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« Private Space On Teevee | Main | Here's Your Analysis, Senator »

Just On The Other Side

Melanie Phillips writes about the media war against Israel:

The level of anti-Israel, anti-American madness has reached such a pitch in Britain that any similar expression of alarm at the manifestly blatant mendacity in the reporting of the Middle East has simply become unthinkable. Yet thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere ó notably Little Green Footballs, Powerline, Zombietime and EU Referendum, we can see that the behaviour of the western media during the Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah war against Israel has constituted a major, world-wide scandal, and one which has the capacity to derail the efforts of the west to defend itself.

...In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated. The big question is why the western media would perpetrate such institutionalised mendacity. Many ancillary reasons come to mind. There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen. There is the herd mentality of the media which decides collectively what the story is. There is the journalistsí fear for their personal safety if they report the truth about terrorist outfits. There is the difficulty of discovering the truth from undemocratic regimes and terrorist organisations. There is the language barrier; there is professional laziness; there is the naÔve inability to acknowledge the depths of human evil and depravity; there is the moral inversion of the left which believes that western truth-tellers automatically tell lies, while third world liars automatically tell the truth.

But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And thatís because the Big Lie these media tell ó and have themselves been told ó about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And thatís because thatís how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israelís actions, and that therefore it is only Israelís aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk Englandís once staunch and stalwart land.

"Useful idiots" was the term of art during the Cold War. And Hezbollah found them very useful indeed, as Iran continues to.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 30, 2006 12:02 PM
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Yet thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere

The powers of the blogosphere and its cheerleaders to delude itself is amazing.

Posted by Dave at August 30, 2006 05:34 PM

The powers of the blogosphere and its cheerleaders to delude itself is amazing. - Dave

You call that an insult? I mean, that's just a lame response. Can you not handle tough conversations like, "Why is the media no longer attempting to find out the real facts before reporting a story?"? The media is being made a fool of, and sadly, they could easily fix things be verifying a story before putting it on the air.

You have a nut case taken at his word that he killed the Ramsey girl, and he gets paparazi coverage for something that happened almost a decade ago. You have unbias "civilians" in Lebanon uploading photos to the wires without any review. You have reporters looking at a van with absolutely no frame damage and believing it was hit by a missile. You have investigative journalist telling the country years later that they knew all along the White House did not leak the identity of a CIA agent, yet during all that time, they pretended to be an objective third party.

All that to talk about, and the best Dave can do is write a pointless snark that the blogosphere is deluding itself. Wow... Call me underwhelmed.

Posted by Leland at August 30, 2006 06:02 PM

Dave is obviously more comfortable in denial, since he has no substantive rebuttal to Melanie Phillips' piece.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 30, 2006 06:04 PM

It seems to me that it is mostly just vested interest in a sensational story. The bland balanced truth just does not sell and I can not entirely blame the media for this. After all, they are telling the people what they want to hear, ratings and all that.

Posted by Pete Lynn at August 31, 2006 02:25 AM

"manifestly blatant mendacity"

And I'm the one accused of pompous verbiage.

"Yet thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere"

If it contributes anything, it's the ability of bloggers to obsess on minutiae at the expense of analytical depth. The blogosphere is as enlightening about current events as an autistic trying to critique literature--"Yeah, there definitely should be a comma there instead of a period. Yeah, definitely a comma."

"we can see that the behaviour of the western media during the Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah war against Israel has constituted a major, world-wide scandal"

Apparently because they don't call an Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon an "Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah war against Israel." That Israel had the right to do what it did doesn't change the simple fact they were killing thousands of innocent people because two soldiers had been kidnapped, and without the slightest expectation either of them would be returned. It was a thoroughly pointless act of vengeance unworthy of Israel, and I can only suspect it was undertaken for purely political reasons.

"and one which has the capacity to derail the efforts of the west to defend itself."

There wouldn't be a "West" if people like Phillips were in the mainstream, there would just be another facet of the fathomless moral abyss. There are plenty of people in Iran and Syria who think exactly like she does, but with the pronouns reversed--so the only things that distinguish the West are the things she (and the terrorists, incidentally) believe weaken us.

