Friday, November 16, 2007

Enderlin's Ocean of Blood- Why the Second Draft is Important

Charles Enderlin is adrift in a rising ocean of blood. He is either so arrogant or so blinded by his fear that he is helpless to do what needs to be done to stem the tide. It is a tragedy of Biblical scale. When it all started, he was riding an exhilarating wave. (Backgound: here, here and here)

In October of 2000 he had what must have been a dream job. He was the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for France2. He got to live in one of the great, cosmopolitan, civilized cities of the world and report daily on a simmering, dangerous, richly symbolic conflict at the cutting edge between civilization and chaos. There was always a story. Because he lived and worked in Jerusalem there was never any censorship or physical threat or even any physical discomfort. He had Palestinian stringers who fed him footage and information from the unsafe and difficult areas so he could sit in Jerusalem, edit film in his fuzzy robe and slippers and be a war correspondent.

I am guessing that he just got too sloppy and arrogant to see how he was being used by his trusted Palestinian sidekick Talal Abu Rahma. Rahma knew the boss wasn’t disposed to check up on his work as long as he delivered serviceable goods and he gave him a juicy scoop once in a while. One day, Rahma overplayed the deal and Enderlin was setup for a fall. The rest of the story boils down to what Enderlin knew, when he knew it and whether or not he would take responsibility for it.

His now controversial report on the alleged shooting of a twelve year old boy named Muhammed al Durah at Netzarim Junction in Gaza vaulted him to the top of the jounalistic world. He had “scooped” everyone and had presented a perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict that had been hinted at by the media and longed for by the liberal and leftists in the dank guilt-ridden recesses of the west- especially Europe. It quickly became apparent that although it had never actually been seen or proven, there was a large and willing potion of the audience that readily took to the image of the Israelis as oppressors and thugs. The film and Enderlin’s presentation of it would, if true, have been proof of murderous brutality by the Israeli army. Enderlin reported that they killed the boy in cold blood. Looking at the report footage now, with the knowledge and background that has come to light it is hard to believe that such ambiguous and poorly staged stuff could have caught the imagination of the world the way it did. But, then, you had the voice of Charles Enderlin telling you what to believe about it in your ear and it is always dangerous to underestimate the size and explosivity of the subterranean lake of anti-Semitic blood-libel that seems to bubble and churn beneath the entire world’s population.

Enderlin’s report and the image it presented roiled that stygian lake from its dormancy. The news media picked it up and propagated it. He suddenly found himself riding a tidal wave of notoriety and recognition. Behaving more like a propagandist than a journalist, he arraigned for his scoop footage to be distributed to any other media outlet that would carry it- free of charge. Usually other media are made to pay dearly for hot items like this, but Charles “Scoopy” Enderlin was in full self-promotion mode.

Still, when questions came up about the sad but oddly bloodless video footage Charles the Delicate, demurred. he refused to back up his report with more proof. Oh, he had more proof, he said, he just didn’t want to bruise our sensitivities. He did it for our own good.

A little more than three weeks after the incident, when some ungrateful defenders of Israel began asking questions and casting doubt on your story and you let it out- (not the actual proof mind you, that might have been too much for us) you told Telerama magazine:

“I cut the images of the child's agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more...”

What a hero he wanted to seem. Not only did he have the goods on the Israelis, he was so very cultivated and civilized about it. Even the Israelis were afraid to call his bluff. What if he did have heart-rending footage of the child’s death throes? They recoiled in horror. Rather than risk even more heart breaking images coming to light, the Israelis pulled back and left it alone.

But a nagging doubt still tormented some of us. Landes, Karsenty, Poller, Gross and others- those with enough faith in what their eyes could see, and enough experience with the Leftist media and its toadying up to the Palestinian propaganda machine to see that it was a bluff and, just as in a poker game, if a bluff is not called, the bluffer wins all.

From the isolation and security of his Jerusalem studio, which he never actually left to investigate this story himself, he had pronounced the boy dead, even as we can see him peeking out from under his arm looking for all the world like a kid who might just be tired of play-acting. It was as if he were saying, “Is it ok to get up? I’m tired of this. I’d like to go home now.”

