Meditations on Reutersgate: What’s Going on in the MSM?

Zombietime has an interesting roundup of the picture scandal. I couldn’t find anywhere to leave a comment, and since he has some interesting speculation on “why?” — a problem I’ve been thinking about since I first stumbled upon Pallywood some three years ago — I thought I’d put some of my ruminations here, with links to my earlier formulations on this at The Second Draft.

Indeed the name Augean Stables comes from my realization of just how “bad it is” with our newsmedia.

And, PS. the first Pallywood footage I saw was at Nahum Shahaf’s studio, and it was Reuters’ footage.

What to make of all this? As is demonstrated on this page, Reuters has committed not just one instance of fraud, and not just one type of fraud, but four distinct categories of fraud.

Now, of course there is a real war going on, and there is real damage, and authentically tragic scenes. No one is denying that. So, with all the actual honest footage of unstaged war imagery floating around, why is Reuters resorting to supplementing its coverage with obviously fake photos? Several theories have been posited in opinion pieces since the scandal broke. Here’s a summary of the various possibilities.

Theory A: The Reuters editorial staff is sympathetic to the aims of Hezbollah, and is using propagandistic images exaggerating Israeli violence to increase world pressure on Israel to stop its attacks, thereby giving Hezbollah a chance to regroup, and claim moral superiority.

Stage magicians sometimes used what is called the “smoke-and-mirrors” technique, in which chaotic and distracting effects on stage draw the audience’s attention away from the magician’s sleight-of-hand. According to Theory A, Reuters is resorting to “smoke-and-mirrors” by taking advantage of the chaos of war, and the chaos of the international media coverage, to promulgate staged or contradictory news reports. Working on the assumption that no one person would ever see enough different media outlets to notice the fraud, which only becomes apparent when comparing different images which are published in a wide variety of media outlets, Reuters has slipped the false reports into the news stream.

Doss, a commenter on Little Green Footballs, made a very well researched comment showing the systematic bias in Reuters editorial captions to photos of the war in Lebanon, with links documenting each point. According to Doss, “Every time, if an Israeli is hurt, it was a “rocket” that did it; if a Lebanese/Hizb is hurt, “Israel” did it. Humans hurt Lebanese, but inanimate objects hurt Israelis, according to Reuters.” This clearly points to an anti-Israel bias on the part of Reuters.

The hostility to Israel seems pretty widespread in the Western press, and part of the reason for the success of Pallywood, at least since 1982, when Western anchorman stood in front of cameras with Beirut in the background and made comparisons with Warsaw. The question is, why?

The simplest answer, antisemitism, is also the least penetrating. Most of these reporters are not only unaware of any prejudice against Jews (well maybe not some of the Europeans), but many think of themselves as honorable and moral people, even passionately committed to progressive values of compassion. To call them anti-semites, even, to use the Marxist term “objectively” (i.e., unconsciously but in practice) antisemitic, I think short-circuits a whole range of valuable analysis and does not take these journalists seriously as autonomous moral agents — they are making choices, and by and large they believe these choices to be morally correct.

Here in brief are some of my contributions to this issue:

Underdoggism and Leveling the Playing Field

It is a natural and important component of civil society to sympathize with the underdog. Most of history offers a panorama of elites taking advantage of their monopoly on the technologies of weapons and communications to dominate if not crush the masses, what I call “prime divider societies.” Giving the little guy a break is one of the great acts of social empathy that creates an egalitarian society. (Nietzsche called it the “slave morality,” and has been a favorite of resentful former elites ever since.) In this case, the perceived underdogs are the Palestinians, a deeply unfortunate people whose misery few will deny. The obvious superiority of the Israelis in every sense — military, economic, cultural, political — encourages outside observers to view this as an unfair conflict. Why should the Israelis do so well and the Palestinians be so miserable. Nothing excites such attitudes more than the glaring difference between Israeli settlements on the West Bank and (formerly) in Gaza and the wretchedness of the Palestinians. The Israelis must be stealing from them (land, water, roads, resources) in order to do so well.

