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Speaking Truth To Media Power
Posted by: MichaelW on Friday, August 15, 2008

This is your "must read" opinion piece for the weekend:
I have often wondered why some of the best thinkers of our time refuse to believe in human progress. After all, there was a time when tens of thousands of ordinary citizens flocked to the gates of the Roman Coliseum to enjoy the sight of wild beasts tearing human beings to pieces. Today, such a sight would evoke revulsion and disbelief.

Even the Nazis tried to hide their deeds from the eyes of history.Of course, inhumanity still exists, but it is no longer laudable or fashionable in the public sphere. With the exception of exhibition killings by jihadist recruiters, cruelty is no longer a catalyst of mass arousal. Be it for fear or shame, the trend is clear: The norms of civilized society are moving forward, and it is those norms, not their exceptions, that shape the minds of our youngsters and justify our hopes for a better world.
Father of Daniel Pearl, the infamously executed journalist, penned this article to chastise Al Jazeera for its behavior in celebrating the release of Samir Kuntar.
The focus of my attention naturally turned to Al Jazeera because, with its outreach of 50 million to 100 million viewers from Morocco to the Persian Gulf, this pan-Arab satellite channel is considered the conscience and future of the Arab world.

Imagine a voice cast in a perfect Oxford accent articulating in unmistaken empathy: "He has returned to a hero's welcomeA chill went down my spine when British-accented announcers, who introduced Al Jazeera's English channel correspondent Rula Amin, translated the wisdom of Kuntar's words from the original Arabic. . . . After 29 years in [an] Israeli prison, Samir Kuntar spent his first day of freedom vowing to continue to fight against Israel. He says he hopes to see the enemy again very soon."
I don't think that I've ever once taken Al Jazeera to task for its coverage, simply because, although it obviously biases its slant on the news to suit the prejudices of its viewership, it introduces a slew of opinion and fact not otherwise available to a world dominated by state-run news agencies. So even if its only slightly more biased than, say CNN, it is still a far sight better than anything that the Middle East can expect from its other sources.

However, Judea Pearl calls the organization to the mat, in an eloquent and powerful way, specifically noting the rather obscene deference shown to the child-killer, Kuntar:
Then came Kuntar's birthday party, initiated by Al Jazeera's bureau in Beirut and aired on Al Jazeera TV July 19 (translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute). There was orchestral music, a huge birthday cake and infinite admiration by the Al Jazeera bureau chief announcing: "Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you. You deserve even more than this . . . Happy birthday, brother Samir."

How amateurish was the Coliseum in Rome compared with modern-day satellite rituals of death and brutality. Imagine millions of living rooms watching their new role model, child-killer Kuntar, lowering a huge butcher knife onto his birthday cake to the sound of fireworks and male chorus: "This is the sword of the Arabs, Samir."
Even though Al Jazeera represents a major leap forward in news coverage for the Middle East, Mr. Pearl is spot on in his assertion that feting Kuntar represents a serious ethical lapse of judgment. Indeed, Al Jazeera itself found its coverage over the top (to its credit):
In a letter to Israel's Press Office, the station admitted on Aug. 6 that "elements of the program violated Al Jazeera's Code of Ethics," according to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. I believe Al Jazeera owes a more definitive public apology, not only to Israel, but primarily to its viewers, for attempting to turn their children into the likes of Kuntar; to the journalism community, for robbing the profession of its nobleness; and, most urgently, to us, citizens of this planet, for attempting to relegitimize barbarity in the public square.
Pearl is exactly right, of course, even though his suggestion will be ignored. In my mind, Al Jazeera represents a good start in the Middle East whereas Judea Pearl's article ruminates on the perfect. I side with Mr. Pearl on the ethics of the situation, and I admire his eloquent response to Al Jazeera's disgusting cheerleading. When the news organization forgoes Pearl's suggestion, however, I can't say that I'll be surprised or even annoyed. Pearl stands on the side of the angels here, but Al Jazeera needs to operate in the fictionalized world of devils. That the news agency is capable of interjecting any straight news into the Middle East is a feat of major proportions, and the fact that they admitted any wrongdoing to Ha'aretz at all is laudable. So even though Judea Pearl is entirely correct in his assessment and admonition of Al Jazeera, I won't think terribly less of the station when it doesn't comply.

As for Mr. Pearl himself, I can honestly say that I have not read such a dispassionately poignant exposition of the clear ethics of a matter, so concisely delivered and masterfully expressed, in a very long time. He deserves great kudos for taking a painfully personal subject and rendering it into a thoughtful articulation of why presenting the truth is important. I hope everyone takes the time to read the whole thing.

[HT: Hot Air Headlines]
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Unless I’m misunderstanding Mr. Pearl’s article, the irony here is that before we embark on offering opinions to other media outlets about their integrity, we MUST cleanse our own media of the outright lies and deception rampant in our own media. Yes CNN, MSNBC, ABC, PBS and CBS and 99% of our print media, I’m talking about you.
Written By: Buffoon
Well I must be right, no response to disagree...
Written By: Buffoon
I guess what Buffoon is suggesting is that we treat news organizations and terrorist propagandists the same way that we treat the terrorists themselves: kill them or capture them and confiscate their belongings.
this pan-Arab satellite channel is considered the conscience and future of the Arab world.
As the editor of the NYT admitted during the 04 elections, yes the news media is biased and hey what are you gonna do about it? Similar to al jazeera, most reporters represent the conscience of the party they are biased towards, and like al jazeera most of the MSM is made of idiots and degenerates who celebrate terrorist attacks and hate America.
Written By: jows
URL: http://
I would never suggest in print we kill any individual "journalist",... lol

But yes, in my opinion, there is no difference between alJazeera and Kieth Olbermann’s Countdown Circus... they both hate America and are seeking to destroy it..... one is just a little more honest and forthcoming when saying it... guess which one...
Written By: Buffoon
Without defending the MSM, I really don’t think that Judea Pearl is suggesting any such thing. He is pretty clearly slamming Al Jazeera for its reprehensible behavior is celebrating the birthday of a child killer, among other aspects of its Kuntar coverage. Any extrapolations you make from that are on your own.
Written By: MichaelW
this pan-Arab satellite channel is considered the conscience and future of the Arab world..... the same idiots who believe in unicorns.

Written By: shark
URL: http://
Congradulations on being smart enough not to demagogue Al Jazeera. As for Kuntar, nothing popularizes a nasty man like having him imprisoned for decades by the Bad Guys. For AJ to be the only ones on the block taking a HighMinded Western Moral Slant would be like O.J. Simpson being banned from the NAACP or something. AJ is free, but that just means it reflects the street view, and the street view is unsurpsingly more sympathetic to Kuntar than the Wall St. Journal. Surprises: 0.

On the other side of the river, they loved them some Ariel Sharon. Human nature.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
As for Kuntar, nothing popularizes a nasty man like having him imprisoned for decades by the Bad Guys.
Yeah, no doubt. Child murdering terrorists should just be set free to avoid all the publicity. [/eyeroll] The rest of you comment deserves even less consideration.
Written By: MichaelW

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