12 February 2012

More press shenanigans in Syria and Russia

What is clearly more than 100,000 Russian protestors in Поклонная гора

Alexander Cockburn of CounterPunch has a wonderful diary entry up on said website, firstly regarding selective reporting and a hype machine kicking into overdrive in Syria whilst turning a blind eye to the brewing human rights disasters in Libya, and secondly regarding the one-sided (if not blatantly false) reporting concerning protests in Russia. Though the counter-protestors in evidence are hardly enthusiastic fans of Putin, they apparently like the alternative quite a bit less. And he very kindly provides links for photos courtesy Other Points of View’s Patrick Armstrong! Whom are you going to believe? Obviously, The Globe and Mail, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the New York Daily News, the Murdoch media empire, ABC, CBS, NPR and so on would all prefer not to put any trust in their own lying eyes. But, as one lone upstanding journalist put it, long ago in a galaxy far, far away from our barren planet of 24-hour cable news: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it’.

Vague claims of media bias are easy enough to dismiss, but it is difficult not to come away with the impression that what we have going on here is little better than a very well-oiled propaganda machine, all aimed at fighting the next war before it begins. Recall that in the run-up to the Iraq War, our own protests against the official foreign policy line were likewise ignored. As in all things, insist first upon the facts.


  1. Syria coverage extends beyond the networks you outlined. NPR has had a series of exceptional stories on what is happening there. How does it compare to what is happening in Libya?

  2. Hi James! Welcome, and thanks for the comment!

    Regarding Syria, I am not surprised at all that coverage would be so wide, and this is exactly my complaint. In Libya, there are mass murders (complete with mutilation, torture, war rape) being perpetrated as we speak by the very same people NATO set out to help. Entire villages have been emptied, butchered, tossed into mass graves. That has been covered very sparsely, in spite of agencies like Human Rights Watch trying their hardest to put these abuses on the agenda. Instead, the American, British, French and German news networks are doing their damnedest to rile up outrage in favour of one side of a civil war in Syria - the very same way they were doing their damnedest in the run-up to Iraq to emphasise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that he was a threat to American security and that he was a Very Bad Man. So this strikes me as one of three things: laziness, an exercise in face-saving for NATO, or a cynical way of pushing the next war on the American public.

    And they're doing their very best now to delegitimise all political voices in Russia except the ones who they are betting will be the most amenable to American foreign policy, for what appear (to me) to be the exact same, entirely self-serving purposes. It's like Patrick Armstrong said - it's no wonder that the average Russian is so paranoid about the news media in general, because all of the instruments of our news media are behaving in a way which is entirely inappropriate and unethical with regard to what used to be the standards of the profession.