Thursday, November 11, 2004

Mainstream media ignore Arafat AIDS angle

Note the careful language employed by the major mainstream newspapers as they fail to describe how Yasir Arafat died:

The New York Times (written by James Bennet & Steven Erlanger): "Mr. Arafat ... died at about 3:30 a.m. Paris time of complications from an unknown disease after lingering in a coma for days."

The Washington Post (John Ward Anderson & Molly Moore): "Arafat was flown to France nearly two weeks ago with what was said to be an intestinal disorder, but he lapsed into a coma and suffered a brain hemorrhage and liver and kidney failure. The doctors treating him in France never said publicly what caused the illness that led to his death."

Los Angeles Times (Laura King, Ken Ellingwood, & Sebastian Rotella): "He was being treated for a mysterious illness" and "the announcement by French authorities ... shed no light on the cause of death."

Associated Press (Lara Sukhtian): "Neither his doctors nor Palestinian leaders would say what killed him."

London Times (Philippe Naughton): "What exactly the former guerrilla chief died from is far from clear. Doctors at the Percy military hospital at Clamart in the southwestern suburbs of Paris refused to give any details, citing the family's right to privacy. Mr Arafat was taken to the hospital last week after doctors in Ramallah were unable to diagnose or clear up a mystery blood disorder."

So why did most major newspapers and wire services carefully fail to refer, even in passing, to the widespread rumors that Arafat had AIDS? The rumors could have been explicitly and accurately characterized as "unconfirmed." Is it newsworthy--that AIDS likely killed perhaps the most famous leader in a Moslem world gripped by fanatic intolerance? You must be kidding.

Even the single exception, United Press International (Claude Salhani), referred to the AIDS rumor with language calculated to dismiss it with scorn, but without leaving fingerprints as to whether it was actually true: "There were even spiteful rumors the Palestinian leader was dying of AIDS. None of these has proven true." Proven? Since when is breaking news limited to stuff that can be "proven" to be true? Virtually none qualifies. Standard practice is to report the scoop accurately while simultaneously supplying its provenance. And why are the rumors "spiteful"? Because they tend to put Arafat in a bad light? Salhani doesn't say.

On the other hand, you have five more fingers ... (thank you, Steven Wright). And you also have the blogs, such as Power Line and "The Big Trunk," aka Scott W. Johnson: "Arafat led an incredibly dissolute life. It was his dissolution that ultimately resulted in his contraction of AIDS, the disease that led to his death outside Paris yesterday. As with so many basic facts about this utterly vile human being, the truth (although baldly reported by Oriana Fallaci in the fall of 1981) remains shrouded in myth, deception and outright lies."

Is there any doubt that these rumors would have trumpeted in blaring headlines had the decedent been someone the western leftish media/intelligensia elite deemed less worthy of protection? Such as Ariel Sharon, or George W. Bush, or Tom Delay, for example? Just wondering.