Meanwhile, if Enderlin had looked down, he would have noticed that the wave he was riding was actually a tsunami of blood. It crashed over the Middle East, inundating it in rage and violence. It has continued to continuously circle the globe, splashing gore wherever it touches

The wave washed over those two off duty Israeli reservists who took a wrong turn, got lost in the west bank and were murdered in Ramallah two weeks after the initial broadcast report aired. More accurately, they were torn limb from bloody limb by an enraged crowd in Ramallah as they chanted the name al Durah over and over. Enderlin might might want us to believe that the savagery in Ramallah might have been worse that day had those “death throes” he used as emotional blackmail been shown. I don’t know how.

In an insensate, vengeful rage they stormed the police station (the police stood by and watched). They beat, stabbed and mutilated the men. They threw them out of a second story window. They pummeled them and mangled them. Finally, they took their internal organs out of their bodies, held them aloft and paraded around with them. I watched that video.

All the while, Monsieur Enderlin was posing as the moderate and even slightly charitable correspondent. He seemed to expect us to thank him for holding back the footage that he claimed to be “really” inflammatory. He had the advantage and no one was able to mount a formidable enough challenge to force his deception into the open. His bosses at France2 backed him completely. So he was able to masquerade as good man who was simply too honest to not tell his compelling story- even if it meant he “had to make the sacrifice” of becoming world renowned in the process. Poor Monsieur Enderlin, thank you for taking the trouble to spare a forlorn world the horror of the truth about Muhammad al Durah’s death- this was so much better.

The wave of blood made it to the US a year later. On September 11, 2001 we here in America watched thousands of our fellow citizens incinerated in airplanes, leaping to their deaths to escape flames in their offices and crushed to a fine powdery dust by collapsing concrete. Afterward we heard Osama bin Laden cite the name of al Durah in righteous indignation in his demonic screed of justification.

Two years later Daniel Pearl was lost under the wave when the name and image of al Durah was used (as incitement and justification) in the video that gruesomely depicted the death by beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter after he was forced to kneel and “confess” to being Jewish. Ask yourself why this blatantly anti-Semitic atrocity inspired some much less horror in the west than the faked death of Muhammad al Durah and you are forced to confront the fact that the people who were harmed the most by this whole sordid affair are the ones who see themselves as the victors of its aftermath.

The greatest harm caused by the wave was done where it first came ashore among the Palestinian people and the larger Islamic world beyond them. Now this one is overlooked very easily because, as he himself has implied, the Arabs and Islamists are held to a very low standard of behavior and comportment- especially by him and most of the rest of the mainstream media. In a stunning example of the pernicious effects of multiculturalism he and others in the employ of France2 have dismissed the staging and fraud exposed bye ven the most superficial analysis of the outtake footage that we have seen that day as just an aspect of “their (the Palestinian) culture”. The Arabs’ atrocious behavior has been excused as “cultural” and been consistently rewarded and reinforced by people like Enderlin that they have become “The People of the Tantrum”.

There was never any doubt that the story about al Durah served as an accelerant to the flames of Islamic inferiority and rage, Enderlin played a leading role in keeping them locked in the dungeon of resentment, intolerance and xenophobia. He gave them a tangible reason to stay enraged and aggressive and he allowed them to let their imaginations run riot on the idea that was even more distressing footage that they had not seen..

From Enderlin’s point of view, what was the downside, really? Even if his report had been truthful, even if he were dealing with us honestly about his reasons for hiding the footage, even if he had fully come forward with all of the rushes, it could hardly have made things worse than they have turned out. It made for a nice steady news cycle; the rage and violence produced as many incidents as he cared to cover, and his part in the fraud (whether as a willing tool or an unwitting useful idiot) gave him a nice cozy access relationship to the newsmakers.

But Last week, when Charles Enderlin showed up in court with nine minutes less video than he had been ordered to appear with, it was clear that he now had dropped the pretense that he had additional and more damning footage. He is now officially not riding the wave any longer; he is in danger of being pulled under by it. His arrogance when he informed the court that the footage that he did not bring either “didn’t concern that day” or “were irrelevant” actually drew laughs from the courtroom. His equally laughable narrations that went along with the actual screening were just as ridiculous.

Perhaps it is just “his culture” (as he would say of the Arabs) as a high priest of media that makes him believe that he can tell the rest of the world what is of concern and what is not relevant but I suspect (and hope) that the judge will want to be the one making that call in her courtroom.

