CBS correspondent files unusually fair report on the situation in Gaza
“Their report was driven by the death of the son of their cameraman – a child likely most of the crew knew. My heart goes out to him, and all those losing loved ones in these insane attacks. This piece that was on the evening news on Tuesday 7/28/2014, was the first piece I have seen from the corporate media that gave a truly human face to the horrendous loss of life, and the obscene inequality of the “war” between Israel and whoever they think they are fighting.”
Indeed, veteran correspondent Barry Petersen’s reports have been extraordinary for their honesty and unabashed human warmth in a brutally tragic context, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise wholly biased and horribly toxic media environment toward the Palestinian side. Watching these images it’s hard to hold back the tears. In a future post we will be exploring this unusual development in greater depth.
As introduced by CBS
| Israel and Hamas are blaming each other for an explosion at a park in Gaza that killed at least nine Palestinian children. But as Barry Petersen reports, there is no mistaking who is suffering.
Reaction by the usual reactionaries
The conservative blogosphere has reacted with its usual stridency and unfairness to the perceived “bias” of the media in the ongoing reportage about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. One of the outfits to scream the loudest is again NewsBusters, a malignant outgrowth of the MRC (Media Research Center) brainchild of one of the leading snobs and intellectual poseurs in the ranks of rancid American conservatism, L. Brent Bozell, a pal of American Spectator founder/editor R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
As is common for conservative outfits, both the Spectator and MRC have been lavishly funded from the outset by rich donors. The Wiki notes:
Bozell and a group of other young conservatives founded the MRC on October 1, 1987. Their initial budget was at US$339,000. Prior to founding the MRC, Bozell was the chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee; he resigned from that position a month before establishing MRC.
The MRC has received financial support from several foundations, including the Bradley, Scaife, Olin, Castle Rock, Carthage and JM foundations. Bob Ward has said that it also receives funding from ExxonMobil.
These individuals, foundations and corporations have played a key role in the rise of the ubiquitous Republican noise machine and the further extension of US global capitalist propaganda. It must be noted that, typically of conservatives, who are ready to complain if they don’t own or control 100% of everything, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that the establishment mainstream media are already a huge mechanism for the constant diffusion of conservative memes and mythologies.
Examine below some of the upside down commentary about the Mideast conflict coverage as presented by Kyle Drennen and the pathetic readers of Newsbusters. (Strong stomach required.) And while the entire oil industry is an ecological and political blight, a disaster for democracy and nature itself, do your best to deny your dimes to one of the worst of the lot, the abominable ExxonMobil. Look for CITGO stations instead.
Coda to an unusual report
Barry Petersen’s dispatches on the Gaza situation have been so refreshingly dependable (and moving), practically devoid of the heavily polluting pro-Israeli bias we find in almost all American (and Western) big media coverage of that conflict that we must ask: What the devil is going on? Clearly there has to be some sort of intramural struggle going on because the big media do not change their stripes overnight in any radical way unless compelled by some powerful forces, or some unusual development, but of course we are not privy to that—at least not yet.
What follows is therefore an educated guess.
Essentially, when you put correspondents in the field, some of them, confronted with horrors that can’t be denied, will change enough that they will stand by their reporting and resist the home office’s attempts at “sanitizing” or deforming their accounts. In some cases they will prevail—to some extent. There is no firm rule here as it varies with the person and the circumstances. In general, it is the home office that carries ultimate veto power. In the history of world journalism some of the best and most honest reporting has been left on the floor, censored outright.
In the specific, this is what I see as the backstory to this story.
CBS, like all major propaganda engines of the empire, a huge film and TV network, is a critical member of the West’s Ministry of Truth. It is also, as a rule a shamelessly prostituted outfit, always ready to disseminate whatever lies the Washington masters of the universe require. Television of course is not alone, the print media, radio, etc., are all in on this, all the “information” & entertainment tentacles of the system, fully complicit.
CBS has deployed four leading correspondents to the Middle East: Barry Peterson, Holly Williams, Clarissa Ward, and upcoming star WCBS anchor Don Dahler. (WCBS is NYC’s CBS station). Dahler was posted last and the significance of this will be made clear in a moment.
