“When the Media Is the Disaster: Covering Haiti”

Adrianna Huffington's Website

Adrianna Huffington’s Website

*edit, October 28, 2015 – Here’s another one of my older posts, showing the deficiency that I addressed later. I linked to an article and gave you no idea about it’s content. I see too that the image at the top of post burst it’s frame. I don’t know what that’s about. One techie, a WP moderator perhaps (I forget), suggested it might have been the result of my using the greater than and lesser than characters to enclose comments. I don’t see those characters here however. Too bad about WP today. It’s being ruined. I’m only still using it because I’ve gotten used to it and because another user (Tempeng) kindly informed us how, using his script and a program like Grease Monkey (which handles scripts), WP users can get around some of the butchery done to WP. I’m referring specifically to the classic editor. I guess the brain trust at WP wanted to gobble up as much market as it could and made a decision to sacrifice desktop users in order to capture a share of the tablet market. The result wasn’t pretty.

I will now include an excerpt from the linked-to article by Rebecca Solnit as well as two other links and excerpts dealing with the fact of HuffPost’s later sale to AOL.

I found a link to an article on Common Dreams about Adrianna Huffington’s sale of her Huffpost to AOL and will include it. But here, when I clicked on the link at the top of that article, to the original Guardian article, it took me to a different article by a different author, although the subject was the same. That is not how Common Dreams does things now. (They’ll use an article from an external source, but they will indicate that source at the top of their article where the headline is. And the link will be to the exact same article. The only difference being that the readers on the CD site may comment about the article on the CD site, which you’ll see. My comment is missing from this CD article. But so is everyone else’s. I know that CD has been attacked in the past. I don’t think we were disappeared by CD. I think that CD was trying to do it’s best to recover from an attack. But I don’t know.) I don’t know whether it’s how CD did things before, although this suggests that perhaps it is. In any case, both articles are informative. I’ll link explicitly to both.

Rebecca Solnit: When the Media Is the Disaster: Covering Haiti.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Rebecca Solnit follows:

Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.

I’m talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.

Within days of the Haitian earthquake, for example, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of photographs with captions that kept deploying the word “looting.” One was of a man lying face down on the ground with this caption: “A Haitian police officer ties up a suspected looter who was carrying a bag of evaporated milk.” The man’s sweaty face looks up at the camera, beseeching, anguished.

There’s some serious déjà vu happening here. I just fininshed reading (October 2015) Max Blumenthal’s “The 51 Day War – Ruin And Resistance in Gaza.” I’d love for every Canadian adult who can read to read this book, which looks very closely at the ongoing, deep and intense terrorism unleashed by the US/Israel upon Gazans, and then email Tom Mulcair and ask him why he defends Israel. I expect the other two Party leaders to support Israel. Stephen Harper is a proud fascist. His successor may tone it down a bit, but the Conservative Party’s really sick. The Liberal Party is no different than the Conservative Party and often, like the Democratic Party south of the border, outdoes it’s supposedly more rightwing counterpart in barbarity once it gains dictatorial power (for that’s how our electoral system, at present, works). And that’s the Party that the young, handsome Trudeau is now leading and he’s the leader the world is gushing over due to his supposedly good looks and the fame of his father, Pierre Elliot, who was once our Prime Minister. Steal countries, murder millions, enslave your own people and continue the genocide against your indigenous population and be loved, even awarded prestigious prizes (Bill Clinton, Haiti’s powerful enemy, Bill Blair, Palestine’s powerful enemy and Barack Obama, a powerful enemy of many peoples, who received a Nobel Peace Prize). Steal some milk from a destroyed, abandoned variety store, after your city or country has been destroyed, not just by mother nature, or war, but by the malevolence and the neglect of leaders, and look out!

This business of criminalizing the victim is widespread. You see it everywhere. The world has become so dark and cruel that it’s stunning. It takes your breath away. You run out of words to talk about it. You saw it in the Harper government’s refusal to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, while he claimed that he was over in Afghanistan for the women, who are no better off today than before George W. invaded and Harper tagged along, which he had to do because he worships the powerful and wants to be powerful. And you see it with Putin and Russian speaking Ukraines. The neo-Nazi coup government that Obama installed in Ukraine murdered 298 people (shooting down Malaysian flight MH17 over an area of Ukraine it was forced to enter, well off it’s flight path, by the coup government), mostly Dutch citizens, on July 17th and proceeded to blame Russia for it. The US wanted to provoke Russia into actually invading Ukraine, which it would have much more justification for doing than any of many the invasions the US has done over the years. Then when the horrified Russian citizens of Crimea watched as neo-Nazi death squads roamed the country murdering and terrorizing any, pro coup or anti coup, Russian speaking or Ukrainian speaking, who did not support the coup government, they wisely choose to ‘return’ to Russia in a referendum in which the vast majority voted to rejoin Russia. And for Russia’s successful annexation (all positive and democratic) of Crimea, which the West was hoping to steal (since a Russian naval fleet is stationed there), Putin is labelled everything, including Hitler and aggressor. It’s absolutely vile. I recommend to you Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsongs’ “Ukraine – Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How The West Was Checkmated.” I have some issues with the book, but it’s reportage is thorough and it makes a very solid contribution to any discussion of what is happening in Ukraine.

