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Criticising the media’s failure over Iraq

Posted By Sunny On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:43 am In Media, Current affairs, United States | Comments Disabled

The columnist Gary Kamiya wrote [1] this devastating critique of the US media’s failure to challenge the government over its invasion of Iraq for Salon magazine a few weeks ago:

Why did the media fail so disastrously in its response to the biggest issue of a generation? To answer this, we need to look at three broad, interrelated areas, which I have called psychological, institutional and ideological. The media had serious preexisting weaknesses on all three fronts, and when a devastating terrorist attack and a radical, reckless and duplicitous administration came together, the result was a perfect storm.

The outburst of media patriotism after the attacks reveals how fragile the barrier is between journalism and propaganda. Fox News, whose newscasters sported American flag pins and where the “news” consisted of cheerleading for Bush administration policies, was, of course, the most egregious case. One month after the United States began bombing Kabul, Fox anchor [2] Brit Hume actually said, “Over at ABC News, where the wearing of American flag lapel pins is banned, Peter Jennings and his team have devoted far more time to the coverage of civilian casualties in Afghanistan than either of their broadcast network competitors.” Reading this statement five years later is a salutary reminder of how pervasive such jingoist, near-Stalinist groupthink was in those days — and still is on Fox.

Which leads us to the third and final area where journalism failed in the aftermath of 9/11: ideology. Evaluating why America was attacked required journalists to learn about the history of the Arab/Muslim world — and not just skim one of Bernard Lewis’ tendentious articles discounting Arab grievances. Evaluating how dangerous Saddam Hussein really was required knowledge of the contemporary Middle East — not just a quick read of Kenneth Pollack’s [3] “The Threatening Storm,” which argued that Saddam posed so great a threat to America that war was necessary. Assessing Bush’s entire “war on terror” required a dispassionate [4] exploration of terrorism itself — an understanding that terrorism is essentially a form of asymmetrical warfare, that it often succeeds by provoking an overreaction, that it can be waged in the service of legitimate goals, and that most terrorists are not cowards or madmen — free of 9/11 emotionalism. Indeed, every one of these issues needed to be looked at completely objectively, without sacred cows of any kind.

I can’t even add any commentary to this article. It. Is. A. Must. Read. Of course the US media failed as did the rightwing media here. But did the BBC also fail?


Comments Disabled To "Criticising the media’s failure over Iraq"

#1 Comment By douglas clark On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:44 am

Sunny,

It reminds me, in a less contentious area, of the definition of Scottish football commentators:

‘fans with typewriters’

The whole idea of wearing the badge whilst claiming to be independent is frankly obnoxious, duplicitous and false propoganda. There was too much wrongheaded consensus and not enough informed debate. 9/11 and Iraq are probably now inseperable in the minds of many Americans, not because it was true, but because it was what thy were told, interminably.

Dunno about the BBC. When it tried to stand up, it was slapped down. The alternatives don’t bear thinking about. Fox News, anyone? The governments reaction over the license fee makes it quite clear who’s in charge.

The idiots that believe exclusively in a free market for information are the real cheese eating surrender monkeys, in their case, to money.

#2 Comment By Rumbold On 8th May, 2007 @ 9:16 am

“Evaluating why America was attacked required journalists to learn about the history of the Arab/Muslim world — and not just skim one of Bernard Lewis’ tendentious articles discounting Arab grievances.”

Maybe, but his book “The Muslim Discovery of Europe” is fascinating. It makes no attempt to rubbish Arab grievances either.

Journalists would be better prepared if they understood the history behind the conflicts, but it does not necessarily follow that they would have put forward a nuanced approach. Some of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people are also among the most bigoted.

“The idiots that believe exclusively in a free market for information are the real cheese eating surrender monkeys, in their case, to money”

If I do not want to watch Fox, I do not have to. I think that it is far too jingoistic, and therefore it loses advertising revenue. The BBC on the other hand spews out anti-Israeli bilge (the idea that it is anymore committed to the “truth” then the American networks is laughable), and I still have to pay for it if I want to watch anything else.

“most terrorists are not cowards”

Yes they are. Gary Kamiya criticizes others for not trying to understand terrorist mentalities, then fails to understand them himself. Most of these terrorists seem to sincerely believe that they will end up in Paradise with 72 virgins. Therefore, blowing oneself up is not then thought of as a sacrifice, but simply as a way of getting to Paradise. To gratify your own desires this way by murdering civilians can only be cowardly. The world is supposed to be a test to see whether you are worthy of Paradise, and opting out of it shows that they could not handle the honourable things in life, such as providing for one’s family.

#3 Comment By Anas On 8th May, 2007 @ 11:05 am

But did the BBC also fail?

Three words for ya: The Hutton Report.

