Friday, December 12, 2008

12-Dec-08: CNN's Gaza crisis

Everybody knows that Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. The news media don't allow us to forget it for a moment.

Whether the focus is on petrol shortages, blackouts or the dearth of Israeli shekels in Gazan banks, as was the case last week, the public is constantly reminded that Israel is "strangling" the innocent Gazans.

But last week, CNN's Ben Wedeman chose to report on the shekel crisis in Gaza from the market-place. Normally a popular site with Middle East correspondents for its photogenicity, it was a poor choice in this context.

Behind Wedeman were stalls overflowing with a cornucopia of attractive and colorful fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce. Close-ups of wads of US dollars being doled out to employees or counted by satisfied owners were featured as well. Wedeman's claims that the Gazan economy was on the verge of collapse and that people were in dire straits wasn't very convincing.

That same day, viewers were shown heart-wrenching images of Zimbabweans in the throes of starvation and a cholera epidemic - a truly horrific humanitarian crisis. So the Gazan footage was just a tad confusing.

Somebody at CNN must have noticed the blunder: unlike most other reports, this one was never aired again and there is no transcript of it or reference to it anywhere on the CNN website.