Barack Obama nominated Republican ex-Senator Chuck Hagel to be his next Defense secretary today. The story can seem a little bit confusing–often because of misleading recaps of Hagel's career, which can make him sound like more like Dennis Kucinich than like the Republican who voted in favor of the Iraq War.
Crack open USA Today (11/28/12) and you saw this headline: Diagram Suggests Iran Working on Bomb The story was short–short enough for a careful reader to see that it in no way lived up to that alarmist headline. But the piece still tried really hard to frighten people. Here's the lead: Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by the Associated Press. The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program [...]
When a family of nine is killed in an airstrike, what is the proper way to grieve? That question might not occur to you, but readers of the New York Times (11/20/12) were treated to correspondent Jodi Rudoren's unusual critique of a funeral for members of the Dula family, whose home in Gaza City was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on Sunday. "There were few if any visible tears at the intense, chaotic, lengthy funeral," she wrote. "Instead, there were fingers jabbing the air to signal 'Allah is the only one,' defiant chants about resistance and calls for revenge, flags in [...]
Giving viewers a quick sense of context and history is important in any story, but especially in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Doing a bad job of it is perhaps worse than not doing it at all. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley gave this summary on November 19: We wanted to remind you tonight of what Gaza is and how it came to be. The Gaza Strip was laid out in 1949 after the war that created Israel. It's home to Palestinians displaced in that war and to the generations that followed. Only 25 miles long, roughly ten miles wide, Gaza's population is 1.7 [...]
As a general rule, it'd be better if media accounts of war did not stress the surgical precision of the weapons being used. It's a fixture of U.S. reporting on U.S. wars, but the same rhetoric is used when U.S. allies are dropping bombs. According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (11/19/12): Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded. Aron Heller of the Associated Press (11/17/12) had this description of the Israeli military: Israel, [...]
People who follow media criticism are likely aware of the term "false balance," used to describe coverage that presents "both sides" of an issue as if they are equivalent–when they are anything but. Does that label apply to coverage of the current Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip? A November 15 Washington Post headline read, "Civilians in Gaza, Israel Suffer Amid Conflict." The piece would appear to want to give readers the sense that comparable suffering is occurring on both sides. But reality tells a different story–one that is not so symmetrical. The piece begins in a Gaza hospital, where [...]
This week: What do corporate media get wrong about the "cycle of violence" in Gaza? Is there really such a thing as a "fiscal cliff"? And David Gregory says Obama's big mistake was not having an economy-boosting event with CEOs. You mean like the one he had a week after being inaugurated in 2009? Take a look–and spread the word:
On NBC Nightly News (11/15/12) , correspondent Martin Fletcher gives viewers a sense of the suffering on both sides of the Israel/Gaza conflict: FLETCHER: Terror in Israel. (SHOUTING) FLETCHER: "There is another one," a soldier screams. (SHOUTING) FLETCHER: More than 200 missiles fired at Israel today. And in Gaza, despair. (SHOUTING) FLETCHER: Burying an infant killed in an Israeli attack. Frightened Israeli soldiers are being terrorized. And Gazans burying a child? Something else, apparently.
Who started the latest round of violence in the Middle East? This pretty remarkable exchange between the host and a reporter on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight show (11/15/12) tells us that no one can really say for sure, but the U.S government will tell you what they think: MORGAN: Like with all these things in that region, apportioning blame from afar is a very precarious business because each side blames the other for the reasons leading up to these incidents. What is your sense of how this is playing out in the international stage? FRED PLEITGEN: It's very difficult to [...]
Today's New York Times editorial (11/15/12) begins: No country should have to endure the rocket attacks that Israel has endured from militants in Gaza. The Times has questions about the wisdom of a ground invasion in Gaza–questions that mostly involve whether it would be wise from an Israeli point of view. Such an escalation would be "especially risky," and might not be the "most effective way of advancing" Israel's "long-term interests." But from the start, the message is that this violence is, on some level justified. On CNN (11/14/12), Fareed Zakaria endorsed the Israeli attacks: I think there is no [...]
Military attacks and other violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel have resulted at this point in over a dozen deaths, most of them Palestinians, and sparked fears of an Israeli ground invasion similar to the 2008-09 assault that claimed over 1,000 Palestinian lives. The past 24 hours of violence was sparked by Israel's killing of Hamas military leader Ahmad al-Jabari on Wednesday. The question, then, is a familiar one: What prompted this action? The conventional corporate media timelines usually stress, whatever the facts, that Israel is responding to violent attacks by Palestinians, as FAIR documented over 10 years ago [...]
After Syrian mortar fire from Syria's civil war reportedly strayed into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last weekend, some U.S. journalists seemed confused about the political geography of the region. For instance, CBS Evening News reported (11/12/12) reported: Syria's civil war has now touched Israel. For the second straight day, a shell from Syria landed in Israeli territory. Well, no. The shells in question landed on the Golan Heights, a part of Syria that has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967–but is internationally recognized as continuing to be Syrian territory. A CNN Wire report, "For Second Time in [...]
Surveying international reaction to Barack Obama's re-election, NBC Nightly News correspondent Richard Engel declared (11/7/12): In the Middle East, there is hope that President Obama will embrace the Israeli/Palestinian peace process in second term the way he embraced the Arab Spring in his first. This would be a surprising reaction to find among people in the Middle East, given that Obama did not really "embrace" the Arab Spring. Consider Egypt, arguably the most high-profile uprising; the original White House response was to stand by dictator Hosni Mubarak. The White House continues to support the regime in Bahrain. And it's likely [...]