‘Aleppo boy’ versus ‘Mosul girl’: How the Western MSM peddles war propaganda
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge
During two parallel global events - the Russian-backed liberation of Aleppo and the US-backed liberation of Mosul - viewers witnessed the tragic circumstances of two children, with two radically different media spins.
By now, many people are familiar with the story of Omran Daqneesh. He is the Syrian boy from Aleppo who - seated alone in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust, blood and the flood of flashbulbs - became the Western media's stock image whenever it wished to portray the "Russian-backed Syrian regime" and its effort to free the city of Aleppo from the yoke of terrorism.
Omran's "haunting" photograph, splashed across every front page of every Western newspaper on August 18, 2016, accompanied a self-righteous Western jeremiad against "Russia and the Syrian regime," as opposed to the bloodthirsty terrorists who held the residents of this northern Syrian city hostage to their insane ideology for years.
Would the Western media really stoop so low as to use the image of an injured child as a propaganda device to damage Russia’s efforts in defeating such deranged characters?
Unfortunately, that appears to have been the case.
No time or space for 'Mosul girl'
While much of the developed world knows of ‘Aleppo boy’ Omran Daqneesh, how many have heard of an equally tragic story involving a five-year-old girl named Hawraa, the sole survivor of a US-coordinated airstrike on her home in Mosul?
The girl, with burns over much of her body, is now battling for her life in the field hospital of Iraq Special Operations Forces. No place for a five-year-old child, that's for sure. Yet this tragic story has gone conspicuously missing from the West's "heroic" Mosul narrative.
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On March 20, RT sent a formal request to CNN, BBC, MSNBC and Al Jazeera, inviting them to participate in a panel discussion that would cover a number of issues with regards to media coverage in Aleppo and Mosul. RT also requested they provide a comment regarding the way they decide whether an airstrike that affects civilians would be given full-scale, rolling coverage (like in Aleppo) or not (like in Mosul), and whether or not they intended to use any of the available video that points to civilians being killed as a result of coalition airstrikes.
BBC refused to provide a panel participant or comment, CNN, MSNBC and Al Jazeera did not respond, while Sky News said they “had no time.”
Assuming that all life is precious - and perhaps more so when we are talking about innocent children – it would certainly seem appropriate for the Western media to allocate the same amount of news line to Hawraa from Mosul as they did with Omran from Aleppo.
However, not only has there been no mention of the little girl from Mosul in the Western mainstream media, the entire Battle of Mosul seems to be nothing more than a mirage in the desert.
On Tuesday, I scanned the CNN website for any news on Mosul or the little girl in critical condition from yet another errant airstrike. In the course of my search, I learned that the US was imposing an electronics ban on flights from 10 major airports; I learned about FBI Director Comey’s insomnia-curing brief to Congress; I even learned about a turtle named 'Piggy' that died after ingesting 915 coins. But I failed to find a single word about an American war zone in Iraq that has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, while leaving one little girl in very serious condition.
On Wednesday, I continued my search. This time I expected some news on a US air raid that destroyed a school – not in Iraq, but in Syria. According to local reports, a US fighter jet hit a school in the south of Al-Mansur, where at least 50 families from Raqqa, Palmyra, and Aleppo had been taking shelter. The school building itself was completely destroyed. Is this what they mean by "imperial overreach?"
It's not all bad news, however. After all, the United States has promised to launch an investigation against itself regarding the misguided bombing mission. Any guesses how that trial will turn out?
Eventually, my luck improved, but for a different reason. For I had accidentally unearthed perhaps the largest nugget of raw propaganda ever found in North American territory. Admittedly, the piece was buried deep, at the very bottom of the page, under a banner entitled, I kid you not: “In case you missed it.” Pay dirt! I clicked on and was taken to an article entitled, 'Return to hell: Finding the family who sheltered us in Mosul,' by one Arwa Damon.
In the first few pages, Damon talked about her harrowing experiences riding shotgun with a unit of Iraqi counter-terrorism troops as they advanced street-by-street against ISIS in eastern Mosul. So far, so good.
But then the realization that I was feasting at the MSM trough arrives like a trumpet blast from the netherworld, as Damon details an altogether unlikely reaction that some anonymous Iraqi civilian allegedly provided gratuitously following a US aerial bombardment that erroneously, tragically, stupidly killed 9 people.
Wait for it, dear reader, it's a gem.
“Abu Yassin's son was mistaken for a fighter and killed as he stood on the roof of the family's home. (CNN photojournalist) Brice captured the piercing wail of a woman ringing out as his son's death was discovered...
The airstrike that hit the house next door while we were here killed eight civilians, Abu Yassin says. Only three survived: two teenagers and a little boy, orphaned in the raid.”
Here it comes, the North American mother-lode: "A relative who's now caring for the little boy says he hasn't been able to tell him that his parents and sisters are dead. His voice shakes with emotion as we talk on the phone. But he wants to make one thing clear - he forgives the person who hit the house, saving his anger for ISIS.”
Hold on, the spin cycle is just revving up.
"I know that if the pilot, no matter where he is from or his religion, knew that there were two families in the house they would not have taken the strike, or they would have used a smaller rocket," he says.
A smaller rocket!? Please tell me I didn't just read that!
Since I have absolutely no problem playing plot spoiler of atrocious fiction, Damon proceeds to wrap up this propagandist puff piece with an Iraqi father who asked her to take his newborn baby to America. You know, where the streets are paved in 24-karat gold bricks, the poor drive around in Cadillacs and crime only happens to bad people. You can’t make this stuff up. Or then again, I guess you can.
And no, not a word on the fate of Harwaa from Mosul, but I’m sure if CNN covered her story the family members would be forgiving coalition fighter pilots for placing her in critical condition as opposed to a rubble-strewn grave.
By chance, could this media blackout on all bad news out of Mosul have anything to do with that pithy adage that goes something like, "victors write history, while victims go missing from the headlines?"
Incidentally, where is the Iraqi equivalent of the White Helmets, the Western-backed non-profit rescue service that has been accused of actually staging videos and manipulating news reports to drum up support for the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels?
Sounds like something creative enough to deserve an Oscar, no?
Or how about the Iraqi equivalent of the pompous-sounding Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man operation headquartered in a distant land called the United Kingdom?
RT paid a visit to the two-bedroom Coventry home of Syrian immigrant Rami Abdel Rahman, which has been the Observatory’s base and the source of information for major mainstream media on anything Syria-related. To put it mildly, we were not impressed.
Nobody quite knows how Rahman keeps tabs on what is happening on the ground in faraway Syria, but information just keeps magically flowing… usually in tragic style and with little or no sourced material.
Unfortunately, while odd fellows like Rahman are always on hand to report on events in Syria, as was the case with 'Aleppo boy,' news of Harwaa's severe injuries and tragic loss from Mosul did not disappear from the Western news cycle, because they never existed there in the first place.
Harwaa's tragic story underscores yet another pithy adage, which must be defeated by the free flow of information: "The first casualty of war is truth."
The free world can no longer endure such a casualty when so many young, innocent lives are at risk, while much of the world remains ignorant of such horrors.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.