Thursday, April 10, 2008

Khaled Meshaal, Jimmy Carter, and the News: Why the 24 Hour Delay?

Yesterday, as far as traditional, mainstream, news media was concerned, the upcoming meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and former American President Jimmy Carter, was a non-event that wasn't happening.

The meeting might have been more rumor than fact.

Even if it were only a rumor, it would be one about a meeting that would:
  • Be historically significant
  • Involve a well-known, and somewhat controversial, former American president
  • Defy the American State Department
  • Happen in a colorful foreign setting
I'd think that even a rumor like that would be news. But it wasn't, apart from the Arab-language source that Fox News reported on. Internationally, I could find it in only two English-language news services: both in America.

That was yesterday.

Today, Fox News and World Net Daily have been joined by CNN and other American news media.

The story is in the news around the English-speaking world, too. For example: "State Department urges Carter not to meet Meshaal" The Daily Star (April 11, 2008)(Lebanon); and "US advises Carter against any meeting with Hamas" Middle East Times (April 10, 2008) (Egypt).

Why Didn't Mainstream News Pick Up the Story Earlier?

ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, CNN, and all the lesser lights of traditional American news media were slow on the uptake. Oddly so, considering the high-profile personalities, epochal historical issues, and major current events involved.

I think it's possible that it took their editorial staff almost 24 hours to decide how to handle the story.

As I noted in an earlier post today, CNN chose to end its article on the upcoming Carter/Meshaal meeting with an oddly incomplete set of observations.

I think that an idle reader of the CNN story might be left with the impression that Khaled Meshaal is the victim of deadly spite on Israel's part, and that a call for dialog - any dialog - between Israel and/or America and Hamas justifies a former American president lending the status of his position to a terrorist organization.

And, I have too much respect for the abilities of the CNN staff to assume that this impression was made accidentally.

I was particularly impressed that CNN used those old friends of journalists with a point to make: an anonymous group of "many experts;" and the collective wisdom of "A poll." Impressed, but not positively.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.


Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

Good analysis!

You may be on the mark, waiting a tad longer to decide how to cover the story... In light of the depth and breadth of new reporting, which now includes online media e.g. Blogosphere, reputable news conglomerates such as CNN may also endeavor to weigh up a story before diving in…

Brian H. Gill said...


I may be on the mark, on the other hand, I may not.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I agree, CNN could be simply be a cautious news service, wishing to research, verify, and consider carefully what was actually going on before publishing.

On the other hand, reporting the item as an unconfirmed report or a rumor would have been well within established journalistic tradition and practices. Particularly since the Carter-Hamas meeting is a huge news story, whether it the former president actually pulls it off or not.

I'm afraid that I'm more dubious than I like, about the motives of the traditional mainstream news. (Enough! I've written about this before: Global Patriot Reporting: Anti-American Bias?
Could Be
" (March 25, 2008), "Global Patriot Incident: No News, But Lots of Opinions" (April 7, 2008). The latter has a comment from the father of one of the sailors killed in the USS Cole attack - notable from a human-interest point of view, and as contrast to much news and op-ed.)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.