#4 Comment By bananabrain On 8th May, 2007 @ 11:37 am

three other words:

the balen report.

the bbc is so committed to being balanced and to freedom of information that it has gone to court to protect what it sees as its right to not tell us what were the results of their internal inquiry into middle east bias.

imagine their outrage if refused access to intelligence material for security reasons!!

it is well to remember that journalists swear no oath to the truth and cannot be censured or prosecuted for failing to take due care to check their facts, except in the case of the most egregious and demonstrable falsehoods. it’s easy enough to cover yourself using the words “allegedly”…

b’shalom

bananabrain

#5 Comment By Katy Newton On 8th May, 2007 @ 11:58 am

What absolute shite. Gary Kamiya has no problem with propaganda and spin whatsoever, he just doesn’t like the side that the right-wing press came down on. He clearly shares their assumption that journalists are there to tell people what to think, as opposed to report what’s going on so that people can make up their own minds.

#6 Comment By Royal On 8th May, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

What hacks like Gary Kamiya need to understand is that quality journalism is all about free speech. If Fox News took a praticular stand in its coverage of the war, then it is every right to do so. The Fox is a private property, and it certainly isn’t Gary Kamiya’s private property.

The fact is that Gary Kamiya does not have a monopoly on truth. And we don’t have to take every “Fatwa” that she issues seriously. In my opinion and in the opinion of millions of viewers around the world the Fox channel has done an admirable job of covering the issues that plague our times. I will continue to watch it and so will millions of other people.

The so called criticism by Gary Kamiya will soon be consigned to the dust bin where lousy journalistic pieces ususally end up.

#7 Comment By Royal On 8th May, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

I forgot to add in that the Fox Channel is the private property of an upright gentleman known by the name of Rupert Murdoch.

One Rupert Murdoch is easily worth the likes of a billion leftist hacks like Gary Kamiya. Who is she anyway?

#8 Comment By Sid Love On 8th May, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

One Rupert Murdoch is easily worth the likes of a billion leftist hacks like Gary Kamiya. Who is she anyway?

Gary’s a he! Since when, and in which space-time continuum, does a journalit’s personal wealth have any bearing on their credibility?

#9 Comment By Sunny On 8th May, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

he just doesn’t like the side that the right-wing press came down on.

Katy I think some of the issues are structural - the US media has become more fragmented, is worried about access to stories and US right is financially stronger.

This would apply to leftwing issues too, such as abortion and environmental change.

But the point is it happened over Iraq, and short of saying that Gary is simply expressing sour grapes, I’d like to hear serious arguments countering his points.

is that quality journalism is all about free speech.

quality journalism is about balanced viewpoints and representing what is happening. That should not be confused with free speech. The two are not the same but they’re no mutually exclusive.

#10 Comment By Katy On 8th May, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

But the point is it happened over Iraq, and short of saying that Gary is simply expressing sour grapes, I’d like to hear serious arguments countering his points.

You’ve already heard serious arguments counting his points because there is not a single point in that article that hasn’t already been aired here at length at some point between 2006 and now.

“Westerners don’t understand Middle Eastern history and politics”? Check.

“It’s all because neocons think they have to protect Israel”? Check.

“The right wing media is corrupt”? Check.

“Terrorists aren’t cowards or madmen”? Check.

What I’d really like is an analysis of what led up to the Iraq war devoid of spin from either side, left or right.

#11 Comment By Katy On 8th May, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

“Counting” should read “countering”, apologies.

#12 Comment By Sunny On 8th May, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

“Westerners don’t understand Middle Eastern history and politics”? Check.

I don’t think there is really a counter-argument to this. Even journalists know this to be true. In fact a recent poll showed most MPs still unclear about the Shia-Sunni divide and how that effected events in the ME.

“It’s all because neocons think they have to protect Israel?” Check.

I think that may be a simplification, but I think its more to do with the fact that they feel America’s interests and Israel’s interests are the same, almost interchangeable.

“The right wing media is corrupt”? Check.

Not corrupt, just more jingoistic. I’d criticise the elftwing media in the States if there was any.

“Terrorists aren’t cowards or madmen”? Check.

I don’t believe this to be true. I do think they’re cowards, but then I’m not a psychologist to make a dispassionate assessment.

#13 Comment By soru On 8th May, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

Sunny, I think you may be missing Katy’s point.

Those things are all, on this side of the pond, more or less conventional media wisdom. They are certainly not viewpoints that are absent from the media.

To show a failure, you would need to show not that they were true, but that they were true and unsaid.

#14 Comment By Katy On 8th May, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

Those aren’t my points, they’re the points I understand him to be making. The point I was making is that all of these points have been argued here to infinity and beyond and there is nothing that he’s said in that article that hasn’t been said on here.