All these are reasonable impressions and there is plenty of “material” evidence — the huge disparity — to support the case. Indeed the entire industry of Palestinian victim narrative exploits this situation to blame Israel. The tendency of the media when confronted with this huge disparity and with the dominance of the sympathy for the Palestinian underdog particularly among liberals and progressives, encourages the media to “level the playing field.” Bob Simon, in reporting on the Palestinian conflict (in a program on Muhammad al Durah), said, “One picture can be worth a thousand weapons.” For some reporters, naturally sympathetic to the underdog, it seems like the Israelis have all the weapons, So why not “level the playing field,“ by granting the Palestinians a PR victory in the world of “images.”?

The Prevailing Paradigm: Palestinian David vs. Israeli Goliath

Underdoggism makes the media particularly susceptible to framing the story as the Israeli Goliath against the Palestinian David. The “delicious” irony of this — the ironic moral inversion — has enormous appeal. And since the media needs a frame for their stories, and journalists come into this area with relatively little understanding, this is both an easy and morally attractive way to solve the problem of presenting and analyzing the conflict. The result is what one might call the “Politically Correct Paradigm.” The Palestinians are just struggling underdogs denied a shot at the sunlight by a domineering Israeli society. If only the Israelis would just relent a little, then the Palestinians would be able to get on with their lives.

This PCP (with it’s more radical Post-Colonial variant) has dominated much of the discussion, increasingly since 1967 when the Israelis shed their underdog status and the 1980s when Edward Said’s work began to find widespread acceptance. Part of its appeal, to both the media and to the liberal public is that it gives hope of a solution to the problem: if only the Israelis would withdraw, say to the 1967 border, then things would go better. And of course pressuring Israel to withdraw is easier than getting the Arabs to make concessions. Even the media can participate in such a worthwhile project by putting moral pressure on Israel. In a sense their role in the Arab-Israeli conflict can be best understood as an extension, using the power of photography, of the liberal media advocacy of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 60s.

If the analogies here are good — Israelis like racist Americans and South Africans, Palestinians poor victims of that racism just waiting for a chance to make good — then policy decisions based on these assumptions will work. This was the logic of the Oslo Peace Process, embraced with particular ardor by progressive and liberal Jews. The fact that Oslo blew up in everyone’s faces — including the “secular” forces among the Palestinian leadership who engineered the explosion deserves a good deal of meditation, especially by the media who participated eagerly in building our hope. And one of the things that they need to consider is the possibility that it’s not the PCP that best describes the Middle East conflict, but the Jihad Paradigm (JP). As unpleasant and bleak a vision as this might be, one owes it oneself — and in the case of the media, to their audience — to at least weigh the evidence.

Even some hard-core PCPers are forced to face the awful possibilities of JP — an agonizing process made all the more difficult since for the past 2o years these same people have ostracized anyone who woke up before them.

Cognitive Egocentrism

While masticating these problems, I came across the term “cognitive egocentrism” or, the tendency to think that everyone else thinks and experiences the world the way you — or more powerfully, “we” — do. The teenage boy who can think of nothing but sex and presumes the same, even of his own male friends, is a good indivdual example. We, as a culture committed to the positive-sum values and emotions of civil society, are raised to project that attitude onto others. If we’re nice to others, they will, most of the time, be nice to us. This cognitive egocentrism is at the core of the strategies laid out in the PCP1 (Positive Cooperation Paradigm). If only Israel would withdraw from occupied territory, the problems could be solved.

Of course LCE (liberal cognitive egocentrism) like this, is hardly the only form extant. To a zero-sum culture in which everyone “else” is struggling for dominance (“rule or be ruled”) the domineering cognitive egocentrist (DCE) projects his own belligerent attitude onto everyone else. Since such positive-sum emotions as generosity do not exist, anytime the enemy makes concessions they are either tricks or signs of weakness, and elicit either a no (Camp David, July 2000) or violence (Second Intifada, October 2000). If this is the case in even a significant fraction of the interactions between Israeli LCE and Palestinian/Arab/Muslim DCE, then the medias fairly remorseless depiction of the Israelis as aggressors affirms and encourages the worst elements in Arab culture, feeding their sense of grievance, explaining their violence.

