Thursday, August 03, 2006

Israel and Hezbollah -- why the strange news coverage?

This imbalance of scrutiny is not terribly bothersome to television journalists, because it does not undermine their ability to create gripping theater. News segments, for the most part, require simple, compelling human dramas that can be delivered to the home audience in extremely small packages. The camera demands emotion and plot, not fairness, context, or intellectual rigor. To the camera, there is no right and wrong, no terrorist and victim.

This kind of reportage has created a relationship of co-dependency between terrorists and the media: The fetishization of suffering results in a morally obtuse emphasis on civilian casualties, and the ensuing outcry from world organizations and opinionated foreign governments intimidates and hamstrings Western militaries attempting to defeat terrorists. And the more that Western forces are undermined by oppositional coverage, the greater the incentive for terrorists to maximize civilian casualties and thereby keep the media pressure on their enemies. Operating without moral restrictions, Hezbollah has endeavored to do exactly that — and with magnificent, arguably unprecedented, success. Because democratic governments cannot endure in conflicts that the public believes to be immoral, the task of groups such as Hezbollah is to undermine the Western public’s sense of moral clarity in the fight. And, in too many cases, in the television news media Hezbollah has found a willing partner — as have other terror groups like Hamas and Fatah.