An American reader writes me, “I’ve tried explaining the situation in the Middle East to friends and there are blank stares. I believe what they’re thinking is that how come, if it is so bad, I haven’t seen it in the newspapers or on the national news? The New York Times doesn’t mention it at all.”
This is an accurate description of what a very large portion — a majority? — of Americans think. The same point applies to the economy (media explanation: it’s getting better) and many other issues. The coming election is, among other things, going to be a test of how much of a hold the mass media has on people.
Of course, the newspapers and television news do report a lot about bad things in the Middle East. The ambassador to Libya was murdered and hatred of America is rampant (official and media explanation: if not for that video, everything would be fine); Iran is moving ahead on nuclear weapons (official and media explanation: sanctions will stop them, Obama will offer a deal, something will turn up); Egypt is ruled by radical Islamists who have openly backed terrorism against Americans, demanded genocide against Israel, and seek to overthrow all Arab governments allied to the United States (official and media explanation: they’re really moderate); and so on.
In other words, bad developments are reported though there is an attempt to explain them away. This does leave some margin for readers and viewers to use their brains. Are these explanations credible? Why do things keep getting worse? If Obama is such a big supporter of Israel, why does he keep subverting its interests? If Obama has made people in the region love America, why do they keep hating America?
Come to think of it, if Obama is such a big supporter of America, why does he keep subverting U.S. interests?