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Inside Hezbollah's Media Spin Machine

Hezbollah, like most of our enemies in the war on terror, has a very sophisticated spin machine presenting the media with exactly the story they want told. Yesterday Kim had a piece on CNN's Nic Robertson being played for a fool by Hezbollah spin merchants.

What's telling, if you watch the video and read the transcript, is how often the "guide" tells the cameraman exactly what he should be shooting. Even calling "shoot me" when he was making a point about civilian deaths.

Perhaps Anderson Cooper learned from his colleague's mistake, but last night on 360 he took his viewers inside Hezbollah controlled territory and the report was very different from Robertson's. Combined -or should I say contrasted- with the Robertson report, it gives us a good look inside Hezbollah's well controlled media sphere. I'm looking for a video but I clipped the relevant part of the the transcript.

There are 2 important things worth noting. Cooper ran this piece right after he welcomes CNN international viewers, so it appears this was intentionally meant for international distribution. Second, much of the video is shot at the same locations as the Nic Robertson piece but the reporting is very different. Anderson Cooper had a stunning narration.

The piece opens with Cooper in van driving thru the Hezbollah controlled area of Lebanon.

COOPER (voice-over): Drive into southern Beirut, and you quickly discover another city entirely. A heavily bombed state within a state, beyond the control of the Lebanese government.

This is Hezbollah territory. Along the road posted like billboards, pictures of so-called martyrs, Hezbollah fighters who died battling Israel.

(on camera) You can drive around. It doesn't seem like there's anybody around. All of a sudden your eyes, it's almost like adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly, you realize there are people who are watching you and guys on motorcycles talking on cell phones who pass you by, watching very closely what you're doing.

(voice-over) Tension in this neighborhood is high. Many here are convinced Israel is sending in agents to help guide their aerial attacks.

(on camera) Not allowed to enter Hezbollah territory really without their permission. They control this whole area, even after the sustained Israeli bombing campaign. We've arranged with a Hezbollah representative to get permission to come here. We've been told to pull over to the side of the road and just wait.

(voice-over) We'd come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. Instead, we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah. Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement.

They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings. Once, when they thought we'd videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape. These men are called al-Shabab, Hezbollah volunteers who are the organization's eyes and ears.

(on camera) You see their CD's on the wall still. [same building as Robertson report -ed]

Hezbollah representatives are with us now but don't want to be photographed. They'll point to something like that and they'll say, "Well, look, this is a store." The civilians lived in this building. This is a residential complex.

And while that may be true, what the Israelis will say is that Hezbollah has their offices, their leadership has offices and bunkers even in residential neighborhoods. And if you're trying to knock out the Hezbollah leadership with air strikes, it's very difficult to do that without killing civilians.

As bad as this damage is, it certainly could have been much worse in terms of civilian casualties. Before they started heavily bombing this area, Israeli warplanes did drop leaflets in this area, telling people to get out.

The civilian death toll, though, has angered many Lebanese. Even those who do not support Hezbollah are outraged by the pictures they've seen on television of civilian casualties.

(voice-over) Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them. And questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.

After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.

(on camera) This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they've been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That's the story -- that's the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about. [As he is giving this narration the video is of foreign media all shooting the ambulances speeding off. -ed]

(voice-over) These ambulances aren't responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.

When a man in a nearby building is prompted to play Hezbollah resistance songs on his stereo, we decide it's time to go. [His voice was getting to be dripping with distain at this point -ed]

Hezbollah may not be terribly subtle about spinning a story, but it is telling perhaps that they try. Even after all this bombing, Hezbollah is still organized enough to have a public relations strategy, still in control enough to try and get its message out.

Whether he is trying to do a "make good" for the Robertson debacle or if this pure Cooper we don't know. I do know that that this is the type of reporting we expect but rarely get. I don't mind American reporters being led on media events, I just want them labeled as such. For all the big media claiming they give us "context" they rarely do.

Whatever his motivations, Cooper should get the kudos he deserves for this report. It gives us a fascinating look inside the Hezbollah spin machine and it also reminds us what much of the foreign media, especially the Arab media, is reporting.


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Comments (28)

I don't watch TV very often... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

I don't watch TV very often, but I have liked what I've seen of Cooper. During Katrina, he did a piece on the devastation of a neighborhood outside of New Orleans, and his emotion was genuine. I'd like to see him attain a true journalistic balance and begin the turn-around in the MSM.

and his emotion was genu... (Below threshold)

and his emotion was genuine

I couldn't care less about his emotion. I want to know the facts. We all know that the media got almost every fact wrong about Katrina while reporting on the scene. If Cooper is getting to the facts in Lebanon, that is a welcome shift.

y'all are sounding like lib... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

y'all are sounding like liberals, expecting the press to actually provide some context and analysis instead of being good little stenographers. Kudos to Cooper, this story certainly appears to be more critical and thought-provoking than most of what the media (wink FOX wink) is putting forth.

