Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Objections to AJE Aren’t Really About Lara Logan

As Jonathan Capehart noted in PostPartisan last Thursday, the Lara Logan assualt story has “a pernicious staying power.” Indeed, what happened to Logan during her time in Egypt is both horrifying and inexcusable. Logan was, according to reports, brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by a crowd while reporting from Cairo. She was rescued by a group of locals, including women, and is recovering.

The attack on Logan should not be diminished by the media. She is brave for speaking out about experiencing sexual assault, something that happens to women (but not only women) every single day in every single country in the world, including Egypt and including the United States. It happens all too frequently to reporters, who all too infrequently report their own experience.

That said, the media frenzy surrounding Logan’s assault–again, by no means Logan’s fault–has become a circus. On the one hand, as Jezebel and Salon have pointed out, you have the American media focusing on Logan’s “Hollywood good looks” as the impetus for the rape. Um, no. Rape doesn’t happen because you’re pretty.

Then, you’ve got the racists and Islamophobes using Logan’s attack as an excuse to blame the Mooslims. The abhorrent Debbie Schlussel’s comments are but one extreme example (“t bothers me not a lick when mainstream media reporters who keep telling us Muslims and Islam are peaceful get a taste of just how ‘peaceful’ Muslims and Islam really are. In fact, it kinda warms my heart”), but others like the LA Weekly chose an only slightly more subtle approach (“In a rush of frenzied excitement, some Egyptian protestors apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter”).

Capehart, on the other hand, has used Logan’s assault as an opportunity to vilify Al Jazeera. Now, let me start by saying this: Yes, Al Jazeera and all media could have reported better on Logan’s assault, using the opportunity to educate the world about what is an incredibly pervasive issue. I do think it’s okay to criticize Al Jazeera on this.

That said, I don’t honestly believe that improvement on Al Jazeera’s part is what Capehart was after, rather, his harsh criticism seems more an attempt to undermine Al Jazeera’s popularity–and their seriousness in covering sexual assault. In doing so, Capehart is implicitly continuing the right wing fight to exclude Al Jazeera from American airwaves.

Capehart’s second piece, on Friday, nailed that theory for me (and many of his commenters). In it, he writes:

Nevermind that what happened to Logan IS a story. Leave aside the fact that she is a correspondent for an American broadcaster. How about the fact that a woman could be swarmed by a mob of 200 people, attacked and sexually assaulted and was only saved by the actions of a group of women and 20 Egyptian soldiers? Was Logan the only one? Is that not newsworthy? I’m at a loss for what would drive a news network to ignore news.

But what could Al Jazeera really have done better? Seek out witnesses? They didn’t have the chance to speak directly with the victim who, as Capehart correctly notes, asked specifically for privacy during this time. They had no video footage. Instead, they chose not to follow the pack of US media ruminating on the Logan story like a pack of wild dogs and noted it, briefly, then moved on.

In fact, what Al Jazeera is so good at is picking up those stories missed by the rest of the world’s media, rather than glomming on as a follower. And that includes their coverage of sexual assault. Al Jazeera’s coverage of systematic rape from the Congo to the US military–has been excellent, at times better than coverage from equivalent outlets in the United States. And just as Capehart “proved” that Al Jazeera hadn’t covered Logan’s story well on their website, a quick Google search for “sexual assault” and “rape” within Al Jazeera’s English site shows stories like “Rape Threat Stalks Kenya’s Slums,” and “Rape Rampant in US Military”.

Al Jazeera aside, does Capehart think that the US media does a sufficient job of covering the plight of non-American journalists and the brutality they often face? Did the Washington Post, for which Capehart writes, cover the story of Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya, who in 2000 was raped, kidnapped, and beaten while doing her job? (Hint: the answer is no). The fact is, while foreign correspondents abroad often face brutality, the brutality faced by journalists in their own countries is often far worse…and rarely receives the same attention.

Capehart could have used his column to point out how common brutality toward female journalists is. He could have discussed the sexual harassment faced by Egyptian women daily. Instead, he chose to smear Al Jazeera, adding to the cacophony of American voices protesting Al Jazeera’s entree into the US media scene. We should be asking why.

19 Comments

  1. Some people’s view of Al-Jazeera in the US seems to me to be bordering on a McCarthy level witch hunt. I see none of these people mentioned that during the protests there was not one report of sexual harassment in Tahrir.

  2. We don’t have to ask why. Real journalism is a threat to the American right, probably the biggest threat. Everything they want you to believe is a lie, and anyone who won’t let them get away with it must be stopped.

  3. I sometimes really cannot even name that nonsense in many American networks as journalism. The over inflated treats with a paranoid jingoistic narrative is becoming the main trait of US Media. Blatant misrepresentation bordering on news fabrication is and outright deception is becoming de rigueur. It is really sad to see a Democracy hijacked by special interest and dogmatic extreme ideology.

