Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ramsey Case v. Middle East Coverage

From Informed Comment:

Overseas readers who don't watch US-based cable news may not know that there is a news blackout on the 24 hours news stations, which have shown endless hours of useless speculation on a ten year old small town murder case. Why the cable news channels in the US behave in this stupid and lemming-like fashion no doubt has to do with the severe discipline of the advertising market and its dependence on ratings. I.e., news has to generate 20 percent profits, which it cannot do, and so lurid infotainment is substituted. It is also possible that they are deliberately attempting to turn American gray matter into mush so as to ensure that nobody on this continent notices what is really going on around them.But although I mind this pollution of the air waves with something that is not, whatever it is, news, the main thing I mind is the racism. The case of Abeer al-Janabi, the little fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl who was allegedly raped and killed after being stalked by a US serviceman would never be given the wall to wall coverage treatment. That is frankly because the victim was not a blonde, blue-eyed American, but a black-eyed, brunette Iraqi. Both victims were pretty little girls. Both were killed by sick predators. But whereas endless speculation about the Ramsey case, to the exclusion of important real news stories, is thought incumbent in cabalnewsland, Abeer al-Janabi's death is not treated obsessively in the same way. In the hyperlinked story above, CNN even calls the little girl a "woman" at first mention, because the US military indictment did so. Only later in the article is it revealed that she was a little girl. The very pedophiliac nature of the crime is more or less overed up in the case of al-Janabi, even as looped video of Ramsay as too grown up is endlessly inflicted on us.

I believe there is a lot of truth in this statement. I remember that during the time period when the Laci Peterson case was the media's obsession, one reporter went out and found another woman who had gone missing on the very same day, and had been pregnant like Mrs. Peterson, but who had received no media coverage at all. The difference, the other woman was black and poor, not a photogenic middle class woman like Mrs. Peterson.

I've never understood the national obsession with the Ramsey case, and commented earlier on the fact that I find the media's coverage a bit disturbing. Juan Cole's statement puts that obsession in a whole new context for me.


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