The World According To...

The distorted media mirror: American coverage of the Middle East

June 1998: Robert Fisk laments over the pro-Israeli coverage of the Middle East that the American press has adopted

Sunday 19 December 2021 21:30
<p>A teenager flees the site of an Israeli bombing in Cana, Lebanon</p>

A teenager flees the site of an Israeli bombing in Cana, Lebanon

Not long ago, I came across an American colleague of mine in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. After three years as Middle East correspondent for his east coast paper, my friend was leaving Egypt for the States; American editors have a habit of moving their reporters to other beats the moment they have begun to understand the region. So how were things on the paper, I asked?

“Usual problems,” he replied. “I’ve just been asked by my paper to stop referring to ‘the right-wing Israeli government’. My editor said he’d been getting lots of complaints from members of the Jewish community back home. So now we just call it ‘the Israeli government’.” He shrugged.

I wasn’t surprised. American media coverage of the Middle East has been largely pro-Israeli – and in their cartoons of Arabs almost racist – for decades, and United States reporting of the Israeli-Arab conflict, with honourable exceptions such as the Christian Science Monitor, is bland to the point of tedium.

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