    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  4. Capehart responded via Tweet: “You make excellent points and in a strong and civil way. Thank you. But I disagree with your conclusion for my beef w AJE. It’s not bcause I want to keep it out of the US. I just want to know why it didn’t even run the CBS statement.”

    I don’t buy it. His follow-up column ended like this: “[Al Jazeera English] ran ads in The Post and The New York Times last week asking their new fans to ‘call your local cable operator to request AJE.’ But given Al Jazeera’s treatment of the Logan story, why should they?”

    Capehart is asking Americans to judge Al Jazeera based on a *single* story that it underplayed to the point of omission. So I will judge Capehart based on this single piece of idiocy.

    • There is something called relevance. Yes I would agree that it should be a headline news item if we were short of stories at this specific time in the Arab world, however with the middle east nearly combusting and with thousands dead and 10 of thousands injured it would be really bizarre to make this story as a headliner. I believe that this item has been adequately covered under the theme of media harassment in general, without going into specifics. The real issue in the US at the moment lays elsewhere. There is a group of fanatics within the American establishment trying to rehash the discourse in Europe toward Muslim populations. The contradiction is that the parallel is inexistent. The Muslims in the US are extremely small in numbers and mostly native, and economically well off. It is simply the familiar demagoguery and the customery fear mongering.

  5. Disgraceful, Jillian. Ringing the chimes through Concern Troll to Admit Troll to Moral Equivalency Troll to Outrage Troll to just plain Rage Troll.

    Thank God for Jonathan Capehart, who has accurately called out a huge gap — and myopia — in Al Jazeera’s coverage — and no, it is not just the problem of one story as anybody who watches it for any length of time who isn’t in the “progressive” magic circle can tell you.

    Honestly, bad faith all around from you once again — can you never concede such a thing as news judgement, and the freedom of the media to cover it without fear or favour?!
    For one, the New York Times covered the story of the rape of Jineth Bedoya back in 2000, as did other papers, so it wasn’t the silence of the complicit evil mainstream media that you imagine that fails in its PC duties. For another, the Post even covered the issue too, albeit later. That isn’t to say Bedoya was well served; she wasn’t. But neither is Lara Long in your hands, nor truth in journalism, for that matter.

    Happy to write another 3,000 words to explicate just where you “progressives’ go so terribly wrong, and why we have to care.

    http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2011/02/jillian-yorks-objections-to-capehart-arent-really-about-media-freedom.html

  6. Catherine,

    Does any Internet voice hold your attention as much as Jillian? This is quite impressive.
    Also, as another reader of Jillian’s blog, thank you for having the courtesy to post the full response.

    But 3,000 words? You mention Nir Rosen 11 times. How does he even enter the picture on this strict debate over Capehart’s response to Al Jazeera’ lack of coverage?

    Thank you also for clarifying the record on the coverage of Jineth Bedoya. Of course, Jillian’s illustration here was in the immediate aftermath of the assault on Logan; Al Jazeera still has a year to go to match the Washington Post’s schedule.

    As to the main thesis, let me add another datapoint: a friend of mine was in Europe for the last 10 days, where he read the IHT. He had never heard about the Lara Logan story either. My sense was that was an American-centric story that got less play in the foreign / nonsensational press.

    I have another rhetorical question for you. Here’s what you write:
    “And yet, says Jilllian — slyly undermining the specificity of this event so it ‘won’t matter as much’ — this happens ‘every single day in every single country in the world’ including the U.S. and ‘it happens all too frequently to reporters, too’ who ‘all too infrequently’ report their own experience.”

    You have four phrases in quotes there, and three of them do in fact come from Jillian’s piece. But where is “won’t matter as much”? I don’t see it her. You combat her point anyway, since it never happened in your experiences. I guess you missed the discussion of Judith Matloff’s 2007 CJR article on this point.

    The core debate here, of course, is about the legitimacy of Al Jazeera as a news network. Is the American experiment so frail that it can’t weather harsh attacks on its government? We put up with Fox News now; you put up with Keith Olbermann during the Bush administration. Aha, but the twist with Al Jazeera is that not only may it be biased against American policy, but it is funded by an outside state. Hey look — on my cable system, just like many others I get CCTV, China Central Television. This isn’t just state-funded, but it IS state TV.

    To suggest, as Capehart does, that a single story admission — without bothering to explain whether it is part of pattern — is laziness. To argue that Al Jazeera should be denied a license because of content, as you do, is ultimately empty, because it’s unconstitutional.

    I think what we can all agree on here is that the television news operations should be more carefully watched so they can be open to objective analysis. It would serve the public if there were a “live viewer’s companion” to all of the news channels, so we can measure what’s been discussed. Otherwise we are subject to the whims of a particular observer trying to do a Google search to figure out just what a particular network covered.

    • Are you a machine, John, one of those programs we’re being taught to fear from HBGary (which were actually developed first by Anonymous) that scan and scrape and parse text and find various literalist Fisk-like things to say about it? Or are you a human able to think conceptually?

