HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  November 16, 2008

Israel, Palestine and the media

Mordecai Briemberg on battle over satire, media concentration and coverage of Israel Pt.2/2
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Real News simply has no entertainment value. But its news value puts CNN,MSNBC,ABC& BBC to shame! - Santhip
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Why I support the REAL News

(a short message from a supporter)

DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR, DIRECTOR, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: The mass media, the corporate media, it repeats the same thing over and over and again, and it induces you or seduces you to believing that you're hearing something different. But on The Real News we hear diverse thoughts. That's why I support The Real News. And we need your support now.

Israel, Palestine and the media

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to the next segment of our interview with Mordecai Briemberg. We're talking about a legal case in Vancouver, Canada. The Canwest media chain, which owns The Vancouver Sun and just about anything else you can watch or read in Vancouver, has sued two people, originally three—Mordecai was one, and the case against Mordecai was dropped—for producing something that looked like The Vancouver Sun newspaper, except it was actually a parody. The authors of this parody believed that The Vancouver Sun and the Canwest media chain are very pro-Israel and essentially do pro-Israel coverage, and this was a parody of that. And if you haven't seen the first segment of our interview, please go back, and you'll get the context for this. Mordecai is a radio host. He's a writer and a retired professor. And he joins us now, once again, from Vancouver, Canada. Thanks, Mordecai.


JAY: So, Mordecai, I recapped it quickly there. The case against you was dismissed 'cause there's no evidence you had anything to do with it. You're a well-known activist that deals with the question of Palestinian rights. You're very critical with Israel. And you were named, you think, because of this, and there was no evidence you had anything to do with the parody. But two of the people who created the parody are going to continue to be sued for a trademark infraction of creating this thing that looks like The Vancouver Sun. And we'll show it to all of you again right now, just so that people can see it. But let's move on a little bit. You think this is a problem particularly with Canwest. And, I guess, what's your evidence for it? But also, if I understand correctly, you think this is a problem throughout the whole of mainstream media, this issue of one-sided coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So speak a bit about this.

BRIEMBERG: Well, what is happening in Palestine and Israel is one of the most controversial questions in North American and European society, and there are a variety of opinions on what is happening. But when you look at the media coverage, you find that it is very much uniformly tilted towards defense of Israeli policies and practices and very little in terms of understanding the Palestinian experience and the Palestinian narrative. And over the years, the discrepancy between reality and media reporting has, I think, grown; the gap has grown even wider.

JAY: In the first segment, you gave us an example of the coverage of the death of children in the conflict. Is there another example you could speak to?

BRIEMBERG: I will give you another example. Right now in the territory called Gaza, the Israelis are imposing a siege, which is one of the most horrific kinds of torments of over a million people being denied medical supplies, access to medical care, food supplies, fuel, etcetera, leaving aside any armed conflict and assaults upon them which also are taking place. If you scan the Canadian media to see any reports of what's happening in this area, which is going on for month after month after month of the siege, equivalent in its horror, I would say, to the siege that was launched on Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, you would find that you get the most minimal of information. Yet this is one of the world's big atrocities. Why so little reporting?

JAY: If people would like to do a search on The Real News, we have done quite a few stories on this, and we'll continue to. I guess the counterargument for this, though it doesn't really explain the media coverage, is that the missiles coming from Gaza into Israel turn this into a sort of equivalency, and so people don't do it. Do you buy that argument?

BRIEMBERG: No, because when you look at the number, just look at the numbers of people who have been killed in the Palestinian missiles that have been shot into Israel from Gaza compared with the number of Palestinians who have been killed. Look at how many names you read when you find an Israeli death and how few names are ever reported, in other words, how dehumanized Palestinians are in the media and how humanized, as every victim of unwarranted violence should be humanized. But it's one-sided humanization.

JAY: Right. I mean, I think, whatever you think, you know, who's to blame and the whys and wherefores, simple factual reporting on what's happening in Gaza isn't happening in a way, and then people can make up their own minds about whys and wherefores. But I know we've done the same kind of look at media coverage, and other than some print pieces, particularly in European papers, there's next to nothing in print or in television about what daily life in Gaza is like. The other, I guess, issue you raise—and it speaks to this same question in some ways—is the whole question of media concentration. Talk a bit about Vancouver, which is probably, I think, one of the most concentration of media ownership capitals of the world, I think you or some others have described it.

