Saturday, January 15, 2005

It's not just us

So often, discussion of media bias against Israel is couched in terms of 'anti-Semitism,' 'Arabism,' and other elements specific to the situation in the Middle East.
It is useful, I think, to remind ourselves of the way the media mistreats or misrepresents other conflicts, in order to learn larger lessons about the way the media functions. A few months back I wrote on Protocols about the way the media consciously misrepresented the situation in Kosovo, deciding on the story and then ignoring evidence to the contrary, failing to backtrack when reports were exposed as fiction, and allowing itself to be manipulated at will by the side they had chosen to support.
Now Steven Glover, the Spectator's media critic, writes a cogent piece about the way the British media is deliberately and systematically avoiding writing anything that threatens the perception that the peace process in Northern Ireland is "anything but a rip-roaring success."
Most recently, the press overwhelmingly ignored evidence that the largest bank robbery in British history, which took place in Belfast last month, was committed by the IRA in order to provide pensions for their members. The Irish Times actually pulled a column by its star columnist claiming this was the case (two weeks later the IRA was publicly named by the Irish chief constable and the paper had to admit it had been wrong). The rest of the British press paid the scandal scant attention -- just as they have paid scant attention to numerous other IRA crimes and misdemeanors over the past few months, including spying on the unionists, large involvement in crime across Belfast, and refusing to decomission their weapons. Writes Glover:
Newspapers are either so determined that the peace process will succeed that they suppress or ignore bad news; or they do not bother to notice what is going on. We can be pretty certain that the IRA’s involvement in this bank robbery will be quickly forgiven and forgotten by the British and Irish governments, and that compliant newspapers will continue to fulfil their traditional function of supporting the peace process whatever the IRA gets up to.
Sound familiar?

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