Monday, August 21, 2006

Fair and balanced

Olaf Wiig, the New Zealand camerman kidnapped in Gaza, and wife of Anita McNaught, has got a lot of news coverage, as you'd expect. But the thing that interested me most was that he'd been working for Fox News. I'm not the only person who was surprised that such a decent person (as he appears to be), would work for such an outfit. On Nine to Noon last week Olaf Wiig's brother was explaining that it was Olaf Wiig's passion for the underdog, and love for telling people's stories , and Kathryn Ryan replied "well why was he working for Fox News?"*

Reading the Maps asks whether Olaf Wiig was a legitimate targets:

Wiig's kidnappers have been characterised as either fanatical extremists or simple criminals by most of the media, but could the inhabitants of Gaza have a legitimate case against Faux news, which has always acted as an attack dog for the most extreme part of the US and Israeli political establishments, and which has provided its audiences with an unceasingly hostile coverage of the plight of the Palestinian people? Only last week two senior producers for Fox News resigned from their jobs over the network's coverage of Middle East events, telling Murdoch and his mates that 'Not only are you an instrument of the Bush White House, and Israeli propaganda, you are warmongers with no sense of decency, nor professionalism.'
There had been no suggestion that these two reporters were targetted because of the station they worked for. But, I see Scott's point - Britain and America have bombed Al Jazera in Iraq and Afghanistan, and discussed bombing its headquarters. Fox news is a far more legitimate target than Al Jazera. If the people of Gaza could attack Fox news headquarters I think that could be a legitimate target. But I wouldn't extend this out to those who work for Fox. Too often I have seen people blame workers, rather than bosses, for the distruction businesses create.

But personally I'd disagree with waging war on any part of Fox news (although Dennis Potter once said that he'd cheerfully shoot Rupert Murdoch, and it's a little bit of a shame he had so much television to write before he died that he didn't get a chance). My views on violent resistance are complicated (I believe in people's write to self-defence, but I'm a little fuzzy on what I mean by that), but one of my bottom lines is that I think that violent resistance is justifiable only if there is to be some chance that it's going to make a difference. Bombing a news network would just make them angrier.

*It's possible that the insult wasn't that obvious, but Kathryn Ryan certainly implied that working for Fox News wasn't the job for anyone who believed in the underdog.

9 comments:

  1. Question: Not sure if I misunderstood the tone of this post. But how does by just being the underdog make someone deserving of support?

    Though I would agree with you that it is disgusting to hint that he deserved to be kidnapped for working for fox.

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  2. As I understand it the guy was working freelance, in which case the only surprising thing is that Kathryn Ryan could ask such a stupid question.

    Hopefully Scott will wander by and notice your excellent suggestion that we shouldn't blame workers for their bosses' excesses.

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  3. I agree with your comments (and your commenters) that it's pretty ridiculous to suggest that someone deserved to be kidnapped because they worked for Fox. All that is pertinent is that he has been illegally kidnapped. However, I do think it is fair to wonder whether his association with Fox had something to do with his kidnapping. It seems logical to think that might make him a target.

    Also, perhaps I have the wrong idea of freelance in jouralism but surely freelancers have the ability to control which networks their images are sold to? I feel slightly relieved when I hear about workers quitting Fox for ideological reasons - I find it disturbing when I hear of seeming aware and 'on-to-it' people working for such a new-less network.

    I realise the above paragraph sounds like I'm verging into 'blame the kidnapped'. That's not my intention. What I am trying to get at is a more general issue. While workers should not be held accountable for their employer's excesses/ideology etc, workers do have some responsibility to think about how they are contributing to that employer's stance.

    Obviously there are numerous reasons why workers are sometimes not able to - mainly financial - but there are also a lot of workers who could but who choose not to think about how their work affects society.

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  4. Excellent post as always Maia.

    I have to say that the very first thought which popped into my head when I read about this kidnapping and who their employers are was that it was a retaliation against Faux News.

    The Fox network has done more to foster hatred towards the middle-east and enthusiasm for US lead war than any other force in the world. If faux reporting would be considered a war crime then Murdoch would be the first person we should be prosecuting IMO.

    But don't even get me started on that subject grrrrrrrrrr

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  5. "Excellent post as always Maia.

    I have to say that the very first thought which popped into my head when I read about this kidnapping and who their employers are was that it was a retaliation against Faux News.

    The Fox network has done more to foster hatred towards the middle-east and enthusiasm for US lead war than any other force in the world. If faux reporting would be considered a war crime then Murdoch would be the first person we should be prosecuting IMO.

    But don't even get me started on that subject grrrrrrrrr"

    I'm not sure if you are trying to justify thisbased on fox's manipulation of the media (which is obvious as they admit partisan bias) - playing devils advocate then, would if be jusifyable if someone was say to start kidnapping Al Reuters staff because of the Green Helmet man and other charades?

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  6. Jeez, that Green Helmet guy is busy. He's a civil defence co-ordinator, a Hizb'allah official and now it seems he also works for Reuters. There can't be enough hours in the day for the poor sod.

    Forgive me being obtuse, but I'm not sure how you can interpret Faux's slogan of "Fair and balanced" to mean "We admit partisan bias."

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  7. MikeE, I am quite capable of putting words in my own mouth without any help from you.

    All I said is that was the first thought that popped into my mind at the time when I heard the news.

    And FWIW, my second thought was, "I wonder if this would've happened if it was an Al Jazerra news crew?"

    If you seriously think that anybody here is so callous to suggest that any person deserves to be abducted for any reason then you seriously need to do a reality check mate.

    When heinous crimes occur it's pretty natural for peeps to ponder about motivations of the perp and make connections to possibly related events. Trying to make meaning of them does not in any way imply that one agrees with the action.

    And yanno I am quite frankly sick to death of seeing commentators on blogs being accused of supporting terrorists because they seek to understand the terrorist mentality and motivations.

    We all want to see an end to global terrorism, but it's simply not good enough that we look no further to understanding the crisis than to label it as an act of "murderess fanatical bastards".

    The Arab world has every good reason to feel pissed at Fox News, so if it turns out they were specifically targetted as such then it's going to be a very significant development IMO.

    But I guess we'll never know unless the kidnappers make a deal of it if/when they decide to make any public statements.

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  8. Anonymous7:00 am

    Do you really place less value on a human life because an individual chooses to take a work assignment from a news agency you disagree with?

    Shame on you.

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  9. Anonymous read what I said.

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