December 05, 2004

Crazy Like a FOX

Monica Crowley was standing in for Joe Scarborough last week on Scarborough Country, and on Wednesday, she made a rather amazing claim:

CROWLEY: Oh, you can‘t claim that Al-Jazeera is not a tool of al Qaeda.

Really? Portions of the larger discussion reproduced below the fold, and no, it doesn't make her sound any more rational to read it in context.

...CROWLEY: All right, wait. Wait. Guys, one at a time here.

Jack, I want to you address a very important question here, because a former deputy chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army who served in Baghdad just wrote this: “Propaganda permeates our society, especially in election years. So if we don‘t harness it in wartime, it isn‘t because we don‘t know how. We understand how to influence behavior as an art form and we do it damn well.”

My question to you, Jack, is, the enemy certainly uses all of its media outlets, Al-Jazeera, the official Palestinian media, Al-Arabiya, the Internet. They use all of their media outlets. Why shouldn‘t we be using ours to get our message across?

...CROWLEY: Professor Jensen, we are dealing with a very unconventional enemy here, an enemy that cannot be deterred, an enemy that wants to die for its cause and kill as many of us in doing that.

So, how do even out the playing field here? If the enemy is using all of those media outlets, how do we even up that playing field?

JENSEN: Well, first of all, I think you‘re wrong in claiming that stations like Al-Jazeera are enemy outlets. They‘re not. They‘re independent stations that report...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Oh, you can‘t claim that Al-Jazeera is not a tool of al Qaeda.

JENSEN: Of course I can claim, because they‘re an independent channel which does report the news from an Arab perspective. ...

In what universe is the U.S. not using all of its media outlets to further its propaganda goals?

Posted by natasha at December 5, 2004 04:50 PM | Media | Technorati links |
Comments

Objectivity in media is a myth.

A-J is no worse than FOX or the Murdoch related media outlets.

Posted by: Fil at December 5, 2004 10:18 PM

Not to defend Crowley, but...
It's hardly an amazing or even unreasonable claim. Fair-minded observers on all sides of the political spectrum recognize that Al-Jazeera is either openly sympathetic to the goals of Islamic extremists, or their unapologetic mouthpiece. Even activsts and progressives who passionately reject the U.S.'s middle east policy can recognize the distinction between Al-Jazeer and a valid news organization. Comparing Fox News to Al-Jazeer is like comparing a headache to a brain tumor. Are we actually defending the journalistic ethics of Al-Jazeer? It must be a slow news day.

Posted by: Michael at December 6, 2004 04:47 PM

we just had this debate in Canada and the "fair minded" fox news is coming with nior restrictions while Al-Jazeera is Monitored
tthe poin
-you'd rather have war hype propaganda BS than iunformed discussion and pragmatic arguements like they actually have on Al jazeera

Posted by: olexicon at December 6, 2004 05:54 PM

If we're talking about the same Al Jazeer, and you can view the jew-hating, anti-Israel, anti-Western material that characterizes typical Al Jazeera coverage, praising it as examples of "informed discussion and pragmatic arguments", it would appear that one brand of BS is more appealing to you than the other. Not because it's more accurate, but because it suits your point of view?

Posted by: michael at December 6, 2004 07:24 PM

Michael,

Their biggest crime is to show footage of the aftermath of American and Israeli bombings, which our stations generally don't. They do air messages from terrorists, but then so do our own news outlets, both venues having judged them to be newsworthy.

They may be far more sympathetic to the typical Arab pov, but our own news outlets are more sympathetic to our own pov. What's so novel about that? No one has ever demonstrated that, Arab nationalist sentiment notwithstanding, Aljazeera supports in any way the murder of civilians. But unsurprisingly, they're more concerned with citizens from their own countries.

Don't you think other countries have conservative patriots, too? I don't see how the comparison isn't glaringly obvious, or how it has anything at all to do with 'supporting' Aljazeera one way or the other. If FOX can be a valid news organization, so can Aljazeera. Just about the lot of them are run by packs of lying bastards of largely interchangeable function and ethics, but without them, we wouldn't get any information at all.

Posted by: natasha at December 6, 2004 09:09 PM

While it's tempting to share Al Jazeer's anti-Western views, with the exception of objecting to U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, in every other respect, they don't share your views, or mine. If not for this isolated common interest, under different circumstances, you'd more likely find yourself disagreeing with them at the top of your lungs. Even if it meant risking accidentally agreeing with your ideological opponents the West.

The most bent news organization in the U.S. can't begin to compete with Al Jazeera's undiluted Nationalism. Here, when story is tainted or dishonest, it's called out, dissected, challenged from all quarters. The process is imperfect, slow, and ugly, but there's a functioning mechanism for self-correction, and for responding to external challenges. In this regard, Al Jazeera on its best day isn't comparable to U.S. network news on its worst day.

