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Indymedia Comments on CNN Palestinian Footage

by Jay Wednesday, Sep. 26, 2001 at 7:58 PM

This email was sent to several Indymedia lists by an IMCer who was interviewed by NPR. The writer makes some important points about the entire incident and how we lie to ourselves to make the world seem like a different.

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I just spoke with Rick Karr, "cultural correspondent" for NPR, the United States' public radio network. He wrote to Indymedia yesterday morning -- can't remember if he just wrote to general@indymedia.org or to imc-editorial@indymedia.org as well -- saying he is doing a piece on the CNN/Palestinian footage rumor and wanted to talk with someone at Indymedia about it. I responded saying Indymedia may not be the best group to interview because we didn't originate the rumor nor did any Indymedia sites put it in their features column. I also mentioned the thing I find most interesting about this whole episode, that people were so inclined to believe that CNN would fake Palestinian footage in the first place due to CNN's lack of credibility among many people in the world, especially in times of (overt) U.S. war. He wrote back asking if someone from Indymedia would still be willing to be interviewed because that was an imporatant point and he wanted to make sure it got into his piece. I'm not one who always likes to do intereviews so I e-mailed the general-discussion list asking if anyone else would be interested. Only Sharpie expressed interest but the deadline was too soon for me to get his phone number. So, I just did the interview.

A few times over the last several months I and others have written to several Indymedia lists asking for volunteers who will be willing to field interviews when people write to Indymedia asking to speak with someone. When a request comes in through imc-editorial or general@indymedia.org, if it is a non-U.S. request someone who is answering those e-mails at the moment usually passes it along to someone from the IMC in that area -- for example, Brazilian press inquiries go to IMC-Brazil, requests from the UK go to IMC-UK, etc. For U.S. press requests we've been a bit more lax, inconsistently posting the request at imc-process, on imc-editorial or imc-global to see if anyone wants to answer. Since much of the discussion about this CNN footage issue happened on imc-editorial I was surprised that no one else from imc-editorial responded to the initial request, but now I can't find Rick Karr's e-mail to imc-editorial so there's the possibility he just sent it to general@indymedia.org, which reaches fewer people. We don't have a real process for deciding who is going to grant interviews when asked, nor do we have one e-mail list through which we can put all those requests so they'll reach everyone who is willing to be interviewed. Please, if you're interested in fielding interviews let people on the general-discussion@indymedia.org list know, because often requests come through the general@indymedia.org mailbox and, especially when there's a close deadline, finding someone who isn't on that list to paricipate isn't always the easiest thing to do.

As for the interview itself, I started off by very consciously presenting myself not as a spokesperson for Indymedia but as one of the many volunteers who participates in the network, as I've also done the other couple times I've been interviewed in relation to Indymedia. I explained Indymedia's open publishing system and outlined how it empowers people to "be the media." We talked about why people were so inclined to believe the footage was false and I said what I had said above, adding that people, as human beings, may not have wanted to believe that other human beings could be celebrating at what happened on September 11 so they felt better to believe CNN had faked the footage. I also suggested that CNN's showing of that footage again and again (and again), whether or not it came from 9-11, clearly suggested the network wanted to project that Palestinians as a whole rejoiced when they heard Americans had died. Why did CNN broadcast only this footage and not footage of Palestinians who mourned the human tragedy, just as they wish people around the world would mourn the deaths of their family members in their struggles against Israel? Did they go out looking for footage of celebraing Palestinians? Even if a video crew just *happened* to be driving by a group of celebrating Palestinians on 9-11 and took the images for purely informational purposes (something that people are questioning now that more of the footage shot on that day by that crew has been broadcast), why did CNN not very consciously and truthfully indicate that this was the minority of Palestinians and, knowing that, still insist on broadcasting this footage again and again? Most importantly, why did CNN not provide any context for why anyone would rejoice at the United States' being attacked? The lack of context CNN presented for why anyone would rejoice at an attack on America, especially in the first few days after 9-11, angered and continues to anger (and critically underinform) a lot of people. When they saw the rumor that the footage was false, many people said, "A-HA! I knew it!" Anyway, those were some of the many points I touched upon in the interview. We'll see how it turns out.

Thanks, and again, I hope the interview turned out well,


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