But that is a legal question and subject to the arcane French laws that allowed Enderlin to win the first case against Karsenty without proving that he (Enderlin) had not known that the report he aired on the incident at Netzarim was based on inaccurate information. The way the law is written made it possible for Enderlin to take Karsenty to court and accuse him of libel without having to prove that Karsenty was wrong in what he had said. Thus the French court was at its own discretion on how hard to look at Enderlin. In this second trial, the court has decided that the plausibility of Karsenty’s original assessment of Enderlin’s work should be considered and that is why Enderlin was finally ordered to produce the video.

As of this past Wednesday, the question is now no longer whether Charles Enderlin is a liar or not, the question is only when, if ever, does he tell the truth and how much of the truth does he tell? Was he lying before he was forced to the courtroom or is he lying now? Really, it makes little difference. What matters is that he must lose his license to misinform the public and he must lose it now!

The management at France2 that gave him a platform to misrepresent and then helped him lie and cover-up should be sacked also. Given that France2 is a government agency, the involvement and motives of the French government (at least pre-Sarkosy) must be questioned.

Beyond the tragedy and the necessary punishment of Enderlin and France2 there are still greater and more perplexing unanswered questions. Why did the world so eagerly embrace the al Durah affair as a new reason to fear and hate “The Jews” (as embodied by Israel). Why were so many people and governments so easily sucked in by this transparent jape of a “news” story while the great and stinking atrocities of our times, the slaughter of innocents in suicide attacks, are shrugged and clucked at? Why, even now, though it is has been on shaky ground since 2004 when Enderlin publicly retrenched to the position that the boy was “killed in a crossfire” instead of intentionally by Israelis will the stain not go away? Why has none of the courtroom drama of last week gained any attention from the Western media? Here is a now proven lie, told in arrogance and perpetuated without conscience that has cause a tidal wave of blood. Who will answer for it?

The sad truth is that no one can stop a Tsunami. Once the propagation of the Icon began, there was no holding it back. Only honesty, fact checking and, most important, safeguards against allowing the power of the media to be manipulated by the likes of Talal Abu Rahma who has publicly stated that his professional mission has more to do with his tribal loyalties than with ethical journalism. Accepting an award in Morocco in 2001 for his work, he told a reporter: "I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people." In other words, Enderlin made himself a dupe to a propagandist from a culture that views journalism as an extension of war- by other means.

It is not enough for us to respond to these media induced tragedies. Once they have the force of a tidal wave, terrible harm is done before we can even open our mouths to speak. We have to identify and contain the irresponsible, undisciplined and dishonest practices (e.g. unholy alliances between hostile government propaganda agents and our all-too-willing media) before they can create devastating images that get a life of their own. That is why Second Draft is important. We are dedicated to identifying and documenting past cases, and speeding up the process whereby we identify and challenge new cases.

Richard Landes is on his way home from Paris as I post this. Landes has played a key role in the unraveling of Enderlin’s defenses and now that Chirac is not in power to give him the influential testimony of a serving president and if Judge Trébucq believes her eyes instead of Enderlin’s narration, the case should be decided against him. Richard’s dedication to not just correct the lie of al Durah but to learn from it and plan for the prevention of the next variation that may arise is a critical development in the battle for truly free, honest and responsible media.

In the coming months we at Second Draft will be announcing a number of key initiatives to further Richard’s work but for now I’d like to congratulate my friend and to express the hope that all of the hard work that has brought us to the point of at least a symbolic victory on al Durah, and all of the blood spilled in the name of the phony martyr might never have to happen again (or, at least be decreased) if we do our job well.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Outrage in Paris! The Ghost of Rose Mary Woods Stalks the Court Room

Important news just in from the courtroom in Paris- Enderlin and France2 showed up in court with a “Rose Mary Woods” version of the Rushes today. For those of you who are too young to remember, Rose Mary was Richard Nixon’s private secretary who, as a last ditch effort to postpone the sinking of the Nixon presidency, allowed her name to become synonymous with pathetic fakery and obvious deceit. Where Ms Woods was a loyal pawn, however, Enderlin has proven himself to be something much, much worse. This deletion must be construed as an explicit admission of guilt, as well as commission of (what in American courts would be) fraud, perjury and evidence tampering. Richard will have more on Augean Stables and I will have more tonight.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Debunking the Priesthood of Journalism

I often email my posts to a list of fellow bloggers and assorted friends of Breath of the Beast (If you want to be included let me know). Although the number of comments that my latest post has received was pretty average, the message that I sent out about it stirred up more return traffic than any other email I have ever sent out. The debate has been lively and stimulating. It has prompted me to define the scope of the awards more tightly and to rename them.

