Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 18, 2011

How To Report On Syria - WaPo Edition

Do not visit the country. Report from Washington or Beirut.

Start with a thesis you have no way to verify. Use it as headline. For example:

Pressure on Syria’s Assad intensifies as protests persist

1a. Report of big demonstrations everywhere and of the government shooting demonstrators sourced solely to a shadowy anonymous group which claims to have organized them.

1b. Claim that the Syrian government "is not abandoning its strategy of relying on force to quell the dissent".

2a. Report of a big and peaceful demonstration in Hama where no one was shot.

2b. Ignore your claim in 1b and claim that this is a sign that the government has "given up trying to assert control".

3a. Report of various unsourced and likely false rumors.

3b. Claim that the various unsourced and likely false rumors "give the government jitters".

3c. Quote someone from the Israel Lobby(!) in Washington(!) saying that the various unsourced and likely false rumors have the Syrian government "definitely panicking".

4a. Report of a government concession which was obviously not a government concession.

4b. Have an opposition activist in Beirut(!) dismiss the government concession which was obviously not a government concession as being obviously not a government concession.

5a. Report that the Syrian leader is to make a televised address to the nation.

5b. Claim that this is a sign of his "absence".

6. Quote the meaningless blustering of two anonymous U.S. officials in Washington(!).

7a. Report of reports about Turkish government intervention intentions which the Turkish government has thoroughly dismissed as utter nonsense.

7b. Claim that the opposition would like the reported Turkish government intervention intentions which the Turkish government has thoroughly dismissed as utter nonsense.

7c. Quote an opposition activist in London(!) saying that the reported Turkish government intervention intentions which the Turkish government has thoroughly dismissed as nonsense is a "nightmare for the Syrian regime".

7d. Claim that the "nightmare" is the explanation for an unrelated Syrian government operation against a small armed local rebellion.

8a. Repeat your reporting of various unsourced and likely false rumors.

8b. Quote an opposition activist in Ohio(!) with some theory about the meaning of the various unsourced and likely false rumors.

(Do NOT report of armed government opposition. Do NOT report that the demonstrations this Friday were smaller than last Friday. Do NOT report that the shadowy anonymous group's website is registered and run in Germany by a German with a phone number in Berlin as contact information. Do NOT report that the group seems inactive as the last daily update on that site was eight days ago. )

Rinse and repeat next Friday.

Posted by b on June 18, 2011 at 12:33 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Do not report that the demonstration for two Fridays in a row are based on sectarian split (initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood)and the reason why the demonstrations are getting smaller:

1- The tribal Friday - since the majority of the tribes in Syria are Sunni.

2- The Sheikh Saleh Al-Ali Friday - a Sunni religious figure led the revolution against the French occupation of Syria in 1927.

Posted by: Sappho | Jun 18 2011 14:00 utc | 1

This is excellent b.

Posted by: amar | Jun 18 2011 14:08 utc | 2

Of course, the WaPo is not exceptional. Pretty much all the Western media are very similar. Does anyone know of any exceptions?

Posted by: alexno | Jun 18 2011 15:13 utc | 3

One issue that might be coming up, and has not been mentioned in the media:

As you know, the Syrians who fled over the border into Turkey have been rounded up, and segregated into closed camps, where the media don't have access. Round Yayladag, for example, but also further away in the Cilician plain.

This seems like harsh treatment. Though we don't know much, and the western journalists there are looking the other way, into Syria.

But I suspect the Turks think of the Syrian refugees as dangerously revolutionary. They don't want the Arab Spring invading southern Turkey. After all, the Turks filched Hatay from Syria in 1939 through a rigged referendum. There may still be a majority of Syrian Arabs in Hatay round Antakya, certainly a very large number. I wouldn't trust Turkish statistics.

Erdogan may be a nice guy, and I have a high opinion of his government, but he is still stuck with the policies of the past.

I wouldn't at all exclude the possibility of movement on the Turkish side of the border.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 18 2011 15:34 utc | 4

This link form ahji in the open thread fits here:

Adam Curtis - THE BABY AND THE BAATH WATER

[W]hat is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite - and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that "the Syrian people are naturally democratic" and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites - and a new world of "peace and progress" would inevitably emerge.

What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.

I thought I would tell that story.
...


Very interesting story. Recommended.

Posted by: b | Jun 18 2011 16:59 utc | 5

This could also apply to that American middle class revolutionary who goes under the guise of the "Angry Arab", who claims to have the ear of the Arab street. He spews just as much nonsense as the WAPO, especially about Syria.

Posted by: hans | Jun 19 2011 8:28 utc | 6

Adam Curtis - THE BABY AND THE BAATH WATER :"What is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite - and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that "the Syrian people are naturally democratic" and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites - and a new world of "peace and progress" would inevitably emerge. What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today. I thought I would tell that story."Very interesting story. Recommended. Posted by b, Jun 18 2011 12:59:23 PM
Well, actually, this story is complete crock of shit. As you can tell from the intro, reproduced above, it paints the CIA as sweet innocents intent on bringing democracy and thwarted by ornery Arab dictators who put one over on them. Fuck off.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jun 19 2011 10:23 utc | 7

it paints the CIA as sweet innocents intent on bringing democracy and thwarted by ornery Arab dictators who put one over on them. Fuck off.

On some people the finer points of British humor are just wasted ...

Posted by: b | Jun 19 2011 12:05 utc | 8

re 6

This could also apply to that American middle class revolutionary who goes under the guise of the "Angry Arab", who claims to have the ear of the Arab street. He spews just as much nonsense as the WAPO, especially about Syria.

You really have it in for the Angry Arab, don't you? Anyway he's Lebanese, at least he reads the Arabic press, and his sources are good. All of us have our opinions, and he has a right to his. I've met him; he's not a fake.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 20 2011 8:32 utc | 9

@alexno #9

No I have nothing against him personally except his attitude
His arrogance

I am sorry but he should tone down his arrogance and move to The ME and lead from the the front not from his couch!

Posted by: hans | Jun 20 2011 15:54 utc | 10

Meanwhile, Obusha's considering taking a break from committing war crimes in a half-dozen or so illegal wars to...charge Assad with war crimes.

Posted by: ran | Jun 21 2011 1:28 utc | 11

I am sorry but he should tone down his arrogance and move to The ME and lead from the the front not from his couch!

He's a professor of politics, he has a job to do. He's pretty activist, spending most summers in the Middle East.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 21 2011 7:14 utc | 12


The Washington Post and New York Times are irredeemable, but so is the Syrian Baath. Just read this latest Assad speech... it's so ornately Stalinist it's comical.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Jun 22 2011 3:40 utc | 13

Just read this latest Assad speech... it's so ornately Stalinist it's comical.

Comical, I think Change you can believe in beats it all!

Posted by: hans | Jun 22 2011 13:43 utc | 14

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