A non-story?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 9, 2013

Directions

-Read the excerpt below from Lebanese-American Lee Habeeb's commentary.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

From a commentary by Lee Habeeb (original post date 9/25/13):
I’m waiting. I am a Lebanese Christian, and I am waiting. Waiting for CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or Time magazine to really tell the story. To finally run this headline: “War on Christians Being Waged by Islamists.”

I’m waiting for someone in the mainstream media to admit the facts.

Matt Lauer and NBC News made headlines when they declared there was a civil war in Iraq in 2006, putting them at odds with the narrative coming from the Bush White House.

Islamists are persecuting and murdering Christians all over the world. Where in the world are Matt Lauer and NBC News? Do they not want to be at odds with the narrative coming from the current occupants of the White House, which downplays the atrocities being perpetrated by Muslims against Christians? Or to be at odds with Muslim groups like CAIR, which might accuse NBC of some kind of bias? 

It is not an accident, the persecution and mass murder of Christians by Muslims. It is not episodic. It is by design. It is part of a master plan to destroy any competing narrative about God. To bully, threaten, and intimidate Christians into submission, or mass evacuation.

And it is not an accident that the media aren’t covering this very real war. If this were Christians murdering Muslims, blowing up mosques, and driving Muslims by the millions from their homes, we’d never stop hearing about that war.

My goodness, the media didn’t mind covering the fake war on women that Democrats accused Republicans of waging, while the very real war on women being waged in Islamic countries marched on unreported.

The media haven’t ignored the stories of Muslim violence against Christians altogether, to be fair. But they do treat the incidents as tragic isolated events perpetrated by a few nuts. They refuse to frame the mass murder and mass persecution as what they are: a war.

Don’t ask me if I’m exaggerating the claim. Ask the victims. Ask the Christians living in places that are predominantly Muslim. Ask the Christians living in refugee camps, the Christians running for their lives in too many parts of the world.  And ask the millions of American Christians who wonder why this story isn’t being framed as a war.

…Just because the media aren’t covering the war, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It’s actually spreading to more countries and continents as Islamists become more emboldened.

Islamists are persecuting and murdering Christians not just in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, but also in Pakistan and Kenya and too many other countries. And for doing nothing more than having different beliefs about God. They are persecuting Christians to let them know that they had better keep their most deeply held beliefs to themselves. Or move. Or else.

Here are some dispatches from the Middle East and beyond just in this past month:

  • This one is from Reuters this past weekend: “Suicide bombers kill 78 Christians outside Pakistani church.” Nearly 600 people had gone to one of Pakistan’s most historic churches Sunday to do what they’ve been doing there for 130 years: worship their God. A plaque on the wall had this inscription: “This church is erected to the Glory of God and dedicated to the memory of All Saints in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1883.” Words that don’t warm the heart of your average Islamist.  The attack occurred as worshipers left the service to receive free food being distributed on a lawn outside the church. That’s when the two explosions ripped through the crowd. …
  • This isn’t the first time something like that has happened in Pakistan. Back in March, the New York Times reported that a Muslim mob swarmed through a Christian neighborhood, burning two churches and more than 100 houses. The story noted that Christians in the area were also increasingly the victims of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
  • Here’s another September headline, this one from the London Daily Telegraph: “Christians flee Syria village that speaks the language of Jesus.” Islamist rebels, the Telegraph reported, had taken control of Maaloula, one of the oldest Christian towns in the world and one of the few remaining places where the language of Christ and his disciples is still spoken — Western Aramaic. The Christians started fleeing after regime forces failed to win Maaloula back from the Islamists. “They shot and killed people,” one Christian man who has fled that small town told reporters. “I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village…. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?” …
  • And how about this headline from Voice of America? “Syrian Christians in Limbo, Fearing Repeat of Iraq.” VOA reported that the two-and-a-half-year civil war in Syria has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians to flee their homes, frightened of what might happen to them if Islamist radicals overthrow the Assad regime.
[Syrian Christians] have much to be afraid of, and need only look at what has happened in Iraq to get a glimpse of their own future. More than half of the 1.5 million Iraqi Christians have fled their home country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Islamists drove them out with intimidation, violence, and murder (reports put that number at over 2,000). While Christians accounted for only 3 or 4 percent of Iraq’s pre-2003 population, they have accounted for 40 percent of its refugees, according to the U.N.

