It is not news that the quality of American journalism had sunk to new lows during the Bush years. The fall to the bottom continues especially in TV and cable news with the obsession to be the first, the penchant to sensationalize even bits of unsubstantiated news and to over analyze everything. Witness the week-old feeding frenzy on Iran where, blurred pixilated cellphone videos are over interpreted by "experts" for the naive viewers and recycled endlessly as real news. These uninterpretable videos were accompanied by emotive language that was, most of time, not justified by the facts or the images shown thus exposing the broadcasters intrinsic biases.
To be clear, I never liked Ahmadinejad and fully sympathize with the demonstrators in Tehran. What bothers me is the stark difference between the media’s coverage of the Tehran demonstrations and the way the massacre in Gaza earlier this year was covered. As heart wrenching as the story and images of Neda Agha Soltan are, there were hundreds of Nedas in Gaza. These stories went largely unnoticed by the American media despite the presence of easily checked facts and very crisp videos documenting the unfolding horror. Just as the Iranina government did in Tehran, Israel limited journalists' access to the war zone. But whereas in Tehran the media shunned suspect government generated information in favor of citizen journalists, in Gaza information coming from Palestinians was treated as suspect and they relied on the drivel generated by the Israeli army as hard facts.
For the Arab observer, the disconnect does not stop there. In the absence of reliable news coming from Iran, the airwaves were jammed with -often ignorant- talking heads pontificating about the situation in Iran. Most outrageous was an interview with Netanyahu who exclaimed, without a hint of irony, that he is in favor of freedom for the people of Iran!!! Needless to say, the double standard extends to the politicians. Whereas Congress swiftly condemned the Iranian government's crackdown, during the war on Gaza they passed a resolution in support of Israel. Obama, wisely, kept quiet. Today, however, with mounting political pressure, he declared himself "appalled and horrified" at the loss of innocent lives in Tehran; but neither he nor his predecessor were moved by the hundreds of innocent men, women and children murdered in cold blood in Gaza.