Thursday, November 30, 2006

Distorting Public Opinion

The Iranian president’s letter to the American people had hardly been released when MSNBC online, among other opinion formers, was telling us what to think about it. The first
paragraph of the MSNBC “report”
of reader reactions sets the tone:

“When we asked readers to respond to Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s open letter to the American public, your responses ranged from outrage ("Drop dead, we don't take advice from an evil dictator and terrorist") to fashion-conscious ("I would tell him to please put some hair color in his beard. The gray is bad").” MSNBC added, “most readers told Ahmadinejad to take a long walk off a short dock (if not in so many words).”

We don’t need the acumen of George Orwell (who wrote the best analyses of dishonest use of language) to detect that there is persuasion going on here. In fact the pre-chewed version of what readers said is probably no more truthful than the newspaper reporter’s ancient trick for slipping his or her opinions into a “objective” report: “A bystander was heard to say.”

MSNBC’s selective and possibly fanciful summary also resembles what I read almost every day about “Western nations” opposing this or that (e.g. Iranian nuclear development) or favoring this or that. As with “coalition forces”, we can substitute the words “United States” for “Western nations” to get past the biased reporting.

Why should the American media meet the president of Iran’s courteous plea for mutual understanding and non-interference in the affairs of nations with loaded propaganda guns? His country (unlike the U.S. and Israel) has been at peace for many years, and there is no reason to believe that Iran will ever be a threat to the U.S. unless it is first attacked, or threatened with attack, by the U.S./Israel axis.

For the answer, just read President Ahmadinejad’s letter and notice its heavy emphasis on the crimes of Israel against its subject people, made possible largely by U.S. money, arms, and political support. That is enough to explain not only MSNBC’s twisted version of public reaction but also the very selective descriptions of what the letter contains, as almost always happens when a national leader points to Israel as the root cause of terrorism.

(I'm sure you've noticed that whenever a "terrorist” makes a courtroom statement at the end of his trial explaining that his motives were reprisal for evil deeds by Israel, and for U.S. complicity in those acts, the content of his statement is always reported in some such way as this: “The defendant made a rambling and incoherent speech until he was told by the judge to sit down.” The American public is thus denied an opportunity to learn what really causes terrorism from the mouths of terrorists, and so is deprived of knowledge it requires in order to stop terrorism.)

I’ll conclude with this excerpt from President Ahmadinejad’s letter, which will no doubt prove to be its least-quoted passage:

“We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Send this one to Keith O at MSNBC!