#15 Comment By bananabrain On 8th May, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

except the bit about bernard lewis being “tendentious” - from now on i hereby reserve the right to describe noam chomsky as “tendentious”, because frankly he is a lot less credible on the middle east than bernard lewis is, having a) spent 60+ years studying it b) not speaking farsi, arabic and turkish, which chomsky doesn’t as far as i knowand c) it being his primary area of peer-reviewed expertise whereas chomsky’s appears to be, unless i miss my guess, yank-bashing. perhaps if more people actually read bernard lewis they might have a bit more respect for him.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#16 Comment By bananabrain On 8th May, 2007 @ 3:57 pm

sorry, i meant to say lewis speaks the languages and has spent 60+ years on this area, unlike chomsky, who seems to do very little other than write books which provide “progressive” cleverdicks with reference material with which to bash the americans.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#17 Comment By Leon On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

bananabrain, have you actually ever read much of Noam Chomsky’s work? Not the interviews with him or the collected essays, the good stuff?

#18 Comment By Sid Love On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

And except, in the case of Lewis, the term tendentious is efficacious.

From an [5] article on Edward Said’s views of two thinkers who have, more than anyone, highly tendentious views of Islam and Muslims:

In this 1985 essay, Said sought to respond to responses to his original thinking on Orientalism. In Bernard Lewis’s criticism of his work, Said saw an ideologically charged enemy. Lewis represented the established study of the Orient before it came under Said’s attack. His scholarship epitomized for Said the faults of traditional Orientalism mentioned above. It was bad enough that Lewis froze the Orient into a silent Other; worse, as Said saw him, was that he was grinding a political axe while claiming to be an impartial scholar:

He became a widely rated authority for anti-Islamic, anti-Arab, Zionist, and Cold War crusades, all of them underwritten by a zealotry covered with a veneer of urbanity that had very little in common with the “science” and learning Lewis purported to be upholding. (205)

Lewis outraged Said when, despite his purported political motive, he had the “effrontery to disassociate Orientalism from its 200-year-old partnership with European imperialism.” (207) Lewis associated his studies with “modern classical philology and the study of ancient Greek and Roman culture.” (207)

In short, Said saw the likes of Lewis as the intellectual counterparts to the political imperialism that suppressed the voice of the colonized. The biases of western culture found in Lewis led to descriptions of the Orient that, in Said’s view, grossly distorted its complex and living reality. He ended this essay by finding correspondences between the new cultural studies of feminist and black studies and a new Orientalism that transcended the imperialist perspective of Bernard Lewis and his ilk.

#19 Comment By Random Guy On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

Chomsky is one of the great intellectuals of our time, especially in the field of linguistics. Granted he is probably better known for his devastating account of Western, notably US and Israeli, foreign policies. IMO he provides a brilliant counterpoint to the idiotic ravings from less informed ‘experts’ on the middle east, who btw are only propped up because their views coincide nicely with the foreign policies in place and the general “consensus” of the political elite. I always have found Chomsky to take a more calm and reasoned approach.

Speaking of credibility, from Lewis’ own Wikipedia page, and to quote the late (and great) Edward Said: “Bernard Lewis hasn’t set foot in the Middle East, in the Arab world, for at least 40 years. He knows something about Turkey, I’m told, but he knows nothing about the Arab world”

Said suggested that Lewis’ knowledge of the Middle East was so biased it could not be taken seriously.

#20 Comment By Anas On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

except the bit about bernard lewis being “tendentious” - from now on i hereby reserve the right to describe noam chomsky as “tendentious”, because frankly he is a lot less credible on the middle east than bernard lewis is, having a) spent 60+ years studying it b) not speaking farsi, arabic and turkish, which chomsky doesn’t as far as i knowand c) it being his primary area of peer-reviewed expertise whereas chomsky’s appears to be, unless i miss my guess, yank-bashing. perhaps if more people actually read bernard lewis they might have a bit more respect for him.


sorry, i meant to say lewis speaks the languages and has spent 60+ years on this area, unlike chomsky, who seems to do very little other than write books which provide “progressive” cleverdicks with reference material with which to bash the americans.

*Takes deep breaths*

#21 Comment By Sunny On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

Lol at anas taking deep breaths.

Katy, understood. Soru, I think in the case of the American media that can be applied.

I’ve read a fair bit of Chomsky’s stuff… and to be honest I find that while he makes a lot of good points, people like Anas would lap him precisely because he fits into their own narratives. I can only take someone seriously if they’re willing to criticise both sides and see that the world isn’t as black and white as it is made out to be. Chomsky doesn’t seem to do this, though I haven’t read most of his work though I have read a fair bit, and unsurprisingly neither does Anas (and people of similar disposition).

#22 Comment By Chairwoman On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

Random Guy - I think I hear the sound of the pot addressing the kettle :-)

#23 Comment By Leon On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

I can only take someone seriously if they’re willing to criticise both sides and see that the world isn’t as black and white as it is made out to be. Chomsky doesn’t seem to do this, though I haven’t read most of his work though I have read a fair bit, and unsurprisingly neither does Anas (and people of similar disposition).

