Monday, February 7, 2011

Frank Rick on how little we've been informed and misinformed by the mainstream media

"The live feed from Egypt is riveting.

...more often than not we have little or no context for what we’re watching.

That’s the legacy of years of self-censored, superficial, provincial
and at times Islamophobic coverage of the Arab world in a large swath of American news media.

...That we often don’t know as much about the people in these countries a testament to the cutbacks in foreign coverage at many news organizations
and perhaps also to our own desire to escape a war zone
that has for so long sapped American energy, resources and patience.

...there actually is an English-language cable channel — Al Jazeera English
that blankets the region with bureaus and that could have been illuminating Arab life and politics

Al Jazeera English...provided coverage of the 2009 Gaza war and this year’s Tunisian revolt
when no other television networks would or could.

Yet in America, it can be found only in Washington, D.C.,
and on small cable systems in Ohio and Vermont.

None of the biggest American cable and satellite companies
Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner — offer it.

The noxious domestic political atmosphere fostering this near-blackout is obvious to all.

It was made vivid last week when Bill O’Reilly of Fox News went on a tear about how Al Jazeera English
is “anti-American.”

Unable to watch Al Jazeera English, ...millions of Americans last week tracked down the network’s Internet stream...

Such was the work-around required by the censorship practiced by America’s corporate gatekeepers.

You’d almost think these news-starved Americans were Iron Curtain citizens
clandestinely trying to pull in the jammed Voice of America signal in the 1950s
— or Egyptians desperately seeking Al Jazeera after Mubarak disrupted its signal last week.

...Given the disconnect between America and the Arab world,
it’s no wonder that Americans are invested in the fights for freedom in Egypt
and its neighboring dictatorships only up to a point.

We’ve been inculcated to assume that whoever comes out on top is ipso facto a jihadist."

Frank Rich

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