The comments of Cherie Blair during the worst of the suicide bombing (before the “apartheid” wall went up) that she “understood” the Palestinian suicide terrorists because they were “so desperate and without hope.” In so doing, she assumed the Palestinian narrative (the Israelis are in bad faith and make us desperate), and therefore could sympathize with something as revolting as teaching your children to hate others so deeply that they want to kill themselves destroying as many of them as possible. And of course so terrible a reprisal must derive from terrible provocation, making the Israelis the assumed vilains. The words of encouragement for Blair’s commments offer a good sense of the tenor of the “realistic” media opinion shapers in the aftermath of the Jenin “massacre.”

But in so doing, Cherie and her supporters were not so much reflecting “reality” as they were reifying the worst aspects of Palestinian DCE, taken to pathological levels of demonization of the “other”, including horrifying child abuse, and genocidal rheotoric that terrifyingly resembles the most destructive mentalities we as a civilization have ever seen: a paranoid culture of hatred and death. Nor is this confined to the Palestinian world. Unfortunately, and with particular vigor since 2000, it has made immense inroads in the Arab and Muslim world. It has many of the characteristics of an active cataclysmic apocalyptic millennial movement, whose consequences can be devastating on a massive scale. I guess Communist and Nazi zealots killing people by the dozens of millions was not enough.

I personally don’t think Cherie Blair, in the worst of despair would ever do this, which just makes her remarks all the more irresponsibly foolish. Indeed it points out precisely how badly mistaken well intentioned people can get, falling prey to demopaths — people who invoke democratic and progessive values that they have no commitment to, but use to undermine those who try and maintain them. The Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism whereby DCE systematically manipulates LCE to its advantage is almost ideal terrain for demopaths and their dupes.

Even-handedness and Moral Equivalence

LCE demands fairness and even-handedness. And again, as with sympathy for the underdog, so should it be. But as the biblical injunction holds, you neither favor the powerful nor the weak in matters of justice.

    Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

The media (and the liberal establishment more broadly, have taken even-handedness to an extreme. If you criticize one side, you criticize the other; if you talk about Muslim religious extremism, you talk about Jewish religious extremism. This attitude is widespread among liberal Zionists, whose almost totemic phrase is, “we too…” Again, such an approach is generous and can lead to reconciliation. But if it doesn’t work that way, it’s important to call a moratorium on such moral pretenses: Jewish religious extremism is not in the same league, nay the same universe as that of Islamic Jihad.

Even-handedness plays a big role in the shutting down of information favorable to the Israelis. One of the more common refrains I heard for MSM folks when I offered them Pallywood and al Durah: “We couldn’t do it just on that.” “Why not?” “We’d have to do something on ways the Israelis manipulate the news.” People often urge me to put up something about Israelis doing some Pallywood-like stunts as a way to show “objectivity and balance” at Second Draft. My answer: When I have a real example.

A student illuminated the dynamics here after watching the two documentaries and reading the al Durah dossier. “I’m completely convinced by what you say, but I’m uncomfortable because I feel that if I agree with you, I’ll be siding with the Israelis, and I don’t want to take sides.”

Beyond even-handedness, we have moral equivalence, in which Israelis killing civilians in strikes on terrorists is morally equivalent to targeting civilians, as if intention made not difference, as if there were some symmetry between Hizbullah raining Katyushas on Israel to maximize civilian casualties was about the same (if not slightly better) than the Israeli damage to civilians in trying to stop them.

And from there we get to moral inversion, in which Israelis blowing up empty Palestinian terrorist’s houses in retaliation for a suicide terror attack is “collective punishment” while a Palestinian taking vengeance for a targeted killing by blowing up random civilians in a terror attack on a full bus or restaurant is “resistance.”