From what I’ve read his reasoning is because he’s an American citizen so his first duty is to scrutinise the country his tax dollars contribute to and he has a small chance of influencing. I would also suggest it’s because in his view the US stands alone in terms of its power (although that will change in our lifetime)…

The reason I used to read him (don’t so much anymore) is because very few people who write about politics, foreign policy etc can compare to his empirical research. The guy knows his stuff and doesn’t just bleat rhetoric based on his own ideology. That’s one of the reasons he’s so vilified.

#24 Comment By Sid Love On 8th May, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

Now I ain’t sayin’ Bernard Lewis is a gold digger…

;-)

#25 Comment By soru On 8th May, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

From what I’ve read his reasoning is because he’s an American citizen so his first duty is to scrutinise the country his tax dollars contribute to and he has a small chance of influencing

Interesting thing is how often he gets quoted by people like Chavez, the Syrians, hezbollah, and all those people he is under the impression he can’t possibly influence.

Chomsky is a useful corrective if you have a gung-ho pro-american worldview, like some corn-fed Iowa guy newly arrived at college.

If you start off neutral or hostile to the US, he should be treated with care - it would be like getting your information about Islam solely from Hirst Ali, or your info about some software solely from bug reports.

#26 Comment By Leon On 8th May, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

If you start off neutral or hostile to the US, he should be treated with care - it would be like getting your information about Islam solely from Hirst Ali, or your info about some software solely from bug reports.

With regard to Chomsky I’d consider that pretty much a non point. Any decent reading of him should leave the intellectually honest ready to question him and draw their own conclusions. If you read him and just blindly agree or disagree you’ve kinda missed the point by a wide margin…

#27 Comment By Sahil On 8th May, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

Okay my take at this war:
1.) Did Iraq have WMD, no? So why invade:
i) Oil, doesn’t really make sense, because oil supply would drop and has. But maybe the current administration is that stupid. However again, the petro $ was in threat, so check this:
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seigniorage
ii) Sadam was buddies with OBL: well that’s not really true, dictator and revolutionaries are not really friends.
iii) Defence budget: possibly, unjustifiable spending without any reviews, sounds like a party that I want to join, might help me get in the property ladder.
iV) Liberal Intervention: Maybe. But it begs to wonder about Sudan, and many other central Asian countries.
v) Madness, maybe, there is a huge ideological element to this war, and its not changed i.e. language, analysis, feedback, IRAN!!!!.

I’m sure I missed some, but I think I did better than the BBC :D

#28 Comment By bananabrain On 8th May, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

for once leon’s #26 probably hits the mark, as does soru’s #25 and sunny’s #21. i probably ought to give chomsky more of a chance, but i get annoyed by the people who quote him as if he were divinely inspired, because, as someone pointed out, he happens to provide backup for what they believed in the first place and weren’t about to change for anything.

as for attacking bernard lewis with a comment of edward said - hilaaaarious! and what is *he* if not the winner of the “mr tendentious prize for polemic”? his whole career is based upon lewis-bashing and the ridiculous notion that unless you are an X you can’t possibly criticise X without being an imperialist. it is, to quote a certain mr hussein, the mother of all straw men and quite laughable. i can’t believe that anyone who’s actually read a lot of bernard lewis would actually consider him an apologist for neo-conservatism!

and before edward said starts sneering at lewis for not getting too much good access in the middle east, let’s just remind ourselves for a moment that lewis is not only an american academic (although british) but also a jew. i find it hard to believe that any of those credentials open doors in the arab world.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#29 Comment By Sid Love On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

his whole career is based upon lewis-bashing and the ridiculous notion that unless you are an X you can’t possibly criticise X without being an imperialist. it is, to quote a certain mr hussein, the mother of all straw men and quite laughable. i can’t believe that anyone who’s actually read a lot of bernard lewis would actually consider him an apologist for neo-conservatism!

careful with that axe, eugene.

#30 Comment By soru On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

Seignorage is real, but only worth about $15 billion a year, so trivial in US government terms.

Iraqi oil revenue is ~$20 billion a year.

Cost of the Iraq war so far (to the US alone) is ~$700 billion.

Even assuming 100% of revenue could be stolen, and that seignorage would stop dead without the war, it doesn’t come remotely close to being economically rational on those terms.

What makes much more economic sense is to compare it to the US film + TV industry, which has a revenue of $220 billion per year. If you consider the volume of footage the war has generated, then it starts to look positvely cheap compared to $300 million for a 2 hour blockbuster or $20 billion for a 2 week Olympics.

#31 Comment By Arif On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

I can’t comment on the problem of the US media in Iraq directly, because I am not there, and at the time I did not have access to FOX. What i would say is that it depends on how we see the role of the mass media, to see how effective it is in the US.