I had already had second thoughts about the original name but then I got messages from Pamela at Atlas Shrugged, (Voice of) Jackalope, Jewish Odysseus and Jeremayakovka all of whom I admire. The give and take over dozens of emails that flew back and forth forced me to the conclusion that, as satisfying as it is to call these idiots idiots, many of the people whose attention we most want to attract are repelled by that kind of harsh language. It would be much more productive to use language (especially in our headlines) that will help us to sell our position to the unconvinced folks who might be listening to the pernicious high priests of journalism only because they are the only source of information they trust. Trust is really the issue.

A friend of mine had recently recommended to me. He told me to be sure and see the text of the speech that Tony Snow, the former White House Press Secretary delivered as he accepted the Freedom of Speech Award from The Media Institute at their Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 2007. The speech is long but nearly revolutionary in its impact. Its well worth reading in its entirety (Find it here.) and it deserves a much wider distribution than it has had to this point. I’d like to take some choice bits of it out here because they highlight the importance of having the right name and focus for this award.

Snow began his speech with a startling premise.

“We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that’s true. I don’t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn’t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.
Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects — the government, interest groups, angry factionalists — those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.
They’re not the culprits here. Instead, there’s a new and unexpected menace on the block:
The media.”

Those are fighting words for certain. But this guy is no pugnacious ideologue, he is not a professioal media critic nor does he show any signs of having been embittered by his year and a half long skirmish with the press as White house Press Secretary. In fact, he makes a convincing and passionate case that he loves and respects the press. Snow, in a good natured, understated and understanding way, goes out of his way to explain that the Mainstream Media have already painted themselves into a very tight corner.

“… members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What’s going on here?” Why are the nation’s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don’t Americans care about the news?

Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don’t think they’re getting news — and they’re right. Three factors explain the sudden crisis facing once-mighty keepers of the First Amendment flame.”

It is interesting that Snow uses the image of keepers of the flame”. This concept of a priestly trust goes back beyond the beginning of recorded history. I am going to return to priesthood soon so remember it.

“The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.

Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.”

It’s no wonder that the media do not express the views and represent the aspirations of the rest of the country. They only talk with each other and there is no one there to tell them they might be missing something. Snow characterizes the resulting spiral of self-sustaining insularity as:
“… sheer smugness. Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel — it is not — unthinkable — it is not — or false — which it also is not.
The major media organs in this country have become purveyors of conventional wisdom
— generally, conventional liberal wisdom.”

The unreality of this lopsided distribution of political belief is striking. After all, President Bush has prevailed ( if only narrowly) in two hotly contested presidential races and the Senate and Congress are almost evenly split between Republican and Democrat. Even so, the left (only because they have such a dominant representation in the media) enjoys the pleasure of striking a condescending attitude toward those whose ideas and beliefs do not have the constant reinforcement and validation of a media that is constitutionally unable to provide fair reporting of the ideas and aspirations of half of the nation. It is even fair to ask, “How do the conservatives and centrists maintain the level of popular support, the integrity of ideology and the morale to win elections in the face of such a disadvantage in the Public Relations Wars?” If the media were not so skewed, so sure that they are right, if they treated conservative ideas with a modicum of respect how would that affect the political balance of the nation?

Because the only voice heard in the mainstream media is a left-leaning one, it has become acceptable for otherwise intelligent people to speculate on whether the last two elections were stolen. I have heard ostensibly reasonable people discuss the idea that there is a real possibility that the Bush administration is trying to, in some unspecified way, silence anyone who opposes him, render the democratic process inoperative, throttle the press and metamorphose into the far left fantasy of him as BusHitler. Snow continues: point out that the only thing resembling a group with a monolithic ideological and unity or purpose that even remotely resembles a fascist system is the media itself.

