Tuesday, June 24, 2008

'Wishful' 'thinking'

Today's reminder to the cousins at Fox: You're entitled to your worldview and your choice of frames, but you don't get to make up your own facts. That's called -- well, "making stuff up."

As Fox is doing here (it's been the lead story since morning). True enough, Israel has declared that the Gaza truce has been violated, but if Olmert's office has said the cease-fire is "over," there's no evidence of it in Fox's story. (Indeed, the most recent update contains this rather telling sentence: "But signaling it would still honor the truce, Israel said an envoy would soon head to Egypt to work on the final stage of the agreement.")

Fox is also a bit ... let's say, ahead of the pack in keeping this story at the top for so long:
  • CNN's top Mideast story is about plans for an Israel-Hezballah prisoner swap;* the truce violation (which includes a warning from Olmert's office that the rocket strike "could jeopardize" the truce) has moved downpage.
  • At the BBC, the top Mideast story is about the suicide of an officer at B-G airport as Sarkozy headed home. The rocket attack is inside, and it mentions that the PIJ thinks Israel violated the cease-fire.
  • At Ha'aretz, the story is #3 on the front page (Hezballah leads, airport suicide is #2), with a fairly cautious hed indicating that the truce is "shaken."
  • At the right-wing Jerusalem Post, the story's down to #5, though with the speculative hed (unsupported in the text) "End of truce? 3 Kassams hit W. Negev"

Why does this remain** such a big deal for Fox -- especially compared with the folks who actually live in the neighborhood? Fox, after all, is still fairly new to covering not just the Fractious Near East but the Big Shiny World Out There in general. The sometimes tentative processes by which people stop shooting at each other (or start to stop, then fall off the wagon, or any of the other ways conflicts continue or don't) might be as novel as the dark side of the moon to the folks who write teasers and pass news judgment there.

It is, of course (insert weirdly analogic scorpion joke of choice here), the Middle East. Fox, or the rest of us, could wake up tomorrow and find that peace has busted out all over. Or that the roof has fallen in. Those and the other alternatives call for a little more circumspection -- certainly not the sort of cheerleading that suggests Fox is getting ready to lead the charge itself.

* Why both CNN and Fox are still giving the babblings of James Dobson any kind of significant play is beyond me.
** Update from the Short Attention Span Theater front: As of 5 p.m. eastern, the story has vanished from the Fox front altogether. Easy come, easy go.


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