      Nir Rosen is “mentioned 11 times” because of what we like to call *an analogy* and *a parallel*. Do they still teach literary constructions in college these days? (Do they even still teach literature?!) Nir Rosen has a hard-left or “progressive” viewpoint that says the media *should* have a social role and instrumentality for a political movement, therefore he thinks the inverse, that it has one *now* and serves as an instrument or lapdog or “warmonger” to the evil imperialist Amerika. And in the same way, Jillian, with her “progressive” viewpoint, believes the media is an instrument and is either “up to no good” harassing the “Mooslims” and reflecting some “neoliberal” commodifying culture” or, conversely, available to be reformed and become that true instrument of the, um, People’s will that it should be, accurately and resolutely recording not what evil executives or reporters believe to be “the story” with their news judgement, but what a justice NGO now elevated to the Ministry of Truth believes should be a roll-call of injustices, in order to right them.

      That’s clear as the underlying substrate of the Rosen story; it’s clear as the underlying substrate of Jillian’s college-absorbed and Internet-infused “progressive” ideology on display here. I just don’t think Marxist critical analysis like that passes for smart analysis. I think it’s facile and lame and shrill. And ultimately it undermines press freedom, which is what Jillian claims she is about.

      Al Jazeera has a whole year to meet the Washington Post’s timetable? That’s the sort of nasty little literalist jab one expects from machine-readers on forums — and I’ll check back next year to see how, um, they’re coming on that. Meanwhile, sorry, but I for one won’t be railroaded into moral equivalency and NGO Truth and Justice Ministry recipes here. The story of an American reporter who is mobbed and raped and rescued by the Egyptian women and the army during tumultous events when the Whole World is Watching is simply of a different news import than the story of an activist who is raped by soldiers — however noble the activist is. The story is persistent because it is emblematic of many dramas — the U.S. role in propping up the dictator; the news channel trying to get the story, the Egyptian revolutionary struggle in the square, the elements of Egypt that are trying to prevail on the side of decency (the army, the women); and the mob injustice one rightly fears. These aren’t cliches or caricatures or racial hatred: they’re the story. The story.

      A rape by a U.S. soldier in Africa can feel like it’s “the story” only if you believe the U.S. has a sinister and over-arching neoliberalist imperialist blah blah role to play in the world and the People are valiantly struggling against it everywhere blah blah — but as you can see, I don’t. I see that as a tawdry Pravda reduction of reality for immature minds.

      It doesn’t denigrate the story of the activist raped brutally to admit that. I’d like the nightly news to focus on my friends in Belarus in jail; they never do (nor does Jillian). I don’t make up a theory about neoliberal imperialist blah blah policies to explain why Belarus isn’t news. As for Jillian, however, we know the answer: it’s her ideological bent.

      As for your machine-parsing for where this or that quote goes, obviously “won’t matter as much” is a summary of her position. And indeed I stand by that analysis. Indeed she is diluting, diluting, diluting — as you are — by trying to cite all the world’s evils on a single plane, so that we can dwarf and minimize what happened to Lara Logan while the Whole World is Watching.

      It’s funny, it’s the same thing that Jillian — and you — accuse the media of doing, only in reverse. If you were in charge, that media-reducing process of analyzing the world’s events every day would lead to endless reports that sound like the UN Press Centre or do-gooding NGO reports, with a rape in Kenya on par with a mob assault of a reporter in Egypt because the People’s Will must be reflected through their servant, the media, eh? Especially if it can be harnessed to highlight and skewer evil Amerika, eh?

      While the evil capitalist pigs are in charge, they do this inversely, eh? So you reason. As evil imperialists, they front the mob scene in Egypt which is their client state and an adjunct to their evil Israeli policy, and slight the Kenyan rape in a backyard to one of their cell-phone ingredient client states, right Jon? Isn’t that how it goes? Economic determinism, evil capitalism? Did I get the script right, or do I need more adjustments? Prettier production values to hide the tracks?

      But since media in fact isn’t that lapdog of imperialism and isn’t the People’s instrument, it reports the news. The news which isn’t disaster porn or humanitarian crisis entertainment commodified for The Man to Hiddenly Persuade with, but is simply the news, with good news judgement. It’s a big story, because it’s a big story, and that’s ok. No blonde heroines being beaten up by evil dark Mooslims as Jillian claims. But a story of an American broadcaster trying to cover unrest in a country whose dictator is being overthrown who has been propped up by the U.S. government, and the mob dynamics accordingly. Something less than what the ideologues imagine; something more than they are willing to let it be on People’s TV. My, it’s hard to accept reality when it doesn’t fit into an ideological template, isn’t it Jon.

