Elijah J. Magnier –
Seven years of ongoing dirty war in Syria have created not only hundreds of thousands killed and wounded, destruction evaluated at hundreds of billions, and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, they have also inflicted a devastating hit on the credibility of the international media. As one body, the majority of newsmen in an explicit and violent worldwide media campaign took up a position which opposed them to other journalists, analysts, members of academia and activists, who then found themselves in a minority.
Anyone who opposed “regime change”, who rejected the interventionist propaganda, who stood vocally against a wider war against Russia, and who fought to offer an alternative to the one, narrow narrative offered by the neoconservatives, was attacked. All these were labelled either “pro-Assad” or, more recently, “pro-chemical attack”. However, new knowledge has emerged which can be said to be creating a new social constructivism, standing against these powerful but biased media, looking for and identifying new realities, willing to put the mainstream media on trial, and disregarding those who have, for a very long time, unquestioningly embodied verified knowledge. Some are indeed now calling those biased journalists “Salafist Wahabist apologists”.
Those media joined the US, UK, France and many other European and Middle Eastern countries in their “war on Syria” without taking into any consideration the Syrian people’s will or the existence and result of general elections. Most of “useful Syria” is liberated, without the help or consensus of the United Nations, and with no specific strategy or plausible alternative suggested which fits with what Syrians want, and not just their proxies. Many countries have together invested over $140 bn in Syria with only one obvious result: “back to square one”, with a destroyed country and a dispersed population. The world seems to be ignoring the results of regime change in Libya, the US intervention in Afghanistan (with its destructive results on that country), and with Pakistan, together with the consequences of the regime change in Iraq.
Mainstream Media (MSM) dropped the main coverage of the Syrian war because the battle to topple the Syrian government and its President Bascharal-Assad was being lost, and the Syrian army was winning every single battle against pro-Saudi and Jihadist militants. These jihadists were defeated in most parts of Syria, pushed mainly towards the northern cities of Idlib and Jarablus with pockets in the far east and the south, on the borders with Israel and Jordan.
However, journalists decided to engage in another kind of war (a vendetta?), to stifle any alternative voice which exposed the insistent media narrative defending the jihadists and painted these as “moderate rebels” (in fact for the last seven years), and which called overall for more war in Syria. Curiously, many members – though not all – of the “Media on Trial” group have been selected as MSM’s favourite targets. These have been immediately classified “pro-Assadists”, “pro-Regime”, “pro-Putinists”, “pro-Russia”, “pro-Hezbollah”, “pro-Iran” or “Russian bot”. This is like a red card shoved in your face, stigmatising all of you who don’t support more killing in the Middle East, or more of Trump’s indiscriminate bombing and more tension between the two superpowers, with troops on the ground in Syria pushing the world towards a wider war. There are unknown accounts very much tolerated by the Media as long as they fit with the anti-Assad narrative.
It could be happening as a result of a lack of awareness, but Mainstream Media is giving the impression that it is ready to drop its initial and only legitimate mission to “inform people by presenting facts or offering analysis.” Moreover, it allows insufficient room for criticism or counter argument and reflects only a government view without even attempting to corroborate the “wrongly” delivered narrative. Nevertheless, the world is watching very closely, many unwilling to accept one-sided storyline offered by TV, magazines or newspapers’ versions of events. With the intensity and accessibility of information on the internet and particularly on social media, every individual is now in a position to search for what she or he believes is the truth, looking for balanced journalists’ articles, private blogs, former ambassadors’ analyses, ex-journalists and the readily available sources on the net: because the credibility of mainstream media has been shaken and the damage is serious.
Journalists look uninterested in reporting the advance of the Syrian Army in al-Yarmouk camp, Yalda and al-Hajar al-Aswad, south of Damascus, where the “Islamic State” (ISIS) and al-Qaeda were – and still are to date – in control and have been fighting one another for years. The forces of Damascus are marking one victory after another against what are supposed to be recognised terrorist groups, responsible for continuous attacks worldwide, especially in the last decades. The confidence the Syrian army has acquired creates a show of strength slowly but surely putting an end to the warmongers’ pointless campaign. Theoretically, it is still news , but not many are willing to write about it. It is probable that neocon-Journalism is cherry-picking events that fit with the newspapers’ policy – as indicated by the Washington Post Beirut’s correspondent – rather than what readers want and need to be informed about.
