Sunday, August 17, 2014

Using comparisons to other issues to convey the media's Mid-east bias

Sar Shalom

Previously, I raised the issue of drawing a comparison between Mid-east coverage and media coverage of other issues in order to convey how the media are biased in covering the Middle East. Instead of developing the how-to of drawing such comparisons, I would like to explain why such comparison might convince some people who otherwise could not be convinced.

Imagine that the media have been running a series of articles castigating some entity that you consider to be the devil incarnate. Now you come across someone who defends that entity. You wonder how that person could possibly defend the devil incarnate and in trying to convince this person of that, you cite the media reports castigating that entity. Your interlocutor responds, "the media are biased," what would you think of that retort.

Probably you would think that your interlocutor does not like the message that the media are conveying, and instead of substantively rebutting that message, this interlocutor is attacking the messenger. Often this line of reasoning would be correct, which is why burden of proof of bias falls on the party making the allegation.

Now let's add to your interlocutor's response that she cites someone you consider an upright individual whom you consider to have been savaged by the media. Your interlocutor proceeds to bring parallel after parallel of how ignore relevant facts and accept other facts too readily when they can be easily disproved in order to castigate both the person you consider upright and the entity your interlocutor defends. Would this not induce you question the media coverage that "confirms" your belief that the entity you had in mind is the devil incarnate?

In the case of convincing the left, which, at least in the US, constitutes the vast majority of those unfavorably disposed towards Israel, the issue to draw parallels would have to be one in which the media give outsized deference to right-wing memes. One example is the media's past deference to the notion that excess debt threatens to put the US into the position that Greece is in. Another issue the media's assignment of equal blame to the Democrats and Republicans for the "cycle-of-intransigence" no matter what concessions the Democrats offer only to be spurned by the Republicans. A further example is the media's reduction of Campaign 2000 to "Pinocchio vs. Dumbo" and, as the left would surely describe it, the media's distortion of Al Gore's statements to portray him as a serial exaggerater or liar. My previous post described some of the parallels on those issues, though the point here is to show why we should present those parallels rather than to describe how.

An issue that would cater more to elites, particularly media elites, more than the left in general is that of medical malpractice. It is generally known that in certain American counties, when juries see images of injured people they shut down all thinking and look to find ways to compensate the victims, even if the facts clearly show that all they are victims of is maloccurrence. Such is the case with the images of dead children coming out of Gaza. Anyone know any medical malpractice defense attorneys who could write on this?

One potential difficulty in raising parallels between Middle East coverage and coverage of other issues is that unlike exposing Middle East biases in a vacuum, drawing parallels requires knowing things about issues beyond the Middle East. Potentially, forming alliances with those who are expert on the issues with which we wish to draw parallels and who are sympathetic to Israel, even if they are not expert on the Middle East, could address this challenge.

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