Is The Western Media Promoting War on Syria? Are All The Facts in? Does It Matter?
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: As the United States threatens to target Syrian militarily, how can we expect the military strikes to be covered?
First, there are very few US or western journalists stationed in Syria , and many of the citizen reporters on the ground have become casualties, and/or have been intimidated and forced to leave.
That assures poor coverage of those who will be hurt or become predictable and disposable "collateral damage."
A front page New York Times article on Friday reporting on Syria, carries no dateline and was filed from Beirut. The Times explains that mainstream journalists cannot work freely in Syria, and contends that social media offers better coverage.
The paper quotes Absi Smesem, Syrian journalist, as saying, "There are no objective sources of information on either side, neither with the regime nor the rebels .We need to get out of this Facebook phase, where all we do is whine and complain about the regime," he said.
Writing on Salon, in a piece picked up by Mediachannel.org, Patrick L Smith indicts western "lapdog media," asking, "When was it that journalists began thinking of themselves as national security operatives? It is getting unbearable, this errand-boy act in the face of power. If journalists did their jobs properly we would get into fewer messes such as Syria and would be more nationally secure. As it is now, the press is a defective piece in the democratic mechanism."
There will likely be western reporters embedded on - American naval ships expected to unleash "tomahawk "cruise missiles, but they realistically tell us except some technical details as the missiles lift off in in flashes. They certainly cannot report on expected civilian casualties and other likely collateral damage.
(The very use of the nickname "Tomahawk" is considered offensive to Native Americans who also resented the Navy Seals referring to Osama bin Laden as "Geronimo" in the raid that killed him. This use of racial stereotyping comes just days after the President, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke at a ceremony praising the late Martin Luther King Jr, also an eloquent critic of U.S. militarism, a fact omitted in his remarks.)
The debate in the media and in Congress on the coming war is intensifying and seems to have forced President Obama to delay his promised "limited" missile attacks. He now says he going to wait for Congressional approval as dissent among legislators grows.
As a candidate in 2007, he said that unless the country is threatened presidents must win Congressional support for war like actions. As President, he seemed to have abandoned that earlier position until noisy protests on the right and left--and the actions of the British Parliament-- led him to announce that he will now seek Congressional approval.
This development has more to do with anti-Obama Congressman in The Tea Party and other groups than demands by the press, although liberal and left critics have made made the planned missile strikes a bi-partisan cause.
The media coverage itself has become an issue too. Example: the Young Turks TV news show indicting news outlets for promoting war on Syria as it did for war on Iraq. In a heavily watched segment on YouTube, they challenged media cheerleading.
Liberal publications like Huffington Post also focus on media flaws, while conservative media dwell on the Obama's reluctance, until today to bring his war appeal to a Republican-dominated Congress where more and more voices challenge unilateral military action and cite public opinion polls to back them up.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) notes: "One tendency in the corporate media seemed to be to jump to the conclusion that the chemical attacks were launched by the Assad regime, while admitting that perhaps this was not yet proven." Suggestions that the "rebel forces" used sarin gas have not been proven either.