Ultimately no one can tell someone else how to judge. Our newsmakers have to judge for themselves, and there’s certainly no lack of people and data to support a harsh judgment of the Israelis. But if the course of the 20th century has taught me anything, it’s that moral judgment matters, and that there’s a high price to unjust judgments. It’s just possible that the Europeans, led by the French, are committing suicide just for the right to preen on the international stage as the cutting edge of the moral universe.

Theory B: The stringers employed by Reuters are sympathetic to Hezbollah, and successfully duped the Reuters editors into publishing propaganda.

To accept Theory B, you’d have to conclude that the Reuters editorial staff are cataclysmically incompetent, and were unable to notice numerous frauds so obvious that “untrained bloggers” could easily spot them.

It’s meditating on this particular problem that led me to view the current MSM as an Augean Stables. Having shopped Pallywood around to a dozen MSMers (ABC, NBC, WGBH, Boston Globe), I got a pretty consistent refusal to even consider it. More interestingly, I had “experts” ready to “dispute every frame with me.” What a fifteen year old could see was faked, a professional couldn’t.

I rapidly began to understand that they don’t even see it. When I first saw Talal’s rushes with Enderlin, both I and his own (Israeli) cameraman expressed a certain surprise at how much of it was obviously staged. “Oh they do that all the time,” he responded, “It’s a cultural style. They exaggerate.” The independent French journalists who saw the same rushes in Paris a year and a half later, and asked the same question, got the same answer — from Enderlin’s boss.

So we’re talking about a real problem of perception. Imperceptibly, for a host of reasons, some acceptable, some less so, the media has become so encrusted with bad habits (the legendary Augean shit), that they no longer even perceive the problem. That’s part of what’s so fascinating about what’s going on right now with these scandals. The media really has become monumentally incompetent at spotting fakes coming from this radically different culture.

Theory C: The stringers employed by Reuters simply wanted to make a name for themselves, and resorted to fraud to obtain the most spectacular images, regardless of their political outlook.

Again, Theory C requires an almost unbelievable level of incompetence on the part of the Reuters editorial staff. This theory is also doubtful because the propagandistic nature of the photos and captions is almost always anti-Israel.

Obviously the appeal of a dazzling (and monetarily significant) success plays a role. Talal became an international star as a result of Al Durah. But the fame of getting the “scoop” is not even a necessary, and hardly a sufficient explanation. The bittersweet truth is, that were someone to manipulate pro-Israeli footage, not only would he or she be immediately denounced, but the first to do so, would be the Israeli media. When the army claimed to have a picture of a UN ambulance used to transport a Kassam rocket, and it turned out to be wrong, Ha-Aretz immediately jumped on the army spokesman with both pistols blazing.

    Haaretz’s editorialist alleged Wednesday that “Israel behaved with reckless haste and injured its pretensions to superiority over the Palestinians with regard to credibility.

Whatever the motives of the journalists, who are a self-selecting group, especially the local stringers, the people who give the rewards (public exposure, money) decidedly reward pictures that reinforce the PC Paradigm of suffering Palestinians (now also Lebanese) and aggressive Israelis.

Cognitive egocentrism also plays a key role in the ability of these ideologues to spread their message via the media. They inhabit a universe where manipulation is the norm, where “fixing” images to accord with the poltical message — no matter how untrue and demonizing — is what media is about. To understand the gap between this pre-modern culture of propaganda and manipulation of the”masses” on the one hand the principles of modern journalism where, in principle, the media give us accurate accounts and allow us, the public, to judge, watch the completely untroubled, indeed proud demeanor of the Palestinian TV official who explained to Esther Schapira why he altered the footage of al Durah. Actually it was — by our standards — much worse than retoucching a photo: he had inserted a picture of an Israeli soldier taken at a riot provoked by the sight of the al Durah footage on TV into the footage itself so that the Palestinian people could repeatedly see an Israeli soldier deliberately murder an innocent Palestinian (the core of the blood libel).

