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Monday, August 07, 2006

Roger L. Simon: Mind games of the reactionary media

Reading Roger L. Simon's comment on Reutersgate, I feel reassured that someone out there understands that the issue isn't just Adnan Hajj and Al-Reuters, but the entire mainstream media. Hopefully many others - including many very angry Lebanese - will read and understand what Simon understands.

Hat Tip: Jamie Irons

On the surface, this could look like an over-eager employee anxious to have his work "sell" during wartime. If it bleeds, it ledes, they say, so why not a few more phony smoke clouds? But having spent a fair amount of time in the presence of media in communist regimes (China, Soviet Union, Cuba) I am skeptical of this excuse. In totalitarian states, very little happens exclusively for the money. Yes, money follows good behavior, but the good (obedient) behavior comes first. Many reports from Hezbollahland, from the almost grudging Nic Robertson at CNN to the more intrepid Michael Totten, have shown us a rigid mind control system that would make the KGB envious. It's hard to believe Mr. Hajj was not under the full control of that system, whether willingly or not is unclear (possibly even to the photographer himself).

What is clear is that to Reuters (AP, CNN, etc.) cooperation with such people was the only way in to a closed society. Of course what results from that is distortions in the reporting of news we can only begin to imagine. No doubt, in their more honest moments, these press institutions and their personnel acknowledge this to themselves. But then they push on. In Reuters own report of today's embarrassment (that doesn't acknowledge Little Green Footballs, of course, and speaks only of vague "blogs") they admit their difficulties with Mr. Hajj (he's been fired), but continue to deny any problems with the Qana reporting:

He was among several photographers from the main international news agencies whose images of a dead child being held up by a rescuer in the village of Qana, south Lebanon, after an Israeli air strike on July 30 have been challenged by blogs critical of the mainstream media's coverage of the Middle East conflict.

Reuters and other news organisations reviewed those images and have all rejected allegations that the photographs were staged.

Of course, they have to reject those allegations at this point, because to accept them now would begin an amazing unraveling of the mainstream media, that may be about to happen anyway. The basic media silence around the announced decline in actual deaths at Qana is essentially an admission that something was misreported, someone was conned. How easily and how much are as yet unclear.

And what if they weren't just conned? What if they were complicit?

Read the whole thing.


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