I've recently fired off several quick postings on the US media coverage of apparent jubilation in parts of Palestine at the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At this point I'd like to offer a few reflections on why I've felt obliged to send those messages. It's not my brief to defend the US media; but I believe strongly that the left is not well served by credulity and falsehood, even if the false statements seem in some sense "congenial", in appearing to confirm the worst one might think of US capitalism. After following up the Internet references offered by Chai-on and Paul Z, it's my impression that the CNN falsification story was born of two or three people around the world (possibly independently, possibly not) thinking "Hey, we've seen that before". To date, none of the people involved (to my knowledge) have come forward with any evidence to that effect, and one of them (the one whose posting was most widely disseminated on the Internet, and whose claim was at second-hand in the first instance) has explicitly admitted that he has no evidence. Following up Chai-on's URL reference was interesting, in that one can see how Internet legends are spread. After the original posting (now disavowed), others chimed in saying "that must be right; they showed that clip at 11 am EST, by which time it would be sunset in Palestine, but from the light it was obviously mid-afternoon. It must have been old footage." Well. The news was round the world by 9:30am EST, or thereabouts, when it was still broad daylight in the Middle East. Further, if one is interested in being "charitable", it's not too suprising that some Palestinians might have been jubilant when the news first emerged. My memory is that as of 9:30 EST on September 11 all that most people knew was that had been a spectacularly successful attack on prominent US targets. The full story of thousands of innocent people killed came later. Other postings (e.g. from Rakesh and Nicola) have said the question of actual falsification is secondary; the real point is the way the US media used the video from Nablus to (I'm putting this in my own words) demonize the Palestinians. Even that, it seems to me, is highly questionable. I admit I'm on less firm ground here. I'm not a TV watcher, but I did watch CNN and NBC closely for a couple of hours or so on September 11th. My comments have to be taken as applying to the "real time" coverage; I can't speak about subsequent regurgitation. Anyway, when I saw the "celebration in Palestine" footage on that morning: (a) It confirmed what I had read half an hour earlier at the Washington Post's website, in a brief from their Israel correspondent. (b) The clip was very short. (c) The clip was bracketed by a report that Arafat had condemned the attacks. (d) The news anchors went out of their way to say they had no evidence this was representative of the reaction of Palestinians in general. Far from encouraging viewers to conclude that all Palestinians were delighted at the deaths of Americans, they seemed concerned to forestall that conclusion. I remember the last point clearly, because when I first read of jubilation in Nablus at washingtonpost.com it was immediately clear to me that this was potentially very bad news for Arabs (and, as Rakesh says, anyone with a brown skin) in the US. So when the item came up on TV I was watching closely to see how they'd handle it. As it happens, I was quite favorably impressed. Amidst all the reports of shock and outrage, and the messages of solidarity, pouring in from around the world, a report of celebration was certainly newsworthy, but I don't think it was overplayed. Allin Cottrell.
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