The Media and 9/11: New York City and Cairo Essay

Media and 9/11: New York City and Cairo

 In 1967, a small book was published by Random House that made quite a stir, altering the     scope of debates about the Media. The Medium in the Massage,[1] by Marshall McLuhan, claimed the world was being altered by electronic media and that, by linking the world into a “global village”, human destiny would be transformed. McLuhan even went so far as to suggest that state and government oppression would no longer be possible.

      McLuhan proved overly optimistic with that last prediction, but many of his other observations have proven resilient and valid. Nowhere is the power of the media more apparent than in the worldwide media response to the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001.

Both the disparity and congruity of media reports, opinion and conjecture, as well as their effect on public opinion and government, confirm the influence of the media, be it in print, television or internet.

     By comparing the front page coverage of the World Trade Center attack in The New York Times and Cairo’s Al-Ahram for one week, this essay will demonstrate how and why two news organizations can perceive the same event in different ways and how their coverage may occasionally influence public opinion and even the government.

Raising the Stakes

          While some similarities in the coverage of 9/11 by The Times and Al-Ahram exist ( and they will be discussed below), the differences are starkest. Nor is it difficult to pin-point and

explain why: Cairo, Egypt is, after all, in the Middle East where military action, when it’s taken,

will occur. Also divergent are opinions of Bin Laden’s culpability. Moreover, while sympathetic to the victims of the 9/11 attack, Egyptians as well as most Arabs were reluctant to support the U.S. because of its pro-Israeli policies, which are seen as anti-Arab and, specifically, anti-Palestine.

        Of the 15 articles in Al-Ahram cited in this paper, nearly 50% concern the United States’ retaliation intentions and the Egyptian apprehension of them. This uneasiness engulfed the Middle East in general. Meanwhile, of the 32 articles reviewed from The Times, only 1 directly addresses Middle Eastern concerns (September 24th, 2001: ‘Saudis Feeling Pain of Supporting U.S.’)

     For example, an Al-Ahram article, ‘Caught in the Middle,’ quotes Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urging the U.S to “Act against [perpetrators], not against a country.” The article continues, “Mubarak also warned that waging a war against Bin Laden or Afghanistan would ‘create a whole generation that will be working in terrorism.’”

     Another piece, ‘Shoulder to Shoulder,’ details how the “six member Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) is looking nervously for ways to take a balanced stand.” A third piece, ‘A Crusade of the Mind,’ relates how “maligning Islam and Muslims is a tradition in Western media.” Needless to say, The Times did not take that subject up in its front page coverage, though to be fair; it was addressed on the OpEd page.

     Another difference in coverage was the issue of Bin Laden’s accountability for the 9/11 attacks. Nowhere in The Times could I locate an article skeptical of the Administration’s certainty of his responsibility. Not so in Al-Ahram. In ‘At the Edge of Inter-civilizational War,’

Omayma Abdel-Latif remarks, “…but there is no credible evidence that he even had knowledge of the event except for a vague prediction he made…,” And in ‘Mutating Emotions,’ career

diplomat and Egyptian Parliament member, Mustafa El-Fiki is quoted as saying, “…that the attack ‘is not the work of Arabs. It was highly organized and the way it was carried out indicates that it involved an intelligence agency. Americans must be involved one way or another.’” (One

cannot help but wonder if Mr. El-Fiki’s estimation of the Arabs’ ability to ‘organize’ is a bit on the low side.)

     Osama Bin Laden, it should be kept in mind, was the scion of a wealthy Saudi Arabian family whose fortune had been made in construction. Though the Saudi’s had confiscated his passport and , in effect, rendered him an alien to the state, his activities were known to much of the Arab world.[2]

     Al-Ahram devotes many more articles to this subject. In fact, Arab perceptions of America crop up in almost every article. For example, in the above cited ‘Mutating Emotions’ piece, the U.S. support of Israel against Palestine is mentioned by 4 quoted individuals. Salah Elissa, chief editor of Al-Qahira weekly newspaper, noted, “Deteriorating developments in the Palestinian territories and the continuous support of the US administration for Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, understandably led Egyptians to lose sympathy with Americans,” while Fahmy Howeidy, Al-Ahram columnist, pointed out that the 9/11 attack “is an outcome of …America’s overwhelming belief that it rules the world.”