If it is, as critics seem to assume, to provide facts and balanced opinion to enable people to make well informed judgments, then sure - polls (as well as interviews I have seen on British TV) that many Americans believe invading Iraq had something to do with 911 and a war on terrorists.

If it is, as Chomsky contends in the US, to manufacture consent of the masses to support the objectives of a military-economic elite, then it seems fairly successful. In this case.

Personally, on Middle East issues, I find the BBC very biased towards western foreign policy and quite anti-Palestinian in the Israel/Palestine narrative. I find Sky (owned by Rupert “Fair and Balanced” Murdoch) to be more fair and balanced. And CNN perhaps to be slightly better still (at least CNN International, I don’t know if the US version is different).

However all of these have an elite perspective, from my point of view. I prefer the more human rights/welfare perspective of Al Jazeera English, although I understand that most people would find it to be tiresomely worthy with its focus on the losers in geopolitics, and its documentary-type analysis.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing for the Fox and Al Jazeera worldviews to get further and further apart? Our identities are being formed through our mass media choices and I would say if some of those identities are in favour of violence or dehumanise others, then that is a problem. But others would say its peaceniks and people unwilling to stand up for a superior civilisation who are the real danger. So I guess it’ll be a fight to the death, and our only hope is that we can be distracted enough by phony wars on the airwaves not to want more real wars.

Or maybe we could learn to be more aware that we are being fed a partial perspective and watch the TV news in the same way people would read Pravda in the Soviet Union - to think about what lies now suit our political classes and why that might be. I can do that when I am against something, but the danger lies more in when the propaganda seems to suit me - what is my intellectual self defence?

back to my post-modern nihilism, I suppose. The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems (as Homer’s eldest daughter might say)

#32 Comment By sid On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

[7] Good article on the legacy of Bernard Lewis, by a Lebanese writer. Cue the anti-Said froth and the accusations of “anti-imperialist” bias…

#33 Comment By Naxal 1849 On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

‘ii) Sadam was buddies with OBL: well that’s not really true, dictator and revolutionaries are not really friends.’

This is a colossal understatement. Saddam was a Baathist, an Arab Socialist. OBL detested him.

bananabrain

If you actually think that that is what Edward Said is about then you are probably the dumbest person ever to post on this site.

Edward Said was a genius, and although some of his theories have been deconstructed, most of his work is still first rate. He is the godfather of postcolonial theory and true third-world hero.

#34 Comment By Naxal 1849 On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:46 pm

Arif

‘I find the BBC very biased towards western foreign policy and quite anti-Palestinian in the Israel/Palestine narrative’

Is this some sort of sick joke? The BBC is so pro-Palestinian it’s unreal.

‘I prefer the more human rights/welfare perspective of Al Jazeera English’

Al Jazeera? You mean the same Al Jazeera that is owned by the Qatar Royal family…who were put on their thrown by the imperialists….and who are kept on their thrown by the US…and who fund Al Jazeera with their petrodollars?

No conflict of interest there then.

#35 Comment By Katy On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

I think Refresh was wrong. I think 32 comments is about as far as a thread can get before it descends into pointlessness. Accusing someone of being “the dumbest person ever to post on this site” because they don’t agree with Edward Said is fucking unbelievable.

#36 Comment By Arif On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

Soru, I think in terms of the cost of the war, it depends on what the $700 billion is spent on (and who it goes to). If it is spent on weaponry and related military equipment, it can be accounted for as a subsidy on US industry. If it is spent on US contractors, it is also a subsidy to US industry.

The links in the chain of a state supported military industrial complex seem tighter to me that links in a chain for war to boost the entertainment industry. Although maybe Fox will reveal how Hollywood Liberals tricked the brave men and women in uniform to die for Walt Disney to afford to give pension rights to gay couples.

Seignorage seems more plausible to me - petro-dollar-minded analysts might have got their figures wrong, or they might not be factoring in costs their part of the economy would not bear. But the oil ministry was resolutely protected while the hospitals were looted. Someone seemed to think they were more important than anything else.

#37 Comment By Arif On 8th May, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

Naxal, the ownership is not the issue for me. I think the BBC structure seems preferable to Al Jazeera, CNN International or Sky. But it does seem to me to have a more obvious emotional charge and use more one-sidedly emotive language than any of them. From what I’ve seen of Fox, the BBC is obviously nothing like as bad as it could be, and I can still get information from it very easily which leads me opinions different from the narrative of goodies and baddies it later spins.

I’d say if you feel that the BBC is pro-Palestinain, would you agree then that Sky and CNN International are even more so?

#38 Comment By Katy On 8th May, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

Personally, I go on the basis that as journalists seem to have abandoned any attempt to report dispassionately, the best thing to do is to try to watch and read from as many different sources as I can.

#39 Comment By Chairwoman On 8th May, 2007 @ 7:10 pm

I consider that the BBC, Sky and CNN are not so much pro-Palestinian as anti-Israeli.

