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The Media’s Political Tendentiousness Cloaked in Moral Self-Righteousness

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg recently wrote about a subject that has long interested me. It has to do with which issues we decide to get morally outraged about, and which we ignore. In this case, why the intense focus on the Gaza crisis but so little on what’s happening in Syria, where the death toll is so much higher (more than 170,000) and the scale of suffering so much worse? Mr. Goldberg, in sorting through this matter, writes this:

The American media takes at least some of its cues on Syria from the intensity of coverage in the Arab world. The Washington bureau chief of Al-Hayat, Joyce Karam, was one of the few people to notice the weekend death toll in Syria. She tweeted, in reference to anti-Israel protests in Pakistan, “Syria is essentially Gaza x320 death toll, x30 number of refugees, but no protest in Pakistan…”

I asked her why she thought this is so. Her answer: “Only reason I can think of is Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab seems more acceptable than Israel killing Arabs.”

But why on earth should this be the case? Why is it the case that Arabs killing Arabs on a mass scale is virtually ignored while they focus so much attention on the far fewer Palestinians being killed in the conflict with Israel? Moreover, why does the Western and American media set up their coverage in a way that is meant to indict Israel, even though it’s Hamas which is using innocent Palestinians as human shields in the hopes of increasing the death toll?

The question, I think, virtually answers itself. It is rooted in part in a deep animus toward Israel. Many journalists seem to believe they are moral crusaders in applying heat to Israel. They are, at best, morally confused and, at worst, morally dissolute. It’s quite an indictment of the Western journalists that so many of them direct their outrage at Israel, which is conducting this war with an astonishing degree of humanitarian care, while they are so relatively untroubled by the war crimes and malevolence of Hamas.

We might as well name things for what they are. What’s really going on here isn’t so much compassion for the plight of innocent Arabs; it is using the death of innocent Arabs to advance a political and ideological agenda. If the death of innocent Arabs is a cause that so deeply touches their hearts, Western and American journalists would be paying far more attention to what is happening in Syria (and not just Syria) than what is happening in Gaza. They’re not. Which tells you all you need to know.

Political tendentiousness is bad enough; when it’s cloaked in moral self-righteousness, it’s even harder to take.


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3 Responses to “The Media’s Political Tendentiousness Cloaked in Moral Self-Righteousness”

  1. KENT LYON says:

    Perhpas Mr. Wehner could also contemplate why American media seem inured to Blacks killing Blacks in Chicago, but come unglued when a “White” Hispanic kills a black man in Florida. Or why Obama would comment directly on the latter, and say nothing about the former…

  2. MORRIE KLEINBART says:

    I think it’s what George Bush, in another context, called the soft bigotry of low expectations. Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab, well, that’s what they do. They live in a tribal culture and this kind of murderous conduct is accepted in that world.

    But we don’t expect that kind of conduct from Jews.

  3. ABRAHAM IRWIN says:

    Part of what the other respondent have said is correct. There is however another facet which should be considered.

    Israel is an open society. Reporters can visit in relative comfort and and safety while reporting the news. Hamas is happy to provide pictorial evidence to advance its storyline. Finally the media likes nothing better than being able to show sympathetic civilians who have been hurt by the conflict.

    This is the way it works. Israel has to learn how to spin the story to its advantage.




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