      The core debate here isn’t about Al Jazeera, for my money, it’s whether TV gets to be an instrumentalist state propaganda device, or not. You inherently believe that it must; I don’t. Since you have a hard-left view that ascribes that social role to television, you think it has to be. You think it’s fine if it is! So you look around the world and try to find what state power (commercial corporations are too evil) is perfecting that instrumentality to your ideological bent. Ah, there’s Al Jazeera (tomorrow you might try the Kremlin’s RTV which also has a lot of content you’d love, and say, I wonder how Cuban TV is developing today?). Al Jazeera, an Arabic state TV with a mission, is then elevated to crusader and hero against the evil imperialist Amerikan broadcaster because it hates Israel and “reports on the news” that the evil commodifiers in Amerika “won’t report on” because of their presumed ideological diktat.

      Except when it doesn’t. Except when it can’t even record the news of an event when the Whole World is Watching. When it’s ideological birds, set misleadingly free to make it appear as if they can cover everything from Darfurians to Politkovskaya freely, finally in fact come home to roost, because it’s not free. It’s not free, because while it’s political and ideological mission is to expose some despotic Arab regimes opportunistically and strategically, it won’t stare hard enough to expose despotism in some individual Arabs in some individual scene where they might have to take responsibility for their actions, and where one can’t keep faulting the evil Amerikan Imperialist TV for every sin.

      It’s not laziness on Capeheart’s part to write twice on this incident. He’s absolutely right and he’s totally pitch-perfect on this one. He’s gotten it. It’s emblematic of the whole. And as I said, anyone who watches Al Jazeera for a time finds that bias rivulating throughout. Yes, they cover this or that and therefore “punch their ticket”. But they frame it as moral equivalency (as you do) to make it seem that whatever evil de jour they might literally cover, say a Darfur scene, is somehow matched up to evil Amerika’s fault, to something equally evil that evil Amerika committed, too (they learned that from Kremlin RTV lol). The net effect, as your friend Morozov might say, is to steer us to a cynical belief that we need the transnational geek squad with their perfect analysis to do the driving for us.

      We can’t “all agree” on anything here. That’s because I believe your position not to be different, but different *and immoral*. It’s wrong to make the media an instrument of a revolutionary struggle. I don’t believe in the ideology of revolutionary struggle that you do in any event. I urge you to at least have the decency to admit that’s your ideology and that’s your goal. At least Nir Rosen has made that clear for us. I don’t mind socialists; what I mind are dishonest, stealth socialists. Nir Rosen could objectify and hate Lara Logan because she was a “warmonger” in his silly, cramped Pravda-like cartoon view of the world. He is now being crucified on the altar of feminism and political correctness regarding statements on sexual assaults, but what stands back of that later problem was his original Pravda caricature viewpoint — which shares more in common with the feminist PC police than either would care to admit.

      Al Jazeera should be denied a license because of instrumentality, not content. It is a state-owned broadcaster with a known propagandistic mission, carrying out that mission to a “T”. If the BBC (which we can also easily see on those same city-owned public channels as RTV used to be on before no one could be found to be willing to pay for it, not even the Kremlin) were to come into the U.S. broadcasting space as owned by the British government, I think the licensers might also ask the same questions if all the BBC did was reflect the instrumentalist policies of the Labour government, or for that matter, even the current coalition between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Does this mean that in my view TV in the U.S. is a free and unadulterated medium that is never tainted by power or property? Of course not. But at least we have pluralism. We have Jon Stewart or we have Fox TV or we have CBS. Al Jazeera isn’t adding to choice; it’s trying to “level the field” in the direction of the “progressive” instrumentality of Stewart or Amy Goodmann, which is to say it is not levelled, but tilted. Do the guardians of the television waves look at “lines” like that in making judgements? Sure they do, and that’s ok, as they are looking at the mix that results in the public interest ultimately. Al Jazeera is a naked, instrumentalist political agenda — like yours — that has merely learned how to wrap itself in cool production values and the same slick moral equivalency method as RTF. That’s all. We don’t need to bless that as some sort of crusade for media freedom — it’s not, because they can’t even cover the news freely when it occurs on the square in Egypt.

      I hope you’re joking by your notion of the ‘”Live Viewers’ Companion’ to all the news channels, so we can measure what’s been discussed.” You’re joking, right comrade? You actually think some perfectly politically-correct little angel-demon on your soldier can be devised by…somebody (er, maybe the Harvard Berkman Center?!) to perform that “unbiased” roll. And no, we aren’t subject to Google — at least not yet. And yes, viewers sift through the media diet and

      I suggest until Jillian grows up and gets her job at the FCC and creates the Viewers’ Companion you use your Internet browser as a filter to reconfirm your political biases and bookmark your Al Jazeera and your Amy Goodmann and I’d recommend RTV knowing of your beliefs and tastes.

      Never get confused by the facts, Jon.

  7. Catherine,

    You may well have a viable argument here. But it is smothered under layers of paranoia, ad hominem attacks, and an inability to engage your opponents on even token points. Best of luck in finding your next generation of ideologues.