#40 Comment By Chairwoman On 8th May, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

I am not saying anything further what-so-ever on that subject.

The comment stands alone and undiscussed (by me at any rate).

#41 Comment By Naxal 1849 On 8th May, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

‘I consider that the BBC, Sky and CNN are not so much pro-Palestinian as anti-Israeli.’

Yes, you could put it like this.

If we are going to examine this idea then Said comes into play again. He states clearly that when the West was ’secularised’ (18th Century) what we ultimately ended up with was a very Christian secularism. Some things were inevitably retained - anti-Semitism being one of them.

The Western media demonstrates this Christian anti-Semitic secularism by paying so much attention to Israel in the first place.

There are plenty more countries who have far, far worse human rights records than Israel, yet scarcely get a mention.

#42 Comment By soru On 8th May, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

The links in the chain of a state supported military industrial complex seem tighter to me that links in a chain for war to boost the entertainment industry.

Not really. Spending money overseas is always going to show less return than spending locally on military R&D, stealth fighters, homeland defence. There is no senator for Iraq to lobby for pork spending there.

The only economically rational explanation is that, in the context of the $2200 billion annual US tax revenue, the war was seen as potentially good value for money, something that people would vote for.

If it had cost say $400 billion, and resulted in revenge on Saddam, weakened al qaeda, increased national prestige, and a grateful iraq, the numbers would have pretty much added up, from the point of view of the average US taxpayer.

Compare US annual charitable donations of $241 billion: feeling good about yourself is where the money is.

The relevance of this is that the $2200 billion revenue stream is now drying up. The war is no longer good entertainment: it has no clear story, no heroic good guys, too many corpses, and no chance of a satisfying ending. In short, it’s [8] Lost.

You might get the budget for a few military advisors, warship patrols and a timeshare option on air strikes from a fraction of the $20 billion oil revenue alone, but the era of large scale bases, regiment-scale deployments, body-bags is going to be over soon.

#43 Comment By Sunny On 9th May, 2007 @ 1:17 am

Soru: more or less conventional media wisdom.

Not for the Telegraph it isn’t.

If you actually think that that is what Edward Said is about then you are probably the dumbest person ever to post on this site.

I see Naxal has a small problem of understanding etiquette and seems to think this is a blog for village idiots from Punjab. Oh well, I think I accidentally banned him.

#44 Comment By Sid On 9th May, 2007 @ 1:41 am

shame, i liked him.

#45 Comment By Royal On 9th May, 2007 @ 5:31 am

The fact remains that censorship is a concept that applies only to the government. It is not censorship when a private media organization refuses to give publicity to an ideology that it considers to be evil and not good for society.

Free press does not mean that Fox News should hand over a microphone to every puffed up scarecrow who has developed delusions of being a great journalist.

Gary Kamiya does not know what he is talking about. He thinks that free press means press that is controlled by the govt. Well, he is free to go to Saudi Arabia and start practising his brand of free journalism over there.

As far as the secular democratic and capitalist nations of the world are concerned, the point of view that Mr. Gary expresses will find no takers.

#46 Comment By soru On 9th May, 2007 @ 10:25 am

The fact remains that censorship is a concept that applies only to the government

That’s a particularly blatant case of assuming your conclusion by definition.

The question to ask is, what about state censorship is wrong? What about it causes bad things, whether individual abuses within a mostly-free society, or bulk-scale horror within a totalitarian one?

Then, to what extent do those problems carry over to corporate instead of state actors?

If you look at the propaganda produced by non-state actors like the self-proclaimed ‘jihadists’, that contains lots of ommissions, falsifications and exagerations. Is that problem-free because those groups are not governments?

#47 Comment By Leon On 9th May, 2007 @ 11:10 am

the best thing to do is to try to watch and read from as many different sources as I can.

Yup, very much agree.

#48 Comment By sonia On 9th May, 2007 @ 11:16 am

“The idiots that believe exclusively in a free market for information are the real cheese eating surrender monkeys, in their case, to money.”

ain’t that the truth. it does make me laugh when people start expressing surprise at media ‘failures’ to challenge ‘governments’ as if that’s what they expected them to do! perhaps at least express that surprise after having looked into the reams and reams of stuff on political economy of media and telecommunications. then express your ’surprise’..

#49 Comment By douglas clark On 9th May, 2007 @ 11:24 am

Royal,

I’ve read the guys full article, and, apart from a wee bit on self censorship, he doesn’t seem to mention censorship at all. Could you point me to where he says it?

What he does seems to be saying is that, in the main, the American media let the Bush administration off scot free on what we all now know to have been propoganda and spin. That the American media did not itself understand the rationale for going to war. Do you think that that analysis is wrong? Do you think the function of media is to give comfort to governments?