     Mustafa Kamel El-Sayed and Mustafa El-Fiki made similar observations in the article. Finally, Omaya Abdel-Latif in her interview with Richard Falk , made this point: “…the Us’s foreign

policy is one of the motives behind such atrocities, however…this view is completely missing from the American response-by the political leadership, Congress, the Media and the general

public.” Also, the article ‘A Crusade of the Mind’ quotes Englishman Hugh Dunkerly of Britian’s The Independent:

         “George Bush says America has been attacked because it represents freedom and democracy in the world…People do not throw away their lives in suicide attacks simply to lash out as so-called champions of freedom and democracy…The causes are essentially economic and political.”

     Observations such as that did not make it onto The Times front page. Of course, American perception of how others in the world see us made its way into The Times via President Bush’s speech of September 20th, 2001, and portions of it appeared in R.W. Apple’s front page article cited above. In this, the difference between articles in Al-Ahram and The Times are miles apart, for Bush was quoted thusly: “They [terrorists] hate what we see here tonight-a democratically elected government…They hate our freedoms-our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech…”

     One may justifiably ask, “What else would you expect an Arab paper to focus on?” But that is just the unavoidable point: a news organization addresses what its editors believe is on the minds of its readers! Any analysis of emphasis and coverage must accept and take this formulation into account. This will be further addressed in my conclusion.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

     Virtually every newspaper in America was filled with articles about the World Trade Center for weeks following the attack, so it is hardly unusual that the New York Times featured

hundreds of articles about the tragedy in that time frame as well. From the 50-plus articles run between September 20th and 26th, 32 were chosen at random for comparison.

     The articles can be divided into 5 more or less definable categories:  (15) Retaliation or War; (6) New York City; (4) Foreign Response; (2) Public Opinion and (5) Domestic or Economic. Of course, hundreds of other articles, falling under the rubric of Personal Interest, etc. appeared in other areas of the paper, especially in the B section. Because the attacks occurred in New York City, it is not surprising that, with the exception of Retaliation or War, most of the front page articles were concerning Manhattan and the people who worked in the WTC.

     What is surprising is that the grief and outrage felt so keenly by New Yorkers and, indeed, all Americans can only be found in the OpEd section of the paper. Moreover, a demand that these attacks be revenged is muted. It would be up to the President of the United States to make such a demand. But we shall see how he, and by extension, the Government, was influenced by media coverage and all were influenced by the tragic events of 9/11.

          Following the attacks, The New York Times (hereafter referred to as The Times) developed a Topic Phrase: ‘After the Attacks.’ This was the catch phrase for any article pertaining to 9/11 and the World Trade Center until September 18, 2001 when the Times changed it to ‘A Nation Challenged.’ It was this phrase, in a less assertive form, that made it’s way into President Bush’s speech to Congress and the American people on September 20th, 2001: “Tonight we face new and national challenges.” [3]

     R.W. Apple, on The Times front page the following day, gave the President high marks for his speech but issued a challenge to Bush to make good on his assertions. This is one example of how the media effects the government but it was only the beginning.

On September 22nd, 2001, The Times’ ran an article on the front page that characterized the Presidents’ mood, not simply related the facts. Written by Frank Bruni, the article was titled ‘A Nation: White House Memo; For President, a Mission and a Role in History.’ “.  .  .  the war on terrorism,” Bruni wrote, “that he planned to wage  .  .  .  ‘is the purpose of this administration.’

That statement was…a window into what some of Mr. Bush’s friends and advisors say is his own wholly transformed sense of himself and his presidency.”

   What is unique about this article is that it is, to date, the most subjective article The Times ran outside of its OpEd page. It analyzed the President’s response, not simply reporting or quoting it, and made implied judgments which were amplified that same day by long-time Editorial Desk essayist Anthony Lewis.

