I caught the beginning of an interview on CNN yesterday in which a foreign correspondent based in the States for an Arabic language newspaper was being relieved of any illusions he might have had about the standard of reporting necessary to sustain broadcasting any news event for an indefinite period.
The second question in ran something like this.
"So you condemn the atrocity, but what you will be accused of...what people will say, is that you haven't condemned it enough. Why aren't you out on the streets expressing this condemnation more forcefully..."
I confess I gave up at this point, flung the zapper at the screen and rather shocked the shit out of my daughter who must have thought that daddy had finally lost it.
I mean...such a brief utterance, but parse it any which way you like and you will not find any justification for this woman ever finding work in journalism again.
First of all, the cowardly disguising of her own prejudices by the mealy-mouthed, "what people will say..." displayed an arrogance of such enormity it beggars belief.
Secondly, the implication, as yet unproven, that the act was in fact carried out by 'Islamic' terrorists and the unspoken assumption that, as a Muslim, he was somehow complicit in it, that the perceived under-reaction of the arab world betrayed its real emotions, those of satisfaction and celebration should be grounds enough for dismissal in any news agency. I don't remember the people of Boston being subjected to such accusations in the wake of any IRA 'atrocity' that they had funded.
And then there's the implicit racism expressed. That Muslims cannot be trusted to tell the truth. That what they say must be filtered and translated along the lines of, "Well, you may say that, but we know what you really mean is..." On top of that, we have the assumption that this guy, purely on the basis of his ethnicity and religion, can be addressed with the second person plural 'you' and his answers taken to be representative of arab opinion. Well, they're all the same, aren't they? And then that Muslims should be held to different standards from the rest of us. Why should their reaction and condemnation have to be of any greater magnitude than our own? Should the Pope have taken to the streets of the Vatican? Catholics everywhere flagellated themselves in public after the latest in a long line of IRA pub bombings?
And lastly, this was one journalist interviewing another. The complete lack of respect shown to a fellow professional was stunning. What was it that allowed her to believe that the level of her integrity was so above his? The fact that he worked for an arab newspaper? The fact he was Muslim? Or have CNN's pay cheques so fuelled her astonishing arrogance that she now believes herself above all accepted standards of reporting?
Do you think I could bill her for a new remote?