Israeli backlash
June 24, 2002 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Israeli backlash to Ted Turner's comments prompts CNN offer a series of pieces focusing on the toll Palestinian terror has taken. "Ted Turner apologized, CNN's executives were quick to disassociate themselves from him and to announce he has no influence over the content of the broadcasts, and Eason Jordan, news director for the network, hurried to fly over to Israel and offer 'compensation' - a series of reports on the victims of terrorism.". Indeed, a visit to CNN's website this morning uncovers a series of focus items reporting on Israeli casualties and victims. Is this a case of journalism caving to political and commercial interests, or is Israel effectively combating the liberal bias of Western media?
posted by astirling (15 comments total)
(CNN frontpage screenshot archived here)
posted by astirling at 6:33 AM on June 24, 2002 also has some non-biased coverage of CNN's coverage...

(now, if we can only find a tenuous link to Al Queda, we can invade!)
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 6:45 AM on June 24, 2002

It's a case of CNN reporting the other side of the story as well. First Lou Dobbs, now this. Are they finally getting a clue?
posted by dagny at 6:47 AM on June 24, 2002

What liberal media bias? Was it not Jordan who went on Capitol Hill and met with top Republicans to discuss how better to get their message out?
posted by plemeljr at 6:58 AM on June 24, 2002

It looks to me like CNN is a for-profit entertainment network tayloring it's product to the demands of one of it's markets. Oh what a surprise.
posted by plaino at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2002

News as compensation? WTF? Even Orwell didn't predict this one. From now on I will get my Israeli/Palestinian information from watching Buffy.
posted by srboisvert at 7:42 AM on June 24, 2002

They try this on the BBC every second week. The BBC tells Israel where to get off every third week.
posted by vbfg at 8:11 AM on June 24, 2002

I think this news-as-sop phenomenon is pretty repellent. It's one thing to address an imbalance by being more balanced in the future; but this suck-up piece will just have the opposite camp in arms. This isn't the way to attain equilibrium. They shouldn't have just caved like that. It's pretty transparent.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:26 AM on June 24, 2002

I thought MeFi was going to avoid the Israel/Palestine thing.

Both sides are handling it wrong. Neither side is good or bad.

I think that if America were settled at about the same time Israel was, we would be seeing the same things with the Native Americans today.
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2002

I thought MeFi was going to avoid the Israel/Palestine thing.

Whyever would you think that?
posted by rushmc at 10:44 AM on June 24, 2002

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

The first role of the mainstream news media is not to report the facts, but instead not to offend anyone that might negatively influence ad revenues.
posted by mark13 at 10:55 AM on June 24, 2002

Would it be too much of a stretch to say that this kind of nonsense illustrates the problem with human interest focus stories in general? If the way that reporting works is going out to interview miserable people, so that the audience will feel sorry for them, with the assumption that the audience will want to help whoever is featured, then it's very unlikely that the audience's sympathies will be directed in a sensible way, even assuming good faith on the behalf of the media. In general you want to guide your behaviour to do the most good, not to protect the last person you felt sorry for.

As the Ha'aretz article said, this is basically about reason vs. sensibility. Even if the newsmen haven't read their Rousseau, they certainly follow his program. I remember in the film Broadcast News this whole practice of the media trying to elicit an emotional response rather than a rational one came in for vicious criticism, but it's now so much an accepted practice that we hardly notice that there's an alternative. The basic problem with the coverage of I/P is not a lack of balance, it's that there's no such thing as balanced emotional manipulation. When most of the news isn't in the facts, the whole idea of balance is skewed. Is it balanced to try to make the audience equally sympathetic to both sides? Or should the side that's in the right be presented more sympathetically? Most people seem to think the latter, but then the whole idea of the audience making their own minds up based on the facts goes out of the window. And that's about where we are now...
posted by Gaz at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2002

Building on what Gaz said, it seems there might be a better way to cover that situation, however when the news is profit-driven, there will always be emotional stories that ensure the audience will sit through the commercials to see the latest outrage. Since the more 'reportable' outrages are the suicide bombings, those attacks are naturally going to get the lion's share of the coverage. But the media are human and they start to build on that coverage, sometimes going in directions they shouldn't. (CNN apologized recently as they actually spent more time interviewing the family of the bomber rather than the family of the victims).

Personally I think your best off getting your news from the internet, where you can quickly scan a variety of sources and see a more complete picture of what's happened.
posted by cell divide at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2002

Actually, you need Lexis-Nexis to get the quick picture on US news coverage, then add the Internet coverage for alternative / more obscure sources. Free, no-password Internet gives you pretty uneven results-- even using my handy search page and a quick general news search on Queryserver.
*return to I-P*
posted by sheauga at 6:07 PM on June 24, 2002

Ted Turner has had diddly to do with the operation of CNN for 5+ years now. Hello, non-story.
posted by owillis at 9:24 PM on June 24, 2002

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