     In a piece titled “Abroad at Home; ‘To Thine Own Self Be True,’” Lewis cautioned the President-while complimenting him for repeatedly using the three words ‘freedom’, ‘patience’, and ‘justice’ in his speech-against military attacks of “too sweeping a character” for fear that “it would arouse Islamic backlash.”

     This give and take, so to speak, continued into Letters to the Editor of September 24th, 2001. No less than 14 writers addressed America’s challenge in light of Lewis’ and other similar editorials (of course these 14 were the only ones The Times printed!) For example, Joel Greenwald wrote that “…if left fully unchecked, the terrorists, in the name of Jihad, will possess and use weapons of mass destruction. It is only a matter of time.”

     The pattern which emerges clearly reflects the symbiotic relationship between Media, Government and Public Opinion.. We can, nevertheless, see how the terms of discussion may arise in one source but become the terms invoked by others.

     Of course, in the demand for retaliation, the biggest question was: retaliate against whom? This was the question that concerned not just the Administration and the American public but the

EU, Russia and, more to the point, the countries in the Middle East. The US government had to present a strong case if they were to persuade other countries to join a coalition against Terrorism. Worldwide, patience was being urged by many, echoing Anthony Lewis’ cautionary article (see above) and US citizens agreed.

     A New York Times/CBS news poll revealed that though 92% of 1,216 adults interviewed believed initially that America should retaliate, “many emphasized in follow-up interviews that [we]…should not be in too much of a hurry to retaliate.” (Times, Sept. 25, 2001)

     By September 20th, 2001, much had been learned, and on Monday, the 24th, The Times ran this article on its front page: ‘THE PROOF; U.S. to Publish Terror Evidence on bin Laden.’ Staff writers on the Foreign Desk revealed, “…the administration sees evidence as crucial to support of friendly Muslim countries-Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan-whose governments fear that US military action against terrorists will spur widespread popular unrest.”

     As it turned out, they were correct.

Meanwhile, On the Other Side of the Atlantic

     Egypt is a country comprised of many disparate factions, religious and civil. Its internal politics are messy, if you will, its government authoritarian if not, in fact, literally repressive.

Briefly, as Robert D. Kaplan wrote in The Atlantic Monthly (March 2002), “…secular nationlist regimes [like] Egypt…are so vulnerable that only the sons of dictators are trusted to succeed the

dictators.” He then asserted that Egypt was “…facing, at best, a Mexican-style political and economic disorder…” and is incapable of “…sustainable parliamentary democracy.” “Egypt,”

wrote Jack Beatty in December, 2001, “under threat from Islamic terrorism, has been governed under a state of emergency virtually since 1967.”[4]

     Let us see how the Al-Ahram covered the events and aftermath of 9/11 in comparison with the articles in The Times.

     On the paper’s online front page for the week of September 13th, 2001 are 8 articles about the WTC and the Pentagon attacks in which leaders of political parties are quoted. Some of their titles are: ‘State of the War’, ‘The Giant’s Feet of Clay’, and ‘Jumping the Gun’. The ambivalence of many of these is noteworthy.

     In an article titles, ‘Condemning aggression,’ Mosbah Qutb of the Leftist Tagammu Party is quoted, saying: “Egyptians’ feelings about the incident are deeply contradictory…we are…a people who truly believe in peace…On the other hand is our acute awareness that this is the United States whose policies are directly responsible for so many deaths and so much misery throughout the world, particularly…in the Middle East.” (September, 13-19, 2001, Issue No. 551)

     Of particular fascination is Salah Montasser’s article in the same issue titled “An Inside Job?” which he begins with, “I don’t think it would be contentious to say that the disaster .  .  .  was planned and executed by American citizens.” In support of this, he notes that “.  .  .  airports  .  .  .  made no reference to an arab passenger, whose presence the media would have seized upon

immediately,” and concludes by suggesting that “.  .  .  the perpetrator belongs with the extremist Michigan Organization of which [Timothy] McVeigh was a member.”(emphasis added)

     But these essays were written immediately after the events. For more considered and nuanced (?) responses, we will go to the following week’s Issue of Al-Ahram covering the same days

referred to above in our analysis of The Times and in which are more than 20 articles (and almost as many Letters to the Editor) concerned with 9/11.

