Along the lines of media spin seen in the previous post about the IAEA report on Iran and how the media is distorting it along official Bush propaganda lines, here is another story of US media spin in all of its glory. Is this laziness of reporters involved? Is this a dark conspiracy where reporters are in a secret combination agreement to lie to the American public? Here’s what I think it is. I think that these reporters are following the official sentiments of the White House in favoring Israeli policy in all things. Criticizing anything Israeli is off-limits for US media. Why is this? I don’t know. Is it because the reporters are praised for the stories which show an Israeli bias and that stories critical of Israel don’t make it to print due to editing? Is it that advertisers are fairly pro-Israel in their views and don’t accept anti-Israel stories in news organizations they do business with? I don’t know to tell you the truth. But it is obviously there. The spin that is. Noone can deny it.
A recent study of British media from Arab Media Watch, for example, showed that Isreali deaths were treated differently in the British media than Palestinian deaths were:
This case study provides ample evidence that Israeli and Palestinian lives and deaths are treated differently by significant sections of the mainstream British press. Israeli deaths are afforded strong, emotive adjectives, while Palestinian fatalities are reported in a much more sanitised, measured way.
Given the lack of responses from most of the journalists involved, it is difficult to
definitively explain why this is the case. Indeed, their silence itself raises curiosity and concern, and it is certainly a pity that they would not shed light on an issue that forms a central part of a hotly debated and frequently reported subject.
One cannot avoid the sense that in the eyes of much of the media, Palestinian life is simply worth less than Israeli life, because the loss of it is not described in equal terms.
Some may conclude that there is an inherent bias, or even racism, involved. Others may blame it on the fact that almost none of the British correspondents covering the conflict are based in its epicentre – the occupied Palestinian territories – so they may relate more to Israelis and be better able to report their suffering. There could be other factors to consider, and explanations would almost certainly differ from journalist to journalist.
Unfortunately, the silence of most of those involved leaves things open to speculation. But whatever the reason, something is fundamentally wrong, and the media needs to reflect long and hard on this unjust, offensive imbalance.
Palestinian Ambassador Afif Safieh has said that his people are seen as “children of a lesser God.” Sadly, this study shows that it may be hard to disagree.
So, what I’m getting to is the reception Jimmy Carter is getting in the news lately as a result of his mentioning the fact that Israel has around 150 nuclear warheads. So what? Everyone knows it. At least in the rest of the world. Iran definitely knows it, so Carter isn’t spilling any privileged knowledge beans here. Israel has an official policy of neither confirming nor denying a nuclear weapons program. We all know Mordecai Vanunu who suffered in solitary confinement for 11 years because he revealed Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the world:
And people like US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates have mentioned it in casual conversation:
“…while they’re certainly pressing, in my opinion, for a nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons—Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west, and us in the Persian Gulf.”
Heck, the Prime Minister of Israel himself was censured back in Israel because he himself mentioned Israel’s nuclear weapons program in a casual sort of way:
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Can you say that this is the same level when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel?
So what’s the big deal? Well, here’s what a few journalists have had to say about the issue:
NEWS ANALYST: Well, now it appears that he’s giving out secret information about Israel and how many nuclear weapons they may have. According to most people, this information has never been made public before—at least the US has not blown the cover.
NEWS ANALYST: Right. And no one’s done it. They haven’t done it. So why not leave it to a former president, a one-term president like Jimmy Carter?
REPORTER: This could make someone like Iran say, “Look, if Israel has 150 nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t we be a nuclear power?” at a time when the US is trying to make sure that Iran does not get nuclear weapons.
This information was found in the following excellent analysis by The Real News Network:
By the way, the commentator makes a great point at the end there where he says that the US has been against a nuclear weapons-free middle-east initiative for decades now, and in pointing out that the US and Israel have no moral authority to suggest that anyone in the world cease it’s enrichment programs.
I still don’t know what to conclude about the irresponsible and poor job of reporting on these sorts of issues we are getting from our media sources. It’s good for us all to remember that our media sources are private companies with their own agenda, owned by the same people and corporations in many instances that profit from war or from certain types of trade agreements etc. Why should we expect the truth from any such source?