Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wagging the Dog

In my long and checkered career I've had occasion to work as an editor on two newspapers, by which I picked up a passing knowledge of how to recognize a faked news photo or film-clip.  For example, a picture shown on CNN purportedly showing three Palestinian schoolgirls weeping about their neighborhood being bombed by the wicked-wicked Israelis;  it showed all three girls with identically-patterned headcloths, identically draped, and their faces artfully painted with identically airbrushed make-up.  I also noted a Hamas film-clip that claimed to show artillery-fire from an Israeli battleship far out in the sea hitting a playground in Gaza City;  it didn't show any flash or trail of smoke from the ship, but only showed an explosion in the city -- and the smoke-trail pointed in the wrong direction.  I could also point out how you can tell that at least 99% of the famous Abu Ghraib photos are fakes, but that's a subject for a whole 'nother article.  The point is, the media even here in the US have been showing shamelessly faked videos -- not to mention shamelessly tailored facts -- for a very long time.   

It's been especially interesting watching the major news media of the western world, for the last couple weeks, try their best to raise sympathy for the Hamas jihadists in Gaza and do anything to make Israel -- and Jews in general -- look bad.

 This is from

"If you have ever wondered why the New York Times photo coverage from Gaza has almost exclusively consisted of dead and bleeding Palestinian children in Shifa Hospital, with nary a Hamas gunman or missile launch from a school or a mosque to fill out the narrative of events on the ground, the newspaper of record has an astonishing answer: Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Tyler Hicks really sucks at his job.

"For anyone who knows anything about photojournalism, the Times’s answer raises some very serious questions about the sanity of the people who are running the newspaper, as well as the paper’s loyalty to one of the greatest photographers of his era who has put his life at risk for the newspaper time and time again in global hot spots and conflict zones.

"But according to Eileen Murphy, the Times Vice President for Corporate Communications, the paper’s photographers in Gaza, led by Hicks, are the sole reason for the radical imbalance in the Times photo coverage of the war. Or at least that’s what she told Uriel Heilman of JTA, when he asked the Times to explain why, out of the 37 images that made up the paper’s last 3 slideshows from Gaza, there wasn’t a single image of a Hamas fighter or rocket launch or anything else that might signal to readers that Israel hadn’t simply decided to maim and murder Palestinian children in the coastal enclave for sport.

"Incredibly, the first part of Murphy’s answer blamed Times photographers for apparently submitting only a handful of low-quality images:
Our photo editor went through all of our pictures recently and out of many hundreds, she found 2 very distant poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters by our photographer on the ground.  It is very difficult to identify Hamas because they don’t have uniforms or any visible insignia; our photographer hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.
"Is this really how a legendary photojournalist like Tyler Hicks operates? Two very distant low-quality images, and nary a sight of a single person carrying a gun in all of Gaza during a three-week long conflict in which over 1500 people have died? If Hicks’ assignment took him anywhere else besides Gaza, one might suspect him of holding up the hotel bar.

"The rest of Murphy’s answer provides only a tiny bit of insight into why Hicks’ performance has been so poor:
I would add that we would not withhold photos of Hamas militants.  We eagerly pursue photographs from both sides of the conflict, but we are limited by what our photographers have access to.
"The key word in the second part of Murphy’s response, of course, is “access.” Tyler Hicks is hardly lying down on the job: He’s doing incredibly hard and dangerous work in a combat zone where photographers are hardly free to take pictures of whatever they want. Which is the key point that Murphy and her bosses are determined to elide.

"What the Times and other mainstream news outlets seem determined to hide from their readers is that their photographers and reporters are hardly allowed to roam freely. In fact, they are working under terribly difficult conditions under the effective control of a terrorist organization which–as the war itself indicates–doesn’t hesitate to maim, kidnap, and kill people that it doesn’t like.

"How does being dependent on Hamas for your daily access–not to mention your life–potentially impact coverage? Well, the fact that the Times has only two distant, grainy, unusable images of Hamas gunmen from Tyler Hicks tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it.

"If your imagination needs more help, here’s Liel Liebovitz’s column in Tablet:
In recent days alone, we’ve heard the account of Gabriele Barbati, an Italian journalist who, once leaving Gaza, tweeted: “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.” We’ve also heard from Radjaa Abou Dagga, a former correspondent for France’s Liberation whose attempts at practicing honest journalism got him summoned by Hamas thugs, accused of collaborating with Israel, and told to stop working as a reporter and leave the strip at once.
"By playing coy with readers about the reasons why coverage is so imbalanced, the Times may think that it’s defending the work of its reporters and photographers. In fact, it’s making them and the paper look foolish–while serving as the propaganda arm of a terrorist organization. Someone at the paper needs to devote some serious attention to the reasoning that has transformed difficult working conditions on the ground into a glaring editorial failure."

And obviously it isn't just the New York Times playing this game.

 Even when the TV news channels are handed clear videos showing Hamas jihadists launching rockets at Israel from the roofs of private houses, hospitals, schools, and even UN shelter buildings, they show as little of the footage (maybe 5 seconds) as possible -- and then it's back to long minutes of pix of wounded Palestinian children.  You have to go search on the Internet to find actual photos of those tunnels that the Hamas jihadists dug into Israel, and videos that identify the buildings from which Hamas keeps firing rockets.

As to why Hamas would draw fire onto UN shelters, why, it's a win-win situation for them.  Those UN missions included schools that dared to teach women and female children heresies like reading, writing, mathematics, science, real history, and critical thinking. Getting the Israelis to bomb those buildings -- by the usual tactic of climbing up on the roof and firing a few rockets toward Israel -- would get rid of that problem while making the wicked-wicked Jews look bad.

I leave to the readers' imaginations just why the western news media have tried so hard to spread anti-Israel pro-jihadist propaganda, but be it noted that this attempt is failing -- largely thanks to the Internet. When it's possible to see (and analyze) pictures, videos and witnesses' reports from humble on-the-spot citizens with no more than cell-phones and Internet accounts, it gets really hard to limit viewers' news to only what the government and its tame media-flaks want them to think  Thus it's growing harder for Hamas to convincingly howl "Foul!" when everyone with uncensored Internet access can see its sins: shelling its own people, preventing its own people from getting out of the danger zones, using women and children for human shields, breaking every cease-fire that Israel has agreed to, constantly firing rockets at Israel and then wailing when Israel hits back -- with pinpoint precision.  The evidence relentlessly exonerates Israel, and the best propaganda artists in the business can't hide it all.  

And the media flacks themselves have begun to see the tide of public opinion turning.  Note how TV news in the last few days has begun showing a bit more balanced coverage, as if worried about complaints from the audience.  The audience can no longer be lied to as completely as in Nazi Germany, or the old USSR, or even the US in the heyday of William Randolph Hearst.

This is why the Internet must remain free and uncensored.  We have to combat every attempt by every government we can reach to pass censorship laws.  We must also support the efforts of every hacker who can break any technology that threatens such censorship -- not just the Electronic Freedom Foundation and Anonymous.

And, of course, it helps to learn how to identify a media fake when you see it.     

--Leslie <;)))>< 


Ori Pomerantz said...

Additional evidence: Britons trust Wikipedia more than the BBC.

Leslie Fish said...

Ahahahahaha! To paraphrase the song: "Hearst's empire is fallen, to rise no more!:"

--Leslie <;)))><

Anonymous said...

I've not trusted the mainstream press on any subject where they have an emotional investment since I first heard about how they shamelessly ran interference for JFK in the 1960 election.

Detritus said...

Not long ago, I was reading about GamerGate. And if progresist are capable of using the internet mass media to lie and shame about gamers, I fear of what a goverment can do whit the mainstream media.

I fear im getting paranoid.