Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Mainstream media and balance in Iran

Jerry Stratton, December 24, 2006

Just a quick note on how mainstream media outlets implement “balance”. Iran recently held a conference questioning the Jewish holocaust. The BBC wrote an article on this, and in that article said:

Participants include a number of well-known "revisionist" Western academics. American David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, is to present a paper.

But a number of Jewish rabbis are also there. One, British Rabbi Ahron Cohen, said he had come to the conference to put the "Orthodox Jewish viewpoint" across.

"We certainly say there was a Holocaust, we lived through the Holocaust. But in no way can it be used as a justification for perpetrating unjust acts against the Palestinians," he said.

Ahron Cohen is a member of Neturei Karta. By “unjust acts against the Palestinians” they mean the very existence of Israel. On their web site they call for the United Nations to “correct” the error made when the U.N. recognized Israel:

Rabbi Blau stated shortly before his death that the acceptance by the United Nations of the Zionist state as a member state constituted a grave injustice to the Jewish people. Neturei Karta hope that this great error will be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

They believe that Israel’s existence is heresy. They refer to it as the “so-called ‘State of Israel’” and the “illegitimate heretical ‘Israeli’ regime” and believe all of Israel should be turned over to the Palestinians.

None of that appeared in the BBC article.

One of the tenets of balance in the mainstream media is that you must have experts from both sides of a controversy. If you can’t find any one on one side, you have to make them up. Thus, even an article on a holocaust revisionist conference can’t be written from the perspective that it’s just plain wrong. There has to be some reason that it might not be wrong. Otherwise your article isn’t balanced.

If they’d written the article a few days earlier, they could have mentioned another attendee who doesn’t question the holocaust. Khaled Kasab Mahameed had been invited, but was forbidden entry into Iran. Mahameed, who maintains a Holocaust museum in Nazareth, argues that questioning obvious historical fact doesn’t advance the Palestinian cause.

Given the quality of media coverage in the Middle East, he may be wrong. The truth is not always balanced.

Note that they’ve since rewritten that article. The new article changes “a number of Jewish rabbis” to “a small group of Jewish rabbis” and adds more information about the Neturei Karta, including that by and large they’re regarded as “freaks”. Well, yeah. By everyone except the journalist who wrote the original article for the BBC. And their editor.

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