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The Consequences of Media Failure: Demopaths Setting the Global Agenda

An examination of just how badly CNN failed to accurately cover the flotilla incident — repeating nonsense when better information was available — and the ramifications.

by
Richard Landes

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June 8, 2010 - 10:28 am
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The latest explosion of anti-Israel rage, driven by the Muslim world and echoed by both the MSM and the international diplomatic community, raises important questions. How is it that in a world where North Korea and South Korea may go to war, Iran may get nuclear weapons, and jihadis are killing fellow (non-) Muslims by the dozens in mosques and hospitals, Israel’s killing of nine streetfighting jihadis sets the international agenda?

Amidst the many elements contributing to the sight of a world gone mad, I’d like to focus here on the role of the media.

For some time now, critical observers have warned about the “halo effect” that “human rights” NGOs have benefited from even as they were taken over by radical political activists who had strong links to jihadi organizations and individuals. This halo effect works in two directions: it extends to the “allies” of these hijacked NGOs (“peace activists”) and also to the MSM which tends to convey the “testimony” of the NGOs as reliable news. All of this comes to a grotesque climax in the flotilla affair.

Let’s begin with an interview CNN’s Rosemary Church conducted with a “peace activist,” Osama Qashoo.

As a flotilla of boats heads towards Gaza to break the blockade, CNN has anchor Rosemary Church perform an interview with a participant from one of the boats, “Free Gaza” activist Osama Qashoo. The report has so many flaws, it’s hard to list and analyze them all. (For the entire interview, click here.)

Let’s focus on the main flaws.

The Nature of the Flotilla

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Eight hundred “peace activists” and 10,000 tons of supplies. We’ll return to the “peaceful” nature of the activists, but even on the matter of the supplies, she merely parrots the statistics proffered by the organizers. A little research suggests that they’ve been exaggerated by at least a factor of two, and now that the Israelis have unloaded it, I’m guessing closer to a factor of five or ten. As for the organizations involved, the monikers — humanitarian, human rights — are clearly what the groups themselves have to say about themselves, not what CNN, after researching and passing judgment, discovered.

Take, for example, the IHH. This is a group that even the Islamist government of Turkey found too radical for its taste, with ties to al-Qaeda and other organizations that target civilians (of all faiths) as a major tactic in their jihad. Second, it’s an unindicted co-conspirator to groups found guilty of helping plan terror attacks in the U.S. It’s fairly easy to find information on the web that makes it clear how inappropriate “humanitarian group” is for this organization.

Mind you, it’s not out of character for CNN anchors to characterize various organizations negatively for their audience if they don’t like them. Jim Clancy repeatedly refers to AIPAC as the “right-wing, pro-Israel lobby.”

Having misstated the context dramatically, Church then interviews Qashoo. This occupies over six minutes of an eight-minute piece. Not only does Church let Osama carry on at length, she only challenges him with canned Israeli responses.

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Apparently the claim that Israelis are acting like Nazis and Gaza is a concentration camp is not a problem for Rosemary.

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