Media Matters interview Alexander Cockburn
Audio-visual item #1000: Media Matters interview Alexander Cockburn
Participant(s)/creator(s): Alexander Cockburn Robert W. McChesney
Produced by: Alternative Information Center
Date of issue: 31 August 2008
Type of content:
- Media bias on Israel/Palestine
- Taboo topic: the power of the Zionist lobbies
- Media: control of press, or TV
McChesney: Alex Cockburn, you have written a lot about the Middle East, and we had you on our program two years ago to do a full hour on it. A lot of our listeners are young and are getting their feet wet in the news, and what would you say to someone whose basic view of the world and the Middle East has come from conventional US news media – to the extent that they have any coverage of the world or the Middle East? What is missing in the story of Israel and Palestine in the US media in your view?
Cockburn: Well, for anyone who has just been relying on the mainstream media, it would be like someone still relying on maps of the world before they said it was round. You just have to read history and some exterior sources of information, alternative publications starting with CounterPunch of course, and all your fine work no doubt. But, what they would not know, of course, is the real situation of the Palestinians; I mean, they wouldn't even know that in the world today that there are few more inhuman things going on than the starvation and the siege of Gaza. Just a level of absolutely horrifying suffering deliberately inflicted by Israel on the people of Gaza – Palestinians – with the United States and the European community denying these miserably poor people any humane assistance at all. They wouldn't have a picture of really what Hamas is all about; that Hamas in fact … Actually Arafat for much of his career has made abundant indications that – this is the elected body representing the Palestinians, democratically elected – and they have said, of course, that the conditions for recognition are mutual recognition of the other, but Israel has to make some kind of a move which it is refusing to do. So, they would have no picture of who does represent the Palestinians; they would have no picture really of the appalling side of Gaza, the regular humiliation, deprivation, deaths, cutting down of their trees, inability to conduct their lives as farmers, gradual encroachment of settlements on their lands, bisection of the West Bank by Jews-only roads, the theft of their water, the endless attempts to extinguish all hopes of statehood for Palestine… they would have no idea of that at all.
McChesney: Why is it that the press coverage is so bad of Israel and Palestine in the United States?
Cockburn: Because there is a huge historical sympathy for Israel, and it has to be said, a lot of the American media are owned by American Jews, starting with the New York Times and the Washington Post. People say that it is an anti-semitic thing to say, but it is not; it is an actual fact. If the press of the United States were owned as exclusively or as generally by Irish people, as it is in fact by American Jews, people would point it out all the time talking about the "Irish controlled press", or the "Italian controlled press", but people obviously are careful because of the heritage of Nazism and anti-semitism in what they say, but it has led to the fact that a lot of stories that the New York Times' or the Washington Post's coverage is absolutely disgusting.