     Fifteen of these articles deal directly with the repercussions of 9/11 and two of those concern what I will refer to as The United States Situation; 6 concern the Muslim/Middle East Situation and the remaining articles analyze aspects of Global Implications. Of course they are all Arab-centric, including some from Al-Ahram correspondents on the United States.

     Further in the paper, I will select one article from each of the three categories listed which I feel is representative and give a more detailed analysis.

The United States Situation:

‘The Search for Vengence’[5]
‘War, 21st – Century Style’[6]
The Muslim/Middle East Situation:

‘Caught in the Middle’[7]
‘The Fear Within’[8]
‘A Crusade of the Mind’[9]

‘Mutating Emotions’[10]
‘A Forbidden Alliance’[11]

‘Shoulder to Shoulder’[12]
Global Implications:

‘At the Edge of an Inter-Civilizational War[13]
‘Waiting for the Missiles’[14]
‘Sympathy Sinks ‘Great Satan’[15]
‘Turkey Seizes the Day’[16]
‘Stamping on a Hornets Nest’[17]
‘An Afghan Scene’[18]
‘Caught in the Crossfire’[19]
This list has been created because some of the articles, even as mere titles, will be referred to in a later section of this essay.

    In the article, ‘War, 21st-Century Style’, correspondent Thomas Gorguissian focuses on the Mid-east perception of the United States’ rhetoric of retaliation against “a new kind … of evil.” The author writes, “Bush has chosen some fiery words. The term ‘crusade’ and the phrase ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ stir emotions and revive memories, ultimately inflaming prejudices.”

          One need not be a Muslim or Arab to recognize in Gorguissian’s words his suspicion, perhaps his fear, that this “mighty giant,” is bent on serious retaliation.

     He quotes Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, that “The chances for other choices are very slim  .  .  .  This time, the response of the United States must be much firmer and much different.”

    In the Al-Ahram article ‘ Mutating Emotions’,  it becomes increasingly clear in these that 9/11 is a lightening rod for assumed, if not actual, injustices wrought by the United States. The word ‘ambivalence’ vis a vis Arab response to the WTC attack occurs in virtually every paragraph. Also reflected is the belief that the United States is complicit in the attacks.

     Diplomat and member of parliament, Mustafa El-Fiki, is quoted in this article thusly: “.  .  .  [it] is not the work of Arabs. It was highly organized and the way it was carried out indicates that it involved an intelligence agency. Americans must be involved, one way or the other.”

          Fahmy Howeidy, an Al-Ahram columnist, says, “It [the attacks] is an outcome of American foreign policy and America’s overwhelming belief that it rules the world.” He goes on to say that “America will commit further mistakes by jumping to conclusions and planning retaliatory actions that will act only to induce more hatred towards it.   .  .  The attack is the work

of an organization that possesses and can use the most advanced technology.”  This is telling and will be addressed in another section of this essay.

     In reference to the aforementioned Global Implications, ‘At the Edge of an Inter-Civilizational War’ is an interview by Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton with Omaya Abdel-Latif, Editor in Chief of Al-Ahram Weekly, about “American perceptions of the tragedy.”  I have included the three most pertinent parts of this interview.

     Falk asks, “Who is the United States fighting against?” Abdel-Latif replies, “On the one level, terrorism is very vivid  .  .  . outside any normative framework. […] There has been a rush

to judgment, naming Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind, but there is no convincing evidence that he even had knowledge of this event  .  .  .”

     Falk notes that “commentators and observers said the US’s unjust foreign policy  .  .  .  was the chief reason behind such attacks.” Abdel-Latif agreed, adding that “this view is completely missing from the American response – by the political leadership, Congress, the media and by the general public. There is no willingness to question why the attacks occurred except on a local level, such as at universities.”

     Then Falk inquired of Abdel-Latif’s “views on writings, particularly in the American press, which speak of the new world order  .  .  .” Abdel-Latif replied that the edge of an inter-civilisational war was close. She went on, “This war – if it takes place – will literally be without an end or military solution.”