#50 Comment By bananabrain On 9th May, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

i love being lectured about how dumb i am by a marxist-leninist of all things. i’m not anti-said per se, i’m against the idea that there is such a thing as “the west” and “the colonised” and all of that nonsense. it’s simply a restatement of all simplistic dualist world-views; good-evil, christian-pagan, dar-al-islam-dar-al-harb, jew-gentile, freedom-tyranny, proletariat-bourgeoisie, socialist-capitalist, democracy-despotism. the world is grey - only G!D Knows the Truth about good and evil, the pattern on the front of the carpet as opposed to the knots on the back.

having read the article, i am led to one inescapable conclusion - which is that the author appears to be succumbing to precisely what bernard lewis has diagnosed about a feeling of rage and disempowerment, which fuels resentment and seeking to find someone to blame - and i think we know who’s in the frame for that:

“ooo, he won’t let us blame israel!! that’s just mean and horrid!! please let us blame israel, pleeeeasse!!! and the US, too!!”

in short, he seems to be making lewis into a straw man who manufactures arguments to keep the arabs down whilst praising the turks (which, given his output over decades, i find not remotely credible) - i think he gives credit where credit’s due and criticises in the same way; he has been for example one of the earliest western thinkers to identify the current iranian ascendency as a resurgence of a perennial persian-shi’ite ideologically-driven clash. he also clearly hasn’t read lewis’ book on “semites and anti-semites”, almost the first sentence of which points out that there’s no such thing as a “semite” except in philological terms and, therefore, that the canard of “oo, we can’t be anti-semitic, we’re semites too” is nothing but pure sophistry usually based on semantic ignorance - except when it’s not. i also note that the author traduces (whilst appearing to condemn anti-semitic conspiracy theories) a list of obviously jewish neo-con ideologues, all of which are masterminded by lewis himself! i’ve read a lot of lewis and i quite simply don’t take out of him what this chap and a lot of others take. quite possibly this is because i am “orientalist” myself, i dare say, but i’m a bit more sophisticated than that, i’d hope at least.

as for media networks, i don’t expect them to be balanced - i get my news from a variety of sources, like leon and take them with their prejudices showing. i’d find it hard to say that the bbc are anti-palestinian, considering how much coverage they give to the admittedly horrible situation for which the israelis must take a large part of the blame. in fact, the idea that the bbc isn’t prejudiced in this respect is simply silly. it’s not that they’re pro or anti palestinian or israeli. rather, it’s that they like, like all media, to show the “goodies” and the “baddies”, which in the bbc’s case is all about who are the “villains” and the “victims” - so they can sympathise with the “victims”, be they civilian casualties, friendly-fire victims, “collateral damage” (ugh), people whose human rights are violated, etc etc. only the *assertive-aggressive* are criticised - only the *passive-reactive* are admitted to have right on their side. nobody should ever act first without being “pre-emptive”, “reckless” or “disproportionate”, “premature” or “foolhardy” - nobody should ever take a risk, nobody should ever make the first move or take the initiative. it’s precisely what you’d expect of a profession that is at its best when it is reactive and at its worst when it attempts to be proactive by pushing its own agenda. in this way, it’s easy to understand how the US (and israel) are always going to get a kicking from the fearless guardians of balance and second-guessing.

the reason that human rights violations by israel, the US and indeed the UK are always so closely scrutinised is that they are open societies with a free media. try doing that in egypt, saudi or iran and see how far you get.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#51 Comment By sonia On 9th May, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

50 - very good point banabrain

#52 Comment By douglas clark On 9th May, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

bananabrain,

Good to see you posting here again.

I am not at all convinced that there was any sort of Zionist conspiracy. Where I would agree with the article, however, is that we still don’t have a clear understanding of why Bush went to war.

Were the media not, as I suggested, ‘fans with typewriters’? My general impression from reading the piece was that it was a lamentation on the decline of the investigative arm of journalism.

A question for you though. Leaving aside the relative strengths or weaknesses of the Wests’, and Muslims’ medias and societies for a moment, do you think the citizens of the US were well served by these agencies in the run up to Gulf War 2?

#53 Comment By bananabrain On 9th May, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

gosh, no, but probably because the ones that weren’t cheerleading for the war, were leaving no stone unturned in the search for something that would prove that tony blair and george bush were criminals and warmongers before anything had even started - nothing they could have done would have got them a fair hearing: and that definitely includes the bbc, which has conducted its own miserablist foreign policy from the beginning. what bothers me is that with the exception of iraq (which was almost entirely the americans’ show) and quite a lot of domestic policy, blair has been a pretty good prime minister as far as i am concerned. bosnia, kosovo, northern ireland, cyprus, independence of the BoE, climate change, funding of the health service (if not delivery) - all of these have been pretty welcome - and the first two saved a lot of muslims.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#54 Comment By Anas On 10th May, 2007 @ 1:33 am

ok, i’ve calmed down enough to reply properly:

except the bit about bernard lewis being “tendentious” - from now on i hereby reserve the right to describe noam chomsky as “tendentious”, because frankly he is a lot less credible on the middle east than bernard lewis is, having a) spent 60+ years studying it b) not speaking farsi, arabic and turkish, which chomsky doesn’t as far as i knowand c) it being his primary area of peer-reviewed expertise whereas chomsky’s appears to be, unless i miss my guess, yank-bashing. perhaps if more people actually read bernard lewis they might have a bit more respect for him.


