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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Monday, May 06, 2002

The CBC's balanced viewpoint. Last week the CBC spent a lot of time praising itself in advance commercials for devloting five evenings to balanced, nuanced analysis of the Middle East. This included a documentary on Sunday, April 28 about Arafat, followed by one on Monday, April 29 about Sharon. I happened to catch most of the Arafat documentary, and was struck by a number of items.

First, the narration asserted something to the effect that "Nasser's belligerent oratory provided the opportunity for Israel, which had longed to expand its boundaries, to launch the Six-Day war in 1967."

Second, the documentary did mention the fact that the PLO, and Arafat, were involved in terrorist activity, but offered few pictures except for some footage of the Munich Olympics (the pageantry, not the murders), a snapshot of Leon Klinghoffer, and some footage of planes that were hijacked to Jordan in 1970. (The footage of the aftermath of Israeli retaliation for various attacks was, shall we say, more prominently displayed.)

Third, immediately after noting the Munich massacre, the documentary cut to Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, who opines "if the PLO hadn't done something shocking, the world would never have noticed their cause." Urquhart is also trotted out later to explain that Arafat's gun holster was empty when he gave his speech at the U.N., so it's a shame there was a fuss about his being armed while in the U.N.

So, you know, surprise surprise, the film seemd a tad hagiographic for my taste. Of course, if the Sharon film is similarly filled with favorable distortions and puffery, then there's no obvious bias.

The Sharon film was "The Accused," which focuses on Sharon's culpability for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Lebanon in 1982.

Maybe the rest of the five-day extravaganza was more balanced. But I doubt it.
It's been true for fifteen years. Glenn Reynolds points to The Idler's article that uses content analysis to document anti-Israel bias in the New York Times's reporting. This reminds me of an article in Spy Magazine, probably back around 1988 or so. Titled something like "How important is a Life to the New York Times?" the article took a few months' worth of New York Times newspapers, and for each article that related to the death of one or more people, measured 1) the number of column inches of the story and 2) the Euclidean distance in miles between the site of the death and New York City. The author then ran a regression analysis, regressing the number of column inches on the distance from NYC plus a few other variables, including some dummy variables for the location of the death.

The result: the farther from New York City, the fewer column inches a death receives -- I seem to remember that the decline was pretty sharp, so that after about 100 miles the death would warrant scarcely an inch. BUT...the dummy variable that mattered most was the "Palestinian in the occupied territories" dummy variable, whose positive and significant coefficient was sufficiently large that such a death generated almost as long a story as a death in NYC.

I probably have a lot of the details wrong, but this was the basic story. Sadly, as this antedates the Web, there is no on=line version for me to link to.

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