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Press Review September 20, 2001
 
Far Gone in 30 Seconds. CNN Sentences Palestine To Death
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
Page 5 of 5
 
But all of this got left out, making the situation much worse than it ever was.

The whole thing reminds me of this scheme I used to use to get free McNuggets at McDonald's. It worked like this:

You go to McDonald's with your friend. You convince him to buy a big 20-pack of McNuggets. Then, as soon as he sits down, you send him back up to the front of the restaurant to get napkins, or ketchup, or whatever. While he's gone, you flip open the McNuggets box and swipe five or six Nuggets. Then you replace the lid on the box. He comes back, opens the box, and thinks he only got fourteen nuggets, when he paid for twenty. "Go complain to the manager," you say. Thinking he's really been ripped off, your friend then goes up to the manager and, with all the gall of a wronged person, angrily demands his six McNuggets. His act is usually so believable that he gets what he wants. It works every time -- just make sure you don't tell him until you're in the car on the way home.

American coverage of the Middle East works the same way. You cover an Arab-Israeli conflict for years, following a certain storyline. Along the way, you lie to your viewers about what's really happening, setting them up to think that America's position in the Middle East is reasonable. Then something like the bombing happens, and you show Palestinians dancing in the streets. Americans then, quite naturally, go completely crazy with rage and demand total retaliation. The lie is in the missing McNuggets. If Americans knew that CNN had stolen them before, they wouldn't be rushing to the manager for justice now.

Probably no single film clip in recent history has had as much of an impact as the Palestine clip. Summing it up one way was Ehud Sprinzak, an Israeli expert on terrorism, who was quoted in Reuters, referring to the clip:

"From the perspective of Jews, it is the most important public relations act ever committed in our favor."

Put it another way: in the 48 hours after the clip ran, Israelis shot and killed 13 Palestinians in the Jenin area of the West Bank.

Thirty seconds was all that took. Forget about anyone ever being reasonable when this is the way our leading journalists work.

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