American (Mainstream) Media on the Crisis in the Middle East Part II

Section A—Libya

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Alameda (Calif.)–March 8th–While the United States (U.S.) repositions its Sixth Fleet (Navy), to possibly pounce upon Libya, Gaddafi  seems to be making little progress against the rebels in his country although Tripoli’s State-run media maintains his Armed Forces are winning the battle while, on the contrary, members of his Air Force and Army are abscond to the revolutionary cause. 
The crisis in Libya has caused a worldwide oil panic, however the discovery that petroleum is still flowing out of the Maghreb, has lessened Western anxiety, and has lowered slightly  the New York crude benchmark.  Control of oil is vital to the Colonel’s survival, for the revenues generated from it are vital to paying the troops still loyal to him and the external mercenaries he has hired.  This explains his strategy of regaining the oil sources he has lost and to clutch onto those he presently holds.

Although the Libyan forces would be no match to modern (European?) militaries with its antiquity armaments, and ill-trained combatants, it still is vastly superior to its “amateur” opponents who have miniscule armaments.  A defector from Benghazi, a Captain Mohammed, who has been appointed to train the dissident ‘army:’  “You can’t fight artillery with an AK-47!”

NATO been meeting in Brussels to debate its response.  In statements this past weekend (the 6th-7th), (U.S.) President Obama appears to be willing to abide by their decision although there was a disagreement between London and Washington to apply a no-fly zone over this mainly wasteland nation: Britain favoring a no-fly while North America not.  The general sense of the insurrectionist fighters is that they would prefer  no foreign involvement although a reporter with the L.A. (Los Angeles) Times quoted a rebellious opponent to the current regime, I “…would like a no-fly zone” personally.  Also, during this preceding weekend, the British made a bungled Commando raid onto Libyan territory to make contact with the “guerilla” leaders.  Fortunately, they were captured by a “radical” grouping, and were let go to return to a U.K. (United Kingdom) frigate off shore, but, simultaneously, a battalion of Dutch soldiers, who had orders to bring out  two of their nationals were captured by the government in Tripoli , and are now POWs (Prisoners of War) which is a highly questionable under international law.

B. American Coverage of the Arab/Islamic Press

In Berkeley, towards the end of 2010, Diane Winston of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California in, commenced her statements about the attitudes and prejudices of journalists in the American mainstream press.  (The Muslim Observer, on the other hand, would be considered a “niche” media — which is aimed at a particular target audience [American Muslims] although your inscriber has been told that many non-Muslims have discovered this paper, and curiously most of them are politically Left-of-Center!)  The popular or generalist Press are restricted to what they can say; where they can say it and when.

“Bigotry [in the mainstream newspapers] is assumed [on the contrary] to be [‘balanced’ reporting]…”

Anti-Islamic portrayals were displayed in the press as far back as the (American) Colonial period.  (This goes even further back to the military conflict between the Arab and later the Turkish worlds with the European sphere.)  Throughout our mutual (Christian / Islamic)  discordant history, myths of the Other have developed on each side.)  In the post-Modern period (i.e., the present), the Muslim has become the “Other” to the West, and has, also, been equated with the Arabic East.  (This does make a quirky sense, for the Arab lands are nearest to mainland Europe — besides most of the Muslim immigrants to Western mainland Europe are Arab in culture except Britain.)

Since September 11th 2001, Muslims have been assumed to be barbarians, and this has become the working assumption on pan-Islam in the West.  (Your correspondent’s father was a senior journalist just as the J-Schools [graduate institutions within larger universities to train journalists] began.  He was very much against this innovation because he sensed the new academic systemization of investigative inquiry would destroy the great age of American newspaper writing through which he had lived.)  Professor Winston questioned (a Journalism School maxim) that a piece should be “neutral,” but Diane Winston shows, conversely, the image of journalist’s study is rarely neutral in any way.

Ms. Winston demonstrates that often there are not two sides.  American news outlets are not up to a more “opinionated” tradition of reporting such as in Europe (your columnist might add that he is of the opinion news publications [either in newsprint or on the “cloud”] from South Asia and the greater Islamic terrain where freedom of expression is permitted), are superior.  One knows where the analyst, editor, publisher and the publication stands.  In the reverse, the façade of neutrality can only create an oblique fabrication with a succinct rhetoric of propaganda.  She believes, in reality, that American news-gathering treats Islamic subjects along the lines of american historical and geo-political societal prejudices.

During the Nineteenth Century, U.S. journalist questioned the establishment of religion, but this tendency broke down as America entered the Twentieth Century.  At this time, newspaper writing took over certain traditional aspects of faith, and religion began to be portrayed as scientific.  News commentators gave up being specialists on one subject or another.  The portrayer became omniscient over all subjects!

For her, the unbalanced coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is a case in point.  The inequitable compositions in partiality to Israel abound within the American press.  Although American commentators are propagandized to maintain equilibrium, but they do not, and this prohibits the Palestinians their voice, and denies them a right to public discourse in the Americas.  Why does this happen?  Mainstream public information sources (are big business.  The owners of these businesses have strong interests in the survival of Tel Aviv at any cost.)  This puts great pressures on stringers and editors.  (Your critic here knows of one columnist at a major news gathering organization who had his story “killed” because it was too  favorable to the Palestinian people.)  Dr. Winston has met Palestinian people who wonders why no one writes about them!

She ended by saying much coverage of Muslims will depend on educating US journalists (and others although the European writers have been doing significantly better on representing their target readers within Europe than American verbal etchings on Muslims and Islamic politics.).

C. Back to Libya, the West and the Persian (Arab) Gulf

As your reporter finished writing yesterday the 7th, the American President Barrack Hussein Obama, announced his support of a no-fly zone.    NATO, the European Union (EU) have agreed to this, too.  The Gulf States have requested that the United Nations (United Nations) call the Security Council into Session to make such an action under international law.


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