"I don't see how the comparision isn't glaringly obvious" --a reference to Murdoch and co.--reveals a cynicism about the news business that I can admire and identify with. But it suggests a misunderstanding of foundational differences between news cultures in the two hemispheres. Not because one is better than the other, but because of how each defines its viewer. Take away anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment (a unifying force, and a reliable formula for selling books, magazines, and newspapers) what's left? For much of the Arab and European world, it's the cultural glue holding together an otherwise empty book.

My point--a modest one--is simply this: there's no useful alliance to be made between the American left and Al Jazeera. I'd think these two would be inclined to avoid each other at parties, and not return each other's phone calls. I imagine I'm wrong. An alliance of temporary convenience has probably already been made. I'm just suggesting it's a bad idea. These relationships often don't work out.

"Just about the lot of them are run by packs of lying bastards of largely interchangeable function and ethics, but without them, we wouldn't get any information at all."

Of course we would! I like the humor in this (!) But it underestimates the variety and diversity (yes, diversity, even if we factor in traditional media being choked by corporate interests, political partisanship, or rank incompetence) of analysis and opinion available here. If FOX, or NBC, ABC, or CNN, or NPR, disappeared tomorrow, most of us would hardly recognize the interruption. I wonder if this would likewise be true, on the Arab street, if Al Jazeera disappeared tomorrow.

Posted by: Michael at December 7, 2004 06:20 AM

yes and fox's Lefty hating is fine, canada hating french hating all fine, Though you do make a good point in the above post about if al-jazeera Disappeared the discussion would cease

Posted by: olexicon at December 7, 2004 10:56 AM

"If not for this isolated common interest, under different circumstances, you'd more likely find yourself disagreeing with them at the top of your lungs. Even if it meant risking accidentally agreeing with your ideological opponents the West."

There are so many ways in which that isn't the point that I don't know where to begin. I don't defend Al Jazeera's right to be recognized as a news organization because I feel them to be allies, or because I think they're right in some sort of ineffable and fundamental way. It's that I don't believe free speech should end at our borders.

And if you want to hear something really horrid, tune into Michael Savage and listen to him cavil on about all the traitors, foreigners, and liberals that he wishes would just go off and die somewhere. Rightwing commentators, including many who pop up on or are part of the talking head circuit often put forward various ideas encouraging listeners to think of ideological enemies in ways that would have made Torquemada proud. The talk radio is saturated with rants that flirt with encouraging violence against political opponents, if not outright wondering if maybe it's the only way.

You get offended when media outlets show violence (being committed by your ideological compatriots), I get offended when media outlets allow violence to be encouraged. It's mysterious, I know, but you leave me unpersuaded.

"The most bent news organization in the U.S. can't begin to compete with Al Jazeera's undiluted Nationalism."

Ha.

"Here, when story is tainted or dishonest, it's called out, dissected, challenged from all quarters."

And the delusion never ends. You're drowning in it, all around you, and you don't even know you're wet. Come back when you've gone through some of the Daily Howler's archives covering the last two presidential campaigns, read Salon's piece on the lies told about the Clintons, educate yourself about the media coverage of the Iraq war, and try to figure out why FOX viewers hold the greatest numbers of untrue beliefs about recent world events.

As they say, you can look it all up.

Posted by: natasha at December 7, 2004 09:26 PM

"And the delusion never ends. You're drowning in it, all around you, and you don't even know you're wet..."

Thanks for the towel. What brand of fabric softener is that? Here's what I was aiming at, and where I think we might agree:

News stories are called out, on an hourly, or even moment-by moment basis throughout the blogosphere, which feeds back into the mainstream media. This newly-emerging watchdog process has taken down, to name only a few, the third most powerful position in government, the Speaker of the House (a republican) a Network News Anchor, and has served as a sharp thorn in the side of lazy news organizations, who now have thousands of fact-checkers needling them 24 hours a day. Not an unpartaisan process, to be sure, but not a bad score for a new medium.

Dishonest or incorrect news stories are examined, dissected, challenged from all quarters, constantly. Newspaper editors and network producers no longer have a blank check and a passive audience, certainly not as much as they used to.

It's an interesting process, imperfect, but vibrant, both to observe and participate in, and perhaps healthier than its given credit for.

When disagreeing with someone's point of view, a reasoned argument tempered with humor and tolerance is preferrable to unkindly dismissing your fellow observer as "deluded" and beneath your measure. My ideas aren't fixed. I'm exploring these issues, and appreciate contrary opinion. I look forward to a respectful and spirited discussion, as I imagine you do.

Posted by: Michael at December 7, 2004 11:21 PM