Of the four, Clarissa Ward, a Fox News alumna, often gives the impression of being an under-the-table CIA-paid disinformation specialist. Her reporting is often inflammatory and brazenly biased against any person, entity, nation, etc., the empire needs to demonize. She’s very good and aggressive at her job, having as her model Cristiane Amanpour, another notable disinformationist and not exactly a shrinking violet. Quite probably a 100% careerist, she can be trusted to do a terrifically brutal hatchet job on cue. She’s a sort of “femme Nikita” of American journalism.
Holly Williams is a British corespondent with a much higher professional (read in this case: reliable) record. Fomerly with CNN (China) and SkyNews, her reports, despite the fact they are quite possibly being censored and cut short in New York, usually carry the imprint of fairness and truth, so much so that it almost restores our faith in the capacity of Western media to report something in an almost acceptable fashion. Still, bias her reports do contain, but not of the obvious, highhanded kind, so the clueless may actually miss it. That said, she must be causing some headaches among her bosses stateside and in London because that much fairness in a Western reporter can be dangerous. It may set down a bad example for the rest of the imperial journalist mob.
Barry Petersen is the senior man among this bunch of CBS News Correspondents. He has reported on wars, natural disasters, Paris fashions, the fading popularity of Welsh choirs, and the return of American Jazz to Shanghai, China. He has worked for CBS News for more than three decades..
Now here’s the CBS riddle as far as we can tell:
Barry Petersen has been embedded in Gaza, and has been unable to avoid the horrific truth defining the Palestinian reality. He’s human and decent enough to empathize with them, and has been reporting what I would call extraordinarily well and professionally on the Palestinian situation and the criminality of the Israelis—albeit not expressed in so many words. The force of his anti-Israeli message is not explicit, as we find in Clarissa Ward when she’s trying to badmouth Gaddafi, Putin or the Palestinians; he simply shows the requisite footage and lets the truth of what he shows say what needs to be said about the subject, in this case the ugliness and ruthlessness of the Israeli attack. He is also unabashed about showing sympathy toward Palestinian victims, something rarely seen among US reporters. Further, his windups are never a negation of what the images show. There is no “balancing” closing remarks to the effect that Hamas is also awful, the Palestinians wrong, or not genuine in seeking peace, yada, yada, the type of dishonest “objective” malarkey so commonly used by the so-called Free Press.
Why the network head office is allowing this footage to be shown at all —in the midst of an all-out propaganda offensive against the Palestinians and the Russians—is hard to tell (maybe trying to restore credibility!) but I perceive what you might call a belated attempt at “balancing” Petersen’s stories so as to minimize their impact overall. The tool for this is apparently Don Dahler, who cheerfully and I should add often mindlessly files reports from Tel Aviv, transmitting the unadulterated Zionist viewpoint. He’s either a cold-blooded careerist or a yokel out of his depth. Given his good looks he’s obviously being groomed for greater things along the network ladder and he knows it.
Knowing quite well how the big media operate in the US I can bet that Petersen is under pressure to become more “balanced”, that the network must have already received a ton of letters, calls and bitter criticism from the well-oiled Zionist opinion-manipulation lobby, the loonies and hypocrites that populate the rightwing blogosphere (take a look at the whining and kvetching from this guy on Newsbusters.org, as a case in point), and addled complaints from countless clueless souls, yet the old dog must be resisting, maybe threatening to resign and making a big stink, who knows. That in itself is a story worth pursuing. At the first opportunity I intend to contact him and seek an interview. Naturally, unless he’s ready to get his pension, he will probably decline, but there’s no harm in trying. Perhaps the folks at my alma mater, the Columbia J School, will eventually persuade him to clarify the matter.
By the way, this report, as implicit in the observations above, is not Petersen’s first sympathetic report toward the Palestinian side. He has filed others, all with the same imprint, but this one is one of the best because it clearly hit him close to his heart. (He also depends on locals to stay alive!). In any case, well done.
—Patrice Greanville is TGP’s founding editor.
(a) Since the first printing of this commentary, we have observed that other US network correspondents have filed reports on Gaza also pointing out the suffering of the children, albeit with less empathy than Petersen and using more of the usual qualifiers.
The reason for this is still unclear and the pattern too new to determine if this is a policy change among the networks or a momentary departure from their longstanding support of Israel. The propaganda effect of the Israeli attack this time around, clearly so brutal and lopsided in terms of military power, has been something of a setback for Tel Aviv. Social media are registering a significant uptick in people criticizing the Zionist state for its methods and policies toward the Palestinians, and perceived hypocrisy in the conduct of peace negotiations.