Trust the Echo Chamber on That Ben Rhodes Piece. Earlier this month, The New York Times Magazine published a profile of deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes.
The piece argued that Rhodes’s unique narrative gifts and mastery of social-media technology — combined with the ineptitude of a beleaguered political press — allowed the Obama administration to “actively mislead” the public during the debate over the Iran deal. Specifically, reporter David Samuels wrote that the White House created an echo chamber, inundating “often-clueless reporters” with “freshly minted experts” who repeated Rhodes’s carefully crafted talking points until they attained the status of objective facts. This spin ultimately robbed the public of the opportunity to engage in “a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices” that the administration was making — policy choices that amounted to nothing less than “a large-scale disengagement from the Middle East.” Before we get into those, let's look at the two critiques Samuels does address. 1. Seymour Hersh’s London Review of Books investigation of the Osama Bin Laden raid: Was the accomplished journalist played by Pakistani intelligence.
Photo By Craig F.
Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images When Seymour Hersh is right, he’s really right. His incredible reporting unearthed the My Lai massacre in 1969, causing seismic tremors for the U.S. military that would reverberate for decades. Thirty-five years later, Hersh’s patient detective work uncovered the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, changing not just how U.S. forces treated detainees in the field but also how the U.S. military managed detention operations at Guantànamo Bay.
These meticulously researched and reported pieces altered the course of American policy during two major wars, and set a gold standard for what investigative national security journalism can (and should) be. Unfortunately, Hersh’s latest dispatch in the London Review of Books falls far short of this mark. According to Hersh, “[t]he most blatant lie” told about the U.S. raid to kill Bin Laden was Pakistan’s reported lack of knowledge about the whole thing. Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden · LRB 21 May 2015. It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? Researching on the web. Newswipe BBC Four blatantly exposes How to manipulate the masses through news. Black Mirror. A Creepy Video That Shows How Easily Protest Photos Can Be Staged. Think the above photo is showing a violent protest in the Middle East?
Think again. The photo is in fact a screen grab from a video showing just how easily news photos of a ‘violent protest’ could be staged. The video below, captured by Elbadil TV, shows this fake protest shoot in action. Unfortunately we have no context regarding the “protest” itself — it could be a legitimate propaganda photo-op or simply a group of students showing how easily these things can be faked — but the creepy result speaks for itself: In the video, the fake protesters are expressing their support for the recently unseated President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi. Some cite this as an example of “Pallywood,” a term coined by professor Richard Landes of Boston University that refers to alleged media manipulation by Palestinians and other Arabs.
Charlie Brooker's Newswipe 25/03/09. Homework paper #1 for digital literacy. A pleasant walk in OSX.