Media Manipulation and Blogs
In an article on Jewish World Review this morning, Caroline Glick discusses the latest possible media hoax — Israel’s “attack” on a Reuters camera crew. You can read the details there, but in brief, Reuters claimed that Israel had fired upon one of its vehicles. This was in the middle of a battle zone, at night, when all of the “clear markings” that it was a press vehicle likely could not be seen. But even more, critics insist that the evidence of a missile hit just isn’t there. A Powerline reader writes:
I spent twenty years in both military and civilian bomb disposal. The damage to the ambulance pictured in the article was NOT caused by any missile. Any missile that the Israelis have would completely destroy a vehicle like that ambulance. That hole in the roof looks like a couple of well placed hits with an axe.
Ms. Glick uses this story to drive home the importance of blogs as the method via which we keep the media honest.
It is not a coincidence that I saw the pictures of the Reuters’ vehicle on Powerline and not in the media coverage of the purported attack. Both the global media and the international NGO community abjectly refuse to investigate themselves. As democratic governments and their militaries have proven incapable of dealing with the phenomenon (in part because they seek to curry favor with the media and the international NGO community), the blogosphere has taken upon itself the role of media watchdog.
Bloggers have become a critical component of the free world’s defense in the current war. During the Hizbullah campaign in Lebanon, bloggers scrutinized coverage of the war in a way that has never been done before. Their work has exposed the dirty secret of the Middle East that the media has hidden for so many years: The global media and the international NGO community, which profess to be neutral observers, are in fact colluding with terrorist organizations.
The blogosphere, and particularly Little Green Footballs, Powerline, Zombietime, Michelle Malkin, and EU Referendum, have relentlessly exposed the systematic staging of news events, fabrication of attacks against relief workers, and doctoring of photographic images by Hizbullah with the active assistance of international organizations and the global media.
How does the media react? By blaming the messenger, of course!
Rather than demand that the ICRC account for the clear breach of its binding commitment to neutrality, and rather than attack the Lebanese Red Cross for its active collaboration with Hizbullah, the international media has attacked the bloggers. They are brushed off as “Israel supporters,” and “right-wing extremists.” The aim of these brush-offs is to convince “right thinking” citizens that they oughtn’t have anything to do with these champions of truth and human decency.
We’re seeing a bit of that ourselves. Rabbi Avi Shafran’s recent contribution, in which he contrasted the Reuters fauxtography with examples of spin in the Jewish media, is a case in point. Professor Tzvee Zahavy insists as follows:
Here is the Shafran worldview. Hezbollah=Synagogue in NYC. Both are his enemies. Both are manipulating the media. Both are evil…
He insinuates that the Jewish Week is like Hezbollah. He suggests that those true enemies of the Jewish people who launch rockets to kill us — they are the same as the Jewish Week.
As you can see by following the link, I’m not making this up. These are direct quotes.
Now first of all, the comparison was not drawn between Hezbollah and KOE, but between a photographer working for Reuters and a writer working for the Jewish Week. Media=Media. Funny how it works when the parallel drawn is described accurately.
But even were we to grant that media distortion done by the Hezbollah was compared with that done by a synagogue, it is my impression that drawing analogies — identifying similarities between otherwise dissimilar objects — is a requirement of the SAT. You can’t get far in the academic world without correctly answering questions like “sock is to foot as cap is to (a) nose, (b) head, (c) hat or (d) Hezbollah.” The professor’s statement is tantamount to accusing ETS of claiming that head=foot.
Prof. Zahavy attempts to brush off the mainstream Orthodox rabbinate as a bunch of “right-wingers” interested in playing “wounded bully” (how Cross-Currents was wounded, he doesn’t explain).
Where is the bullying in this instance? The NY Times asked Rabbi Bleich about the new woman leader of KOE and he blasted her as a schismatic. It is a given. This woman will be relentlessly attacked by the right wing Orthodox.
The NY Times itself, however, said that Rabbi Bleich was talking not about the individual at all, but “those who are pushing for female rabbis in the Orthodox movement.” And… Rabbi J. David Bleich, a right winger? Please.
What you learn from the article is that mainstream Orthodox scholars — across the spectrum — reject the notion of a woman leader for an Orthodox congregation. This obviously indicates that as much as the synagogue might claim to be Orthodox based upon who davens there, it will not find a home in any group of Orthodox congregations. Instead of reaching the obvious conclusion, Zahavy asserts that the Rabbis are “blasting” and “bullying” rather than reasoning — and that she’ll somehow find herself at home among such an ignorant and irascible bunch.
In this, Zahavy is not alone. Several other blogs also attempted to argue that Rabbi Shafran and I were being “dismissive” rather than addressing a sociological reality.
We’re in good company — it’s what happens when a blog tries to keep the media honest.