figure!”)

We have reported that Gadhafi had “adopted” the girl after the strike in order to generate sympathy for himself. The phrase, “adopted daughter,” is the usual formulation that we found in reports about the raid. Mitchell omitted the “adopted” part in her story, which in effect further embellished the phony story.

This should go down in journalism history as a case study of how easy it is to fool the American media. In fact, it was too easy. In the case of NBC News, however, this was not a poorly paid stringer who was duped. Rather, it was one of their top correspondents and the host of an MSNBC talk show.

In a profile of Gadhafi, Al-Jazeera reported that “Libya’s alleged involvement in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which two American soldiers were killed prompted U.S. air attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 35 Libyans, including Gadhafi’s adopted daughter. Ronald Reagan, the then U.S. president, called him a ‘mad dog.’ ”

This serves as an explanation by an Arab propaganda channel of why the story was so important to Gadhafi. The lie about the daughter was designed, in part, to generate sympathy for Gadhafi and hatred toward Reagan, never a favorite of the U.S. news media. Gadhafi and his henchmen, who had learned the techniques of disinformation and propaganda from their Soviet patrons, knew that the ploy would work with suckers in the U.S. and foreign media.

Little did they realize it would still be working 25 years later on NBC News.

It would seem hard to generate sympathy for a global terrorist like Gadhafi, but the major media, led by Andrea Mitchell, were determined to try.

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