Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.
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Got A Shoehorn? I Gotta Fit A Story Into The Anti-Israel Narrative
By Luke Baker, Reuters
I seem to have misplaced my shoehorn. That’s going to make it more difficult to force the story I have to report to fit the familiar assumptions of Israel-bad, Palestinians-good. Not impossible, mind you, but more difficult. Do you happen to have a shoehorn you can spare, just for an hour or so? I'll give it right back.
An eraser might do for some types of adjustment to fit the narrative, yes, but that risks leaving too many gaping holes in the story, and that would be simply unprofessional. A reporter of my credentials knows better than to make glaring omissions that only make the reader wonder whether more than meets the eye is going on, instead of accepting the framing of the event as yet another iteration of Israeli brutality and noble Palestinian victimhood. We cannot have that. It would undermine decades of careful adherence to that line. So please, have you got maybe a crowbar?
A chisel might do, as well, or a reasonably firm spatula. Just something to help wedge the facts into the comfortable confines of Israeli repression and honorable Palestinian resistance. Of Israeli censorship and beleaguered journalists putting up a brave fight to report the truth. Of sinister Israeli racism and liberal Palestinian values. Perhaps a hammer? I suppose it’s not strictly necessary to wedge the facts into the narrative – it might be possible to just keep smashing them into the form I want them. Crude, but effective.
Another possibility would be to use the right kind of industrial lubricant, and have the story slide more easily into the preconceived anti-Israel pattern. Some of the more reputable agencies do that, but with deadline pressures it's not always possible to achieve the proper results in time. With longer feature pieces, for example, a dose of fragrant essential oils, and you can massage that baby until it slides right into the existing prejudices.
Still, I prefer the simple elegance of a shoehorn, be it of the standard or longer variety. It makes the bias so much more subtle and deniable than the brute force of a hammer, but still provides a reasonable way to accomplish the distortion quickly enough to meet the pressures of a minute-to-minute breaking news cycle. So have you got one?
Oh, just a butcher's knife? No worries, Muhammad. That will do just fine. I'll give it right back to you when I'm finished. Then you can go on your way toward Damascus Gate.
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