"There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen."

Now she's turning minor anecdotes into a global conspiracy theory, although I can't claim to be surprised given the tone of the lead-in. The reality is quite the opposite, with most major news outlets terrified of the spurious accusations they knew would be the price of "too heavy" a focus on Lebanese civilian casualties.

Meanwhile the resident lunatics of the Death's Head Legion (i.e. National Review and its fellow travelers) were perched on the edge of their vulture claws waiting to pounce on the first inauspicious typo as indisputable proof of an intergalactic plot. Quite predictably, the unusual degree of scrutiny yielded a few frauds, as would happen with any large news story where sensationalism brings in money, and the dittoverse erupted in echoing mock-outrage. The chief beneficiaries of the decline in media standards were now piously lamenting it, and flashing their carrion-dripping hyena smiles at Israel in a perverse caricature of sympathy. It's the war they cherish, not the people or countries fighting it.

Posted by Brian Swiderski at August 31, 2006 03:13 AM

Pot, Kettle, Black etc...

Rand, much better and more famous people and I practically make a living out of rebutting Melanie Phillips.

It's practically a spectator sport over here. Of course, if you knew anything first hand about the UK or, for that matter, bothered to get a passport and started to travel again, you might learn stuff you don't want to know.

they could easily fix things be verifying a story before putting it on the air

Sure they could, but they're commercial organisations frequently with shareholders who want a story. Its the nature of reporting.

Then again, it wasn't the press who flew the "nut" business class back to the US was it.

The Blogosphere can continue to pat itself on the back and believe it is making an inroad into the mainstream. It doesn't make it true. For every Lebanese photo, or bad war reporting, there's an equally egregious counter example of our governments manipulating the press to their own ends, often with false or misleading data, in order to get the effect they want. It cuts both ways.

Of course, you can continue to delude youselves that this isn't the case and you're doing important work.

Posted by Dave at August 31, 2006 03:42 AM

By the way, Rand:

he has no substantive rebuttal to Melanie Phillips' piece

Her summary statement...

In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated.

I have a one word rebuttal, with as much substance as her piece. Tosh.

Happy?

Probably not, but frankly, her entire piece is utterly beneath contempt.

Posted by Dave at August 31, 2006 03:46 AM

"That Israel had the right to do what it did doesn't change the simple fact they were killing thousands of innocent people because two soldiers had been kidnapped, and without the slightest expectation either of them would be returned."

Thousands? Thousands? Where is your evidence? Oh, I am sorry, this is just the radical left faking 'facts' to suit its own warped ends again, the truth is entirely unimportant. The ends justify the means.

Posted by Mike Puckett at August 31, 2006 05:33 AM

Dave: "her entire piece is utterly beneath contempt."


Tosh.


Posted by Cecil Trotter at August 31, 2006 05:38 AM

Yes, Brian and Dave continue to prove themselves useful idiots, in denial.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 31, 2006 06:26 AM

The Left is starting to believe their own lies.

Posted by nobody important at August 31, 2006 11:55 AM

There is a shorter term for the "useful idiots".

The term is "traitors".

Posted by Fletcher Christian at August 31, 2006 03:45 PM

Mike: "Thousands? Thousands? Where is your evidence?"

Oh, excuse me, "just over a thousand." And thank you for glaringly demonstrating my point--you're outraged at a mistaken inclusion of the letter s, not the "just over a thousand" innocent people killed in retaliation for two kidnappings.

"Oh, I am sorry, this is just the radical left faking 'facts' to suit its own warped ends again, the truth is entirely unimportant."

No, this is schizoid right-wing blowhards seizing on trivial errors that don't affect the argument to avoid addressing it. "What's this 'Lebannon' you're talking about? There's no such country! You're an ignorant, lying, commie propagandist! Just another lefty trying to invent countries that don't exist! Did you get that spelling from MoveOn.org?" Just for the sake of novelty, you people should some day consider not being dishonest scumbags.

