Australian politician’s idea of ‘fair and balanced reporting’

On 14 February 2018, Andrew Hastie, member for Canning and Chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security, penned an opinion piece for The Australian titled ‘Iranian slander against Israel goes unchallenged on ABC.’1 The article relates to an interview the ABC’s Fran Kelly conducted with Mohammad Marandi, a Professor of North American Studies at the University of Tehran, on the Israeli airstrikes on Syria (occurred 11 Feb 2018).2 Hastie’s main point is to criticise the ABC for only interviewing Marandi on the topic, airing ‘no counter-argument,’ and failing to have ‘fair and balanced reporting.’3 Throughout the article Hastie makes it clear he is no fan of Marandi or Iran. Likewise, he makes it clear he is a fan of Australia’s close and growing relations with Israel, perhaps indicating he is not unbiased himself.

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Drowning in fake news on Syria

We are witnessing an unprecedented level of fake news and propaganda regarding the war on Syria.1 The level and pitch of fake stories has increased as the Syrian army overruns the rebels occupying East Aleppo. This likely reflects last ditch attempts from the rebels (and their State supporters) of eliciting the protection of the “international community” through shocking it into action.

It is obvious Western media is biased in this regard, unquestioningly repeating those and similar claims and disregarding reports from Syrian and Russian officials, even dismissing those as propaganda.2

Read moreDrowning in fake news on Syria

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Recent examples of fake news and propaganda include exaggerated levels of civilian population trapped in East Aleppo, massacres committed by the Syrian army, and women committing suicide to avoid being raped.
  2. For more examples see

Dismantling the sectarian narrative

In recent years the media tend to portray conflicts in the Middle East along sectarian lines, Sunni vs Shia. Some examples:

  • Syria is explained by Sunni being sick of the ruling Alawi (which they portray as Shia)
  • Iraq as Sunni being fed up with the Shia government
  • The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as religious conflict, Sunni vs Shia

When highlighting this apparent cause of conflict, the media often points to its origin, citing the early Muslims’ disagreement over Muhammad’s successor and the battle of Karbala. According to the narrative, the conflict started 1400 years ago and has been going ever since (it’s no wonder the Middle East is such a mess!). This portrayal is simplistic and ignores many other factors, including national/political, class, and neo- and post-colonialism.

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The ideology of the American media is that it believes that it doesn’t have any ideology

By William Blum

After Brian Williams’ fall from grace, his former boss at NBC, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying: “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.”

This is a failure of today’s journalism. This is the exact type of question they should be asking. If journalists are not asking these questions, who is?

If nobody is, then the elite are allowed to do as they please.

The emergence of ‘Shiaphobia’ and anti-Shia bias in the media

by HR

Groups who claim to be Sunni Muslims, such as ISIS and Al Qaeda are not labelled as Sunni Militants (even though they actually do claim their cause to be sectarian) – so why the double standard in reporting Shia Muslim news stories?

HR draws attention to the negative media reporting regarding Shia Muslims.