Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Media

The media is incredibly important in the intellectual struggle that the world is going through. The dictatorial regimes in the Middle East have grasped this and are using it to the fullest extent. An Egyptian television station serialized the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a few years ago and until recently the whole text of this anti-Semitic forgery appeared on the Palestinian Authority website. Iranian TV even perpetuates the infamous blood libel and the Palestinian Authority TV recently made this hair-raising contribution (via Melanie Phillips).
This behaviour rarely raises any eye-brows in the West because these things are not reported. After all Mahmoud Abbas is a peace-loving visionary, and who would want to ruin the illusion?
It is however amusing to see that even those who live under these execrable regimes don't buy into everything that they are told. I had to laugh out loud when I read these accounts of conscientious Americans being berated by Syrians and Egyptians for criticising Bush.
At any rate, what is all the more worrying is when media outlets in the West, albeit much more moderately, let their prejudices shine through. The BBC is a prime example here. Read this excellent article by a veteran Beeb reporter that appeared in the The Daily Telegraph (via Normblog). I can't wait for his book to come out.
Melanie Phillips has two fascinating posts, here and here, which bear out his points and the director of the Aspen Institute Berlin has an interesting article decrying the same attitude in Germany (via Davids Medienkritik). Also see this nice editorial by the CEO of Axel Springer AG (also via DM - with translation).
This bias has had the ironic effect of giving the UN Secretary General, who has (at best) been actively bungling his job while presiding over the most disastrous decade the UN has ever gone through, a 58% approval rating in Germany.
But it also has the deleterious effect of keeping most Westeners ignorant of the facts necessary to form fair and informed opinions on the issues of the day. For instance this excellent analysis of the history behind the Palstinian "right of return" (via MP) will no doubt come as a total surprise to most people.

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