Thomas Jefferson once wrote in a letter to John Jay
that "our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." Those words written over two hundred years ago by one of our nations foremost thinkers of the time could not ring more true today. The freedom of the press is one of our nations strongest ideals, but the recent corporatization of the press in this country stands to tear that ideal to shreds. Instead of reporting the news and providing indepth coverage to all sides of a story, the media now plays to the lowest common denominator and picks the winners and losers instead of reporting the facts. This is most evident in the media's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The most recent flare up of tensions between Israeli and Palestinian, which is now stretching into its second deadly month, has laid bare the dramatic disparity in how the press treats Israel versus how they treat Palestinians. Israel is depicted as a just and righteous country defending their homeland from the terrorists in Gaza. The media fully perpetuates this image by giving Israel carte blanche use of our airwaves to propagandize their side of the story ad infinitum while no such platform is afforded for the Palestinians. What America gets in return is a fully distorted picture of a complex and tremendously sad story.
As if it weren't bad enough for our media to fall over themselves lobbying softball questions to any Israeli authority they can get to come onto their show, they exacerbate the problem with their treatment of the Palestinian people. Their shameful and deeply disturbing reporting about this age old conflict is abysmal and only perpetuates the idea that Israel is justified in putting an entire population of people under apartheid.
One of the main ways the media perpetuates this problem is how they report deaths of Israeli's versus how they report deaths of Palestinian's. National media outlets will run front page stories, air non-stop coverage on the television, and blanket the internet with aritcles about a single Israeli death and explain why Israel is justified to then indiscriminately and ruthlessly bomb Palastine in retaliation. No such coverage is afforded to 1,000 Palastinian deaths, even when many of them are innocent women and children. Who ever decided that one Israeli death is more important than 1,000 Palastinian's? How did we ever get to this?
The media's endless progoganda has a tremendous effect on the general population as a whole. When a population is given one side of a story, they typically cling on to that side. This will continue unabaited up and until we demand that our media reports on this story in a sober and apolitical way.
Not surprisingly, this coverage has a direct effect on the way American's think about the conflict. It is one of the truly bipartisan issues of our time and one that crosses all ideological demographics, but that is beginning to change as young millennials are questioning the status quo and rebuffing the mainstream media in exchange for more independent and evenhanded reporting outlets. A recent Pew Research
poll is showing that the partisan split on the way this conflict is viewed has never been greater, and that is a positive development. More and more people are questioning our mainstream media's never ending pro-Israel coverage and thinking more critically about this conflict. That doesn't mean that a majority of Americans are critical of Israel's actions, but it is a good start.