I agree with Tony Snow that the Mainstream Media is a sort of priesthood. But where they once held the bright virile flame of freedom of speech as their sacred trust, most of them are far more interested in keeping and nurturing the sickly shimmer of “progressive leftist ideology.

Every priesthood has some “barrier” or qualification by which it attempts to set itself above “ordinary people”. Some are more justifiable than others. Lawyers, Psychologists and Physicians, for example, have their ordeal by education and their professional oaths that make them priests of their professions. The Catholic priesthood, of course have the direction of the infallible Pope and the (for most people) inconceivable sacrifice of celibacy.

The journalistic priesthood’s qualifying barrier has less to do with education or behavior. It is a modern mythology that was created on the bones of a few true heroes, people like (e.g. Ernie Pyle, Robert Capa, Stephen Crane and Dickie Chapelle) who risked everything to bring back real stories from dangerous places and cataclysmic events. In recent times that mantle has been expropriated by undeserving media whores (e.g. Charles Enderlin, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Christiane Amanpour) who stay in safe compounds and toady up to the terror factions to by their own security and to secure access to tainted information.

Films like The Killing Fields, All the Presidents Men and The Year of Living Dangerously pandered to this myth and have helped turn it into the basis of a false priesthood. Most people today will not question the priestly dedication of truth and fairness to which most journalists pretend. They may, as old-time Catholics did, know in their hearts that the priest is just a human being like them, but the mythos of the priesthood keeps them from questioning them.

The primary control on questioning the media is their use of political correctness. Snow describes it this way:

“But smugness isn’t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most — prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts — the communications in question hurt people’s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let’s be clear: the First Amendment didn’t create allowances for censors.

The Constitution’s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn’t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.”

The more difficult the barrier, the more unassailable the status of the priesthood but the greater the loss of trust will be if the public perceives a betrayal; this is why, in the case of the Catholic priesthood, it was not so much the sexual abuse and the callous and unsympathetic treatment of the victims by the church hierarchy to damage the Catholic priesthood. It was the transgression (by a relatively few priests) of their most forbidding priestly qualification- and then they did not police themselves convincingly.

Although I am Jewish, I share family ties with many Catholics and I have seen, through the eyes of people I love, how the greatest, most benevolent and most unassailable priesthood in the history of mankind, a priesthood that was once beyond any kind of questioning used that position of power to protect members of their own caste who hurt ordinary people. The Catholic priesthood is now all but totally discredited by its own arrogance of power.

This is exactly why the al Durah affair is so important. My friend and mentor Richard Landes flew to Paris yesterday to confront the egregious journalist Charles Enderlin and his Employer France2. Richard has pursued Enderlin and France2 for seven years because they are guilty of the very same kind of transgression of “priestly vows and responsibility” that brought the Catholic hierarchy so low. The al Durah affair and Enderlin exposes the way in which the mainstream media has betrayed our trust and the sacred flame the are supposed to keep for us. They reported an event that they did not substantiate. When doubts were raised about it they prevaricated and concealed evidence. Even when they saw the terrible damage (the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Ramallah lynchings, Osama bin Laden’s use of it to rationalize 9/11 and a million other acts of riotous violence, retribution and hatred) that their blood libel had caused, they have refused to cooperate in helping to repair that damage.

The suffering of the sexual abuse victims against the background of the uncaring, self-protection of The Church Hierarchy ultimately turned the tide against The Piesthood in the sex abuse cases and is that same asymmetry that will have to carry the day in our fight for an honest media.

Tony Snow ended his speech with this:

“There’s an old boast in the business — that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world.”

Not only are the mainstream media “the comfortable” they are increasingly afflicting the afflicted as they use their priestly power to:

1. Blacken the reputation of Israel and weaken her position against those who will not be satisfied until she is destroyed.

2. Increase the suffering of all Muslim people by pimping out the news for the professional terrorist groups that have gained ascendancy in the world of Islamic politics since the 1960’s when the Western mainstream media proclaimed and supported Arafat as the Palestinian national leader

3. Continue to deny any distinction (or even difference in value) between the Caliphate fascist death cult of Islamism and Western Civilization.

