Metal Yarmulke
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

My letter to New England Cable News

To whom it may concern,

Up with insomnia this morning, I was flipping between New England Cable News and The Weather Channel, trying to get updates on the hurricane. I happened to catch the "Newsnight" segment about the fence Israel is proposing to build to protect its citizens from homicide bombers.

I watched perhaps only the last three to four minutes of the segment. The Arab academic who had been invited to counterpoint the Israeli government official was talking about how the fence would inconvenience Palestinians: instead of it taking a few minutes for them to travel to a given destination, it would take them up to three or four hours.

Not having seen the earlier part of the segment, I wonder whether the Israeli minister had been allowed the air time to describe the horrific deaths and injuries caused by Arabs who strap explosives to their persons, board buses or enter pizzerias or discos, and detonate themselves. Or to describe how the bombs are so often packed with nails, broken glass, or even contaminated medical waste, all designed to inflict maximum damage on human beings. Bombs that so often damage brains, cripple bodies, harrow nervous systems with severe chronic pain, and destroy faces that their "survivors" may wish they had not been so "lucky."

Or, even more reprehensible, Arab snipers who deliberately target Jewish children, such as one infant sleeping in her bassinet on her family's porch. Or two older ones slaughtered between the cartoon-printed sheets of their beds during a home invasion. If these murders of innocents are ever mentioned in wire reports or on most TV news broadcasts, they are buried somewhere below the loaded terms "settlers" and "settlements." Those who write and file such reports are largely outraged by any Israeli plans to delay Arab entry into Jewish neighborhoods for security reasons, but somehow do not think Jews should be permitted to live in Arab neighborhoods. And the slaughterers are always described as "militants" or "extremists," never "terrorists," though any current definition of the word would fit them well.

In general, however, I have found NECN to be, shall we say, somewhat less than objective. The mere fact that "Newsnight" partners James Braude -- one of the "activists" who, as former head of the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts, has contributed the most to keeping taxation levels in this state among the highest in the U.S. -- is partnered with Chet Curtis, long a highly-regarded Boston news anchor, dims the channel's claims to fairness in my eyes. Is Braude's political background ever mentioned on the show? If his ideological adversary, Barbara Anderson, had been hired instead, I can't imagine otherwise than that her role with Citizens for Limited Taxation would be mentioned as frequently as possible. Of course, Anderson's common-sense persona would undoubtedly be perceived as shockingly blunt, even "extreme," by the audience to whose political sensibilities NECN appears to cater.

"Mainstream" journalists -- that is, left-of-center individuals in the media, for their perceive their particular set of prejudices as "normal" and opposing views as "right-wing" and "extremist" -- profess to be utterly bewildered why so many Americans have come to prefer FOX News over CNN, "Big Three" network news, and local news channels like NECN (which I myself only watch for local news and weather). Or why these same Americans have by and large completely abandoned print news and now get their information online, from webloggers who, though they make no secret of their beliefs, do not lie or obscure facts (e.g., Glenn Reynolds of, Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles, or Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs); and/or directly from news sources, such as the Jerusalem Post, that are seldom quoted by mainstream sources.

Perhaps they, NECN among them, should examine their own coverage more closely for the answer.


BLOG NOTE: I was clicking on the links in this post to see if they worked. The NECN one brought me to, which is the Boston Globe's official news site. I don't know whether NECN is now an official subsidiary of one of this country's most notoriously left-wing papers, or if they merely joined forces for their website, but some of the other stories you can see on their home page are rather telling. For example, near the bottom of the page, "Teen Reportedly Shot by Boston Police" asks whether the shooting was justified, but the teaser doesn't mention that the cops were fired upon first, or that the teenager was facing the police with a gun in his hand when he was shot. And this article on the subject conveniently buries those facts five and seven paragraphs down, respectively. 
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