    Jon

  8. Jon,

    I have no idea what binds you to Ms. York, and why you feel the need to rush to her defense. But she’s a big girl, and doesn’t need attack dogs and loyal pups to guard her — at least, I don’t think she does.

    There isn’t any paranoia in why I write, but just some blunt and plain-spoken truths about the appalling pall of collectivist and “progressive” ideologies plastered over everything that comes out on this blog and others in the same circle. It really needs to be challenged. What always astounds me about you young folks today is how rigidly ideological and close-minded you are, how fearful you are of debate, how horribly doctrinaire you are, and yet how awfully glib and over-confident you are in what you say. Do you ever look at yourselves?

    Ad hominem attacks? Oh, come now, Mr. Civilities. There’s really no such thing — and not that ad hominem attacks in fact aren’t legal under the Constitution, anyway. And really, ad hominem attacks are claiming people are “paranoid” just because they are critical and think conceptually about the larger context. I also want to welcome you to the Newly Acquired Conscience Club, as we missed you some chapters ago when some of Jillian’s less paper-trained pets were savaging me. As for engaging on token points, sorry, but there just aren’t any token points I can concede in a single thing that Jillian is writing. I just don’t play nice with those sorts of niceties when I see this sort of situation, an ideology amplified that is in fact really a threat to freedom of the media. And I don’t see why I should be confined in some strait-jacket of PC debating techniques — you sure aren’t.

    I don’t have to look for any next generation of ideologues, it’s right here in front of me.

  9. Everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that Lara Logan is completely unknown outside the United States. I watch endless television of all kinds (from Cairo) and I had never heard of her. So why should Al Jazeera give me more attention than any other woman molested in the street? Because she’s white, because she’s American? I just don’t get it. I’m reminded of Anderson Cooper’s remarks when someone punched him in the streets of Cairo during a riot. Something to the effect of “I thought for a moment that someone recognized me”. Really? Only about 20 people in Cairo watch CNN. Why would they? They have much better sources of news relevant to them. US narcissism is out of control.

  10. Oh, sure you get it, you’re just disparaging this journalist Lara Logan to try to diminish the sting of Al Jazeer’s lapses.

    So no, Jonathan, like Jillian you’re trying to dilute and diminish the story here and its impact by trying to turn it into some sort of world popularity contest.

    Maybe Lara Logan wasn’t known outside the U.S., but surely CBS is. She’s not just some woman molested in the street, and it’s silly to try to dumb the story down and make it otherwise. She’s a newscaster at a globally-known television station from the country whose government spent billions propping up the dictator all these years. She’s walking on to a square not just for a night on the town, but because there are globally-important demonstrations taking place there of momentous occasion toppling a dictator and starting a new democracy. She’s covering a story so that the people in this country where the government propped up the dictator *can learn the facts of the situation and perhaps change their minds about what might be happening there*.

    I watched Al Jazeera again last night, this time on the Libyan story. The newscasters with their acquired British accents are really awful, you know? That is, there’s the veneer of BBC-like objectivity, but they keep going off script to rant and goad. Under the guise of asking “penetrating” questions, undergraduate-style, they bully and harass even sympathetic guests and sources trying to get them to say “the line”. They’re like the young Spartacus League kids at the college book table. Insetad of just *letting the story be told* they constantly interrupt, put words in people’s mouths, ask leading questions and try to get them to “focus on the line”. It’s not the story as it exists, but the line as they see it should be defined by. It’s really very politicized and biased TV, as biased as a Glenn Beck show — but Glenn Beck at least frames his rants within a talk-show format, and Al Jazeera’s anchors are supposed to be news casters.

    Al Jazeera is not the BBC.

    As for CBS, it’s not about narcissism, it’s about conceding who the world’s actors are and not being infantile about it. You know, when NTV’s Elena Masyuk was kidnapped and held by Chechens or Russian journalists from ITAR-TASS were killed in the Chechen war, I as a regional specialist didn’t say “Oh, good, they got it coming to them, those warmongers”. I didn’t say “Oh, they should have expected this, they need better security.” or “Oh, why are we obsessing about this woman’s kidnapping or that woman’s murder when every day, the Russian army massacres hundreds.” I didn’t do that because to do so would be part of a facile and biased take on the situation that refused to concede the role of the media, even state media, and the basic function of a journalist, which should be protected as a profession. It just seems obvious to me that you have to worry about protection of journalists as a special case because otherwise, there’s no coverage at all of all the other issues to be concerned about.

    It doesn’t mean that Evil Amerikan Imperializm is striking again and everybody must give way, but it doesn’t mean its flipside, either, which is we have to somehow diminish the role of a global power with a role in this country.

    Um, Al Jazeera seeks no less a role for itself. That you can’t seem to concede. So what is this really about? Are you carrying water for a state television seeking market share and trying to diminish the brand of another station?