For that reason, I am going to rename these awards the Charles Enderlin Prize for Pernicious Journalism - “The Chuckies” for short!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Useful Media Idiot of the Week Award

If I didn’t believe that I was doing something important, you could not pay me enough to read and think about treacle like this. No wonder papers like The Globe and The Times are shedding readers faster than Jake, my Labrador, is shedding fur.

The Boston Globe web site has a Reuters article that appeared in the Boston Globe newspaper a few days ago entitled Rice seeks Mideast peace deal while Bush in Office under the byline of one Sue Pleming.

In many ways the article is standard Reuters fare which is to say that Ms Pleming seems to go to great lengths to give the appearance that she is providing real information while she is actually carefully observing the Political Correctness Protocol by not saying anything about one side of the conflict that she would not say against the other. Since the Palestinian side wants to destroy Israel and is in the throes of a violent civil war and the Israelis only want to be allowed to live in peace, it makes for some foggy prose and some even more opaque logic. Just look at this couplet of sentence/paragraphs in which the concerns and positions of the Israelis are compared and presented as equivalent to those of the Palestinians. This is a gem of moral relativity.

“In an indication of difficulties ahead, Israel has also put the Palestinians on notice it would not implement an agreement until its security concerns, spelled out in a U.S.-backed peace "road map" formulated in 2003, were met.

The Palestinians have called on Israel to meet its commitments under that blueprint and halt settlement expansion and uproot outposts established in the occupied West Bank without Israeli government permission.”

Of course, the resolute refusal to face up to the hardest truths in the situation only serves the purposes of the worst element. This comparison almost sounds even-handed unless you happen to recall that Israel had already either fulfilled or made a sincere commitment to a majority of the requirements of the “road map” including ceding military and civil control of large portions of what was to become the Palestinian State, before the Palestinians froze the process with the latest intifada. Israel recognized the PA government, endorsed the “two state” solution and pulled out of Gaza altogether. Israel has made a practice of exhibiting remarkable (some say irresponsible) restraint in the face of a steady toll of death, injury and terror as an unrelenting stream of rockets and suicide bombers continue to be launched on Israel, and Abbas still can’t seem to bring himself to recognize the reality of Israel. It is, after all, a Jewish state.

Then again, the politics of access journalism means that she has to avoid saying anything that might damage her ability to get information from the government controlled and censored Palestinian News service. While Israel maintains a free media and allows any news organization equal access in Israel, Pleming knows that she would not have access to information or photos like this one with the story (note the credits: …picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO). …, (REUTERS/Omar Rashidi/PPO/Handout)) if she didn’t represent the Palestinian view they way they want it.

Condoleezza Rice and "The Palestinian Martin Luther King" Mahmoud Abbas

The Israelis, of course, will not punish her (or even make her or her employer the least bit uncomfortable) for her choice. She knows that and so does her boss at Reuters. It makes it easy to choose who to offend when the Palestinians even kidnap and kill reporters they consider their active supporters.

But let that go. That is Garden variety propaganda that can be seen for what it is and debated. It pales alongside this single sentence.

“Bush, who proposed the gathering, is searching for a better legacy than the invasion of Iraq and its chaotic aftermath.”

It may seem innocuous at first glance but this is important. This is press hubris and fictionalizing in its most naked form. It betrays the total lack of discipline that is endemic to a media that is so smug and self-important that it feels empowered to read thoughts into President Bush’s mind without even the pretense of attribution or qualification. Does the author say “some sources speculate…” or “It is thought…” or even “It is my theory that…”? No, She states this pure fabrication as if it were something that everyone knows and acknowledges.

The implication, of course is that President Bush thinks Iraq is a failure ad a lost cause and is trying to cover for “his mistake”. A fair presentation would at least acknowledge that President Bush has been able to point to remarkable progress in Iraq in the past few months and has never said that he feels his legacy to be sullied by Iraq. The implication is pure propaganda and has no place in an honest media.

Now set it alongside of the resolute refusal to see that the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state means that they do not accept its right to exist. How does Sue Pleming penetrate so cynically and deeply into the mind of President Bush while remaining so absolutely blind, so intentionally ignorant about what the Palestinians are happy to tell her right to her face?

Obviously the face is unwilling to hear and understand.