..right Sean.Criti... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

..right Sean.

Critical and thought provoking is running Democratic campaign adds as news, like CNN, ABC, NBC CBS et all do most of the time?

Hey sean, ever listen to Br... (Below threshold)

Hey sean, ever listen to Brit's show on Fox?

More insight there than hours of CNN.

Critical and thought pro... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Critical and thought provoking is running Democratic campaign adds as news, like CNN, ABC, NBC CBS et all do most of the time?
Ryan

Umm, I haven't heard about this, but I have heard about this

Now the site is Glenn Greenwald's, who the right has a fatwa against, but it's actually from a guest poster and provides many links to independent sources.

Hey sean, ever listen to Brit's show on Fox?
JohnAA

Yes, I have. Some of it is OK, but the grapevine segment is pure right wing gossip. And rarely does he veer from the Republican Party line. And the Panel section commonly has Barnes, Kondracke, and Krauthammer, not exactly a dearth of different opinions there.

>And the Panel section comm... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>And the Panel section commonly has Barnes, Kondracke, and Krauthammer, not exactly a dearth of different opinions there.

Very true. But you don't seem to mind when the deck is stacked the other way on CNN et al.

I love liberals whining that FOX is conservative. They never mention that the whole rest of the media is liberal.

AND btw sean before you kne... (Below threshold)
Paul:

AND btw sean before you knee jerk your reply, I genuinly find FOX more "insightful" than CNN on most occasions.

- But what do I know, I often end up watching MSNBC, expecailly for breaking news. - Me and 3 other people in the country.

I probably watch all of the about equally. If anything I might land on CNN a bit more than the other 2.

But the things that just bore me to tears (or annoy me) are far higher on CNN as well.

... In other words, you can't peg me as "He likes FOX because he's conservative." That has little or nothing to do with it.


It's sort of funny, if some... (Below threshold)

It's sort of funny, if something's happening (let's say this past weekend when I got up in the morning and wanted to know what was going on with Israel) I usually flip to FoxNews and watch that. BUT, at least half the time I put on FoxNews it seems like I get a commercial or non-news programming (commentary, that sort of thing). That's when I flip over to CNN. However, three quarters of the time that I do that I get a story on the local dog show or something unrelated to what's going on in the world now, something hyping year old news that the papers are currently recycling (like today with reports on how salaries were down in 2004, ignoring the resurgence since then). On very rare occasions I might try BBC news, but I'm sorry to report that, as a typical American, I have little interest in local election results from Burma, quotes from dictators condemning the rest of the world, or that sort of thing that they usually run. Long interviews with Kofi Annan, etc. I pretty much never see anything about the topic I was looking for news on.

Then I turn off the TV and go to the computer to read Wizbang or something else to get linked to the actual news.

Just noticed a small error.... (Below threshold)

Just noticed a small error... you specify "CNN's Rich Noyes," when in fact Noyes is the blogger who uncovered the story; CNN's reporter was Nic Robertson.

On a somewhat related topic... (Below threshold)
Marc:

On a somewhat related topic. Here is another fine example of reporting and investigative work by MSNBC,
"Hezbollah Banks Under Attack in Lebanon."

When you read it keep in mind the NYT SWIFT surveilence program story and the excuses they used for doing so. i.e. "everyone knew about it.

Hezbollah is dumb ... (Below threshold)
Tincan Sailor:


Hezbollah is dumb like a "FOX", Say what you
will they are winning the Bull S**t war and
they are giving Israel every thing they want
and then some,like walking into a buzz saw.
this thing like any war, can't be won from the
air,Israel has to go on the ground or it will
never finish the job!!!!

The way I heard it was --</... (Below threshold)
Bret:

The way I heard it was --

By the time the Mississippi river reaches the Gulf of Mexico, each gallon of water will have passed through 10 states and 15 people.

Whoops - Wrong thread... (Below threshold)
Bret:

Whoops - Wrong thread

Just noticed a small error.... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Just noticed a small error... you specify "CNN's Rich Noyes," when in fact Noyes is the blogger who uncovered the story; CNN's reporter was Nic Robertson.

crap and I did it like 9 times. I KNEW as I was typing I was doing something wrong. -- Kinda like when you know you're forgttting somehting.

thanks, I'm on it.

You are, assuredly, correct... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

You are, assuredly, correct in noting kudos for Cooper. It even made me consider for a moment giving CNN the occasional look again, but each time I get sucked in I inevitably turn away in disgust. I am reminded of seeing Greta Van Susteran yesterday who, when interviewing an attractive Lebanese women, allowed her to get away with repeating several time that " there have been 387 (?) deaths from the Israeli bombing, mostly women and children; 19 of the casualties have been Hezbollah".

Riiiiiight ! 14 days of onslaught by the Israelis and they only managed to take out 19 of the enemy while busily annihilating their preferred target, little kids and their moms. I truly had a hard time with Greta for allowing that to be asserted without challenge.

