Wednesday, December 8, 2004


Journos on a Roll - How to be Crude

MSNBC ReportsArafat's Ramallah Funeral

In Italy, Arafat's Funeral wasn't shown live, but there were lengthy segments of it inserted live into the lunchtime News. What was shown was the Ramallah landing, and the reporter, one of the absolute worst I can ever remember for his obscene pro-Israel bias, Claudio Pagliara, demonstrated quite a bit of restraint if I am to judge by what I just read on the very interesting blog Lawrence of Cyberia in an article called, "America's Verdict On Arafat: He Had A Fat Wife", which I copy here. Following the post, the blogger placed links to 20 articles about Yasser Arafat. Highly recommended.

Yasir Arafat’s funeral was shown live on MSNBC, with reporting by Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell in Ramallah and stateside commentary courtesy of Don Imus. I didn’t watch it, as I was doing the usual Friday-morning-at-8:00am-stuff; i.e. getting children who would really rather still be asleep out of bed, fed, brushed and combed, dressed, armed with the appropriate day’s homework, and dragged to the bus stop before the school bus leaves. So the only part of the funeral I managed to catch was about five-minutes’-worth of commentary that I overheard while I was busy doing something else.
And that was probably just as well. Because that brief snippet really told me all I needed to know about the state of political discourse in the U.S. right now, especially on the Palestinian issue. In the five minutes that I listened, I learned:
1. "The scene is disorderly, but seems fairly peaceful. It hasn’t turned into the complete chaotic mess that we were hoping for…"
2. Arafat was a "rodent-looking weasel".
3. "Lebanon and Syria have lots of land. They could fence off a bit of that for the Palestinians".
4. "Yasser Arafat’s fat wife didn’t make it to Ramallah for the funeral. And if she had, she’d never have made it out alive anyway."
And apparently that wasn’t even the worst of it. By leaving for the school bus stop when I did, I apparently had the good fortune to miss the additional insights that Palestinians are "stinking animals", and we should
"kill 'em all right now":
DON IMUS: They're (the Palestinians) eating dirt and that fat pig wife of his is living in Paris.
COLLEAGUE: They’re all brainwashed, though. That’s what it is. And they're stupid, to begin with, but they’re brainwashed now. Stinking animals. They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill ‘em all right now…
IMUS: Well, the problem is we have (reporter) Andrea (Mitchell) there; we don't want anything to happen to her.
COLLEAGUE: Oh, she's got to get out. Andrea, get out and then drop the bomb and kill everybody… Look at this. Animals. Animals!
Yes, I know Don Imus has a reputation as a big-mouthed racist idiot. But that’s not the point. MSNBC knows too that Don Imus is a big-mouthed racist idiot, and yet decided that that big-mouthed racist idiot was the best person to provide commentary on the funeral of someone who, whether Americans like him or not, was a leading figure in an Arab-Israeli conflict in which we are deeply entangled, and whose satisfactory resolution is in our own fundamental interest. But instead of taking the opportunity to explain who was that man in the kaffiyeh, why he means so much to the tens of thousands who packed his compound in Ramallah and to the various nations whose leaders paid their last respects at his funeral in Cairo, and what are the likely repercussions of his death for the Middle East and beyond, the best insight that MSNBC can offer U.S. viewers is that Arafat, in the opinion of Don Imus, looked like a "weasel".For anyone who might want to know more about Arafat than the fact that he was a stinking animal with a fat pig of a wife, there follows a collection of articles by Israeli, Palestinian, U.S. and U.K. commentators, offering varying perspectives on Arafat's life and times, and on the implications of his death for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


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