So it’s no surprise that 450,000 Syrian Christians have fled their homes. Some remain displaced inside Syria. An estimated 25,000 have sought refuge in Lebanon.

Those are just some of the stories. And that’s not counting Nina Shea’s tally of attacks on Christians and their churches in Egypt. The headline of her story: “Egypt’s Christians Are Facing a Jihad.”

She documented a parade of horrible attacks on churches in Egypt – 58 and counting as of mid-August. And there have been many more attacks – lootings or burnings – on schools, monasteries, convents, and countless Christian homes and businesses. Even a local YMCA wasn’t spared.

“For the first time in 1,600 years, Sunday prayers were cancelled at the Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram in Degla, south of Minya, because the three churches there were destroyed by a mob,” Shea wrote. “In Cairo, Franciscan nuns watched as the cross over the gate to their school was torn down and replaced by an al-Qaeda flag and the school itself torched.”

Small wonder Christians are fleeing their homes all over the Middle East.

And then we read the news from that mall in Nairobi, Kenya. At least 68 people were killed in the attack, and nearly 200 were wounded. And this we know for certain: The victims were attacked for one reason — they were not Muslim. …

Though there were non-Christians among the victims, the attack has added to concerns among minority Christians in Africa that they will be increasingly singled out for attacks by Islamic militants, including al-Shabab, which carried out the Nairobi attack.

In one of the bloodiest anti-Christian attacks on record in Africa, masked gunmen tossed grenades and sprayed bullets last summer at two churches in Garissa, a town in northern Kenya, killing at least 15 people and wounding many others.

Why the refusal on the media’s part to frame this as what it is, which is a war against Christians by Islamists?

Perhaps for the same reasons there has been abject silence on the war against women by these very same religious fanatics?

Is it fear? The media do indeed have reason to fear that groups like CAIR would soon be beating down their doors with accusations of anti-Muslim bias, boycotts, and worse.

Or is it just a blind spot? A case of bias so profound that they just can’t see this story for what it really is?

One thing’s for certain: All of this would make for one heck of a continuing story for a network like CNN. Covering the millions of Middle Eastern Christian refugees, many living in tents in refugee camps in Lebanon, would make for compelling television. Covering the increasing attacks on Christians by Muslims in Africa would make for compelling television, too.

It is certainly a story that millions of Christians in this country want covered. And many non-Christians as well.

Judging from the latest ratings, it might be a great way for CNN to do some bold reporting, and help its bottom line, too.


Questions

1.  What type of media bias does Lee Habeeb illustrate in this commentary?

2.  In paragraph #6, Mr. Habeeb states: “And it is not an accident that the media aren’t covering this very real war. If this were Christians murdering Muslims, blowing up mosques, and driving Muslims by the millions from their homes, we’d never stop hearing about that war.”  Do you think this is a fair assertion?  Explain your answer.

3.  In paragraphs 22-25, Mr. Habeeb asks the following questions:

  • Why the refusal on the media’s part to frame this as what it is, which is a war against Christians by Islamists?
  • Perhaps for the same reasons there has been abject silence on the war against women by these very same religious fanatics?
  • Is it fear? The media do indeed have reason to fear that groups like CAIR would soon be beating down their doors with accusations of anti-Muslim bias, boycotts, and worse.
  • Or is it just a blind spot? A case of bias so profound that they just can’t see this story for what it really is?

What do you think?  Why isn’t the mainstream media reporting this story?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  Bias by omission and story selection.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.

3.  Opinion question. Answers vary.