The Guardian is as guilty as almost every other mainstream news outlet in the UK with regards to its heavily biased coverage of the Libyan & Syrian conflicts. If picking sides in a civil war was classed as a crime then the Guardians online editorial team would be found guilty on several counts.
This propaganda technique is one of the most effective ways of ‘managing consent’ and shaping a narrative whilst at the same time being one of the hardest to highlight to those who do not see a problem. Outright lies and misinformation can easily be brought to the attention of people with the use of source material but when uncomfortable facts/incidents are blatantly ignored it can be harder to illustrate. Facts that are ominously omitted by media outlets can be simply excused as either not news worthy or the omission put down to human error. This propaganda technique is especially effective in the early days of a conflict (see Libya & Syria) as readers opinions are usually formed in the opening days and weeks of following a story.
Please bear in mind that this blog is not trying to support or berate any particular side in the conflicts mentioned. This is about propaganda and media bias.
Using the reporting on Syria as an example of the propaganda technique mentioned above I have highlighted 3 key points;
1. Video footage and reports of Syrian rebels committing war crimes do not paint the opposition in a good light and there have been many documented occasions when certain incidents have gone unreported. Here is an extract from “The Angry Arab” blog which highlights one specific case;
“Al-Quds Al-`Arabi, which is a Qatari-funded newspaper that staunchly supports the opposition to the Asad regime had a front page article yesterday an IN PASSING reference to a “armed men” storming into a housing complex in rural Homs and shooting at Christians and `Alawites, and killing 16 and injuring others. Even the Syrian Observatory for Qatari Human Rights acknowledged the massacre but tried to obfuscate by adding that some Sunnis were also hit. Did any Western media report on this massacre? Any? At all?”
2. Interviews with Syrian residents who do not support the Syrian rebels offer readers an alternative viewpoint to a very complex situation. Despite hundreds of these people voicing their opinions online (YouTube/Twitter) mainstream media very rarely (if ever) gives these people a platform by talking to them and in turn helps paint a simplified, black and white/good vs bad narrative. Here is a video of independent media giving a voice to the constantly ignored.
3. Influx of foreign fighters and Al Jazeera bias: Very early on in the conflict, staff members of Al Jazeera decided to resign in protest at the stations biased coverage. One ex employee of the Qatari owned news network called Ali Hashem, also went on record as seeing foreign fighters entering Syria only weeks after the conflict began. The claims of media bias at Al Jazeera and the eye-witness accounts of foreign fighters was completely ignored by The Guardian. Once again it was left to independent media to investigate the story by interviewing Ali Hashem.
I’ll add more links which back up these claims in the near future. To conclude this blog post I’ll leave you with a comment from a regular Guardian reader that was left in response to a Guardian contributor;
24 January 2013 12:31pm (link to comment)
@PaulOwen: “Come on Paul, thats a shocking rebuttal, i think what upsets most people, including me is that this newspaper is given the title of “the flagship of liberal media” around the world. Whatever that means.
In all honesty i dont think for one minute either you, Chulov, Borger or anyone else cannot see the skewed and one sided narrative the Guardian has been following since the Syrian conflict started, granted the tone has changed somewhat since the now unmissable emergence of large numbers of undersirable groups have swelled the ranks of the opposition but this newspapers lack of ability or willingness to look at this conflict from an objective point of view has been obvious to say the least.
In reality when it comes to foreign policy you follow the government line, that is a fact, you have controlled dissidence and debate but it goes no further than that. Your undeniable support and stenography of the opposition in the Syrian conflict and constant attempts to portray one side as the “goodies” and the other as the “baddies” is just a symptom of this newspapers unwillingness or inability to go against govt foreign policy”