“…The hero of a generation, [Olif] Winter returned from the battlefield to bask in the adulation of his countrymen. On August 15, Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s most influential paper, published a lengthy interview with the commander, noting, “Winter cannot walk around today without being stopped [by passerby on the street], hugged, asked for a photo opportunity.” According to the paper, “there is no officer currently in the [army] who is as admired” as Winter.

“The interview highlighted Winter’s unabashed Jewish fundamentalism. Recalling a mission to destroy several rows of civilian homes in Khuza’a where Palestinian fighters had supposedly taken shelter, Winter conjured a hallucinatory vision of godly intervention. “We were protected by clouds, clouds of divine honor,” he claimed. “We – all the warriors – were suddenly covered by a heavy fog, which came with us throughout the attack.”

“Asked about the order he gave after [Lt. Hadar] Goldin’s capture, Winter freely admitted to invoking the Hannibal Directive. “I announced on the communication system the word that no one wants to say – ‘Hannibal,'” Winter told his interviewer. “In other words, there had been an abduction. I instructed all the forces to move forward, to occupy space, so the abductors would not be able to move.”

“Winter then boasted of the violence he ordered, declaring: “We shredded them. We can do it much worse, and it’s best for them that we do not do it. We gave them a much stronger beating than in Cast Lead [in 2008-09].”

“The Givati commander held the civilian population of Gaza – those whom he had cast as blasphemers against God – responsible for their suffering: “In almost every home there is a son or other relative that is a partner in terror,” Winter remarked. “How do you raise children in a home with explosives? In the end, everyone gets what they choose.” They were all, every last one, even the children, enemies deserving to die.

“The 51 Day War elevated the status of fundamentalist warriors like Winter and electrified militant nationalist elements on the homefront. Back in Israel, in cities from Tel Aviv to Haifa to Jerusalem, the right wing pressed its attack against those they identified as enemies within.” – pages 108 & 109 of “The 51 Day War” by Max Blumenthal

Wadie Abu Khesi

Wadie Abu Khesi at 3 months old

“In February, UNRWA funds for Gaza reconstruction had dried up altogether, forcing the agency to suspend its cash assistance program for those who had lost their homes to Israeli strikes during the war. Rebuilding was frozen even before it began in earnest, and there was no sign that it would ever begin. Forty-two thousand government employees in Gaza had gone six months without receiving their salary. As Israel refused a Turkish offer to provide an offshore electricity station for Gaza, the Strip remained without electricity for eighteen hours a day. The Rafah border crossing was kept shuttered by the Egyptian regime, prompting a crowd of thousands to rush its gates when it finally opened for three days.

“In December, Dan Cohen met the Abu Khesi family in the rubble of their home in Shujaiya. They had been left homeless by the war and were left to shelter themselves against one of the harshest winters in Gaza’s history with little more than nylon sheets, scrap metal and blankets. Dan found the family’s youngest child, Wadie, captivated by the bright light he had affixed to his camera. Born during the war, Wadie had never seen light produced by electricity – he had only known the illumination produced by the nightly fires the family lit to keep warm.

“On January 15, about a month after Cohen’s visit, five-month-old Wadie froze to death, making him the fifth child to die of exposure in the punishing winter.” – pages 204-206 of “The 51 Day War”

