Watch: media sensationalism, distortions and lies about Syria

Scott Lucas, Professor of American Studies at Britain’s Birmingham University and a specialist on North Africa, the Middle East and Iran, has produced a brilliant video analysis on media coverage of the conflict in Syria.

It shows how the media are not only distorting but sometimes falsifying the conflict for the sake of a sensational headline.

In the video above – which is less than eight minutes long – Professor Lucas shows that, in the search for headlines, key media outlets have reduced the Syrian conflict to one of different evils. “There’s the evil Assad regime, with Iran supporting it, and there are the evil extremist jihadists, some of whom are linked to Al-Qaeda.” This, he says “is a caricature which gets us no closer to understanding what is going on, much less what we should do about it.

Professor Lucas looks at three cases to illustrate his argument. These are, to quote from the EAWorldView website, of which he is editor-in-chief,

1. “The insurgents who executes soldiers” – A prominent New York Times article last week, which turned the April 2012 execution of seven Syrian troops by a small faction into a recent demonstration that “Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West”

2. “Takeover of a Christian town” – A New York Times article this week which, contradicting its own evidence, portrays “extreme Islamists” moving into the ancient Christian town of Maaloula and threatening all the residents.

3. “The Iranians directing Syria’s fight” – The case, covered extensively in EA this week, of Al Jazeera English turning raw footage into an exaggerated story of “Iran’s Fighters on Syrian Soil”. [Professor Lucas notes that since filming the above video on 11 September his team had gone through the footage – and other important material in detail – “to establish that there were Iranian officers training pro-Assad militiamen in Aleppo Province, although there is no evidence that the Iranians are involved in operations or that there are Iranian troops on the battlefield”.

Professor Lucas is a respected academic with no axe to grind – except against distortions and falsifications. Let us hope that the sensationalists, deceits, conspiracy theorists and plain ignoramuses sit up, listen and learn.

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