I am at pains to expose this little sentence from a relatively insignificant article not because it is in any way earthshaking but, precisely because is so insignificant as to be both barely noticeable and powerfully subliminal in its effect. The smugness it represents, the Politically Correct instinct to make information that does not conform to the model of reality that must be defended are the most insidious and deadly sins of the media. The bland and inert Trojan Horse of an article in which they are wrapped only make them a more deadly.

We are accepting your opinions and nominations for a Lifetime Acheivement Awards post - There will be catagories and commentary. Either add a comment below with your thoughts or email [yaacovbenmoshe(at)comcast(dot)net] me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Join the Fight for an Honest Media

Sorry I’ve been away.
It’s been nearly three weeks since my father’s passing and I am beginning to rub my eyes and take notice of the world again. Those of you have read my last post will have an idea of how profoundly I have felt this loss. The truth is that for the past three weeks I have been unable (with the exception of that obit/eulogy immediately below this) to write. This has not been so much a paralysis as a respite. There is certainly sadness and pain but there is no depression or despair- it’s just that a rather devastating hole has been torn in my life and I have had to retreat and reflect for a while.

That’s done.
My pause for reflection has renewed my energy, reinforced my courage to continue and confirmed my confidence in what I am doing.

I’m back.
Not only that, I have big news. I have alluded in past posts to an announcement that I would soon be making. Here it is:

The announcement.
I have, over the past four months or so, been talking about forming a new non-profit organization with a fellow blogger whom I admire immensely. Richard Landes of Augean Stables and Second Draft. Richard is not only a blogger, he is also an associate professor of history at Boston University. We began working together in earnest when I helped him pull together the petition initiative to support Philipe Karsenty. Karsenty was found guilty of libeling France2 and Charles Enderlin by pointing out that the televised report of what Enderlin claimed to be the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al Durah by Israeli gunfire really appeared to have been a staged scene in which nobody died.

Rather than admit that his report, which slandered the Jewish state and provoked a wave of violence, anti-Semitism and terror that is still propagating today, was either a grotesque mistake or an obvious fake, Enderlin and France2 sued Kasenty.

Landes, has, for the last four years, (Summary of activity is here) been a lone and courageous voice in exposing this blood libel and showing how destructive and pervasive the sort of manipulation of a compliant mass media by anti-western and anti-Semitic Islamists it represents is. Even more importantly, he has been able, in a scholarly and non-politicized way, to show that one of the best defenses for Israel, The United States of America and (by extension) Western Civilization lies in first isolating and inoculating against the pernicious auto-immune disease that the western media has come to be.

The outline of our partnership was already well defined before my father began his last steep decline five weeks ago. We will be combining our efforts under the banner of a new non-profit organization which is now filed for under the U.S. tax code. The name of our new organization, Second Draft (shared by one of Landes’ pre-established websites) plays upon the adage that “journalism is the first draft of history”. Second Draft will undertake to study the media, its behavior and its power. We take an entirely new approach to producing our second draft of history. We will go deeper than the usual correction of individual inaccuracies and sorting out the bias in various of stories. Our ultimate goal will be to use certain key dossiers (like the one already compiled on the al Durah affair) that at once illuminate a particular case, but at the same time permit an exploration of the key reasons for our media's vulnerability to manipulation and its reflexively anti-Western tenor. We aim to provide not just analysis but a new strategy for combating the ways in which the Western media gets exploited by the information warfare of the weaker side in the asymmetrical warfare between Western Civilization and its enemies: The global Jihad of Caliphate Islam, the infantile nihilism of the radical left, the ignorant neo-Nazi white supremacists and any other unsavory, regressive ideology that seems to need their sympathy and “tolerance”.

Permit me give you an analogy that comes out of my recent contemplations. As I mentioned below, my dad was a shipboard radio operator during WWII. His telegraph key was the conduit for the information that animated his whole ship and kept it safe within the convoy. He had to be careful that the information he decoded from his telegraph key was both accurate and complete and that the source of it was authentic and secure. If an enemy had been able to infiltrate bad information, or even to limit the use of some important information, it would have been very dangerous indeed.