     Abdel-Latif’s prescience re “this war” is chilling in late March of 2007, even if her absolution of Bin-Ladin in 2001 strikes a note of innocence – or ignorance.

          But these glimpses of the view from Cairo must be brought up against the view from New York.  The Times v Al-Ahram l is next.

          The Times and Al-Ahram have dealt with the easy answers in their different ways, and as a consequence of their different writers – and readers. Which is to say, and let us make no mistake here, Americans and Egyptians know America was attacked on September 11th.  But to what degree, if any, did The Times and Al-Ahram differ? What questions were raised or implicit in each newspaper’s coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath?

Some Congruency

     Because Al-Ahram is an English-language version of an Arab newspaper and because the Egyptian government struggles to maintain good relations with the United States, it should not be surprising that a few articles are similar in tone and observation to ones in The Times.

     NOTE: I was unable to find any confirmation, pro or con, that Al-Ahram is a mouthpiece of the Egyptian government, but I suspect it’s no more oppositional than is

The Times, i.e. neither slavishly supportive nor subversive. More to the point, as Gore Vidal has asserted, Al-Ahram is Cairo’s “chief newspaper.” [20]

          To begin this section’s analysis on a somewhat amusing note, on the front page of issue 552 which we are examining is the beginning of an article titled ‘On the Bombings.’ It is written by American citizen Noam Chomsky, the celebrated linguist from MIT and anti-government gadfly. His analysis of the United States’ actions in the Mid-east are congruent with those of Egyptians quoted in the last section. I mention this because Chomsky’s reflection receive no mention in The Times.

     Similar in analysis and perspective are the Al-Ahram article “Shoulder to Shoulder’ and The Times’ piece of September 24th, ‘Saudis Feeling Pain of Supporting U.S.’ Al-Ahram makes the point that “despite general sympathy in the Gulf for the American people, most Gulf nationals are unenthusiastic about supporting US military action in the region  .  .  .” The Times article echoes this: ‘Saudi leaders voice support in struggle against terrorism, but they are sensitive to launching military operations against another Muslim state from their territory.’ And both refer

to the fact that Saudi Arabia is one of several Mid-east countries that officially recognize the Taliban in Afghanistan. And, regarding Afghanistan, both news organizations printed articles about the ruling Taliban there, although Al-Ahram stressed potential dangers of an invasion: “The example of the Red Army stands as a costly warning of mixing in Afghan politics.” The Times, on the other hand, underscored the country’s desire that Bin Laden find another haven (‘The Taliban: Afghans Coaxing Bin Laden [to leave],’ September 21st).

     That differences of emphasis in coverage by both news organizations are more apparent than similarities, it is striking – to me, anyway – how each appears objective in their reportage. While individuals’ quotes may be incendiary or, at best, somewhat one-sided, the tone each organization sets in their articles, the reporters’ prose and quality of observation, reveals what most expect of such enterprises: facts, accurate quotation and an apparent obligation to do justice, so to speak, in relating disparate or even hostile viewpoints.

Where Does It All Come From?

     The Times, for good or ill, is considered by many the ‘newspaper of record’ in America.     Likewise, Al-Ahram has been a distinguished news organization in Egypt and has been publishing there since 1875.

      I mention these things because I had thought it worthwhile to analyze how each organization may have relied on the other, but it appears to me that both are equipped with their own newsgathering sources and, other than congruency of fact, I could not locate what might be called cross-fertilization to any recognizable extent.

     This may be explained by an observation Gore Vidal made in 1963 after interviewing the then Editor in Chief of Al-Ahram, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal: “.  .  .  a few years ago the

Egyptians, despairing of ever seeing their cause presented impartially in the usual ‘news’ columns, tried to buy an advertisement in The New York Times. They were turned down. As a result, the Egyptians are somewhat cynical about our ‘free press.’”(Vidal 1228).

