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16 Feb, 2012 23:44

MSM Information war over Syria

As the anti-Syrian government resolution gets pushed through at the UN General Assembly, RT looks at the way the mainstream media have been fighting the battle of American officials.

As the Syrian crisis peaked, diplomatic tensions were flying high at the UN.“The United States is disgusted that a couple of members prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose here”, said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on February 4th, after Russia and China double vetoed a regime change resolution on Syria.As clashes on the ground in Syria continued for 10 months, American officials switched on the traditional approach of dealing with regimes they just don’t like.“Assad is crazy, he is a brutal dictator, he is killing his own people – this is the same narrative that we heard about Ghaddafi”,said journalist Don Debar.The mainstream media has been right there to echo whatever spin was presentedby those in power.“They identify with people in power, they echo what those people say. Secondly, they don’t look too closely at the facts",said media critic and blogger Danny Schechter.An information war kick started as Russia and China refused to stand behind America’s position, as news headlines attackedthe two countrieswithout detail or context.“It’s a crack in the wall of lies, or a rip in the tissue of lies – being presented by the media here. If you look closely, or even at all, at what Russia was saying that there is violence taking place on both sides you’d understand that what was happening was an armed insurgency backed by people from the outside”,said journalist Don Debar.This is an inconvenient truth, however, as the media have long dubbed the armed groups a popular democratic uprising, dividing a line between “the opressors” and “the oppressed”.With all the yelling and screaming, there is no time to think about who the opposition might really be and what a toppled regime could lead to.“It’s not enough to just say: Assad – bad, rebels – good. Who are these people? It’s always possible to replace a mediocre or a terrible regime with something that’s worse”, said editorial columnist and author Ted Rall.Journalist Matt Lee of Inner City Press has been covering the UN for years, and knows all too well how the media like to approachwhat happens.“I cover the Security Council closely enough that I’ll say that the common sense, the knee-jerk answer to almost everything that happens there – Russia and China are wrong and the West is right. If you cover the Security Council, you might as well try to cover what actually happens. If you come in each day knowing in advance who’s good and who’s bad and what’s going to happen, I think you can miss a lot”, said Lee.Especially when the coverage narrative varies depending on where on the map the conflict stems from.“This statement that you hear, “any leader who kills his own people has lost all legitimacy”. If that were the standard, I think a non-insubstantial percentage of the world’s leaders would have lost their legitimacy”, said Matthew Lee.As the mainstream media stick with journalism by press release, Americans who don’t dig deeper themselves end up gettingjust one side of the story. With some facts amplified and others unexplained or simply left out, the media has gone from informing to misinforming the people.