The performance of the Western media (American, British, French and others) regarding the Syrian conflict has been quite shameful. One does not expect much from American media. Ill-informed foreign editors and correspondents and political cowardice turn American media into tools of US foreign policy.
This is especially true when it comes to coverage of the Middle East, where extra political courage and uncharacteristic level of knowledge and expertise are rather rare even though they are essential in challenging US foreign policy. But when it comes to Syria British media – including the liberal Guardian which has often been brave in challenging Western foreign policies and wars – have been indistinguishable from American media.
These media have failed their readers on many levels. Their shortcomings can be summarized as follows:
1. Resorting to methods of documentations that are never accepted when covering the Arab-Israeli conflict; like the reliance on accounts of people through skype and emails whose names are not obtained through a random process and the reliance on Saudi or Qatari press media offices.
2. Hiding behind the cliché that “the Syrian government does not allow journalists in” to justify the various anthologies of errors contained in media reports. Many journalists have either been allowed in or have managed to sneak in, so the general disclaimer used daily in the New York Times is inaccurate and misleads readers. Such a disclaimer is never used against Israel, which imposes rigid forms of censorship on reports emanating from Israel, especially when Israel is perpetrating its regular war crimes and massacres.
3. The reliance on exile Syrian opposition reports without any scrutiny or healthy skepticism.
4. The assumption that Saudi-funded or Qatari-funded media outfits don’t carry the agendas of those governments.
5. Obscuring on purpose the heavy role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian exile opposition in order to project a deceptive image of a secular opposition.
original report | 30 july 2012