Text size

America's Fox News network has been demonstrating since the start of the war in Iraq an amazing lesson in media hypocrisy. The anchors, reporters and commentators unceasingly emphasize that the war's goal is to free the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. The frequency, consistence and passion with which they use that lame excuse, and the fact that nearly no other reasons are mentioned shows that this is the network's editorial policy. The American flag lies in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, while the logo accompanying the programming is Operation Iraqi Freedom, the official name given by the Pentagon. Fox journalists display what appears to be genuine happiness, innocent and sincere, brainwashed in nature, in the expectation for the wonderful day when the American army leads the Iraqi people from slavery to freedom.

With effective, rapid and decisive rewriting of history, there is an impression that the network has erased past relations between Iraq and America. It is difficult to find any mention of the fact that the U.S. armed Iraq in its war against Iran in the 1980s, or that it turned a blind eye when Saddam Hussein brutally put down a 1991 uprising with chemical weapons after the first Gulf War. The argument about the connection between Saddam's regime and Al-Qaida and the attack on the Twin Towers has disappeared, and the "axis of evil," which also included Iran and North Korea, has evaporated. There's practically no mention of the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction and how they were hid from the UN inspectors as being the official reason for the war. There's no reference to the American economic interests in Iraqi oil wells. Every operation to take over the wells and prevent their sabotage was altruistic, for the sake of the Iraqi people and preservation of its assets and resources.

According to what is shown on Fox, the Iraqi people are the only oppressed people in the world. The network doesn't call on the government to free the subjects of the regimes of China, North Korea, Syria and Burma, nor does it express amazement about that contradiction in American foreign policy. There are no contradictions. Operation Iraqi Freedom is a gift granted by America, even at the price of its own soldiers, to the Iraqi people, as a gesture of goodwill. The world according to Fox: America always helps oppressed people wherever they are, to free them of their shackles. America has no economic interests; no cynical, instrumentalist realpolitik guides it. America is good and only has moral interests. The Iraqi soldier is called "the bad guy" on Fox. It's that simple.

As far as the war's motives are concerned, Fox looks like part of the propagandistic campaign of systematic disinformation by the Bush administration, while it accuses the Iraqi regime of disseminating false information about the situation on the battlefield. The motives for the war and measure of its justice are at the heart of the current conflict between the United States and its European allies, and has ramifications over its relations with Russia, China and the Arab world as well as its position as the global superpower. Just as the Iraqi TV deceives its viewers about the situation on the battlefield, Fox misleads its American viewers about the reasons for the war. If only the issue of the human rights of the Iraqi people was at stake, there never would have been a war.

But Fox broadcasts to the entire world. Like CNN, it presents to the globe the face of America and its perception of reality, and it exports its dark side, the infuriating side that inspires so much hostility: the self-righteousness, the brutality, the pretension, hubris, and simplicity, the feverish faith in its moral superiority, the saccharine and infantile patriotism, and the deep self-persuasion that America is not only the most powerful of the nations, but also that the truth is always American. Fox looks like the media arm of the superpower mentality, indifferent to any perspective that is not American and alienating vast portions of the world. Its war coverage is as governmental as that of Iraqi TV. This is American TV.

For some reason, ever since Fox showed up on Israeli cable, the other foreign networks have become unnecessary. CNN was nearly removed, BBC World has been thrown out of the cable package, and both are suspected of hostility to Israel. Fox, for whom Israel's enemies are "the bad guys," is the perfect alibi for the new fashion of censorship. Who needs BBC when there's Fox? That has dangerously narrowed the horizon of thinking available to the viewers of foreign news stations in Israel.