Until very recently, our mass media have, like that old telegraph operator with his trusty key on the ship, been our only source of information about the world. If he were to decide not to decode and pass on warnings of a submarine wolf pack operating nearby because that would be bad for morale (as the msm did by not reporting on the the threat of Islamic extremists- until 09/11 ) or fail to inform the captain of a planned convoy maneuver because he didn’t think it was important (as the mainstream often does when they use euphemisms like “youth” or “structured groups” when they have to report about Muslim Violence); or if he decided to make up reports about things that never happened because he felt sure that such manipulations were so true to life that even if they are not true they are an accurate representation of things that happen “all the time” (which is exactly what Enderlin and his supporters have said about the al Durah affair. The internet (especially, the “blogosphere”) has begun to eat away at the hegemony of the main stream media. Through the blogosphere, many critical omissions and misrepresentations have been exposed.

Richard Landes recognized the power of the blogosphere to transform the scene when, after a year of fruitlessly knocking at the door of the MSM with material on Pallywood and the al Durah affair, he witnessed Rathergate, that "Gutenberg moment" when a new medium of communication crashed the party despite the efforts of the older media, gate keepers of the public sphere.

Landes’ work on the al Durah affair has exposed a critical flaw in the information pipeline. It has become obvious that much of the mainstream media is subject to either not reporting aspects of the world that they find politically incorrect or accepting bad information uncritically or passing it along to an unsuspecting public as “News”.

In a ground-breaking book on the media’s ignoble role in the tragedy of the Yugoslavia, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting, Peter Brock quoted a long section of an article from The New Republic in which Tom Rosenstiel pointed out that the major news outlets and agencies (with CNN leading the way) have reduced their correspondents and staffs to such a degree that in order to find enough content to fill the existing news paper, glossy magazine stock and broadcast time, they resort to buying prepackaged reports. This means that much of the information we wind up with is public relations materials and propaganda that have been supplied to our networks by national news agencies from around the world that are really nothing more than extensions of the foreign ministries of the governments many of which are often very hostile to U.S. and Western interests.

Central to our reasons for starting Second Draft is a belief that even if a totally objective media is impossible, an honest media that will:

1. report as accurately and relevantly as possible
2. reveal sources
3. check facts
4. be open about their biases and prejudices,
is the only acceptable source of information for a free society.

It is not enough to “keep the media honest” by reacting to abuses we also have to raise the awareness and sharpen the powers of discrimination in the public. We have great plans to do both of these things. We’ll be running conferences, making more films and creating some exciting web initiatives.

As soon as we are up and running I'll be leaving my "day job" and moving to Second Draft full time. Through it all I'll still be posting here on Breath of the Beast- we are commited to our "web roots".

The blogosphere is a new and valuable way to keep a running monitor on how well the media supports all of these requirements. It has awakened millions to the problem and the awakening is spreading.

The Awakening
This awakening reminds me of a dream I have had a couple of times in the past year.
In the dream I am walking alone, as night is beginning to fall, in a tropical forest. A feeling of disembodied dread fills me as I shoulder my way through a profusion of underbrush under a high canopy of palms. The sun is low in the sky still and the evening air is still bright- but just beginning to lose the daytime heat.. As I come to a break in a wall of vegetation, I see that I am on the edge of someone’s manicured backyard. There are two chaises lounge lawn chairs side by side with a man sleeping on one and a woman on the other. My feelings of foreboding continue to build.

As I watch, they begin to stir and rub their eyes. They look around with a vague air of alarm. Suddenly he points to the horizon. There is a great fire raging just over the horizon. It has made no noise and the heat from it was easy enough to ignore during the tropical day. You would never know it was there if you didn’t look right at it. Its glow suffuses that quarter of the sky with an angry red glow and a great plume of black smoke is rising above it.

The riots in the streets of Europe, the bloodthirsty beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Beslan massacre, the constant bombardment of Israel by Arab and Iranian client terror groups, the Iranian atomic threat, and, of course, 9/11 have merely been a silent fire just over the horizon for most of us, not because it is harmless but because the media has not been doing an honest job of informing us of the common aspects of those crimes. An honest media, one that may not be totally objective but will yet be honest enough to acknowledge that fact and apply and maintain a strict discipline over its own subjectivity.

Second Draft is in its infancy, we have secured a small start-up stake of funding but we need all the help you can spare for this crucial effort. If you would like to help us with your donation (we have filed for tax-free status!), you can click on the donation page here at Breath of the Beast or send a check to:
Second Draft
P.O. Box 590591
Newton Centre, MA 02459
All gifts will be gratefully acknowledged.