    Much better news sources? *Really* Jonathan? That don’t cover a big story like this, where an American broadcaster is mobbed by 20 men and saved by women and the army? You’d realy have to be in the most cramped Marxist contortion, writing a term paper for Professor Spivak, to try to reduce this story to merely one more incident in the rich tapesty of the People’s Struggle.

    Again, what’s always so annoying about you “progressives” is that instead of just stating plainly that you’re for military powers or theocratic powers or socialist powers abroad that apparently you find more attractive than your own democratic liberal government at home, and instead of just saying that you really hate rich white women who work for corporate news stations you find culturally reprehensible, you try to ascribe some feature to the U.S. that is in your imagination — one day its hubris; another day its narcissism; yet another it is the commodification of disaster porn. At least Nir Rosen was honest!

    If you like television run by states with political agendas that leave out major news stories, that’s fine, say so, but don’t pretend its some brave new form of media. It’s not.

  11. I have no want to argue anymore. But I want clarify some things from what was said above:

    1. Nir Rosen is a disgrace. His language here and elsewhere (musing about wanting to see his hometown of Tel Aviv bombed) is despicable. I have no interest in trying to defend his viewpoint or manners as a “progressive.”

    2. My participation in this thread is on my own volition for my own interest. I am not here specifically to “defend” Jillian, though that said, based on my correspondence with her, and my meeting of her in person, I have found she is a person worthy of my respect. We happen to agree on her point here, and this is a public blog where people may agree or disagree. She is traveling this week, and perhaps she didn’t want to be troubled by responding on this thread. There was a single point wherein it appeared that words were attributed to her through this use of quotations, and I was questioning that.

    3. I presume that anyone following this thread is indeed interested in what happened to Lara Logan, outside of the debate as to how her attack was covered by any news outlet. The original report from CBS many to believe that she was raped, since “sexual assault” is the legal equivalent in many jurisdictions. The Sunday Times (of London) 2 days ago described the attack in more detail, and it was clear that she was not raped.

    4. I am keeping an open mind about Al Jazeera and its reporting on the Middle East revolutions. Whether fair elections happen, and who wins those elections, is very much out of my control; beyond my interest in supporting those advocating civil rights and pluralism. I have no doubt there could be an aggressive campaign by Islamist sympathizers of Hamas, in Egypt or any other state. How effectively Al Jazeera English covers that angle remains to be seen (by the handful of people who already get it, or who search it out online).

  12. Jon,

    1. I notice that Nir Rosen isn’t a disgrace for you when he calls Lara Logan a “warmonger” merely because she was a reporter for CBS, which is presumably for him an imperialist warmonging arm of the warmongering state of Amerika. Can you concede that, or is that a bridge too far for you?

    2. Summarizing somebody’s words and putting them into quotes isn’t some false attribution of them, Jon, but thanks for playing pit bull on that one, I’m sure Jillian as she is travelling really appreciates it. In fact, the entire notion that you can accuse someone of plagiarism and wrongful attribution *on the Internet these days, where it is so easy to check original texts and their datestamps* is absurd. Nobody is trying to misrepresent your precious Jillian. Rather, it’s about urging accountability from her for her positions.

    3. Ugh, I see what you did there. By downgrading this to a “grope” from a “rape” (or at least an unspecific “sexual assault”) you get to do what Nir Rosen did, but without the language problem. Honestly, it’s low. Lara Logan does not have to be penetrated to declare what happened as a rape. It’s not a legal term but the legal specifics of “sexual assault” are bad enough. It doesn’t change the story at all if she is merely “groped” or “sexually manhandled” and not “penetrated” by these 20 men. It’s still appalling. It’s still a story. It’s still important. And you are slyly trying to undermine it, and that’s wrong. Really, I personally have no need to play Marxist feminist here, definitely. I don’t need to upgrade the assault to make it more lurid. It’s bad enough AND it’s still a story — a story that should have been covered because it was emblematic of a number of things as I’ve said.

    4. The idea that there is a “handful” of Al Jazeera watchers is another tendentious barb. There are loads of them. Um, go on the Internet. Click on it. Or get the app. Watch it. It doesn’t have to come to you in “TV form” complete with ads for cereal to be a source among many sources in a media diet. “Searching it out’ makes it seem as if the U.S. government is jamming its signals like the Soviet Union jammed Radio Liberty (and hysterics like Frank Rich have made that comparison). You just have to click, John. You just have to click. Stop dramatizing it.

  13. Allow me to clarify further. Everything that Nir Rosen has said in the public sphere that I am aware of, up to and including calling a reporter a “warmonger”, is a disgrace.

    Since it is also in question, I should add that what happened to Lara Logan was an even greater outrage that Rosen’s mere words. I am simply adding facts reported in the press that were not known at the start of this discussion.

    As for the rest, I am not going to argue. I am through here.

