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Controversy about media biasness in our society is as old as the societal conflicts. Taken to be the mouthpiece of the society, media has been accused from many quotas for its skewed reporting of issues affecting our borders such as politics across nations and military events. In their book, Manufacturing Consent, Herman & Chomsky claim that the media only works on behalf of powerful members of the society who also finance their activities. In other words, their argument could be interpreted to mean the work of the media is to propagandize information, ostensibly in a biased power in favor of power deal.

On the other hand, many have argued that US media, believed to be the leading propagator of lies and exaggerations, is wrongly accused as some of the activities they report are accurate to the level of journalistic ethics. In his article featured in the NY Daily News on 2nd June 2010, Alan Dershowitz argues that although so many questions have been paused on the ethical maturity of Israel’s action of stopping the Gaza flotilla, the legality of it is undoubted. He even states that Israeli is simply acting on self defense, with no intention of perpetuating humanitarian crisis.

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These issues have been debated and analyzed, and controversial conclusions emerge with both sides of the argument not ready to relent of the authenticity of their reasoning. Many of the arguments are based on comparison of similar and historical or concurrent issues that have been observed, albeit within the contexts and magnitudes of media reports. This paper critically analyzes the arguments presented, in relation to the historical conflicts and how they have been reported. Analysis of the relationship between US and the respective countries would also be used.

The Sea Conflict off the Coast of the Gaza Strip. Conflict in Gaza is considered one of the most historical wars in the Middles East. The war pitting Israelis and Palestinians has drawn wide controversies in relation to US media reporting. It is argued that Israel is US leading ally in the region; hence their media reporters are just reinforcing their bosses’ wishes and demand. On May 31, 2010, Israeli soldiers, otherwise known as commandos attacked an international civilian aid convoy that was slated to help displaced Gaza war victims, mainly Palestinians. It was reported that about 20 volunteers met their death during this early morning attack. More than fifty were left seriously injured. However, the final death toll is not clear as media reports have inconsistent figures so far.

The next morning, June 31, the editorial section of the Washington Post headline was clear: “The flotilla fiasco”. The underlying story was attune to the idea that Israelis were provoked and that their regular check on the ships headed to Gaza met what they little expected. It said, “The Israeli commandos who landed on the deck of the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara off the Coast of the Gaza Strip early Monday were totally unprepared for what they encountered: dozens of militants who swarmed around them with knives and iron bars” (Washington Post 4). The report continued that they had completely no sympathy for the victims, whom they described as a “collection of European sympathizers with Palestinian cause”, and are even linked to the deadly Hamas and al-Qaeda. According to the report, this group had more intention than humanitarian activity. In fact, the humanitarian engagement was far from their primary goal.

A similar report on New York Times was in the same tune. The headline of the editorial report of June 1 was simple but catchy: “Israel and the Blockade” (New York Times 7). It went ahead to state: “The supporters of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla had more than humanitarian intentions (in mind)…” (New York Times 7). The report also suggest that the so called civilians targeted by the international aid have become combatants in themselves, and are engaging in terrorism activities.

Sea conflict off the coast of Korea. On the contrary, a more or less similar incident that occurred off the coast off the coast of Korea had media reports in a different tone. A sunken South Korea ship was reported to various US media with more or less similar tone, but with a complete contrasting image as that of Gaza.  Fox News editorial on 27 May had the headlined, “Military tension rises as South Korea holds anti-submarine drills, North scraps sea accord” (Fox News 5). It goes on to state that North Korea has threatened to attack and sink any North Korea ship that enters its waters. Similarly, the story further highlights US’s accusation of North Korea for the sinking of the ship that killed 46 people aboard, and warning them to stop such terrorism activities. According to editorial, North Korea hit back at the accusation and warned that they would strike off the accord that stopped conflict with their archrival, South Korea, the United States ally.

Corpus- Base analysis. In the two incidences, it is clear that reports are not clearly similar, despite the similarity between them. Worse still, the investigations in the Korean incident suggest that there was no express evident linking North Korea with the sunken ship. The incident on Gaza, as reported in the United States mainstream media, had it that the Israeli commandos attacked the aid ship, ostensibly out of provocation. It is thus important to analyze the use of words and terms in the reports, according to the corpus keyword technique. This technique helps in the identification of topics or words that tend to be emphasized, downplayed, ignored or included in the US media reports of the two conflicts.

It is quite evident that when US mainstream media reported the incident on the Gaza-bound ship attack by the Israeli commandos, the insinuation was that they were defending themselves against attackers, the passengers. In fact, it is clear that both New York Times and Washington Post reported the incident in a manner suggesting that Israelis were right and, moreover, followed the legal proceedings in defending their people from the act of terrorism.   One approach that US media uses in supporting their ally is to avoid certain words in their reporting. Words such as ‘attack’ or ‘invasion’ are never used when these reporters refer to Israeli action. Instead, they tactically use only specific words like ‘defense’ or ‘retaliation’ to give Israelis actions less weight in the global image. Certain terms such as ‘blockade’ and ‘piracy’ have not been used either, as most of the media houses are aware that its implication as far as international law is concerned. According to the international law, “interdictions in international waters constitute piracy in the broadest sense of term, and blockades are acts of war” (Nimmo & Combs 132).

On the contrary, reports from Korean case had completely different strategic wording system, but directed to the suspect in the sunken sea vessel.  In this case, the US military boss is reportedly warning North Korea, a member of ‘axis of evil’, to stop its terrorism activities, at least according to the media reports (CBS News 2). It is evident that the US media use of strategic words in describing their perceived enemies creates a scenario where the public’s perception on the reports is skewed in favor of their cross border friends.

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