Couple this saturation coverage with the pronounced ideological leanings of those doing the covering, and what you get is CNN’s approach to the Middle East: an obsessive search for any event on the ground – no matter how mundane or unnewsworthy – that might in some way win sympathy for the Palestinians and place Israel in the harshest light possible.
In a revealing piece on the website JewishWorldReview.com, Michael Berman writes that CNN’s bias ‘is no longer something for conjecture – now it can be proven.’ Looking back at several weeks’ worth of archived headlines on CNN.com, Berman found that ‘Eleven different headlines clearly associate Israel with a verb and/or description marking an aggressive act.’ Here are those headlines, in chronological order:
· Israelis strike Arafat’s guard unit’s headquarters
· Witnesses: Israel shells Gaza town
· Israeli police enter disputed compound
· Israel seals off Gaza, West Bank until Friday
· Israel retaliates for Hizbullah attack
· More than 30 Palestinians wounded in new Israeli attack
· Israel hits Gaza after attack wounds infant
· Islamic Jihad activist killed in Israeli helicopter attack
· Israel arrests 6 from Arafat’s elite force
· Israeli, Palestinian children buried; Israel arrests Arafat guardsBy way of contrast, Berman points out that ‘The count of CNN headlines which similarly identify Palestinian or Arab aggression against Israel is zero. The closest approximation thereof is the above-mentioned ‘Israel retaliates for Hizbullah attack,’ which implies that Hizbullah attacked – but leaves the verb form, that which stirs the emotions, to Israel.’
As further confirmation of bias, Berman notes that ‘In several cases, the desperation to avoid identifying those initiating the violence is especially apparent, with headlines such as ‘Bomb kills 2, wounds 39 at bus stop near Tel Aviv’ or ‘Mortars injure five Jewish settlers’; one could almost wonder if there were Israeli home-made weapons which blew up too early, so devoid are these headlines of the least hint of who was responsible.’
A relative newcomer to the anti-CNN bandwagon is the novelist (and Jerusalem Post columnist) Naomi Ragen, who describes herself as someone who had ‘been an appreciative viewer of CNN for years.’ Not anymore. Ragen, a Jerusalem resident, has become one of the network’s most vociferous critics.
‘Time after time, in broadcast after broadcast,’ she writes, ‘CNN distorts, hides, falsifies and misrepresents the news in Israel, shaping it to fit a preconceived and well-orchestrated media campaign to discredit the Jewish state and her people, bolstering and giving media shelter to the terrorist activities of Yasir Arafat and his gunmen.’
Ragen urges concerned viewers to let CNN-Time Warner know what they think of CNN’s putrid Mideast coverage. If that fails, she feels an all-out boycott of the media giant would be in order.
To do anything less, she fears, would be ‘to allow the media conglomerates to brainwash the world to turn a blind eye to truth, to ignore historical facts, to justify violence.’
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org