Rand flatulates: "Yes, Brian and Dave continue to prove themselves useful idiots, in denial."

Then why can't you ever argue with opposing points instead of lurking in the shadows waiting for a chance to demagog trivialities? You say things like this, but then prove you know otherwise by your behavior.

Fletcher: "There is a shorter term for the "useful idiots". The term is "traitors"."

You're confusing terms with the people who happen to be using them.

Posted by Brian Swiderski at August 31, 2006 05:41 PM

BS wrote, "You're confusing terms with the people who happen to be using them."

You're confusing us with people who regard you as more than something amusing to poke with a stick.

Posted by Jim C. at August 31, 2006 11:07 PM

Ok Rand, I'll play, what am I in denial about?

Traitor? ROTFLMAO. Good one. Not sure what I'm a traitor towards but still, quite funny.

You're confusing us with people who regard you as more than something amusing to poke with a stick.

Can't speak for Brian, but I would actually find it hard to care less for how you regard me. What I do care about is this silly perception that the Blogosphere has that it is engaged in some nobble fight against the biased MSM. The positions that Rand frequently touts and the links he provides to flatulant blowhards like Melanie and her Daily Mail reading fans are just one side of generally complex issues which he likes to ignore.

Besides, for people who seem to consider Brian, myself and others to be beneath your contempt, you sure as heck seem to get angry about us when we call you out on points.

Posted by Dave at September 1, 2006 04:19 AM

The Left is starting to believe their own lies.

Which lies are these, particularly in the context of what happened in Lebannon?

That Hizbollah kidnapped a small number of IDF members? That the Israeli prime minister said he'd get them back? That Hizbollah fired hundreds of rockets into Israel killing dozens over a period of weeks despite the IDF trying to stop them? That the Israeli attack on Lebannon killed over a 1000 people, a large number of whom were, irregardless of photoshop incidents and stage managed press calls, women and children. That a country trying to struggle into deomcracy, who had previously come a long way away from despots in Syria, had their infrastructure fragged and their growing tourist industry eliminated over night? That after all that fighting Isreal left Hizbollah intack.

Are these all "leftist" lies? If so, which ones are lies?

It doesn't really matter if you think that some of the press was designed to elicit emotional responses, that's what the media is for, we've developed a whole massive money making indsutry around that.

People were killed, lots of them, infrastructure was destroyed, lots of it. Was it hyped by Hizbollah? Sure, no question. Were the MSM complicit? Harder to say, probably.

Does it make any difference to the moral questions behind the conflict? Not one jot.

Posted by Daveon at September 1, 2006 04:26 AM

Oh this is SO easy, Daveon. How about Hezblome committed an act of war and they are obviously more in control of the country than anyone thought. This evidenced by their large supply of arms obtained through their own channels and not the government and no attempts by the government to disarm them. So Lebannon traded one despot for another. Also Nassie boy gets more press than the Prime Minister who apes Hezblomes position. Out of the estimate of more than 1000, how many were women and children? How many were Hezbollah fighters? I bet you can't answer. Because NO ONE can. The media may be designed to elicit an emotional response but it's supposed to report facts. An agenda driven media wants an emotional response and manipulates the story to get one. It's not harder to say. Hezblome was taking dead bodies out of ambulances to stage photos. That is sick. As to the moral question, Israel was attacked and responded. They felt Hezbollah was a continuing threat and went after them. Hezbollah has said they want Israel destroyed. It seems you think Israel went too far. That porportional response idea is garbage. Tell me when it has worked? I'll settle for one example.

Posted by Bill Maron at September 1, 2006 05:45 AM

Dave: Besides, for people who seem to consider Brian, myself and others to be beneath your contempt, you sure as heck seem to get angry about us when we call you out on points.

Points? The only point you seem to have is that you don't like the blogosphere. After that, you got insults. That's a starting at a low bar standard and then just sinking in a quagmire of hate.