    These are forms of artistic expression but all of this serves to convey the truth and explain a specific event. We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.”

The serious and scrupulous journalist, faced with such a staggering admission of culpability by modern standards — if Adnan Hajj got nailed for what he did… a fortiori this fellow! — has to be bewildered by the vast, Alice in Wonderland distance between this media culture and the one he grew up in.

But how to even begin to tackle such a problem. How utterly unusable everything produced by this culture would become were we to question it according to our standards! So like some medievalist who, when faced with the problem that maybe a majority of his documents are forged and loathe to lose all that material, dismisses claims that important narratives might be fantasy, our media play a game of ethical affirmative action. We don’t expect the same from these folk. Let’s hope most of it is fairly accurate. Maybe it’s exaggerated by 10% or 20%, but not 100% to 4000%!

Of course, affirmative action is supposed to work in cases where things are roughly equal. This is a bizarro world of inversion. How can one possibly inform one’s public by using such sources as even remotely credible. Seniora cries on TV at the loss of 40 Lebanese killed by the Israelis… and it turns out to be 1. We are dealing with fundamental epistemological problems — how do we know what we know when it comes from Palestinian and other Arab and Muslim sources? Where is the methodological overlap in approaches?

In the absence of any serious thought about these problems, the Augean Stables get more encrusted daily.

Theory D: Reuters photographers and editors are intimidated by Hezbollah, and publish Hezbollah’s propaganda out of fear for their lives.

This is an intriguing theory. There have been reports coming out of Lebanon that reporters are indeed being bullied and intimidated. A new report reveals that Hezbollah has copies of all journalists’ passports and that they threaten those who tell the truth. Michael Totten reported last year how he was at first charmed by the Hezbollah media representative — a relationship which suddenly turned to fear when he was bullied and threatened once Hezbollah realized he wasn’t going to repeat their lies. And CNN’s Nic Robertson shockingly admitted that his own news reports were stage-managed by Hezbollah in an interview on July 23. In it, Robertson said,

    Well, Howard, there’s no doubt about it: Hezbollah has a very, very sophisticated and slick media operations. In fact, beyond that, it has very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. They can turn on and off access to hospitals in those areas. They have a lot of power and influence. You don’t get in there without their permission.

    And when I went we were given about 10 or 15 minutes, quite literally running through a number of neighborhoods that they directed and they took us to.

    What I would say at that time was, it was very clear to me that the Hezbollah press official who took us on that guided tour — and there were Hezbollah security officials around us at the time with walkie-talkie radios — that he felt a great deal of anxiety about the situation. And they were telling him — I just listened to an explosion going off there, coming from the southern suburbs. They were — they were telling him — a second explosion there. They were telling here — rumbling on — they were telling him get out of this area, and he was very, very anxious about it.

    But there’s no doubt about it. They had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath.

    So what we did see today in a similar excursion, and Hezbollah is now running a number of these every day, taking journalists into this area. They realize that this is a good way for them to get their message out, taking journalists on a regular basis.

Another description of how Hezbollah intimidates journalists in Lebanon can be found on the Anderson Cooper blog.

Intimidation and Violence, Censorship and Access Journalism.

This is the most terrifying aspect of the issue. The fact that Zombietime thinks its intriguing means he hasn’t a clue as to how serious and deep-seated it is. Why would we? We don’t want to believe that our media have been systematically intimidated by a mafioso culture and our media certainly don’t want to believe they have.

But after three years of working on this, I’ve come to the conclusion that “objectively” they have been thoroughly intimidated, whether they know it or not. The examples of brutal intimidation are legion, despite the pressure not to reveal it. The Ramallah lynching of October 12, 2000 represents the most startling example of this, with terrified photographers happy to get out alive even if their equipment was destroyed, and Italian journalists fearing the long hand of Palestinian displeasure publicly. It turned out an embarrassment for the Italian station that formally apologized to the PA, claiming it did not nor would it ever violate the rules of journalism in the Palestinian territories — never show the Palestinians in a negative light — when their letter got published in an Arab newspaper and picked up in the West.

