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Friday, May 20, 2011

The media jihad

President Obama's speech yesterday discussed the entire situation in the Middle East, from Tunisia to Bahrain. While perhaps a third of the speech was about the Israel-Arab conflict, it was not the major focus of the speech - in fact, much of the speech was a Bush-style call for greater freedom and democracy in the Arab world and a stunning setback for the "realist" position that has gained such prominence in recent years.

But the top story on CNN this morning, for example, was his mention of the "1967 lines."

Perhaps it is because of the drama of Netanyahu's reaction to the speech (which did not seem to be nearly as vehement as the media is making it out to be) but the entire point of the speech is being drowned out by the media's obsession with Israel.

The President's words and his emphases, whether you agree with them or not, were very specific and deliberately chosen. In this case, it is the media that is trying to create drama and conflict, far more than the actual players are.

Of course this is what the media does, but it is worth remembering that we should get our news from primary sources - like the actual speech, and actual reactions - rather than from news media whose entire purpose is to sensationalize events.

Did Netanyahu have a "furious" phone call with Hilary Clinton before the speech? Was there last-minute "furor"? These words are the New York Times' description, but how accurate is it, really? How much is true and how much is juicing up a story?

We should not ignore the media's version of events, but we should not take it at face value, either.