     Several Al-Ahram contributors report regularly from outside of the Mid-east: Jihan Alaily from Washington, D.C.; Thomas Gorguissian from New York City; Omaya Abdel-Latif from The Carnegie Middle East Center in Washington, D.C.

     Likewise, The New York Times maintains bureaus around the world, enabling it to

rely on and print primary sources.

     I had also intended to analyze the effect of both papers on Public Opinion but, again, found scant evidence to support a thesis, probably because, as I’ll return to, newspapers

try to report fact but reflect public opinion more than influence it, especially in the Age of

the Internet and Cable.

     Reviewing articles about 9/11 in the Cairo-based Al-Ahram and New York City-based

Times, one observation is inescapable: The Times was writing and publishing from, if you will, Ground Zero, while Al-Ahram was not. With Manhattan reeling from the enormity of what had occurred, The Times’ front page coverage, though focusing on Administration statements, intentions and retaliatory probabilities, reflected an aspect of what the city in which the newspaper exists had experienced and from what it continued to suffer. On the other hand, Al-Ahram was in the position of awaiting America’s response to the attack: an attack on the Mid-east that was sure to come.

     How this did – or did not – reflect their perspectives and what, as a consequence, appeared in their papers, is next.

Theories at the Ends of the World

         The attacks of 9/11 changed the world. This is no exaggeration. In Arab as well as

American media the gravity of what occurred is admitted. Recognized by both is that the attacks were equivalent to Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack on December 7th, 1941. And everyone knows how that concluded.

     Given America’s outrage, its consequent ‘need’ to avenge the attack and the Mid-east’s realization that a counter-attack would come, a newspaper’s obligation to inform its readers by analyzing likely scenarios and publishing the nature of government decisions is undeniable. However, does the news organization influence public opinion by simply reporting to the public or does it – and to what extent – influence it? The difference is not always apparent but worth examining. So, the questions to be asked and, hopefully, answered in this section are: Did Al-Ahram’s and The Times’ coverage influence perceptions of the attacks? Secondly, were the differences in coverage important in regard to these perceptions?

          In answering the first question, I refer back to an observation made earlier: a news organization addresses what its editors believe is on the minds of its readers. In analyzing Media this is of paramount importance because news organizations exist to report news This is so obviously a definitional statement that it could be ignored. What cannot be ignored is that newspapers are also expected by their owners to turn a profit. And here’s where we encounter one of those ‘difficult questions:’ how can a newspaper be profitable unless it knows its readership and gives it what it wants? To be blunt: a newspaper must sell newspapers if it intends to survive.

     Both papers’ articles reflected what appear to be each entity’s intent to scrupulously and honestly report what was occurring in the world. If The Times slighted aspects of Mid-east

concerns which Al-Ahram dwelt on, this is to be expected and should not compel us to reproach the former. An event of such enormity must be interpreted as well as ‘covered’ in a manner deemed appropriate by each news organization, and finger-wagging after-the-fact is simply silly.

     However, examining and comparing the front page coverage offered by both news organizations between September 20th and 26th reveals profound differences as well as understandable similarities.

     The Times’ coverage of the 9/11 attacks focused often on their effect on New York City, next on America as a country but most consistently on the Government’s reaction and intended response/retaliation. Al-Ahram’s coverage concerned Egypt’s and the Mid-east’s ambivalence about not only America’s tragedy but the nature and explanation of the attacks, i.e. they focused more consistently on underlying reasons for the attack than did The Times, at least in front page articles which have been the focus of this essay.

The Medium is the Massage – Redux

     What cannot be found in either paper is a believable crystal ball. And this is where the media will always be found wanting by governments or opinionated citizens. Reporting an event as profoundly tragic and world-transforming as the 9/11 attacks cannot be easy; too many emotions, political and religious contentions, state prerogatives and ethnic diversities become a part of the very record of reportage. To report clearly – completely or authoritatively – about such profound

aspects of the human condition on planet earth in 2001 was no easier than it is now in 2007. But it is undeniable that whenever governments or populations dislike their lot it is often attributed to the media coverage. There is a common tendency to “kill the messenger”.