Then, as now with the manipulated photographs, the revelation of blatant pandering to political intimidation brought censorship from other western media outlets. The question is, was this pure hypocrisy (like someone from a culture where the fault lies with getting caught, not for cheating), or did these media folks denouncing the Italians for getting caught really think they weren’t guilty?

In any case, as far back as late 2000, our media had a chance to face the music of intimidation and self-censorship and help us understand what was going on. Almost a year before 9-11. Instead, they buried the Ramallah Lynching and its lessons in an even-handed comparison with Al Durah (cause of Palestinian anger), and when 9-11 came and Palestinians danced in the street our media submitted to Palestinian threats and either did not show or subsequently removed the celebrations that accompanied 9-11.

This is how I understand the first answer I got when I shopped Pallywood and al Durah to the MSM (ABC correspondant working for Diane Sawyer). He admitted he was convinced by Pallywood, and the high likelihood of Al Durah. “So…” says I, wondering what the next step was… “But I’m not sure how much appetite there is for that here.”

If you listen to the interviews that Westerners conducted with Talal abu Rahmah about his shooting the “dead boy” with his camera, you’ll realize what’s going on: No one asks him hard questions, not the Israelis, not the western media. They assume he’s telling the truth — LCE — but they also don’t want to criticize him. Our media is afraid to challenge Muslims much less criticize them. So they can tell us anything they want.

A French friend put her finger on what the key element of this intimidation involves.

    “The French behave as if the Arabs had a knife to their throat, and the Arabs behave as if they have a knife to the throat of the French.”

And of course, suicide terror is the knife blade, and the Europeans — everyone — knows that at any time, a Muslim can go Jihad postal. And the European fantasy that that kind of mad violence was reserved for the Israelis (and Americans) is growing thin.

The Western media’s efforts to pretend as if their behavior were voluntary — a pretence performed for both the public and their own conscience — produces what many observers of Jihad call anticipatory “dhimmi behavior.” Even before the conquest, people act as if they are subject to Islam. The earliest example of this was the West’s weak response to the threats on Salmon Rushdie at the end of the 1980s, and the most recent world-wide expression was the response to the Danoongate’s response to the Muhammad depictions.

For the latest update in the cultural split on this issue, see the face-off between Germaine Greer and Salmon Rushdie on the Brick Lane Affair and the ability of Muslim women to express their dilemma artistically to a British audience, with Greer — the feminist!? — as a dhimmi (and female eunuch) back then and still.

Our media do not help us with their well-intentioned LCE; and we don’t help them with our eagerness for their brand of news. The blogosphere is the growing corner of the information superhighway that allows us to express our unhappiness. It is becoming increasingly influential. Let’s hope it’s through better reality testing, than from more paranoid fantasies.

So –which of these theories is true? At this stage, it’s impossible to tell. The actual truth may be a combination of all four theories.

This scandal casts doubt not just on Reuters’ coverage of the current war in Lebanon — it casts doubt on all media coverage of this war, and of all wars in the past. How long has such chicanery been going on? Could it be that the public for the first time is learning that the media is not as impartial as it has always claimed?

Questions for a fair-minded media to ask themselves as this crisis of fauxtography metastasizes:

1) Is it possible that there are other major contributors to Palestinian suffering, including their own elites who systematically chose wars they lose to getting on with life and independence?

2) Is it possible for the little guy to win, or are the winners by definition bad and the losers by definition good? Or can losers deserve to lose and winners to win… sometimes? Is it possible that it’s still the Israeli David against the Arab (or worse, Muslim) Goliath (with the Palestinians as a deliberate sacrifice by Arab/Muslim elites)?

3) Is it possible to lose your favored status as an underdog by particularly immoral behavior, or once an underdog as long as you’re down, forever an underdog deserving of sympathy?

