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Dysfunctional US media stoop to new depths
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 08:23
by Paul J. Balles (Ph.D.)

Paul J. Balles views the dysfunctional mainstream US media, in a week where they have ignored a major news story – the revelation that the US government allowed Osama bin Ladin to escape – and allowed the bigoted New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to spew out anti-Muslim bile.

Two disturbing news items: The first, a Haaretz column (29 November 2009) on a "Senate report: U.S. decided to let bin Laden slip through their fingers. According to the report, US could have captured or killed bin Laden shortly after 11 September 2001 attacks."

Charles Cooper, one of few bloggers commenting on the report says: "The Senate report notes how Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks rejected requests for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away near the border with Pakistan."

This news is important enough to deserve more than a passing nod by bloggers and one major TV news channel. The leading news sources have been busy covering Sarah Palin's book signings, White House party crashers, Tiger Woods's 2 a.m. auto escapades and other mundane issues of little relative importance to most people.

The US is about to add 30,000 or more troops to keep Afghanistan from appearing to be a NATO failure, yet few ask why Franks and Rumsfeld failed to capture bin Laden eight years ago.

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The media simply rubbishes off the Senate committee findings – a kind of acceptance of their discovery as self-evident – something like a pre-emptive strike against ferreting out the truth.

The second major news commentary travesty came from op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman in the New York Times (28 November 2009), who provided a leading example of disgusting Islamophobic punditry in mainstream media.

Friedman couldn't resist using his position as a major columnist to turn a psychopathic killer’s shootup into a general diatribe against Arabs and Islam.

After asking, "What should we make of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?" Friedman uses that to develop a generalized Arab-Muslim “narrative”.

Friedman brays:

The narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist websites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books – and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes...

To Friedman, the villain happens to be any Muslim exposed to the extremist voices in the Islamic community. Before making idiotic judgments, Friedman should look around at some of the crimes and criminals in America and conclude that the American "narrative" is the root problem.

Friedman continues his diatribe against Muslims with "this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand ‘American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy’ to keep Muslims down."

American Muslims have justified fears that Americans have declared war on Islam. Leslie Evans, reporting on a lecture by Abdulkader Sinno at University of California, Los Angeles, wrote:

There have been indiscriminate deportations of Muslims in the US. Hundreds have been quietly deported. Many spent months in windowless solitary confinement cells without even the opportunity to undergo questioning in which they could confront the supposed charges against them.

An eight-year crusade is enough reason for Muslims to believe that America is waging a battle against Islam. However, Friedman has been listening to the wrong voice and accepting what he hears without question.

Sinno had more to say:

Thousands of Muslims were interrogated by the FBI, mosques were put under surveillance. Bush described the war on terror as a crusade, a most unfortunate choice of words. Hundreds of Middle Eastern immigrants in Los Angeles were incarcerated when they reported in response to a request from the INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service).

Strangely, a newspaper like Haaretz in Israel occasionally does a better job of reporting on important events in the USA than the American press. It's shameless when a major American newspaper – the New York Times – publishes anti-Muslim bile from a bigoted commentator.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.

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