(October 6, 2022 / JNS) It has often been said that the media is a pillar of democracy because it keeps our politicians honest.
Lifting the veil of secrecy in which authorities like to cloak themselves, revealing inconvenient truths that expose the inadequacies and worse of government actions and subjecting all politicians to forensic questioning without bias—this is how the media acts in the public interest.
But when the media doesn’t deliver, truthfulness goes out of the window, propaganda and ignorance take over and democracy stumbles.
We see this in much Western coverage of Israel, with newspapers often delivering nothing more than thinly disguised Palestinian propaganda. So, people with no knowledge of Israel or Jewish history get a wholly false impression.
It’s in America, however, that we see most graphically and frighteningly the media’s abdication of its professional role.
The most influential mainstream media outlets have turned into brazen shills for the Democratic Party and became willing accomplices in the attempt to remove President Donald Trump via the bogus Russian conspiracy smear, which involved elements of the FBI, Justice Department and the Democrats.
At same time, the media refused to report troubling revelations of corruption involving President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine, which implicated Biden senior as well.
And they have left Americans largely in the dark about the acute peril into which Biden’s policies are putting America, Israel and the West.
Ever since a wave of attacks in the spring that killed over 20 Israelis, Israel’s security forces have been conducting a concerted military operation in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. They have arrested more than 2,000 terror suspects, killed a number of terrorists in shootouts and say they have prevented hundreds of imminent terror attacks.
Yet while U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price acknowledged the “more than 20 Israelis and other civilians” who have been killed in terror attacks, his comments to reporters mostly focused on the fact that “more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and more than 30 in Gaza” (the British embassy expressed a similar view).
The State Department called on all sides to avoid escalating the situation and to restore calm. Such apparent even-handedness actually tells Israel to stop defending itself, which is morally bankrupt.
This is of a piece with the Biden administration’s refusal to acknowledge the innately murderous and rejectionist reality of the Palestinian cause, which it promotes by paying lip-service to Israel’s fundamental need to protect itself while persistently undermining that defense.
Yet the media does nothing to highlight and condemn such moral bankruptcy. Nor does it highlight and condemn the Biden team’s craven appeasement of and now brazen hypocrisy towards the Iranian regime.
For four weeks now, Iran has been convulsed by astonishing protests. Women have taken to the streets in vast numbers after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, in a way that offended Iran’s sinister “morality police.”
These protests quickly morphed into broader calls to overthrow the Islamic republic.
Female students have been chanting “death to the dictator” as they rip a picture of Iran’s former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini from their textbooks. Girls at a school that brought in a speaker from the feared Basij paramilitary organizations welcomed him by taking off their headscarves and chanting, “Get lost, Basiji.” The disappearance and death of a 16-year-old girl who was among the protesters in Tehran has unleashed yet more demonstrations.
This is the biggest wave of protests against the regime in almost three years, despite the brutal response by the security forces that has killed at least 154 protesters and seen hundreds arrested.
A revolt by the Iranian people that brings down the regime is the best chance of avoiding Iran menacing the world with nuclear weapons.
Previous such revolts have fizzled out. But this one is broader, longer and even more determined. There are reports that the regime’s websites, portals, servers and computers in many different areas have been destroyed.
Biden has praised the “brave women of Iran” and signaled that he’ll announce more sanctions against those responsible for violence against protesters.
Yet he is even now still intent upon doing a nuclear deal that would lift sanctions on Iran and empower this murderous regime. His spokeswoman is still parroting the inane mantra that Iran’s repression of its people has nothing to do with the deal, which she asserted would prevent a nuclear Iran.
In fact, it would enable a nuclear Iran after a short delay. And it would funnel billions in sanctions relief into repressing the ongoing revolt, as well as into building drones and missiles to attack Israel and the West.
Moreover, by appeasing Iran, the Biden administration would also assist Tehran’s new best friend, Russia—which surreally is the mediator in the nuclear talks, where the Iranian regime won’t even allow the Americans into the room.
If this wasn’t a Democratic president, the media would be yelling blue murder about all this.
Just imagine the uproar if Trump had done a profitable deal with Putin or proposed to shore up Saudi Arabia or North Korea.
Or contrast this silence over Iran with the outrage over OPEC’s announcement that, from next month, it will cut oil production by two million barrels per day.
Just look at the response to this from Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who raged that the Saudis will “do what we let them get away with doing.”
“We have to stop acting like the suckers in this relationship, and reestablish that the services we provide to these countries require them to take our legitimate interests and concerns into account,” he added.
Precisely these savage points could and should be made about the Iran nuclear deal. Yet the Democrats are instead pushing that deal, and the media is silent about this staggering double standard, just as it is silent about double standards applied to Israel.
This silence, month in, month out, is one reason why so many American Jews continue to support Biden in the teeth of the threat he is posing to both Israel’s and America’s safety.
Most of this support comes, of course, from American Jews who support the Democratic Party as an unshakeable article of faith. Such minds are frighteningly closed to anything that might disturb that faith and cause them to consider voting Republican.
But it’s also true of some American Jews who are far more conservative and yet nevertheless think that Biden is doing just fine. This has got others scratching their heads in puzzled horror.
A major reason why all these Jewish voters think like this is because the media doesn’t tell them what’s really going on.
Most people don’t think very deeply about political developments abroad. They pick up the prevailing mood music and go along with that. They really have no idea of the extreme dangers of the situation—whether over Iran or the Palestinian Arabs—because no one is telling them.
True, since their tunnel vision is illogical and emotional, many would remain impervious even if they were told. But no one likes to be fingered as supporting those who are empowering evil.
If the media were to be hammering home that Biden is not only empowering the deadly enemies of Israel and America but also furthering the repression of the Iranian people to whom he pledges such hypocritical support, this would leave his partisans with nowhere to hide.
The reason why the Biden administration is getting a free pass over its lethal idiocy is that the media has abandoned its role as democracy’s watchdog. And the free world is being imperiled as a result.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir Guardian Angel has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel The Legacy. Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.
Jewish News Syndicate
With geographic, political and social divides growing wider, high-quality reporting and informed analysis are more important than ever to keep people connected.
Our ability to cover the most important issues in Israel and throughout the Jewish world—without the standard media bias—depends on the support of committed readers.
If you appreciate the value of our news service and recognize how JNS stands out among the competition, please click on the link and make a one-time or monthly contribution.
We appreciate your support.