     It is my opinion that both The New York Times and Al-Ahram did the best that one could expect of them in covering 9/11 and its tumultuous aftermath – especially the latter. Both clearly strove to be objective and complete. Both evidenced consideration of public opinion and accepted it in their papers. Both allowed official, government views in their columns without appearing to be slavishly regurgitating a ‘party line.’ And, most admirable, neither made of the increasingly apparent divide between East and West or Muslim and western Christian, a bogey-man, but strove to elucidate complex events and undeniably heated emotions in a manner consistent with what we should hope are standards that Media will continue to accept.

Responsibility and Skepticism

     If the above analysis has validity, and I believe it does, the Media – or Fourth Estate – are crucial to our understanding of the world and ourselves in it, as well as to the relationship between governments and those they govern. This is especially true when the events being covered are potentially as incendiary and long-lasting in effect as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have proven to be. Could the current disaster in Iraq, for example, have been avoided or minimized if American citizens – and the current Administration – read more thoroughly what Arab newspapers such as Al-Ahram were writing? Would going to war have been as popular with and acceptable to the American public? Would increased knowledge have

provoked more meaningful, helpful debate? In light of such questions, the Media are essential and undeniably relevant to understanding facts as well as options.

     But because newspapers – and all Media – exist to disseminate news by not only reporting it but also, and most crucially, doing so in a way acceptable to their readers, their reportage should

be considered always with a critical mind. The popular adages ‘Consider the source’ and ‘Don’t believe everything you read’ are, however banal because of repetition, not to be dismissed.

     Consequently, if we must rely on Media to report and explain events of the world we live in (and what choice do we have?), it is our responsibility to read, to read whatever source we can lay our hands on – the more, the better – and, while doing so, to consider what we read with a degree of healthy, uncynical skepticism. To do otherwise would be to accept ignorance as a virtue and knowledge as irrelevant.

.

References

Al-Ahram, 2001, retrieved from
<,http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2001/552/fall-out.htm>

Beatty, Jack. The Atlantic Unbound. Retrieved from
,<http://theatlantic.com/doc/20112u/pp2001-12-5>

Graves, Robert. Difficult Questions, Easy Answers. New York: Doubleday, 1973
McCluahn, Marshall. The Media is the Massage. New York: Random House, 1967
The New York Times. 2001 retrieved from
http://www.nytimes.com   Go to Archives

Woolf, Alex. Osama Bin Laden. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing, 2004
Woodward, Bob & Carl Bernstein. All the Presidents Men. New York: Touchstone, 1974

[1] McLuhan, Marshall. The Media is the Massage. New York: Random House, 1967. McLuhan’s original title was The Media in the Message. However, a typo in the galleys changed the first “e” in ‘message’ to an ‘a’. McLuhan thought this appropriate to his thesis so he went with this title.
[2] Woolf, Alex. Osama Bin Laden. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing, 2004. This book has a hasty, thrown together feel but all the facts seem to be accurate.
[3] This speech received higher praise than most of Bush’s. It can read at:

<http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html>
[4] Beatty, Jack. The Atlantic Unbound. Available online at <http://theatlantic.com/doc.20112u/pp2001-12-5>
[5] Americans demand revenge.
[6] Few outside of the US Administration can understand what a “new kind of war” is.
[7] Cairo urging caution to a “hot headed Washington”
[8] Being an Arab or Muslim is dangerous in the “wild,wild west”
[9] Maligning Islam and Muslims is a tradition in Western media.
[10] Opinion of ‘people on the street’ in Cairo.
[11] Are suicide bombings sanctioned by Islam?
[12] The Gulf region’s ambivalence about where to stand.
[13] A possible global conflict
[14] Is Iraq a sitting duck?
[15] Will 9/11 push Iraq and the US together?
[16] Turkey sides with US against terrorism
[17] Third World urges restraint
[18] The country’s future if the US invades: scores of dead.
[19] US demands of solidarity put pressure on EU
[20] Vidal, Gore. United States; Essays, 1952-1992. New York: Random House, 1993. America’s knowledgable and resident crank writes superb essays.