4) Is it possible that by becoming a vehicle for the Palestinian victim narrative, you are actually empowering those who do some of the most damage to the Palestinians, namely their own elites, who use it to scapegoat the Israelis — what Irshad Manji calls a “weapon of mass distraction” — and distract from their own cruel activities (as well as other, far more pressing cases of oppression around the world)?

5) Is it possible that, by treating this as a game, and leveling the field, you are prolonging a terrible war, and ultimately making the situation worse for everyone except the warmongers whose hope of victory you alone nourish?

6) Is it possible that you and your colleagues are far more intimidated than you will admit to yourselves (and certainly to us)?

7) Is it possible that you really are working from Augean Stables in which the current Reutersgate is the tip of an iceberg? And if so, is it possible that you have, on occasion, been dupes to demopaths and in so doing, you are unwittingly but objectively contributing to the very things you claim to abhor — the victimization of the innocent, the loss of freedom of the press, and the severe weakening of the very fabric of civil society at a critical time in the history of free societies?

8) Is it just possible that the West is, right now, faced with a formidable foe and your current modus operandi makes it hard for anyone to even talk about a problem like Eurabia?

9) And if that’s just possible, what are the consequences of your Augean habits?

10) Despite the understandable desire to write off the avalanche of criticism from the blogosphere as so much right-wing denial of reality, is it not possilbe that in this new and dangerous 21st century, sometimes opposition is true friendship? Isn’t the definition of a fool, someone who can’t tell his friends from his enemies?

The media are the eyes and ears of civil society. Without clear and accurate information, we are sailing blind on the perilous white water of globalization in the early 21st century.

The media’s commitment to impartiality and critical distance should make the news a form of dialysis system that should filter out the poison. What can we do if you insist on pumping the system full of poisons?

It is never too early to wake up in conditions of looming crisis… and it can be too late.

26 Responses to Meditations on Reutersgate: What’s Going on in the MSM?

  1. This is a tour de force that should be read by everyone.

  2. Meta-Communications in the War on Islamofascism

    [Update at the end] Another terror plot with a goal of mass murder has been stymied in Britain. Apparently, a group of anywhere from 21 to 50 men, depending on the reports you read, has been implicated in a plot

  3. Don Cox says:

    One factor is the corruption of the left by Marxism, which is inherently an anti-semitic doctrine. (The “bourgeois capitalist” is code for “the Jew”). You have to consider the whole collection of books that students are taught to respect in college courses on journalism, sociology, media studies, etc.

  4. Meditations on Reutersgate: What’s Going on in the MSM?


    Richard Landes has a lengthy but must-read essay taking a look at the current set of media scandals and analyzing them through the prism of terminology he has developed to explain the Pallywood phenomenon. Set aside some time and don’t mis…

  5. David O says:


  6. Peaktalk says:


    Richard Landes who was one of the first to meticulously analyze media bias and manipulation and he has just written a comprehensive and must read essay-post on this weeks Reutersgate. It needs to be read in its entirety to be…

  7. Michael B says:

    Have read this now three times, I love this piece; probative in all the right places and sound articulations throughout.

  8. Ken says:

    Thanks, I needed that! I just finished reading “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman and I was wondering if the world wide web would simply become another mirror of television. Even among “right-wing” bloggers you stand out as one willing to put facts together and form coherent arguments. Thanks for giving me hope that the web isn’t as amusing as the television set.

  9. The Raccoon says:

    Brilliant post. Should absolutely be spread and promoted around the Web.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. ploome says:

    I think a large part is fear f muslim violence, and because submitting to fear and writing a biased story is unacceptable

    some reporters have convinced themselves, Israel is the bad guy

  11. Yehudit says:

    “According to Doss, “Every time, if an Israeli is hurt, it was a “rocket” that did it; if a Lebanese/Hizb is hurt, “Israel” did it.

    Julie Burchill points out that BBC calls the Lebanese under fire “civilians” but the Israelis under fire are “Israelis.” They don’t get to be civilians.

