Rant on US News Coverage
It is remarkable how the US press allows themselves to be manipulated by the government. When the Abu Ghuraib story broke, Bush just issued a statement that he was disgusted, taking no responsibility. The headlines the next day? “Bush Disgusted by Photos.” The proper headline would have been “Permanent Damage to US Image in Muslim World; Bush Fires No One.”
I have also been struck by the absence of any Arab or Muslim voice on all this on American television news. The only talking heads who have been allowed to speak have been Americans, most of them conservative Americans. The story broke on CBS Wednesday night. With three 24-hour cable news channels, that equals something like 250 hours of news programming. I haven’t seen it all, but if an Arab voice hasn’t been excluded altogether, it has certainly been miniscule. Why does Wolf Blitzer hear from US senators and military men about this, but doesn’t invite on any Arab commentator? (He did have on Jalal Talabani, a pro-American Kurdish leader). Wouldn’t the reaction of Adnan Pachachi or Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, some Iraqi politician in Iraq (put in such power as they have by the US) be worth hearing? Or how about an ambassador from an Arab state? Some reaction from the Arab street? What is it about the American system that so often degrades television cable news into propaganda and baby-sitting, and makes it an Iron Curtain rather than a window on the world? (I know that by now Gramscian hegemony is a hackneyed concept, but can anything else really explain this extraordinary situation?)
Of course I exempt from this rant a handful of highly professional news anchors on US television.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International now has a report out claiming that the torture at Abu Ghuraib was systemic and not an isolated incident.