On the matter of the Western media’s (so-called) balance

I am one of the many who is quietly outraged by the Western media’s so-called balancing act in its reporting of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip (state terrorism in my view) and the Goldstone Report. So I was delighted by a letter in today’s Guardian from one Terry Greenberg in North Vancouver. The following is the text of it.

Dear Editor,

If the Guardian were reporting on a story in which a 200-lb combat-trained marine armed with an automatic weapon assaulted and crippled a 5-year old child armed only with a home-made toy gun, how concerned would you be about achieving journalistic balance? Would you feel obliged to emphasize that both sides “fought dirty”, and imply that the shame of doing so was somehow equivalent? Would you quote an interview in which the marine justifies his actions, and refrain from seeking comments from the child? Would you sub-headline the article with words implying the guilt of each party was equal? Would you enhance the article with the photograph of the 5-year old with a menacing look on his face, thus suggesting he alone was the problem?

In Gaza, Israel is the marine, and Palestinians, the child. There is absolutely no balance in that conflict, and any implication that there is serves Israeli propaganda, not truth. The real significance of the Goldstone Report was not that both parties “fought dirty”, but that Israel, in spite of overwhelming superiority of arms, having a multitude of options, chose to use the dirtiest ones. The depravity of the Israeli choices is on a totally different scale from those of Hamas, which had few resources, and fewer options.

In the imaginary fight between the marine and the child, whether or not the child tried to put a finger in the marine’s eye or made a kick at his genitals, is quite marginal to the main point of the story, and barely worth mentioning. In trying to be balanced, the Guardian has so badly skewed the story, the central point of which was the imbalance of the situation itself, that your reporting serves more to misinform than inform.

Terry Greenberg

North Vancouver, B.C.


The only thing I’ll add is that Terry Greenberg’s charge against the Guardian (which generally speaking provides better and more honest coverage of the conflict than most) could and should be made against the self-censoring Western media in its entirety.

9 comments on this post.
  1. John Robertson:

    I have given up hope of getting a balanced report from the MSM, and the media here in Australia is as bad.
    Having just recently found this site can I say keep up the good work Alan.
    John Robertson

  2. Mary:

    In the latest developments, Israel is parading what is claims is a shipment of weapons and ordnance which was seized allegedly on its way to either Hezbullah or Hamas, supposedly from Iran. Obviously, the point of the whole photo op was to show the public what a formidable enemy Israel is fighting (although I didn’t see a single nuclear warhead or F16 fighter plane in the lot). Israel manages to continue to receive aid and sympathy by portraying itself as vulnerable to constant existential threats, which of course is nonsense.

    The western media has also effectively stifled any further commentary on the Goldstone Report and barely covered the result of the congressional vote to “condemn” it. By removing the question of war crimes out of the public eye, it effectively ends any public discourse on the subject. It may make it easier to get a seat at the next White House press conference, but it doesn’t do much for the promotion of truth and honesty in the news.

  3. Ami Fahmi:

    The best word to descibe the Zionsist propaganda is deceitful.

    The Zionist ideology is worse than Nazi ideology.

  4. Mary:

    The marine not only kicks the child but also incites resentments and intrigues among the other children so that they will rally round the child and defend him, but sometimes will actually help the bully to kick harder and more often.

    And in this scenario the most heartbreaking thing of all is that the marine’s friends all pat him on the back and congratulate him. He is the good guy, and he has the right to defend himself.

  5. Nile:

    Bluntly true, but sadly the weight of a counter public outcry to our media & government and any positive effects of seeking out justice is non-evident.

  6. Mary:

    I personally am doing what I can, and in future hope to do more. I believe that the truth comes out. The media is only one piece of the whole problem. For example, the recent resolution passed by the US Congress burying the Goldstone Report happened as a result of the Zionist lobby’s work on Capitol Hill. There are too many politicians either enamored of AIPAC money or intimidated by AIPAC influence. Israeli and American Zionists effectively bought the silence and cooperation of elected officials, which in any other guise would be considered a criminal act.

    Continue to speak the truth, share these truths with others. I remember one small but important thing I learned when I was growing up during the Viet Nam war. The politicians didn’t end that war; the people did. Remember when the Palestinian people broke through the barrier at the Rafah crossing? I think we can do this again. And when it happens, God willing the walls will start to fall all around Palestine.

  7. Nile:

    I’ve heard of the amazing story of Rachel Corrie, a white Canadian peace activist with International Solidarity Movement, who was mowed down by an Israeli bulldozer. The Israelis say it was a tragic accident! I dread to say that the Israeli government would be prepared to annihilate the whole world for it’s own self-centred existence at everyone else’s expense. I won’t ever give up hope nor effort for the struggle of justice. Thanks for the above post.

  8. Mary:

    However Corrie died, it was a complete waste of a young life and should not have happened. She would have served her cause much more effectively if instead of putting herself in harm’s way, she would have educated herself and devoted herself to effecting long-term changes to US policy allowing for this wretched occupation to finally end. I personally have no patience with people who foolishly squander their lives the way she did, although I admire her courage and that she acted according to her convictions. She had a choice to either stop a bulldozer, or stop the country running the bulldozer, and she made the wrong choice.

  9. Fahed:


    Different people have different abilities and different ambitions. They also differ in their abilities to match their abilities with their ambitions.

    I’m sure if you asked Rachel whether she intended to kill herself that day, the answer would be “no” and that she risked herself in that game of “chicken” because she did not think the driver would do what he did.

    You must also remember, Rachel’s death was – and continues to be – a major turning point for *many* people and, when you keep that in mind, her life was definitely not squandered.

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