  12. […]

    Scrappy Underdog Syndrome

    Posted by purpleslog on August 17th, 2006

    The Augean Stables has wide ranging (and read wo […]

  13. Eliyahu says:

    Richard, I wasn’t sure where to put the link below. I’d like you to take a look at it. It’s on google. Now, this is an anti-Israel horror video focussing on real or alleged harm to civilians in Lebanon. There are several obnoxious tricks used. But I especially want to point out that they use as ostensible destruction in Lebanon the photo of an apartment building in Haifa, Israel, that was in fact wrecked by a Hizbollah rocket. The charge of genocide is also noteworthy. This charge usually indicates nowadays a crypto-Nazi [or Commu-Nazi] when applied to Israel.

    Shalom, Best Wishes, Eliyahu

  14. […] Paradigms and the Middle East: PCP vs. HSJP,” Second Draft Landes, Richard, “Meditations of Reutersgate: What’s Going on wi […]

  15. […] same unreliable sources that have given us a disastrous 21st century. He embodies all the failures of the current MSM – unreliable sourc […]

  16. […] — Print This Post I have discussed at some length the impact of Pallywood and its epigones — the systematic presentation of […]

  17. […] first paper, but a professional journalist who had been writing for the NYT since 1985? There are many possible, overlapping explanations, including the problems this would pose for the “framing narrative” of the conflict to […]

  18. […] y a beaucoup de réponses à cette question, y compris de nature psychologique. Je veux ici en aborder deux : l’intimidation et le […]

  19. […] just how bad the MSM is in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, how reluctant they are, for a variety of reasons that span the spectrum from ideological to venal to cowardice, to reveal to their audiences the […]

  20. […] they’re notorious for outright fraudulence, particularly when it involves painting barbarian jihadis as poor victims or brutal psychopaths as benevolent and popular.  They killed their own credibility three years […]

  21. […] al-Reuters reported on a protest in Gaza of the sort which takes place every Friday after khutba.  (Sorry; no […]

  22. Richelieu Jr says:

    Great article and interesting analysis. I’d be really interested in looking at your projects.

    You may be interested to know that there was a French documentary about media manipulation in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict called “Decryptage”. it deals particulaly witht he French media, which is, of course, articularly aggregious…

    At one pointthe cover of, I believe , ‘Le Piint’ was an Israeli policeman, covered in blood, his face twisted into a grimace and pointing aggressively witha baton.. The title spoke of the explosion of violence in the second intifada. The implication (and caption) was clear: Here was a strong Israeli (a term often simply replaced by ‘Jew’ or ‘The jews’ here) bashing in some Palestinian skulls.

    The reality? (and they were forced to print a retraction- though how can one ‘retract’ a huge colour cover and all the posters than went with it?):

    He was saving an injured Palesinian after a PALESTINIAN attack, he was covered by his own blood and trying to get people to stand back so the Palestinain could get help..

    There are many more examples, subtle and outrageous to be shown. Try and find it (must speak French, though many interviews are in English), or drop me an emaila nd I’ll see if I can put you onto it.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. […] I don’t think the mainstream news media [MSNM] “overstates [sic: media is a plural noun] Israel’s massacre of Palestinian civilians for propaganda purposes.” I think the Palestinians systematically misinform the MSNM for propaganda purposes, and the MSNM complies for a number of deeply disturbing reasons. […]

  24. […] I just ran across an interesting article that deserves note. Erick Erickson’s reflections on the disconnect between a media that has increasingly allowed bias into its reporting and the public it informs. It made me think of Richard North’s devastating “The Corruption of the Media” written in the wake of the revelations about media malfeasance in Lebanon, Summer 2006, which prompted further reflections by Zombie, “The Reuters Photo Scandal: Taxonomy of Fraud,” and me, Meditations on Reutersgate: What’s Going on in the MSM?. […]

  25. […] an indispensable part of a “reality-based” community? I have, in the past speculated on a kind of cowardly narcissism, in which they can’t admit to their readers that […]

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