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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A small example of how Fatah does propaganda

Fatah newspapers have been furiously publishing articles supporting the Fatah leadership and attacking Al Jazeera.

One article in Al-Ahd shows a gimmick that we have seen even mainstream newspapers use in order to push forward propaganda as news. See if you can spot it:
The masses of refugees in camps in the West Bank confirmed their support for President Mahmoud Abbas and his policy aimed at the creation of state institutions through the establishment of a Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital.

A spokesman for the refugee camps in the West Bank, Imad Abu Simbel, said "All the services committees in the refugee camps and all the masses of refugees in the West Bank reaffirm their support for President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership under media attack waged by Al-Jazeera against the Palestinian leadership and the negotiating team."
Who is this "spokesman for the refugee camps"? He is, of course, a Fatah member! And one can rest assured that he didn't take a poll of the camps to see if the residents were happy or unhappy with the reported leaks. As the official (or maybe even unofficial, it doesn't matter) "spokesman" he has taken the right of speaking for the people - and saying whatever he wants.

This happens all the time, in one form or another. UNRWA documents from the 1950s would state authoritatively that the refugees did not want citizenship in their host countries, but they never commissioned a poll nor did they pro-actively go into people's homes to ask them. They would only deal with the "officials," those who were politically active to begin with and who would say the party line. And they wouldn't even entertain the thought that these self-appointed leaders' interests could be at odds with those of the people they pretend to represent.

The fact is that people who are interviewed by the media are to a large extent self-selecting and therefore they are, by definition, not representative of the people they claim to represent. This case with Abu Simbel is clear, but every interview in every news medium goes through a vetting process to ensure that the person will say what the interviewer wants them to say, otherwise their words get downplayed or ignored.