August 9, 2006
I just caught wind of a neat little report tugged into the midst of CNN's coverage of the "War in the Middle East".
CNN's anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the report on why Hezbollah fights Israel by asking the audience whether it is based in a hatred of Jews or a turf war.
The reader should be mindful here. Any opposition, any debate, any rejection of Israeli viewpoints will immediately incur charges of anti-Semitism.
So, the report begins by reflecting on how Hezbollah wants Israel destroyed. How Israel seeks "peaceful co-existence" with its neighbors, but the "other side" wants Israel's existence wiped out.
Then a handful of comments indicating Nasrallah is a quack etc, etc.
Who comprises the "other side", I am interested to know. It just seems so vague and all-encompassing. And furthermore, why was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 not reported as the prime reason why Hezbollah was established in the first place? Is it because we want to avoide use of the words "invasion", "occupation" and "Israeli" in the same breath?
Of course, this great bit of reporting comes after the spectacular investigative reporting by Anderson Cooper's in the quasimentary Inside Hezbollah.
Peculiarly titled when you consider no Hezbollah officials were interviewed for this "INSIDE" look. I mean does that mean an Arab journalist can go to Malaysia and interview people there for his documentary titled Inside Laura Bush?
No. You have to get inside ... er. By the same token, you have to get "inside" Hezbollah.
But, the public questions not. Knows not. Frets not. Britney's second baby on Entertainment Tonight is a much better viewing, right?
CNN has been touting its reporting as the best in the Middle East. Almost every 15 minutes or so when covering the region, the anchor is moribound to remind the viewer that CNN has XX number of reporters covering the Lebanon crisis giving it the best reporting in the region.
So, I have a question. Christiane Amanbpour (does she include the 'b'?) was embedded with Israeli troops for two weeks. Giving us exactly what the Israeli Army wanted us to hear.
So, has her recent disappearance meant she is finding a way to embed with Hezbollah troops? Or the Lebanese Army? How about the Syrian? Iranian Army?
No, Christi? Why not? What happened to objectivity?
I mean how reliable is a station which queries the expert analysis of an Israeli on whether Hezbo hates Israel.
What do you expect him to say? No?
Okay, fine, but balance it out by asking for the expert analysis of a Shia Hezbo supporter the very same question.
Here is an interesting aspect I ask the reader to consider. In the early days of this conflict when the neocons were promising a routing, CNN told the viewer that unlike the US military, the Israeli Army (I do not call it IDF because the D stands for defense and there is no defense in anything the Israeli army does) does not allow for embeds.
Three weeks later, after some 70 Israeli soldiers were killed and nearly 60 Israeli tanks destroyed or damaged, and despite Olmert's assertions that Hezbo got its butt kicked, Israel does an about face and allows embeds.
So we see a CNN report billed as "INCREDIBLE" by Paula Zahn (truly a miracle, I had no idea you could extend the word incredible over 10 seconds of enunciating) with a CNN crew running around in the night with the Israeli Army.
Wow, what footage. Absolutely astounding. But what is the real efficacy of this? Is it to lead people to believe all is well in the Israeli Army? If so, it is no longer journalism but scripted propaganda.
The most trusted name in news?
Yes, it still is. Because CNN and other news agencies are allowed to report from the Middle East. Their presence in the Middle East lends them legitimacy, reliability.
You can't say "So and so news channel is lying or distorting the facts" because the argument will be made that the news channel has people on the ground there.
Of course, a further counter argument will be if western media is removed from the Middle East, who will report on events there?
I am sorry, but even LBC does a better job than CNN and taken in complement with Arabiya, Abu Dhabi TV, MBC, ART News, Aljazeera, Nile TV and nearly two dozen other channels in the region, you couldn't get a fuller picture.
And, get this, ALL the above have ready access to Israeli perspectives, Israeli analysts, Israeli PR, Israeli spokespersons, etc.
After a few weeks, the viewers will notice that all they hear is one side of the coin. You can only run so many talking heads who chant about how great the war in Iraq is going or how Khezbowla is blah blah blah.
"But western media allows us to get our points of view across to the American public," goes another counter argument.
Wrong. It allows you to set yourself up to get lambasted for having that opinion.
Do me a favor. Watch CNN or FOX today. Even ABC, CBS etc. MSNBC is less biased, I actually think they have some good shows.
But watch it tonite. Watch how the anchor (or Larry King) ask loaded questions, divert the issue persistently from what a Lebanese or Arab League spokesperson say, and then stack up a parade of "other side" opinions to blast down the views of the former.
Eventually, the points of view you had hoped to get across to the American public is lost out. But you can't complain because the station did what it was supposed to do under the guidelines of fair and balanced coveage. It gave you a voice. It gave you a forum.
Nevermind you kept getting interrupted as you tried to talk about Lebanese civilian casualties. Nevermind, the anchor (supposed to be mediating the discussion by asking questions to further the debate, not undermine your argument) interrupts with "But the Israelis have said ..." and "Rice said today ...".
Yes, we all know whom said what.
Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the voices "from" the Middle East are paved over by the "investigative" and "behind the scenes" reporting from the embeds or the exemplary documentary makers who either cannot feel the need to interview the very object of their film or are too cowardly to do so.
Consequently, the viewers sees and hears the persepective of Arabs but then watches as the Arab perspective is cut down by other talking heads. That idea is reinforced by all of the 'editorials' the channel puts out.
A few years ago, I watched as Miles O'Brien was speaking with a CNN journalist (loosely termed, here, okie?) in Iraq. She was standing outside the Ministry of Information in Baghdad.
She told Miles and all the viewers that the Iraq perspective said so and so and that the Ministry of Information said so and so.
Miles O'Brien looks at the viewers and says "And of course we know the Ministry of information is the ministry of lies".
That's the most trusted name in news?
Further, ever notice how an interviewee is asked to mouth of something, produces riveting inaccuracies and untruths, but is never, ever contested by the interviewer or the Anchor?
For example, remember when US pro-war pundits repeated that UN weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq indicating Saddam's non-compliance? The fact is they were withdrawn by the UN which was told by the US there would be air strikes and could not assure their security and safety.
Did any of US anchors clarify this "mistake"? No.
Why not? Do they not know? Do they not do their homework?
Another example, FOX NEWS Neil Cavuto talking to Pat Robertson who is in Israel and asking for Christians to pray for Israel. Fine.
However, Robertson says "Islam means submission, submission to their religion."
Sorry, Pat ol boy, Islam means submission to God, not religion. The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus and Moses and Ishmael and Mohammad and John the Baptist and Noah and Job and Joel and David.
So, the public regurgitated the same BS. Kind of explains why recent polls show that 50% of Americans believe Iraq was behind 9-11.
So I ask you, should some US media be tossed out of the Middle East?