Monday, June 11, 2007

America’s Fox News Arab Style

It appears that freedom American style is not real freedom. To help combat the supposed distorted news that the Arab language media is broadcasting, we have created our own media company directed at the Arab viewers. Al Hurra, is suppose to be our counter to the “terrorist views and anti-American sentiment being broadcast by Al Jazeera and other Middle Eastern press.

It appears that none of the top executives of Al Hurra speak Arabic, so they have no clue if the message being broadcast even meets the stated policy of the station. These executives must rely upon the Arabic speaking employees to police the broadcasts.

“Al Hurra was supposed to follow that tradition. But the station’s executives admitted Wednesday that they could not be completely sure that Al Hurra was doing so, because none of the top executives speak Arabic.

“How do you know that they’re being true to the mission if you don’t know what’s being said?” Mr. Ackerman demanded.”

Needless to say this arrangement has allowed the network to air a 30 minute speech by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, which is considered a terrorist organization by this government. They also provided extensive coverage to the Holocaust conference held by Iran.

“But Mr. Blaya also contended in an interview on Wednesday that Al Hurra would lose all credibility if it did not give air time to people who disagree with American policy. He said that complaints about air time for Mr. Haniya were unjustified because he legitimately holds the post of Palestinian prime minister.

Mr. Blaya also said it was ironic that the government was seeking to promote American values like democracy and a free press while at the same time trying to censor what is shown in the station.

“That’s the difference between a free media and propaganda,” he said.”[1]

Mr. Blaya raises an interesting question, do we really want to promote freedom of the press or are we merely using our propaganda to offset their perceived propaganda? This is similar the controversy surrounding the funding of the Arts. We want to fund the Arts, so long as they do not offend our sensibilities. We want to promote freedom so long as it is our version of freedom. A free press implies exactly that, a free press. Just because the “free press” in America has been co-opted by this government, does that mean that this is our standard?

Do I want to hear terrorist giving their diatribe on a US sponsored network? No, but at the same time in order for anyone to take this network seriously they must report other viewpoints even if those views run counter to our own. If we do not allow the network to report all of the news, then we are in fact creating an Arab version of Fox, “fair and balanced” propaganda. The answer to lies is not more lies, the answer to darkness is not more darkness; it is the light of the truth. I believe that the truth will stand on its own; it does not need anyone to co-sign for it. I believe that if we provide them with the facts, they will make the correct decision.

The problem with anti-Americanism in the Middle East is not who is delivering the news, it is the policies that we are pursuing. It is the disconnection from what we are saying we stand for and what we are doing that is creating the problems. It doesn’t matter how many stations we have broadcasting how great we are and all of our virtues, if we continue to pursue colonial policies people will continue to resist. Not even Bill O’Reilly and put a good spin on that.

When asked about the reason for the difficulty of the network to counter the anti-American sentiment, one witness argued that it was the policies and not the messenger. Should we be attempting to alter perception or policy?

“But those efforts do little to counter the rising anger among Arabs over the American role in Iraq and the Bush administration’s refusal to shut down the military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.

“One witness before this subcommittee last week argued that, ‘Quote, “It’s the policy, stupid,” close quote,’ ” acknowledged Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, although, he added, “I’m not one who believes we should significantly reorder our policy toward the Middle East.”[2]

Ok, so it’s the policies that are driving the negative feelings, but let’s not change the policies. Instead, let’s show them how these policies are benefiting them. The other stations just have it all wrong. It’s like the American media downplaying all the success that is going in Iraq. If this in fact were true then why isn’t Fox reporting on all the successes?



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