Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 18 ‘Media Critique: “CNN: One Year Analysis”

There seems to be a bottom less pit of stoopid at HonestReporting.

We have yet more banal allegations of media 'bias'. Not that we should expect anything less. Some dopey sod is throwing cash at this venture, so they have no choice but to keep churning out the claims.

CNNs turn today.

I'd like to give a rational and logical rebuttal of HRs methodology, but, as usual, they don't provide one. The best we can do is to infer.

HR have looked at "hundreds of videos" from CNN, and selected 53. We don't know which ones they viewed and have little idea of the basis for choosing those selected. And HR certainly don't provide the list of those they claimed to have analysed.

They do however give a highly technical description of their video analysis. Videos are assessed as "favouring" one perspective over another. Alas, HR fail to provide a definition. HR correct for this by the careful application of very precise numbers. Hence, 67 mins of CNNs video coverage 'favours' Palestinians compared to only 31 for Israel.
This figure is arrived at via the highly sophisticated ‘stop watch’ test. In the complete absence of real bias, or any interest in doing the necessary intellectual work to do a real analysis, HR time the videos. If there's a second more footage of Palestinians than Israelis, it's biased. This is stupid in just so many ways. Remember this is TV. Visual content is priority No1. Scenes of death and destruction are visually interesting. HR are unhappy that there was more time spent on the scenes of destruction than on Israeli Govt talking heads. Balance isn't a crude measure of equal time, but about fairly and accurately presenting the various perspectives on an issue.

If I may be so cynical, can I suggest that anything HR perceives as 'favouring' Palestinians or reflecting “negatively on Israel”, is simply a failure to adhere to the 100% Israel right or wrong prejudices of HR. In which case, 70% of CNN video footage failing to meet the HR standard of compliance is probably a tad conservative.

And of course there are the usual factual errors and misrepresentations.
HR complains about the raw video CNN uses,

The viewer, however, has no way of knowing that these so-called "non-violent" Palestinian demonstrations are anything but. As we have documented, the goal of the protestors is often to use enough violence to provoke the Israeli soldiers into a response while the cameras are rolling.

Unfortunately for HRs argument, the “documented” case they link to is in their highly respected Backspin section. One example they give is a Palestinian youth who says something (yes, he said something) to an IDF soldier, who brutually assaults him and throws him in the back of a jeep. The journalist , in front of whom this occurs, speculates the youth might not have done this without him present. That is the kind of "violence" these nasty Palestinian protesters use to “provoke” the peace loving IDF soldiers. Oh the bias!

an ‘expert’ falsely claims that Israel controls all of Gaza borders. In fact, Israel today has no presence on Gaza's border with Egypt. Yet the viewer would not know this from the report. Once again, Mark Regev voices Israel's position but is immediately contradicted by the "expert's" false statement.

Yes, Israel has no soldiers on the Rafah border, but it does indeed control it. Under the agreement with Egypt, Israel has overall control of crossing points. If Israel says no, Egypt does not allow border crossings.

HR need to get something into their thick skulls - news coverage doesn’t exist to satisfy the petulant demands of partisans, but to provide information that will allow better understanding by the public of the issues at hand.