Monday, December 01, 2014

01-Dec-14: Journalism and its role in making the world safe for jihad: notes from the battlefront

The courtyard of East Jerusalem's American Colony Hotel: a surprisingly
important part of the story [Image Source]
Of all the jaw-dropping revelations in a must-read essay (sub-titled "The news tells us less about Israel than about the people writing the news, a former AP reporter says") published in The Atlantic yesterday, the one we quote below comes closest to explaining how the news-reporting industry has gone from sowing confusion about jihadism and its central role in the global plague of terror, and become an active part of the promotion of jihadist values and the case for terror.

The author is describing the inner workings of the Associated Press bureau in Jerusalem, and the devastating impact of the things it does on the way public opinion is formed all over the globe:
Most consumers of the Israel story don’t understand how the story is manufactured. But Hamas does. Since assuming power in Gaza in 2007, the Islamic Resistance Movement has come to understand that many reporters are committed to a narrative wherein Israelis are oppressors and Palestinians passive victims with reasonable goals, and are uninterested in contradictory information. Recognizing this, certain Hamas spokesmen have taken to confiding to Western journalists, including some I know personally, that the group is in fact a secretly pragmatic outfit with bellicose rhetoric, and journalists—eager to believe the confession, and sometimes unwilling to credit locals with the smarts necessary to deceive them—have taken it as a scoop instead of as spin. During my time at the AP, we helped Hamas get this point across with a school of reporting that might be classified as “Surprising Signs of Moderation” (a direct precursor to the “Muslim Brotherhood Is Actually Liberal” school that enjoyed a brief vogue in Egypt). In one of my favorite stories, “More Tolerant Hamas” (December 11, 2011), reporters quoted [in an AP story headlined "Hamas in Gaza says it's learning from Arab Spring", authored by AP staffers Mohammed Daraghmeh and Karin Laub, dated December 11, 2011] a Hamas spokesman informing readers that the movement’s policy was that “we are not going to dictate anything to anyone,” and another Hamas leader saying the movement had “learned it needs to be more tolerant of others.” Around the same time, I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger.
That's just one small piece taken from a longer, well-written and explosive narrative. We're hoping it gets the widest possible exposure and impact because it portrays a systemic pathology that threatens the health and well-being of people well beyond the borders of the beleaguered state where we live.

The author of the article, journalist, Matti Friedman who spent years in the bowels of AP, testifies to the sickness at work within the most sensitive parts of one of Western society's most sensitive institutions, the major news media, and in particular the news syndicators, packagers and distributors. What isn't pathological in this scene? Agenda-driven reporting. Intimidation of journalists and the compliance it produces. The propagation of narratives that stem from some of the most hateful, racist, murdering organizations on the planet: lethal journalism, literally. And the suppression of reports and views because they contradict the terrorists.

Now where's the earthquake?

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