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Brace yourself: Fox News comes to the Middle East 7, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, American ME Relations, Media in the ME.
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Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the ‘fair and balanced’ [sic] news channel Fox News is to open a Middle East station in conjunction with Saudi’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Fox News, famous for its uncomplicated, gun-ho and pro-Israel stance whilst maintaining a mocking notion of neutrality, does not seem like a likely partner. Their coverage of Middle Eastern issues is far from renowned or competent. Expect flashy, glitzy sets; female Lebanese anchors [probably the ones that left Al Jazeera last month] wearing an inch of makeup and simple coverage of complicated issues.

Their main competition is Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya.

The former was started in the mid-1990s by Qatar to – essentially – promote themselves. It was a revelation in the region: it discussed sensitive issues in an open and candid manner never seen before in the Arab world. This garnered Al Jazeera and Qatar enemies throughout the region who believed that Al Jazeera was acting as a provocative mouth-piece of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry. Saudi and Bahrain in particular felt that Al Jazeera ‘picked on’ them significantly in the early years. The Saudi Ambassador returned to Doha in 2008 after a 4 year Al Jazeera inspired absence and since then Al Jazeera’s coverage has calmed. Only last month Bahrain banned Al Jazeera from Manama after, it is believed, unfavourable coverage of poverty in the country. Egypt is also perpetually angered by Al Jazeera.

The latter was begun by Saudi Arabia as an alternative to Al Jazeera. Despite looking similar in a modern, Western, professional, CNN style, its coverage is far less controversial and really quite tame.

Bum bomb evolves: the breast bomb 26, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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I realise that alliteration can be rather a clumsy tool to use at times, but I’m finding it difficult to resist at the moment. Fox News quotes British intelligence agents asserting that there is a chance that female suicide bombers may be seeking to use

exploding breast implants which are almost impossible to detect

The story seems to be faintly absurd to me for several reasons.

Firstly, it’s Fox News reporting it.

Secondly, what’s worse is that Fox News borrowed this story from The Sun, the most tabloidish of British tabloids, which pays but the scantest of attention to the truth and relies on spectacular sensationalism, exaggeration and…well…breasts. [I love how the Wiki article describes the topless model as ‘tastefully nude’.]

Thirdly, the terrorist expert quoted, Joseph Farah, is, as far as I see it, not at all an expert on terrorism. He hasn’t written one book or published one academic article on the subject of which I am aware. I can only assume that no serious expert would agree with such a notion and so they called the arch-conservative, Limbaugh supporting Birther Farah to add the slimiest and thinnest veneer of ‘rigour’ to the article.

Fourthly, yes, of course, it is technically possible. Many things are technically possible. Yet we need to start to pare down the possible possibilities and come up with a reasonable list of things and threats to guard against.

In any case, as the bum bomber spectacularly proved himself, the human body is a great cushioning and absorbing device. Add to this the fact that the BBC proved quite well I think that a decent sized amount of PETN (as used in the pants bombing) will still NOT break the skin of a plane (even outwith the human body) and as far as I’m concerned I’ll not be obsessively scrutinizing women’s breasts on planes as a sensible safety precaution.

‘Strip search all 18-28 year old Muslim men’ 3, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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…is what retired Lt. General Thomas McInerey thinks should happen at US airports. He said this during an interview on – quelle surprise – Fox News. Though, in fairness, the presenter did then retort that that such a policy of singling out people because of their religion would be [I’m paraphrasing] neither fair, sensible, reasonable not effective in the longer term. Never mind the question of how you know that such a man is Muslim in the first place

Fox’s map of the Middle East 30, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Keep looking, keep looking……….there it is. God bless Fox news. Bathos whenever you need it.

middle east wrong map

Fox’s Viewers 12, June 2009

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Fox News’ Sam Shepard discussing the views of a frighteningly large number of Fox News viewers.

Al Jazeera: Control Room 10, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iraq, Qatar.
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I’m not entirely sure how this passed me by, but here’s an excellent 2004 documentary on Al Jazeera and the American handling of the media in the Iraq invasion. The documentary is very interesting and raises a few excellent points.

– On 8th April 2003 the Americans bombed Al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad and killed their lead journalist. They had had the coordinates for weeks. On the same day they bombed Abu Dhabi TV too.

– On 9th April the statue of Saddam was pulled down among the crowd in Firdos Square. Critical Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV were not there too see it.

– It reminds the viewer just how quickly and effectively Bush galvanised large chunks of ‘the Arab street’ behind Saddam. The theory being that even if, for example, the UK and France hated a belligerent Italy and their tyrannical leader, were they to be invaded by a vastly powerful, bellicose, arrogant, foreign power of a different culture and religion, the UK and French ‘street’ would nevertheless most likely be angry and resentful towards the invaders.

– Al Jazeera plays to Arab nationalism just as Fox, MSNBC or CNN often play to US patriotism/nationalism.

– It eloquently but harshly juxtaposes the differences that Westerners often feel when seeing bloodied and gory images of Iraqi civilians versus similar images of US soldiers.