Socialist Worker

Media bias for Israel: ‘a diet of undiluted lies’

David Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Strathclyde and editor of Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, spoke to Socialist Worker

Issue No. 2010

‘If you only have information from the mainstream media about the Middle East, you won’t understand what is happening. It is a diet of almost undiluted lies. Even the liberal media have bought almost wholly the notion of plucky little Israel going a bit far.

I saw a recent report on Channel Four news. The headline and more than half of the report was about civilian casualties in Haifa, Israel. Only towards the end of the report did they casually mention that the civilian death total in Lebanon is now in the hundreds.

There is not even a basic notion that human lives are worth the same. We are seeing a neo-colonial racism of the worst kind.

Hard words such as “attack” and “assault” are reserved for Hizbollah fighters in Lebanon. Softer words such as “bombing raid” are used to describe the actions of Israel. Hizbollah “terrorists” are “attacking civilian targets” while “Israeli raids on Lebanon and Beirut continue”.

Punishment

The media is unable to explain what is happening. I saw one report suggesting the Lebanese government is to blame for Westerners not being able to get out of Beirut because they have closed the airport.

They failed to mention that, as they reported the previous day, the Israelis had bombed the airport.

The mainstream news don’t regard what the Israelis are doing as collective punishment and a massive deliberate assault on civilians.

You simply cannot raise the possibility that Israel is involved in the deliberate targeting of civilians, that Israel is a colonial state which is playing a game of geopolitics.

There is a big ideological push to try to make it impossible to raise criticism of Israel - to say that any critics are anti-Semitic.

The media institutions are too close to power. They are integrated into the ruling class. The senior journalists share the same ideas as others in the ruling class. There are of course a few beleaguered individual journalists trying to stand up to this, but they are a tiny minority.

The bias didn’t used to be as clear as this. News reporters used to have more room for manoeuvre. But in the current neo-liberal climate the media becomes more and more nakedly an instrument of imperialism.’


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