  14. I’m sorry, Catherine, you’re seriously deluded. CBS is pretty well unknown in the Middle East, for the simple reason that it isn’t available on Nilesat or Arabsat. No one here could watch it even if they wanted to. If some Al Jazeera reporter was molested in Times Square, would that be big news on CBS? The United States is a declining power with delusions of grandeur, rather like Britain in the 1950s. Live with it.

  15. Jonathan, I’m not deluded, I’m simply not trapped in a sectarian box where I believe that the United States is the greatest evil in the world as apparently you do — and therefore have a felt need to either exaggerate or diminish its actual role. In fact, I think that caricature is one of the funny ways in which the left keeps alive American exceptionalism, and it’s a failure to acknowledge that the U.S. has dwindling importance in the world and the other actors — including the other *bad* actors — are far more likely to be China, Russia, Iran, Sudan, etc. and not the U.S., which often has no leverage. Yet day after day, you “progressives” obsess about…what? America, and not those other countries.

    The fact that CBS isn’t available on Nilesat or Arabsat doesn’t mean that CBS, as an American station, isn’t known as a company, or that “American network TV” is somehow some unknown quantity. Of course it’s known, and obviously at least in this incident even became an incendiary presence at least for some people. ElBaradei and Egyptian diplomats at the UN and the Egyptian military leadership knows what CBS is; so does the Google engineer Wael Ghonim who was among the planners and leaders of the revolution. Let’s not be children here and literalist Fiskers, Jonathan, CBS is a known entity and an entity with significance in this situation, and what happens to its reporter, who is mauled in the square during the revolution, and saved by women and the army, is indeed an important even in current events and deserving coverage. Your persistent effort to try to dilute it, dumb it down, distract from it, etc. merely let us know the sectarian perch you are occupying, that’s all.

    I’ve spent a lot of my years studying and working abroad, learning a foreign language fluently, and so on. I don’t need any pious lectures about “living” with the notion that the U.S. is declining. But I also don’t need to apply a facile and juvenile gawker.com/Twitter analysis to a situation in the world where the U.S. still plays an important role, and still, BTW, pay’s Egypt’s bills, including the bills of the army and Egypt’s food subsidies. To put it really bluntly: that’s a factor in making a demonstration and a revolution able to last a lot longer than it can in Belarus, where the U.S. isn’t doing the subsidizing, but Russia is. And that’s a good thing — we should work ourselves out of a job, right? Maybe put some of those billions to work paying back the debt to the Chinese or creating jobs at home?

    The example you give of the Al Jazeera reporter molested in Times Square isn’t news any more than a CBS reporter being molested in Times Squares would be news — because nothing is happening in Times Square out of the ordinary. If we were try to tart the analogy up a little, for the sake of your tendentiousness, and make the CBS reporter a blonde European woman suddenly attacked by Pakistani news vendors, let’s say, or make the Al Jazeera reporter attacked by white Tea Party followers, then perhaps we might have a story for that day, but not much of one (neither the Tea Party or Pakistani news vendors use violence as a rule, you know?)

    So let’s try to find a real analogy, although it’s going to take a real stretching of the nature of the situations precisely because they aren’t equivalent, not morally, and not actually.

    Let’s say the Al Jazeera correspondent went to Madison, Wisconsin. There he finds the suffering working masses — the public employees union demonstrating en masse “like Egypt”. Indeed, they are holding up signs of solidarity with each other in our global village! And let’s say that he felt perfectly comfortable filming these soul brothers who are the current fascination and hope of the “progressives”. And let’s say he was there for days like U.S. camera crews have been in Egypt because it was getting to be a really big story especially as the people back home wondered how things were doing in Wisconsin and how the situations might compare. Let’s say pundits in the Middle East were even predicting that Wisconsin was going to be a watershed event that would bring down the tyrannical U.S. administration and its allies that had been in power for 30 years, and if he left the story and went home, he’d miss history.

    But let’s say one afternoon, he wades into a crowd of what he has come to see as democrats fighting for justice, yet suddenly 20 men attack and beat and injure him when they spot his identity as an Arab state TV correspondent. And let’s say he has to be rescued first by some of those sturdy soccer moms we Americans can count on to be at every demonstration, and by the National Guard, trying to keep order. And let’s say later, we begin to speculate — could Governor Walker, like Mubarak, have whistled to some local toughs who had supported him or even imported some thugs from the militia movements in nearby states? or did they show up on their own to make trouble? Could these progressive workers that we’re rooting for in fact not be as tolerant of Muslims as we like, being working-class Americans with limited upbringing? And so on. THAT would be an equivalent. And if CBS didn’t cover that story, boy, would you holler. And Al Jazeera would feature it for days on end.

    Now, let me suggest something else. That didn’t happen in Madison. But it did happen in Cairo. And it’s ok to say that, and it’s ok to say it’s news, and it’s ok to expect coverage of it.

    That you are still flapping your wings here trying to posit a universe where it’s not news is creepy, because it means you want to wilfully disregard truth and facts and look at the world through an ideological keyhole. That’s the serious delusion — and scary in one so young.