Please Dave, don't come back with some silly four letter word rebuttal. Tell us how virtuous the MSM is. Just look at the BBC coverage of the "Israeli Ambulance attack" and then comeback and explain to us why the BBC should be taken seriously. When you notice the doors of the ambulance work fine and the stretcher (where a man lost his leg) is perfectly intact; I want you to comeback and tell us how deluded the blogosphere is...

Half the patrons to this blog are upset about the CEV announcement, they could use a laugh.

Posted by Leland at September 1, 2006 09:28 AM

"You're confusing us with people who regard you as more than something amusing to poke with a stick."

And you're confusing me with someone who cares what psychopathic anti-American cowards think of me. The issue being discussed is media coverage of Israel's invasion and bombing campaign, on which I've commented extensively and so far your lot has barely fired a single neuron. That seems to be the model on your side of the spectrum: Regurgitate some unresearched, vapid screed by a shrieking lunatic, then say "Amen" in as many ways as your limited language arts skills permit. If someone has the bad taste to subject aforementioned screed/turd to some degree of actual commentary or analysis, it is your religious duty to change the subject to that person and ignore everything they say. Way to keep the faith, comrade.

Posted by Brian Swiderski at September 1, 2006 04:54 PM

I used the term "traitor" and I stand by it.

Let's look at this one a little. Israel is the only country which has, even partially, had the collective guts to do anything about islamofascism. (The Iraq war turns out to have been an exercise in replacing a pretty unpleasant dictator with chaos.)

And the response of the "useful idiots" is to take the side of the enemy.

A couple more points: There are those who want to extend the already existing rules about piracy to terrorism. But in any case, hijacking an airliner is piracy, and those conspiring to do so should be shot.

Or perhaps terrorists are just mass murderers, in which case they should be hanged. Preferably in public.

Or they are enemy belligerents out of uniform, in which case even the Geneva Convention (which was never intended to cover this sort of situation) allows summary execution.

And: Treason, I believe (not being a lawyer), includes "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". I submit that falsifying evidence to favour enemy propaganda, or transmitting enemy propaganda without alteration or comment passing it off as your own work, constitutes just that.

The only problem is that the enemy is not entirely recognised as the enemy. It will be. How many people will die or be forced into dhimmitude first?

Posted by Fletcher Christian at September 2, 2006 05:42 AM

And you're confusing me with someone who cares what psychopathic anti-American cowards think of me. The issue being discussed is media coverage of Israel's invasion and bombing campaign, on which I've commented extensively and so far your lot has barely fired a single neuron. That seems to be the model on your side of the spectrum: Regurgitate some unresearched, vapid screed by a shrieking lunatic, then say "Amen" in as many ways as your limited language arts skills permit. If someone has the bad taste to subject aforementioned screed/turd to some degree of actual commentary or analysis, it is your religious duty to change the subject to that person and ignore everything they say. Way to keep the faith, comrade.

I read through your screed 3 times, and though you claim the discussion is about media coverage in Israel/Lebanon... I can't find any discussion of it in your screed. In your previous discussion, you just make general comments that the press didn't call out Israel, but you offer no specifics. However, I offered a specific with the ambulance attack, when the BBC did call out Israel for attacking civilian targets, yet can you explain how that incident actually occurred?

Posted by Leland at September 2, 2006 06:02 AM

"and though you claim the discussion is about media coverage in Israel/Lebanon... I can't find any discussion of it in your screed."

Should I keep repeating the same points until you or another finally agrees to address them?

"In your previous discussion, you just make general comments that the press didn't call out Israel, but you offer no specifics."

What specifics would you like? I made a qualitative observation, and unlike Phillips and Rand, my interpretations don't involve seeing a global conspiracy in a handful of marginal anecdotes.

"However, I offered a specific with the ambulance attack, when the BBC did call out Israel for attacking civilian targets, yet can you explain how that incident actually occurred?"

That aspect of my comments dealt generally with US media, although I admit I may not have made that clear. Which is to say, Phillips is out of her mind for seeing a conspiracy against Israel in the Western media overall, in part because the US media was clearly under intense pressure to limit coverage of Lebanese civilian casualties.

Posted by Brian Swiderski at September 4, 2006 01:39 AM


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