Out to Lunch
The US media's biased coverage of the crisis in Lebanon should come as no surprise.
While the White House and Congress claim a "special relationship"
with Israel, our news outlets are not supposed to have a "special relationship"
with anyone. Their job is to fairly reports on matters; anything less is a disservice
to those watching their news programs and reading their newspapers.
Shockingly, Larry King Live has been "fair" in its coverage of the
conflict consuming Lebanon in contrast to Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC's
Scarborough Country and yes, CNN's darling Anderson Cooper 360. There is, however,
much criticism to be doled out to CNN's "longest-running interview program."
One need look no further than Larry King Live's first two guests, Republican
Senator George Allen and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh. It was nice to see-in
this nine minute segment-two senators putting their congressional partisan politics
aside to stand together in solidarity with the state of Israel. When Larry King
asked Senator Allen if the US should be a true broker in the region, Allen replied,
"We support Israel, you're right Larry. Israel is a wellspring in the wilderness
in the Middle East and we do support them and their right to protect themselves."
The next guest on the show was positioned as the "Lebanese side."
Larry King Live passed off the nearly four minute interview with Chibli Mallat-one
of the leaders of the Cedar Revolution, deep critic of Hezbollah and candidate
for President-as the voice of the Lebanese people. When Larry King asked Mallat
about Nassrallah's remark that the conflict is an Israeli/American plot to control
the Middle East, Mallat responded, "I'm afraid that I do agree with the
senators. He [Nassrallah] initiated the conflict, and all this talk about a
great plot between Israel and America is out of place. The conflict was initiatedby
[Hezbollah's] reckless action through the Blue Line that separates Lebanon from
Israel. That was a grave violation of international law and I think also a grave
violation of Lebanese law." Like a true patriot, Mallat later urged "restraint"
from Israel, echoing comments made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice weeks
Now that the "Lebanese people" were heard, it was necessary to bring
on the Israeli side, Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch, to counter any "Lebanese"
propaganda. For nearly four minutes, Danoch defended Israel and extensively
illustrated its commitment to root out "terrorism." As icing on the
cake, Danoch took softball emails from viewers and general questions from Larry
King such as, "Why do you oppose a cease-fire now?" and "Are
One would think that after Larry King Live came back from break, the show would
cut to the carnage in Lebanon, the destruction of its infrastructure, or an
analyst discussing the humanitarian implications the siege on Lebanon presents.
Not exactly. When the program returned from the break, Larry King cut to Anderson
Cooper in Northern Israel, who-given the amount of reporting he's doing in the
North-may as well be looking for a second home. Larry King then cut to Dr. Sanjay
Gupta in Haifa. While Gupta spoke of the horror Katyusha rockets exact (thousands
have been fired, inflicting very little damage relative to Israel's 500 pound
bombs and artillery shells), pictures crossed the screen of injured Israeli
women and children. The producers, however, were still unsatisfied. Before going
to commercial, Anderson Cooper needed another six minutes explaining that the
"terrorist group," Hezbollah, is hiding within the civilian population.
Cooper makes no mention of the fact that Hezbollah formed as a resistance group
to fight off an Israeli military that slaughtered nearly twenty thousand innocent
Lebanese and Palestinian civilians in 1982. To justify the mass murder of the
Lebanese population today, Cooper makes clear to the viewer that while Israel
is trying to be as accurate as possible, even "the most moral military
in the world" can only be so precise. It's ironic that Cooper always has
the exact number of Katushya rockets fired on Israel, but the exact number of
cluster bombs, artillery shells, and missiles used against the civilian population
of Lebanon seems to evade his statistical charts.
A simple cut to commercial would not suffice; the producers of program realized
that any decent show must have a good outro. Larry King Live eased into commercial
with a "balanced" set of pictures: first, a young Muslim girl holding
a picture of Hassan Nassrallah, followed by what is assumed to be a group of
Lebanese burning American and Israeli flags, followed by a man carrying a blanket-covered
lifeless body, succeeded by two young covered Muslim girls (one of them is in
tears), and the sequence ended with three injured Lebanese boys (one of the
boys is in tears). Apparently, when showing pictures of injured Israelis (they'd
show dead ones, but it doesn't happen often) and "heroic" Israelis,
the producers of Larry King Live misplaced the Associated Press pictures of
little Israeli girls writing messages on missiles that were about to be fired
on the civilian population of Lebanon. Ironically, the only person killed the
day of this particular episode was a Palestinian-Israeli girl.
Estimates of dead Lebanese civilians surpassed 900, while the Israeli civilian
death toll is at 27. Although thirty three Lebanese civilians die for every
one Israeli, the US media deems it necessary to give the Israeli agenda ten
minutes of airtime for every minute allotted to the Lebanese voice. The war
crimes being carried out against the Lebanese and the Palestinian people by
Israel should be newsworthy enough to receive proper coverage. As the conflict
drags on, thanks to the US administration's "green light," the coverage
is becoming ever more skewed, compounded with additional justifications for
Israel's actions, the further villainizing of Hezbollah and now that the Lebanese-American
community has been evacuated, the silence of the Lebanese voice. One civilian
is one death too many; yet it looks as though thousands more will perish at
the hands of Israeli forces, and once again, the US media will be out to lunch.
Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website
lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer, poet and
performer and can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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