  16. Phew. Why didn’t you just make that argument at the outset?
    I don’t think I’m the only person who has trouble listening when I feel insulted.
    But with your example, I see your point.

    Of course, had it happened in Madison, charges would have been filed with the police, and an investigation would have been undertaken, and the story would grown. I can understand — though not defend without more facts — Al Jazeera’s reticence journalistically: she had already left the country, and they appear to pride themselves on not carrying for secondhand news.

    As I suggested above: there could well be deeper narratives here. I notice there was no coverage of Lara Logan in the now-liberated Al-Ahram Weekly English edition, and nor was their any coverage of Qaradawi’s Tahrir Square sermon. These are interesting facts which I will verify with folks in Egypt, though overall, I still don’t have enough to draw a conclusion.

  17. Um, not make a skewed and contrived analogy to try to get you to concede that there *was* a story there?

    Gosh, sorry I didn’t think of it, champ.

    Once again you give away the store terribly with your almost touchingly naive sectarian remarks.

    Al Jazeera has reticence journalistically because…she’s left the country? Because there isn’t an investigation? Oh, you believe Al Jazeera functions as a kind of grand jury on various events, probing them for the state to see “if there is a case there”?

    And oh, like a terribly scrupulous and honourable police or prison system — say, like the Danish — never opening a case or pursuing a case if there is only “hearsay”?

    Please. You’re just *plain incredible*with this sort of trumped-up hypothesizing in defense of your beloved Al Jazeera. You will stop at nothing to twist yourself into a pretzel to defend them. It’s absurd.

    As I noted already in this discussion, Al Jazeera didn’t have to have Lara Logan on hand herself to pursue this story. They could have interviewed the women who rescued her; they could have interviewed the military men; they could have interviewed eyewitnesses; they could have interviewed women’s leaders or called CBS and talked to her boss. There are a ton of ways to cover a story when you have to and when you are interested.

    Julian Assange is often unavailable for interviews or storms out of them but he is still at the top of the news hour, yanno? It’s like that…

    But on Lara Long, Al Jazeera stayed away. They stayed away because it broke through the proscenium arch of their very contrived staging of the story. It showed some of the demonstrators in a bad light. That can’t be! Or it showed that Mubarak-controlled thugs were still able to put on outrageous attacks like this and maybe the good guys were not winning.

    Or it showed something else, which is that *women’s rights are going to go on being a problem in this country*. Gosh, wouldn’t want to reveal that, would we!

    Al Jazeera threw this story under the bus. It didn’t fit their worldview. They junked it.

    As for your now-liberated Al-Ahram Weekly English Edition, maybe they aren’t so liberated, or so liberal and it embarrasses them to dissect these issues, I don’t know, I’m not an expert. As for expecting that Qaradawi (huh?) would mention incident that a) involved violation of a woman’s rights b) rescue by the army and other women c) showing some Egyptian men in a bad light d) possibly showing something about either Mubarak’s power to make trouble or the propensity of the revolution not to be so terrific. Why would he ever get involved in any of these topics. Again, I’m not an expert but it just seems like you can apply common sense here.

    Look, your friend Al Jazeera doesn’t have any problem covering Anna Politkovskaya. You know why? Not because she’s a woman, and she was murdered, and they have a robust, wholesale approach to worldwide human rights (that suddenly disappeared when it came to Lara Long). No, it’s more because they care about journalists who care about persecution of Muslim people like the Chechens, and when such persons are murdered, they care more. But that’s it. I dunno, I don’t see other Al Jazeera covering *other* journalists challenging the Kremlin in other ways in Russia reflected as much, but I haven’t made a scientific analysis. Al Jazeera stopped in for an hour December 19 in Minsk at the height of the police crackdown — thanks guys! Faster than CNN! Woot! Then they left immediately, not to return to the story. So, meh.

    It defies the mind that you could go on carrying water for Al Jazeera like this when it is so obviously biased and propagandistic or engaging in moral equivalency even when it tries to be “balanced” (its balancing in fact is fake because it’s putting on the same plane things that are very different.)

    For example for nights on end we’ve heard about how Obama isn’t saying anything about Libya. Hey, I couldn’t agree more. We need to ask some very hard questions of our Community-Organizer-in-Chief as to whether he is still harbouring those old socialist politics he was nurtured with in the 1980s in the black power and “progressive” movements that said you can never, ever, ever criticize black leaders in Africa (and that includes North Africa) because otherwise, you play into the hands of white imperialists — blah blah. He’s apparently has some issues there.

    So..ok, Al Jazeera, I’m with you on that one. But how’s Vladimir Putin doing on the Libya issue. Anything in yet from Hu Jintao? Say what? I mean, honestly. That you can’t see the bias in these shows is beyond me. I guess you have a very deep-seated need to have the world fixed this way for yourself.

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