Jul 25, 2006

Hezbollah and the media

Paul at Wizbang discusses an Anderson Cooper piece on Hezbollah in which CNN is taken on a tour of Beirut by members of Hezbollah.
(voice-over) Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them. And questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.

After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.

(on camera) This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they've been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That's the story -- that's the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about. [As he is giving this narration the video is of foreign media all shooting the ambulances speeding off. -ed]

(voice-over) These ambulances aren't responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.
It's good to see reporters reporting context; it's taken long enough--though the fiction of reportorial neutrality and willingness to tell all was hard to maintain after Eason Jordan revealed in 2003 that CNN failed to report atrocitities by Saddam in order to maintain a presence in Iraq. See also "Pallywood", which discusses how the Palestinians mainpulated the Western media.

As Paul says, "I don't mind American reporters being led on media events, I just want them labeled as such. For all the big media claiming they give us "context" they rarely do."

Related: Reporters in Lebanon and Israel describe work -- and dangers reports that Beirut is still safer than Baghdad and describes "Hezbollah's willingness to work with reporters, to a degree, in an effort to get their message out."

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