The darkness has deepened considerably in Israel. I’d like to think that it’s not going to get worse for the victims, Israeli and Palestinian. But Israeli leaders, like Tzipi Livni and Avigdor Lieberman, have actually promised that Israel will be returning to Gaza with it’s varied (sometimes experimental) weaponry to continue slaughtering Gazans, making the statements of opportunistic, forked-tongued politicians (like Tony Blair) who talk about rebuilding Gaza (within a neoliberal framework) utter hogwash. Also, Wrap your head around Winter’s statement that the Gazans must pay for their blasphemy. Imagine, Palestinians are being slaughtered for having their own religion! You can like it or not (I don’t), but What is right about that? That’s what the obscene, unhinged Col. Ofir Winter said. They committed blasphemy and they must all die. God says so. I’m sure if he was in the company of blasphemer Obama, he’d tone it down though. Israel would already be history if it wasn’t for it’s utility to the US (It’s a base, essentially), whose governments keep sending it billions of dollars annually. As well, The US stores weapons there for it’s own use. In the Protective Edge slaughter, when the Israelis were running out of some things, the US told them to help themselves to it’s store of weapons. Why? One, The US doesn’t care about Palestinians. Two, It does not want to see any hint of democracy anywhere. (If the people were suddenly in charge in the Middle East, the US would be invited to leave.) Hamas’s electoral success in 20016 disturbed the US/Israel enormously and Hamas will never be forgiven for that. The long suffering Palestinians’ champion is to be destroyed. Again, the Palestinians are to be criminalized – and Hamas labelled, by the terrorists, as a terrorist organization – for being a victim.

An excerpt from the Common Dreams article titled “Check, Please: Huffington Post Sold to AOL for $315m” follows:

The Huffington Post, the ground-breaking online news and opinion site founded by Arianna Huffington on a shoestring budget, is to be bought for $315m by AOL in a move sure to stun new media sceptics and believers alike…

The sale to AOL marks a personal triumph for Huffington, the colourful and controversial co-founder of the site that bore her name, who under the terms of the deal is given a new role as president and editor in chief of a unit to be named Huffington Post Media Group, and includes management of AOL’s sprawling news operations and other media enterprises such as TechCrunch and MapQuest.

“This is the most exciting thing I have ever done,” Huffington said after the deal was first announced.

“Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers,” said Armstrong.

It also represents a huge gamble by AOL, once a commanding presence as the US’s dominant internet service provider in the initial dotcom boom of the 1990s, and the subject of a disastrous merger with Time-Warner in 2000 that was eventually unwound in 2009.

An excerpt from the UK/Guardian article titled “Huffington Post sale: ‘I want to stay for ever, I want this to be my last act'” by Dominic Rushe, follows:

Arianna Huffington says she has found her “last act”. The Greek-born Cambridge graduate, author, broadcaster, politician’s wife, Republican turned Democrat, would-be governor of California and now internet mogul has thrown her lot in with a global media goliath.

The co-founder of the online news phenomenon the Huffington Post has announced she is selling the business to AOL, tarnished net giant of the last dotcom boom.

The deal is worth $315m (£195m) – all but $15m of it in cash. Not a bad return for Huffington and her business partner, Kenneth Lerer, who will share the money with investors. The pair set up the left-leaning news site in 2005 with an original investment of $1m…

Huffington, the 60-year-old daughter of a Greek newspaperman, has become one of the most influential people in media over the past five years. The AOL chief executive, Tim Armstrong, has been snapping up hot names on the internet as part of his strategy to transform his company into a major name in online content. With the Huffington Post he gets not just the site but, perhaps more importantly, Huffington herself.

Born Arianna Stassinopoulos, Huffington began her media career as a popular conservative commentator. But the former wife of one-time Republican congressman Michael Huffington went liberal in the late 1990s, since when she has become a darling of the new media for her ability to get her audience to connect in an age where the internet is fracturing audiences.

Considering how the information in the UK/Guardian article is beefy and would be of interest to progressives (who wouldn’t buy the line that the Left here is a real Left), I’m surprised that Common Dreams didn’t dig into this. But this was 2011. CD might not have found it’s legs yet. The CD staff don’t hesitate to dig into stuff now, although one could never accuse CD of being far Left. The far Left is simply far more honest. Not perfect. But better, which is probably why it struggles mightily and remains sort of out of sight.

My online response to the top of post article by Rebecca Solnit, follows:

Hear hear! I am in complete agreement with the more important points raised in Rebecca’s above article.

I’m not agreement with the hip hip hooray for those rebuilding New Orleans though. It’s a bowl by the sea. Katrina has come and gone, but that basic fact remains. No one should be living there. Regardless, As long as people have chosen, unwisely in my view, to ignore the danger, I do hope things go well there. My understanding, though, is that capitalists have made it hell for lower income Katrina survivors who have stayed on, privatizing schools, ignoring broken poorer neighborhoods, privatizing everything they could get their hands on and opening up the city to privatized security forces (with all the nastiness that that entails), as Jeremy Scahill reminds us in his recent Nation magazine article.

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