In many cases, the media’s narrative has little to do with truth or facts
Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been getting bombarded with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli emails. We’ve all realized over the years that the pro-Palestinian side has successfully built a narrative that has little bearing on the truth, but has a number of abettors. Among them the media. And it is a real problem when “news” ends up being slanted to one side or another because, well, because it fits a narrative the media prefers, because we remain poorly and incompletely informed. Funny how when that’s the case, flaky “facts” go unexamined, while real facts are downplayed, ignored or dismissed if they don’t fit that narrative.
Of course we’ve also been told, by the usual players, that there is no media bias and that the story is “true”. Of course, that’s using the post-modern definition of true. However, now an AP correspondent very familiar with the area, the coverage and the narrative, lays it all out in a couple of articles:
Most consumers of the Israel story don’t understand how the story is manufactured. But Hamas does. Since assuming power in Gaza in 2007, the Islamic Resistance Movement has come to understand that many reporters are committed to a narrative wherein Israelis are oppressors and Palestinians passive victims with reasonable goals, and are uninterested in contradictory information. Recognizing this, certain Hamas spokesmen have taken to confiding to Western journalists, including some I know personally, that the group is in fact a secretly pragmatic outfit with bellicose rhetoric, and journalists—eager to believe the confession, and sometimes unwilling to credit locals with the smarts necessary to deceive them—have taken it as a scoop instead of as spin.
During my time at the AP, we helped Hamas get this point across with a school of reporting that might be classified as “Surprising Signs of Moderation” (a direct precursor to the “Muslim Brotherhood Is Actually Liberal” school that enjoyed a brief vogue in Egypt). In one of my favorite stories, “More Tolerant Hamas” (December 11, 2011), reporters quoted a Hamas spokesman informing readers that the movement’s policy was that “we are not going to dictate anything to anyone,” and another Hamas leader saying the movement had “learned it needs to be more tolerant of others.” Around the same time, I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger.
There are a couple of things to take away from this. One the uber-sophisticated press is being spun by those they tend to look-down upon. Apparently there’s such a thing as being “willingly spun” and we’ve been getting a whole heaping helping of it for years. The irony, if it wasn’t so damaging, is delicious. Two, this is how you get Ferguson’s. This is the same recipe on a domestic level. Facts, be damned, the narrative is what is important and so it is the narrative you get.
How does that serve the consumers of news?