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April 07, 2002
Does American Media Favour the Palestinians?

By Firas Al-Atraqchi


Comedy enriches the soul. Somewhere, someone once said that laughter is the best medicine.

Unfortunately, last Saturday, CNN's Reliable Sources segment proved that laughter is a bitter chalice of poison.

The issue at hand was the so-called tilt in U.S. media towards favourable coverage of the Palestinians at the Israelis' expense. Favourable coverage of the Palestinians? Talk about delusional journalism.

Indeed, guests Lally Weymouth of Newsweek, and Rich Lowry of National Review assailed alleged skewed reporting in U.S. media that painted the Palestinians as victims and the Israelis as evil-doers. "The images (of Palestinian deaths and suffering) have to be taken in context,"Lowry explained.

This may go down well with the general U.S. viewing public where literacy has become a household joke; it does not bode well for the rest of the world.

I wonder what context Lowry is referring to when Palestinian children, as young as four months, are shown with half their brains spewed unto the ground. Perhaps, the cameras neglected to show the four-month-old infant throwing a Molotov cocktail at heavily-armed Israeli soldiers. Or, even more baffling, is the lapse in memory of broadcast journalists in failing to report how a Palestinian mother, shielding her children from an Israeli attack in her own home, was left to bleed to death in front of them as the all-generous, ever-pitiful Israeli soldiers prevented medical assistance from reaching her.

This is pure drivel and has brought U.S. journalism down into its darkest hour. One need only switch to BBC World (which is readily available in North America) or even Canada's CBC to catch slightly less biased coverage of world events.

Last week, Weymouth interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for Newsweek's (April 1, 2002 issue) cover story "How Will Israel Survive? "Her interview, titled "There's a War On, painted the most dignified picture yet of a man that is considered by his own military to be the Butcher of Beirut, where some 2,000 Palestinian civilians (civilians, not militants and not terrorists, but civilians) were butchered by Israel's allies, the Phalange.

Reading through Weymouth's pathetic portfolio of articles and interviews with Israelis in the past year, one comes away with the feeling that there is none more ardent a pro-Israeli Arab-basher than her. In a CNN segment concerning her interview with Sharon, Weymouth almost seemed to cry as she told the viewing public how gentle and endearing a man Sharon is.

Sharon droppings might be considered sacred to her.

A woman who extols a mass murderer in such fashion can only be considered to share in his crime. A network that resorts to such incredible bias as a "reliable source" is also considered guilty for the burden Palestinians must endure.

I am perfectly happy to tutor Lowry and Weymouth in the finer, more delicate aspects of international journalism. I will not charge them a red cent - I will just consider it charity work for the disabled.

Firas Al-Atraqchi, MA, is a Canadian journalist living on the Pacific Coast

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