Israelis do not whine and many, myself included, have maintained for years that they simply must take PR into consideration, but naively, or otherwise, they seem simply too "real" to get the knack of pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. Like mature grown ups they expect reasonable people to be able to discern what is happening by looking with their own eyes and coming to reasonable conclusions. Rarely are they rewarded for their assumption that the people of the world ought to be able to tell what is going on by using their intelligence and discernment. Silly people.

Those taken in by the PR machine of Hezbollah, and various other Islamist organs of so called information have already ceded their minds to their preferred world view, and seek not so much to learn anything about what might be going on than they are in reinforcing the forced and contorted view of "reality" they swallowed long ago.

Thanks again DaveF fixed.</... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Thanks again DaveF fixed.

--

MichaelC you and I must have clicked over at the same commercial. I saw that too. And the girl worked for the Lebanon Star.... Tell me what she is reporting.

I looked, Sean, through sev... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

I looked, Sean, through several pages of theat institute you linked to. . and noticed that A: They have a real obsession with teh Washington POst, and B: I can't seem to find a single mention fo the NEw York TImes. THis makes me a tad suspicious.

Wow, one actual news report... (Below threshold)

Wow, one actual news report on CNN - and we should THANK them?

We should, however, thank the moonbat who brought Glenn Greenwald into the debate. There is no discussion which the introduction of that phony-baloney leftist moron, who comments on blogs under other names to defend his own posts, cannot debase.

Few will click on GiGi's site, since most know it is all as bogus as his resumé.

:-p

I like Fox because I know I... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

I like Fox because I know I'll get insight from cool customers like Krauthammer and Barone, men who have some common sense and know how the real world works.

If I switch to CNN or ABC, I'm apt to get some re-tread like Madeline Albright or Farid Zarcaria who belong in the Ivory Tower of Academia, not on the front lines of a war.

Kudos to Cooper, but that should be a given, not the exception to the usual reporting.

Cooper is a good guy on a m... (Below threshold)
Chris is Bliss:

Cooper is a good guy on a mediocre network. He does have enough creative control to csll the shots on his own show

Coop better be careful, or ... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Coop better be careful, or he'll take himself out of the running for any 'journalism' awards.

Paul,I'll leave it t... (Below threshold)
tblubird:

Paul,
I'll leave it to you to note good Cooper reports. Thanks.
I'm kinda like Mitchell - I try to watch other channels, but it's only one or two reports into it that I just get pissed at what they're doing. Not that Fox is way lots better (ala, that Greta thing I saw also), but they are a lot easier to stomach. There's always Hannity (even Colmes is doable) and O'Reilly. And they grace us with a few good bloggers.

I don't know why but I just... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I don't know why but I just stand Greta. It's nohing she's ever done or said... It's me thing.

Just CAN'T stand ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Just CAN'T stand

I gave up on Greta after Fo... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

I gave up on Greta after Fox spent about five years and 24 hours a day showing her reports from Aruba -- I'm exaggerating, but not by much.

Also, she's a Scientologist. I'm not a big fan of any of the Xenu worshippers

But you don't seem to mi... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

But you don't seem to mind when the deck is stacked the other way on CNN et al.
Paul

Honestly, I don't know if you ever truly have 4 liberals on any talk show (like Fox does with conservatives on the Panel fairly often). On CNN, Crossfire would have 2-on-2 and Dobbs has a panel sometimes which I wouldn't call liberal, but that's about it. MSNBC has Coast to Coast, again usually 2-on-2. ABC comes closest on This Week with George S, but he usually has at least one conservative (Will most often). Please tell me if I'm missing something here.

I love liberals whining that FOX is conservative.
Paul

Was I whining? I was just pointing out that conservatives' favorite station (namely Fox) does not necessarily do the critical analysis that makes good journalism either. If you're going to condemn the media as lazy, Fox belongs in that category as well. Cooper deserves Kudos in this case because he has gone above and beyond what is, unfortunately, today's standard. [Now I'm sort of whining.]

I looked, Sean, through several pages of theat institute you linked to...
Ryan

I don't know what you're talking about. I linked to another blog. That blog had various links to multiple sources, including WaPo, NYT, The Independent, and several other organizations. This practice has been well documented and gov't agencies have been investigating it. What more do you want me to say.

We should, however, thank the moonbat who brought Glenn Greenwald into the debate.
Adjoran

Apparently, Adjoran skimmed by and saw the name "Glenn Greenwald", thought "FATWA!", and had to say something about it --- even though Greenwald did not write this post, which I specifically mentioned because of said Fatwa. Respond to the merits of an argument and you will be seen as actually having some intelligence and value in the discussion. Thanks.

Here's a link to a video of... (Below threshold)
Ronit:

Here's a link to a video of Anderson Cooper's version of the story. http://www.wpbf.com/video/9570402/index.html




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