Maybe the media barons have decided to take sides and are no longer interested in balanced reports or just articles reporting development on the ground. If we take Yemen, the same journalists expressing strong justified conscious indignation about civilian deaths in the war imposed on Syria are totally numb, unavailable to cover the Saudi Arabian war on Yemen supported by the US and the UK establishments.
The same journalists who are so excited about any bomb dropped by the Syrians or the Russian air force in their war to liberate cities have been relatively quiet about the thousands of civilians killed in the northern city of Raqqah by the US Air Force which destroyed over 80% of the city and left ISIS mines to kill more inhabitants returning to the ruins of that Syrian city.
Today we see articles quoting activists (even the US establishment relies on activists to bomb Syria!) only because these are against the government of Damascus-to the point where this kind of doubtful, unverified source, interviewed via whatsApp, has become “recognised”, and therefore validated by the mainstream media.
Now journalists have turned their pens against activists, journalists and academics who reject the mainstream media’s unilateral version of events in Syria, and their blackout on the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in this century now taking place in Yemen. Mark Lowcock, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said “the situation in Yemen looks like the apocalypse”. But that seems irrelevant to MSM.
Priority is given to witch hunts and it looks like the season is now open. Respectable outlets and journalists identify a few targets and loud voices on social media and from university professors, to scare all the others with the aim, it seems, to silence differing opinions. Professionalism (lack of bias even with unacceptable military and political situations) seems no longer the rule of the game: this incidentally could be due to unprofessionalism at the Editor level, as Owen Jones has pointed out.
It is impossible to ignore the irony: why blame the international media when they have announced the first “intifada” against anti-interventionists because the war in Syria has been lost despite the huge investment injected, effort, and thousands of articles “seeing the regime in Syria falling”….but it didn’t fall!
Mainstream Media is aware that readers will have little mercy for fake propaganda, manipulation of events and peer coverage of the war from afar. Readers will take their revenge by halting their subscriptions, unwilling to see more of the avalanche of inaccurate analysis and predictions about the fate of the Syrian government and its army. This is why journalists won’t accept their defeat so easily and are trying to look for scapegoats to divert readers’ attention. But of course, the giant mainstream media can’t blame just a few accounts on social media for their failure in the Syrian war. There must be substantial excuses: this is where Russia comes in. The Media are trying to insinuate that the active and successful social media anti-interventionist activists are linked to Moscow.
This reminds me of an attack the Lebanese group AMAL carried out against Israel in the 90s killing a few Israeli soldiers. AMAL announced its responsibility but Tel Aviv rejected it and insisted on accusing Hezbollah. It would have been too humiliating for the Israeli Army to receive such a hit from a weak military group like AMAL. This is exactly what main stream media now need: a bigger perpetrator to justify the success of few individual and blame their success on a superpower like Russia to save its face.
When I was working for an international news agency, I used to look at the news on the paper roll coming in via wire from different subscriptions with the news agency. I would push closer the news of a news agency with long and established accuracy and credibility, and further away those with less credibility. Today Mainstream Media is being pushed away by readers of all walks of life. Finding an amusement to go witch hunting, particularly as the BBC has been doing, rather than offering updated news, is lethal to the media’s reputation.
It is also possible that all these journalists believe that since they have all made the same mistake there shouldn’t be a problem because they won’t be accountable. But what seems more obvious is the fact that individuals on social media now have much more success, especially in the business of influence, than the established news agencies, newspapers and professional journalists.
The war in Syria has seen the fall of many presidents around the world while the same Syrian government remained in place. This result is also undercutting Mass Media’s Syrian stance and scores a direct hit on its credibility. Even those claiming to be “humanitarian activists” allowed themselves to introduce a “slight” modification to the title of their mission and support the occupation of Syria. The US, France and the UK still occupy illegally part of the country with no visible intention to eliminate ISIS under their protection in north-east Syria. There are over 100,000 jihadists in north Syria fighting under al-Qaeda and Turkey’s control. In the south, Daraa will be a problematic issue related directly to the US’s and Israel’s interest in keeping it outside the control of the Syrian government. False flags of “chemical attacks” and other diversions are still possible. The epic soap-opera of Syria is not over. I wonder who will be on the media’s target list and the next victim(s), before the war ends in the Levant?
Proof reading: Maurice Brasher
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