Opinions

Hypocrisy in the west as the war in Georgia illuminates the failure of the media

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The Bible recommends that we look at the beam in our own eye and not at the mote in our neighbour's. Westerners should do that with regard to newspapers, TV and other media. Westerners often say that the Russian government controls the Russian media, biasing the news there. Even though Russia definitely needs improvement in that regard, the West is hardly less deficient. This was confirmed by coverage of the war in Georgia.

Western governments controlled the news and spread lies in August. The current Bush administration in the U.S. distorted the facts of the war in Georgia in order to hold up Russia as a danger to peace and an enemy of the U.S., suggesting Russia was the aggressor when it was in fact Georgia. The Republican administration did this so that John McCain could run in the November election as a national security candidate. They also hyped up Iraq so they could claim a victory there. This all failed, however. The economic crisis blindsided them and ruined their ploy. Now that the election is over, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to revert to normal relations with Russia. Obama should understand that Bush's lies hurt Russia. Russians are now reluctant to resume normal relations.

Europeans were also desperately inadequate in their coverage of the August war in Georgia. This was mostly because the Eastern European states remember well how Russia mistreated them during Soviet and Imperial times. Britain, also, was angry with Russia because Britain failed to retain some of its oil projects and leases in Siberia.

Domestic politics in the West defined the press coverage of the war in August. Nobody was truly sympathetic about Georgia. Everyone just played their cards in order to get sufficient support at home to be elected or re-elected. The rhetoric about supporting democracy or helping the poor little democratic nations was plain self-deception and illusion. Most Americans did not know where Georgia actually was and some mistook it for the state of Georgia.

An objective and entirely free press might be too idealistic a goal. Nevertheless, the press of all countries should try to achieve elementary fairness and some self-consciousness about their own faults and failures. The main commodity of the Western press is not news but profit. This profit is not best achieved by fear. There should be no illusion about this. At least some part of the Western public should always be aware that the Western press is faulty.

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