sorry, i meant to say lewis speaks the languages and has spent 60+ years on this area, unlike chomsky, who seems to do very little other than write books which provide “progressive” cleverdicks with reference material with which to bash the americans.

You’d have a point, BB, if Chomsky was claiming expertise in Middle-Eastern culture or politics, but the focus of his non-linguistic work is on American foreign policy and its effects on various regions of the world, based heavily on official US government documentation and Western media sources and NGO reports — so not knowing Arabic is not a major handicap there. Although saying that he is a Hebrew speaker so I guess that means that whatever he says about Israel must have added credibility according to your argument.

As for Bernard Lewis he is what we would in Urdu call a pukka harami.

I can only take someone seriously if they’re willing to criticise both sides and see that the world isn’t as black and white as it is made out to be. Chomsky doesn’t seem to do this, though I haven’t read most of his work though I have read a fair bit, and unsurprisingly neither does Anas (and people of similar disposition).

Errr, very zen-like Sunny, but as for people of a similar dispostion, I think you’d come under that category. Your view of the world seems very black and white when it comes to say religious organisations like MPAC (I’d say calling them racist was pretty black and white), or HuT or whoever else is in your sights. Actually your argument is a pretty pointless one, what’s at issue is how well Chomsky’s arguments can be refuted w/o resorting to ad hominem. And btw Chomsky is not Anti-American, he goes out of his way to present a positive picture of the majority of Americans (why else would he make the manufacturing of their consent such a central part of his model of the media?), he focuses his critiques on those who have the power, the elites.

#55 Comment By douglas clark On 10th May, 2007 @ 2:05 am

bananabrain,

Point taken about the inability of naysayers to get their point onto any media. BBC included. And I don’t deny Blairs other legacy, I just think that his Iraq legacy will define his time in government. Spin and all. And I think that is understandable, in terms of other PMs, we tend to admire the ones that took a stand on foreign policy and ignore their domestic policy issues. At least, when sufficient time has passed.

#56 Comment By bananabrain On 10th May, 2007 @ 9:35 am

You’d have a point, BB, if Chomsky was claiming expertise in Middle-Eastern culture or politics, but the focus of his non-linguistic work is on American foreign policy and its effects on various regions of the world, based heavily on official US government documentation and Western media sources and NGO reports — so not knowing Arabic is not a major handicap there.

interesting point, anas. however, i would say that a reasoned critique of american foreign policy in the middle east would rely at least in part on an understanding of the area the said policy seeks to influence - a point which has been well made many times with reference to the policy itself, of course! in other words, if you’re going to criticise gordon ramsay, as it were, you need to understand food, cheffing and customers at least as well as he does in order to have some credibility, no matter how objectionable his manner, tone and invective. interesting that you don’t think relying on official US documentation is problematic given how little people tend to trust other information provided by them! although i note that in an interview with tom friedman, asharq al-awsat (!!) doesn’t appear to regard it as problematic that he gets much of his arabic material translated from MEMRI!

Although saying that he is a Hebrew speaker so I guess that means that whatever he says about Israel must have added credibility according to your argument.

hehe. the stupider and more objectionable israeli ministers, policies and officials, like their less objectionable colleagues, provide no shortage of rope to hang themselves with and, to my knowledge, don’t say anything in hebrew that is not widely translated by a variety of sympathetic and unsympathetic media, to say nothing of the blogging and commentating community. chomsky doesn’t really say anything about israel that is particularly new - what makes him a heavyweight critic is that he is a clearly intelligent, academically respected jewish-american dissenter, so that despite his admirers he deserves at least a listen, even if one disagrees with him.

oh and, re blair, i forgot sierra leone.

b’shalom

bananabrain


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1128

URLs in this post:
[1] this devastating critique: http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2007/04/10/media_failure/
[2] Brit Hume actually said: http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2007/04/10/media_failure/
[3] “The Threatening Storm,”: http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2002/10/07/bushwar/index.html
[4] exploration of terrorism itself: http://www.salon.com/books/review/2006/09/15/richardson/index.html
[5] article: http://webpages.ursinus.edu/rrichter/saidedward.htm
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seigniorage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seigniorage
[7] Good article: http://www.tribune-libanaise.com/tribune/article.php3?id_article=23
[8] Lost: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_%28TV_series%29