BRIEMBERG: It is. Vancouver is the most concentrated city in terms of media—most concentrated media ownership of any city in the industrialized nations, the G8 countries. So we have in Vancouver two daily newspapers, both owned by Canwest. We have in Vancouver television stations, but the largest television station is owned by Canwest. Community newspapers are owned by Canwest. And so when you look at that and look at it across the country in terms of the major daily newspapers across the country being part of Canwest—they bought them from Conrad Black, the empire that he had assembled in terms of print—you combine that with television, you combine cross-ownership, which is unique to Canada, not possible in the United States, where in the same media market one corporation can own radio, can own television, can own print, those kinds of crossovers are not allowed in America by public regulation [inaudible]

JAY: Certainly not to the same extent, at any rate. And there's a big public battle taking place on the question of cross-platform ownership in the US, where Canada's very silent on the question.

BRIEMBERG: Well, there are people, but there hasn't been what I would call a social movement that's tried to campaign in a sustained manner.

JAY: In theory, one of the justifications for the CBC is that they do counterbalance this. Certainly, everybody in Vancouver has access to CBC, which is the public broadcaster. And, for our American audience, it's more like a BBC in terms of its scale and importance in the cultural landscape and certainly much more significant in Canada than PBS is in the US in terms of eyeballs. People do have access to CBC. It counteracts to some extent Canwest. How do you assess CBC in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

BRIEMBERG: I think CBC was hounded for many years by Canwest to get rid of its Middle East reporter, and ultimately he did get transfered. And I think the CBC media, in terms of the people that they interview on the Middle East, again, it's very one-sided. But take just the case of Canwest suing us. We have the largest media conglomerate in Canada launching a slap suit against three individuals. You have trade unions like the Canadian Labour Congress, the human rights and civil liberties organizations, teachers organizations, librarian organizations, etcetera, saying to Canwest, "This is a parody. It's a legitimate right of free speech. Drop your suit." Is that not newsworthy? I think it is.

JAY: What kind of coverage has the story received in Canada?

BRIEMBERG: Zero from CBC. Whatever program you look at which we have approached, which people who are part of the CBC have tried to urge be reported get a complete cold shoulder, just nothing. When you look at Toronto Star, Toronto Star doesn't report it. When you look at The Globe and Mail, it was the only paper that, in the business section, when Canwest first lost its suit, did do a straight up report, and since then has not covered the issue.

JAY: If people want to know more about it—give the website a very quick plug. Where do they go?

BRIEMBERG: They go to

JAY: Thank you very much for joining us, Mordecai. And thank you all for joining us. And if you'd like to know more, you can go to the website Mordecai just plugged. And thank you very much for joining us on The Real News Network.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Is Russia a Threat?
Why is a Russian Troll Farm Being Compared to 9/11?
Wilkerson: The Trump-Netanyahu Iran Plan Means War
President Ramaphosa: From Militant Revolutionary to Corporate Magnate
Were Baltimore's Corrupt Cops High When They Made Attempted Murder Arrest?
Baltimore's Metro Shutdown Underscores City's Transportation Problem (1/2)
Empire Files: In the Deadliest Country for Unions & Social Leaders
A New 'Cancer Alley' for Appalachia
Colombian Peace Agreement with FARC on the Brink of Collapse
Philippine War on Drugs a Cover for President Duterte's Fascism?
Mother of Woman Shot by Baltimore County Police Speaks Out
South Africa: Criminality and Deep Rot in the ANC Will Continue Under New President Ramaphosa (2/2)
Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far?
The Return of Berlusconi: Can A Fractured Left Defeat Him?
Potomac Pipeline Would Be 'Another Contradiction' From Larry Hogan
Police Union Keeps Audit Secret Despite Allegations of Massive Overtime Fraud
Guns, Toxic Masculinity, and the Alt-Right
Zuma's Catastrophic Presidency Ends in Forced Resignation (1/2)
Brother of Crooked Cop Says He Knows Who Killed Detective Suiter
Israeli Strikes in Egypt Kept Secret for Years
As the Opioid Crisis Deepens, Will Maryland Democrats Vote to Save Lives?
The Free Market Threat to Democracy
Finding a SALT Tax Deduction Workaround
Florida Shooter Is MAGA Hat-Wearing White Supremacist Who Said Mexicans Should Be Killed and Black People Should Be in Chains
Charter School Principal: No Evidence Privatization Is Better For Students
Max Blumenthal in Gaza: Netanyahu Faces Scandal, Palestinians a Crisis
Trump's Infrastructure Fantasy a Gift to His Donors
Netanyahu Could Fall for Corruption, Not War Crimes
Climate Change Costs Insurance Companies Billions, And Price is Rising
Trump's Budget Declares War on Forgotten America,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting