Sunday, 7 October 2007

Do they know they are lying?

One way or another we have written a great deal about the misleading nature of the MSM, whether it be my co-editor’s extraordinary unravelling of the Qana story or my own slightly more historic discussion of the small lies that triumphed over the big lie.

It is for that reason that we, too, have followed the Mohammed Al-Dura story, which is finally beginning to break, what with Israel announcing that the scenes were clearly staged and the French court ordering France2 to produce the raw footage.

(As a matter of fact, the more I look even at that iconic picture the more I wonder about it. Would a father not hide the child behind him to protect him from the supposed bullets? But that’s another discussion.)

ShrinkWrapped, a blog with whom we have formed a mutual admiration society, takes up the story precisely from the point of view of why the MSM refuses to look at the truth. There are one or two aspects of the posting that I find a little hard to agree with. That story about experiments on kittens reminds me just a little too strongly about Pavlov’s dogs and the Soviet conclusions that were drawn from their behaviour. (I presume there was a point to the experiment.)

I find it a little harder to assume good will on the part of the MSM as ShrinkWrapped seems to.
Our Media are our eyes on the world. It is problematic but unavoidable that the unconscious biases of the reporters will effect how their stories are presented, and more importantly, what stories are not presented. The recognition that the al-Dura blood libel was a conscious deception of Western dupes, masquerading as men of integrity, is a potential paradigm shattering event.

The MSM have seen their credibility slowly erode for many years now. The mix of distortions, occasional overt lies, and neglect that have been increasingly exposed by the new media, all have served to hollow out the support for the MSM as people who do not have an emotional investment in the MSM are unable to avoid recognizing just how slanted the "news" has become.
Hmm, yes, but really, this is not such a new idea. Looking back on the media’s role in the Vietnam debacle, I would say that few journalists are quite the innocent, well-meaning dupes that one would like to think them to be.

The point about the role of the new media is accurate enough. Not for one moment would I suggest that the new media of which we are part, is in any way perfect. There are many mistake, deliberate misunderstandings and misleading statements. But, in a way, its importance is that it provides competition and reveals the obvious fact that the MSM, by and large, has its own agenda and in the war that we are fighting, that agenda is not necessarily the same as ours.

The blog refers back to yesterday’s posting on Augean Stables, whose author, Richard Landes has led the campaign to uncover the truth about the Al-Dura story. In it, Professor Landes describes a discussion he had with a “well-meaning” and, in his opinion, entirely honourable journalist James Fallows, who, despite being badgered by Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organizations as well as, probably, his own colleagues, eventually accepted by looking carefully at the pictures and tapes that the IDF could not have shot the boy.

What he would not and could not even countenance was the obvious second point, which is that this was a record that was carefully staged in order to discredit Israel and justify the continuing intifada with all its horrors (mostly for the Palestinians). I don’t know Mr Fallows and cannot, therefore, comment but he sounds to me no different from the people who almost literally stopped their ears against the truth about Communist regimes because they did not want to know or admit.

One final point: looking at the stories about fraudulent reporting from Iraq and remembering the “reporting” from Vietnam that convinced the world of America losing Tet, I am not too impressed by the idea that European journalists are more cynical or agenda-driven than American ones. Six of one and half-a-dozen the other, in my opinion.

And if they are, where does that get us? They are “more likely to deny the evidence rather than wink an eye and make an honest, off the record comment”. Not for the first time I find myself siding with the cynic, who might create less damage by making that honest, off the record comment.