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Shame on the news media, too

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

During the very same 10 days that every newspaper and television news program in the world featured photo after photo, day after day, of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated, a government not far from Iraq engaged in mass murder, mass rape and ethnic cleansing of approximately 1 million people.

Is that more serious, more evil and more scandalous than a handful of Americans sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners?

Not to the world’s news media.

To the world’s (including America’s) news media, the Nazi-like, racist, mass ethnic cleansing warranted minuscule attention as compared with the humiliation of some Iraqis.

Why?

The answer is as obvious as it is painful.

The world’s news media are, with almost no exceptions, agenda-driven rather than news-driven.
The agendas are:

1. The political bias of the news reporting organization.

2. The monetary need to attract readers/viewers.

3. The desire to be the center of society’s attention.

4. Not to be too different from other news media. As one who peruses up to a dozen American newspapers a day, I am struck daily at how virtually identical international news articles are. International reporters are like baseball players — they all do the same thing, just on different teams.

In the case of the massive attention the news media have been giving to the stripping and humiliation of Iraqi male prisoners, all four agendas play a role, but the first one predominates.

How does this explain the tiny amount of news media coverage devoted to the near-genocide in Sudan (and North Korea and Tibet) as compared with the massive 24/7 coverage of the Iraqi prisoners?

The primary reason is the political bias of the news reporting organizations. Virtually every major newspaper in the world is anti-Bush, and most are anti-American. The desire to humiliate America (or George Bush) has deep roots. The America of those who support President Bush portrays itself as a moral beacon, and it has contempt for the moral authority of the United Nations and “world opinion.” Therefore, those who loathe this American self-appointed moral role cannot pass up the chance to portray America as morally no better or even worse than other countries.

The virtually monolithic ideology that drives the world’s news media should be a major concern among all those who treasure independent thought, not to mention moral clarity and America’s well-being. For example, though free of governmental control, the reporting of the BBC has been almost as predictably leftist as Soviet newspapers.

The news media are numbing the human mind. The anti-American and anti-Israeli news reporting that saturates the European media is the major reason for the recent polling results that show most Europeans regard America and Israel as the greatest threats to world peace.

There is a second and related reason for the mind-numbing coverage of the Iraqi prisoners. The world’s Left, which sets the United Nations’ and the news media’s priorities, is only interested in human suffering when it is caused by whites, Christians or Jews, especially Americans and Israelis. That explains the world’s and the media’s indifference to the decimation of Tibet — it was perpetrated by Chinese; to the genocide in Rwanda — it was perpetrated by black Africans; to the genocide of blacks in Sudan — it is perpetrated by Arab Muslims; to the genocide in North Korea — it is perpetrated by Koreans. On the other hand, when Israelis killed Palestinian terrorists and bystanders in Jenin, the world press was fixated on it, and the BBC declared it a “massacre.”

So, too, the deaths of Arabs at the hands of Arabs — the tens of thousands in Algeria, the hundreds of thousands in Iraq, the tens of thousands in Syria, the thousands of Arab and other Muslim young women in “honor killings” — are of little interest to the news media, the Arab world, the United Nations and the Left. But Americans stripping male prisoners in Iraq? It is the most important story on earth.

It is essential to note that it is precisely because I believe America’s role is to be a moral beacon to the world that those pictures from Abu Ghraib prison so anger me. Americans are not dying in Iraq so that other Americans can pile naked Iraqi men on each other and smile for photos next to them. The harm those pictures have done to the cause of good may be incalculable.

But it is not moral revulsion, let alone newsworthiness, that is animating the news media. One day, a Sudanese black will scour the world press archives to find out what the world was preoccupied with while her family and hundreds of thousands of other Sudanese blacks were raped, enslaved, ethnically cleansed of their lands and murdered. She will learn the world was deeply concerned with a couple of dozen Iraqi men photographed in humiliating sexual positions.

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